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Wetlands: a valuable asset wasted and destroyed

By Debbie Schaefer – Councillor Ward 5,
King Sentinel,
November 26 2020

I suspect that a poll would show that the natural asset most underrated is the
wetland. This surely must be true as there is no other rational explanation for the
destruction/elimination of wetlands.

Since arrival of Europeans, 72% of the wetlands in southern Ontario have been
eliminated. Earlier this year 3 provincially signifi cant wetlands on agriculturally
zoned land were fi lled in to enable construction of a Walmart distribution centre
on Jane St. in Vaughan (near Teston Road). Recently, Pickering asked for and been granted a ministerial zoning order (MZO) to allow the destruction of the 54 acre Lower Duffins Creeks Provincially Significant Wetland in order to build a distribution centre.

Wetlands are extremely productive. Who/what is going to do the work of this
natural asset which has been given to us? Wetlands purify our water; they trap
sediments and remove pollutants. Wetlands sequester carbon. Wetlands work like sponges; they store water and then slowly release it which is benefi cial in dry
seasons with little rainfall. Wetlands contribute to fl ood prevention; when rivers
burst their banks wetlands can store the excess water and slow it down, so it distributes more evenly over a fl oodplain. Wetlands host a tremendous range of bird species, amphibians, and animals.

Wetlands also provide a beautiful excuse for leaving land natural, to not develop it. For example, in King City, a residential development across from the GO
train station was restricted because of the wetland. Twenty years ago, undoubtedly, during the approval process, the developer(s) argued to create more lots by building closer to the wetland. The Conservation Authority would have refused because of risk to the health and integrity of the wetland. The outcome today is that in addition to all the ecological benefi ts identifi ed previously there are some distinctive homes with unique views and very importantly there is a natural open space where you can walk, breathe in the clean air, hear the birds and appreciate the native plantings. As we are required to stay at home because of COVID-19 the value of such places has increased substantially.

I am distressed by our Provincial Government’s lack of appreciation for wetlands. If you share my concern please write your MPP asking him to tell his colleague, the Minister of Municipal Affairs & Housing, to revoke the MZO enabling
the destruction of Lower Duffi ns Creek Wetland Complex and to reaffi rm his government’s commitment to respecting and upholding protections for the remaining PSWs in Ontario; alternatively you can sign a petition which can be easily found at www.ontarionature.org.