Last night, Council approved a motion to "re-affirm" the current zoning of "Open Space" on a parcel of land that contains a wetland. The hope is that we can prevent a development proposal from destroying the natural habitat.
From the moment I got on Council I have been dealing with this issue. As the chair of the City's Environmental Advisory Committee from 2013 - 2015, I took part in several discussions about it.
Often referred to as the "Anglican Synod Wetland," this plot of land off of Penney Crescent is quite clearly a wetland. There are water features, dense plantlife, and several identifiable bird species and other wildlife. It is a small ecosystem that is a beautiful feature in the neighbourhood.
Time and again the proponent has come to staff, our committees, and Council to make the case that this wetland is "not significant." They have conducted two engineering reports and had many meetings with all possible stakeholders, including the Province.
I, like everyone at City Hall, have given the developer a very fair hearing and read the two engineering reports that present a detailed review of the land in question. And even after all of the back and forth, I'm still convinced that replacing this wetland with more housing is not the right decision.
Through my first term on Council, I have been an advocate for "smart development." I've voted for apartment buildings on "infill" land, for a community market in a heavily populated area, and for adaptive re-use of heritage buildings. I am clearly "pro-development" when it's done correctly.
But just because land is available in the middle of the city doesn't mean it should be developed. A city interspersed with green space and natural beauty makes it healthier, happier, and in the case of wetlands, safer from flooding and erosion.
I have been steadfast on this issue (I actually was one of two councillors to vote against the proposal making it this far), and will continue to speak to thoughtful, forward-looking decision making at City Hall.