S. Niagara group opposes GR Investment development

S. Niagara group opposes GR Investment development

Postby Oscar » Thu Mar 23, 2017 11:29 am

South Niagara chapter welcomes Haudenosaunee letter in defence of Thundering Waters Forest

[ http://canadians.org/blog/south-niagara ... ers-forest ]

March 23, 2017 - 6:39 am

The Council of Canadians South Niagara chapter welcomes a recent letter from the Haudenosaunee Environmental Task Force (HETF) to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in defence of the Thundering Waters Forest. [ https://niagaraatlarge.com/2017/03/21/i ... more-24361 ]

In early April 2016, the chapter joined with allies to oppose a plan by GR Investment Group to secure approval to destroy 13 acres of provincially-significant wetland adjacent to the forest to accommodate a $1.5 billion Paradise development project, which includes a hotel, entertainment facilities, apartment housing, and a private school. GR had argued that this loss of wetland could be 'offset' by reproducing it in another area. By late April, after several community protests, the developers backed away from the idea of 'biodiversity offsetting'. But the Thundering Waters Forest is still under threat.

In July 2016, Oneida Nation member Karl Dockstader wrote, "GR Investment Co. is still intending to destroy 200+ acres of Carolinian forest, protective thickets, and other delicate spaces adjacent to 200+ acres of protected wetlands and no government entity or authority has expressed any opposition to or advocated for protection of this proposed destruction. The size of the Thundering Waters Forest is one of the largest remaining continuous forests in the region of Niagara and the protected parts of the slough forest wetland complex are interconnected with the unprotected parts"

By February 2017, the St. Catharines Standard reported, "Regional Chairman Alan Caslin is working to pressure the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry in a bid to save a Chinese firm’s development. Postmedia has obtained a letter written by Caslin to Premier Kathleen Wynne in late January, claiming that if the ministry doesn’t change the designation of a provincially significant wetland located in the heart of the development the project is in jeopardy. Emily Kirk, a spokesperson with [the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry], has reiterated that provincial policy states 'development and site alteration shall not be permitted in significant wetlands'."

The article adds, "Caslin’s letter to the premier said the ministry’s policy to protect the wetlands conflicts with another set of provincial policies that encourage economic growth. Caslin’s letter asked Wynne and her cabinet colleagues to consider resolving the ongoing policy conflict between the provincially designated Gateway Economic Zone [a strategic investment corridor] and the ministry’s wetlands evaluation and mapping."

On March 8, the Haudenosaunee Environmental Task Force sent an open letter to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on this issue.

That letter says, "The Haudenosaunee consist of the Mohawk, Oneida, Onondaga, Cayuga, Seneca, and Tuscarora Nations. The Thundering Waters Site (also known as the Niagara Falls Slough Forest Site) is a 484 acre old growth Carolinian forest with 220 acres of protected provincial wetlands and the home of many species of risk. The plan [by GR Investment Group] is to develop the forested area and if they don’t get a waiver of the provincial wetlands protection for the wetlands parcel, then they say the development of the forest part will not impact the wetlands area."

The letter then highlights, "We know this not to be true because this land is all intricate, complex and woven together. As the HETF, we are reminding you of your obligation under to the (Two Row) treaty that we have with you to warn you when we see danger in the river life that could harm us both. Your obligations under your own legislation must be clear to you. Therefore, The Haudenosaunee oppose the development of the Thundering Waters Site and [ask that] the federal government recommend not to grant a waiver of provincial wetlands protection for all the reasons stated in this letter."

Chapter activist Fiona McMurran tells us, "This letter from the Haudenosaunee Environmental Task Force is most welcome; it brings this important issue to the attention of the federal government."

The chapter wants 1) a moratorium on the Paradise development project, 2) a public review of the social, environmental and economic benefits of the forest remaining intact, and 3) acknowledgement of both the need for consultation with and the consent of the Oneida Nation with respect to this development.

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