Honorable Mayor and Councillors and Fellow Members of our Community
The Bruce Peninsula Biosphere Association, a registered charity, promotes conservation and sustainable economic development to maintain a healthy environment
The Northern Bruce Peninsula has one of the highest concentrations of rare species in all of Canada. Its natural beauty is regarded as the jewel of the Niagara Escarpment World Biosphere Reserve. Residents, cottagers, and visitors value the opportunity to be part of this special environment. It is a foundation for our economy and our quality of life.
Residents, cottagers, and visitors have a role to play in protecting this special place. Indeed, one might argue it is our responsibility as citizens to make ourselves aware of environmentally responsible practices, and to adopt these practices.
Government too has a role and the proposed update of our Comprehensive Zoning By-Law provides an opportunity to ensure we, our children and grandchildren will swim in unpolluted, algae-free waters, enjoy a freshly caught fish dinner and benefit from a prosperous and sustainable recreational-based economy. Think about it – how much will your property be worth if the lakes become polluted, the shoreline fouled with algae and our wells contaminated or dried up. This will decrease property values.
We applaud the Municipal Council for the open and extensive year-long process of public consultation it has undertaken of which this open house is a part. Council responded to citizen concerns in 2013 by first inviting citizens to participate in the Committee establishing the “rules” for the process to update the hazard mapping. Next, they hired Grey Sauble Conservation Authority to prepare new mapping that identifies areas which are environmentally sensitive or subject to flooding. Rightly or wrongly such areas are termed a “hazard” by planning officials across Ontario. Thus, they require special precautions before a building is erected to reduce damage if a flood occurs or to protect an environmentally sensitive area. The mapping has been a massive, but we believe necessary, undertaking.
Further, Council has taken the extraordinary step of agreeing to do a site visit to a person’s residence if they are concerned about an identified area. No doubt, this is an expensive offer by the Municipality but one that demonstrates transparency.
We would also like to note we appreciated the copy of the proposed by-law posted on the Municipal website which highlights the proposed changes.
Given that our community’s prosperity and quality of life depends on sustainable economic development, we believe that the preamble “Whereas” statements should make a specific reference to the community’s desire to foster sustainable economic development.
Dark Sky Community
Given that the Municipality of Northern Bruce Peninsula declared itself a Dark Sky Community in 2004, and the unprecedented number of building permits issued, we believe that it is time to enshrine as a general provision in the by-law the requirement to use dark sky friendly lighting fixtures on residential buildings.
Natural Heritage System
The Provincial Policy Statement which all Municipalities must follow requires the development of a Natural Heritage System. We strongly support the creation of a Natural Heritage System for the Northern Bruce as it is a foundational document required to inform conservation efforts. We will actively work on the creation of such a system and have already collected much of the required information through the creation of the Community Conservation and Stewardship Plan and sub-watershed documents.
We support the objective of reducing the cumulative negative impact of clustered development on septic systems by having the smallest lots being required to use advanced technology to treat sewage properly. With our extensive karst topography, which can allow surface flow to directly connect to the ground water system (i.e. the water that our wells draw from) this is especially important.
Water Quality Provisions
From an environmental perspective, we support concepts that are designed to protect water quality. Inland lakes are particularly sensitive to water quality impairments and guidelines re carrying capacity of a given lake should be considered. While underperforming septic systems pose the greatest threat to water quality, residential storm water run-off from a property into the lake can also damage water quality. The cumulative effect from several properties of oils & car washing soaps from the driveway, salts from the roadways, and fertilizers and pesticides from gardens and lawns and hardening of shorelines impairs water quality. Setbacks and maintaining natural shorelines can allow the storm and household waste water to be absorbed into the ground and filtered before it enters the lakes.
It is hoped that with the significant number of re-builds along shorelines that best practices in shoreline management will be used, for example driveways should be of permeable surfaces such as gravel or paving stones to allow storm water to soak into the earth and be filtered before it reaches a watercourse or lake.
Setbacks from Lake Huron and Georgian Bay Shoreline
Setbacks from the Lake Huron and Georgian Bay shorelines are important to maintain water quality and healthy aquatic habitat. We understand that the setbacks have not changed and they are regulatory-based.
We support the reduction in the minimum size of apartments and dwellings. Environmentally, this achieves a number of goals: minimizes our environmental footprint, consumes fewer resources over time etc. From a sustainable economic development perspective, it provides a more affordable option for those working here on lower incomes.
Wetlands are where a myriad of creatures in the food web mate, reproduce, grow, forage, hibernate and refuge. Over two-thirds of the fish species living in the Great Lakes depend on coastal wetlands for feeding cover, spawning and nursery habitat. Nearshore fish like Northern Pike and Walleye also use the coastal wetlands for habitat. Wetlands are so important to ecosystem functioning that the Province has classified some wetlands as Provincially Significant Wetlands. Wetlands, both those Provincially Significant and Locally Significant, are mapped as natural hazards within Bruce County.
Adjacent lands are areas that extend 120 metres from a PSW boundary. Any proposed development within the adjacent lands is carefully considered through a process of assessment (EIA) to ensure ecosystem functions of that wetland are maintained. If you like to fish, you need to ensure we protect our wetlands – both coastal and interior.
100 year Flood Elevation on Lake Huron and Georgian Bay (the black line)
The 15 metre potential wave uprush area on Lake Huron and Georgian Bay from the 100 year high-water mark has been raised as a concern. The high water mark is not a surveyed line but is regulatory-based.
Building within this zone is permitted BUT all building openings associated with habitable floor area must meet flood-proofing elevations.
From an environmental perspective, we can only relay these facts. Extreme storm events i.e. 100 year and even 1000 year storms are more common. A 100 year storm means that every year there is a 1 per cent chance that we will have such a storm. The collective wisdom of scientists suggests that the frequency of such storms is increasing and some say it is increasing dramatically.
See these references for more information
So from a sustainable economic development perspective why would someone wish to build a new dwelling in an area likely to be flooded without the appropriate flood protection?