POWASSAN – The Municipality is planning to wipe out the nesting ground of an endangered species.
A small songbird listed by the Ministry of Natural Resources (MNR) as being threatened, the bobolink has been putting a damper on the Municipality’s industrial park plans since rearing its feathered head during the property’s environmental assessment.
The municipality had hoped to start selling lots on the property, located on Fairview Lane, in the fall of 2011, but the plans were delayed following the discovery of the nesting grounds.
The bobolink, which nests at ground level in open fields, was identified as a Species at Risk in Ontario in 2010. Since that time, the bird has been protected under the province’s Endangered Species Act, which not only controls threats to the birds themselves, but to their general habitat as well.
Because the birds arrive in Canada in late April – early May, nest in June, and are gone again by the first week of September, the Municipality is not permitted to do any site preparation until mid-August, at the earliest, as per the MNR.
According to a report presented to council by staff during its June 5 regular meeting, the Municipality can avoid further delay due to the nesting of bobolink if the lands are cleared and the nesting ground wiped out prior to May 1 of next year before the birds return to the area.
According to clerk-treasurer Maureen Lang, there will be designated areas for the continued nesting of bobolinks as per the MNR agreement for Endangered Species. But the field area, which is the preferred nesting ground for the species will no longer exist.
In the report, staff say this plan is beneficial to the purchasers of the industrial park lots because once the nesting ground is wiped out the purchasers won’t be under the same stringent MNR restrictions.
The recent passing of new regulations regarding bobolink habitat exempts the Municipality from a number of requirements that would have delayed the project for up to an additional year.
In order to qualify for this exemption, the Municipality must meet the requirements set out in the MNR regulation and include this information in their Development Plan, to be reviewed by the MNR.
Changes need to be made to the municipality’s official plan to allow for industrial development on the identified lands.
Once the Development Plan is complete and has been submitted to the MNR, staff expects to have the Official Plan amendment brought forward at the next council meeting.
The next step is for council is to determine where the infrastructure will sit and where water and sewer will connect in order to acquire the proper building permits.
According to staff, the Municipality hopes to begin creating a road into the property, followed by water and sewer installation, immediately following the Bobolink nesting period this fall.