Misinformation #1 ? This Area is not an Old Growth Forest
Urbandale says that this forest was studied by IFS Forestry who determined that the trees in this area are roughly 60 – 80 years old and definitely not old growth. Further confirmation of the age of the trees is found in the 1861 Agricultural Census indicating that the Graham family was active in farming this property at that time.
The MNR defines old growth as older than 120 years old. There are many examples of old growth in the SMH, as an example the 250-year old Black Sugar Maple that was destroyed to make way for Terry Fox Drive Extension.
These trees survived the great fire of 1870 that destroyed much of the Ottawa River Valley which is why the vast majority of trees in Ottawa are younger. However, because the South March Highlands is a mountain wetland, it provided a firebreak for the town of March and thus many old growth trees are found.
It is well known that many farms in the area failed because of the thin soil layer that covers the Canadian Shield in the South March Highlands and although several homesteads existed, very little of the land was cleared and used for farming.
Misinfo #2 ? KNL Isn’t Clear-Cuting Environmentally Significant Forest
KNL’s development agreement with the City was designed to protect environmentally sensitive areas including Beaver Pond, Kizell Pond, and Trillium Woods. As required by the 40% Agreement, KNL will be giving approximately 265 acres of the most ecologically sensitive land to the City.
However, KNL will destroy the majority of the remaining forest for its subdivision.
The City already owns an additional 1000 acres of forested area in the neighbouring South March Highlands. This is the same so-called “Conservation Forest” that the City recently built a 4-lane highway through.
According to the City’s Environmental Assessment for Terry Fox Drive Extension filed in 2010 to the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency, the entire area of the Beaver Pond Forest is designated as Natural Environment Area – the highest level of land use protection.
Misinfo #3 ? KNL Is Trying to Rush This Development to Avoid Debate or Find Alternate Solutions to Preserving the Forest
The City has zoned these lands for development since the 1981 40% Agreement was approved in spite of objections from environmental groups who have opposed development for 30 years. This opposition included 2 OMB appeals that took years to resolve.
KNL has completed and submitted to the city multiple studies looking at the environmental impact of this development including fish habitat, tree species and age, site archaeology, agriculture potential and more. These been reviewed and approved by City Planning Officials, City Council and the OMB even though these plans will result in the removal of endangered species, such as Butternut, and the destruction of critical habitat for an estimated 20 species at risk.
KNL has never met with the community despite being obligated by their conditions of subdivision approval to implement a communications plan and recently declined offers from the community and the city to buy them out at a profit based on a fair-market evaluation for their property.
Misinfo #4 ? There are no Significant Aboriginal Findings on the Site
As part of the approval process, KNL was required to conduct complete Stage 1 and Stage 2 Archaeological Resources Impact Statements of the site to the approval of the Ministry of Culture and Communications. This study attempted to find evidence of aboriginal habitation and not surprisingly found nothing of archaeological interest on this site. Most grade school children are aware of the fact that the ancestors of the First Nations of Canada were nomadic and therefore few had permanent residences.
Recently KNL’s consultant was called back to study a group of stones forming a circle which appears to be a possible indication of a burial ground or Medicine Wheel.
According to KNL, the same consultant who found no evidence of aboriginal residences is also of the opinion that it is not a medicine wheel because finding such an artefact would be provincially significant as none others are known by him to exist in the province of Ontario.
KNL has stated that the site will be protected pending his confirmation that this is not of archaeological significance – which appears to be a foregone conclusion by him. Many people feel that this diminishes the credibility of the consultant and that an independent assessment performed by the NCC is the right thing to do.