Council demonstrates extreme disregard for natural heritage
While road signs in Clearview tout that our community is host to a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, our municipal council’s actions demonstrate an extreme disregard for our natural heritage.
The recent decision by Ontario’s Ministry of the Environment to change the environmental assessment of council’s proposal to develop Sideroad 26/27 from Schedule A+ to C showcases that juxtaposition more than anything.
Why? Because if council truly cared about the environment, it would have conducted a proper environmental assessment in the first place, knowing that the project – whether warranted or not – will need to clear over six acres of forests and wetlands, causing irreparable harm to habitats, ecosystems, and watersheds throughout the area.
Instead, council submitted an incorrect assessment of its development project, claiming it was a schedule A+, a level of assessment which does not study the impact a project has on the environment or whether there are project alternatives, potentially with less effect on ecosystems.
A UNESCO Biosphere Reserve should not be a marketing slogan that can be exploited for tourism revenue or to showcase a heartfelt concern for nature. Biosphere Reserves, instead, are meant to help manage biodiversity and encourage sustainable development practices. In this case, developing a narrow gravel path (at the expense of the environment) to replace an existing arterial road (for the sole benefit of a local quarry) neither conserves biodiversity nor promotes sustainable development. It seems to me to be the opposite of both.
Sustainable development recognizes the impact of human activity on the environment and seeks to ensure we grow in ways which consider the needs of future generations. To do so, we must respect the interconnectedness of society and the environment. We must respect the significance that even the smallest animals and plants have for the environment and, therefore, our future.
In other words, being designated a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve is a responsibility. It is an assignment to grow in a way which balances the needs of all – and safeguard the future of animals, plants, and humans. Clearview council has violated this responsibility by pushing a senseless road project that negatively impacts the environment, our municipal budget, and community’s reputation.