Friends of the Cawthra Bush
Greater Mississauga Area
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Front page - The Mississauga News - Wednesday Edition
- August 30, 2000, Vol. 35, No. 22 38 pages
Cawthra receives wetland status
By JOHN STEWART - Staff
The Cawthra Woods is also the Cawthra Wetlands.
After a review by an environmental consultant hired by Mississauga, the Ministry of Natural Resources has determined that the Cawthra Bush, south of the Queen Elizabeth Way and east of Cawthra Rd., is a provincially significant wetland.
That means it joins Rattray Marsh and Creditview Wetlands as areas with a score high enough based on its ecosystem, flora fauna, and social value, to be called provincially significant.
Don Barber, chair of the Friends of Cawthra Bush, hailed the designation as an important recognition that the woodlot is an old-growth ecosystem that is a lot more than just a forest. [ 1 ]
The evaluation Indicates- that the dozen small wetlands in the woodlot, which are a combined 6.75 hectares in size, deserve the protection that goes along with the provincially significant wetland designation. Mississauga's City Plan prevents development of any kind in provincial significant wetlands larger than two hectares in size. [ 2 ]
Barber, a long-time critic of the City's stewardship of the Cawthra Bush since hundreds of trees were cut down in 1994, claimed the designation is a rebuke for the municipality.
"The City has shut out efforts to try to do a wetland evaluation," he said, citing several requests made in 1997 by academics and other agencies, such as Credit Valley Conservation.
"Now the Province is officially in the mix," Barber said. "With the Ministry of Natural Resources to come out with something this important is very unusual," he suggested.
John Lohuis, Mississauga's director of recreation and parks, notes that the process which led to the wetland designation, was begun by the City.
The wetland stemmed from a review of the City's Natural Areas Study which - See All page A5
Continued from page 1
updated the environmental significance of each woodlot. It was carried out in parallel with the development of a new management plan for Cawthra Bush. The review was also recommended in the management plan itself, he notes. [ 3 ]
"Whenever something that is precious or rare or of value is recognized, it's good for the City," said Lohuis. "It was the City that had the foresight to acquire it in the first place and then spend the funds to properly evaluate it and enshrine it in the zoning and Official Plan." [ 4 ]
A rezoning application to, recognize the greenbelt and open space uses of the woodlot, plus allow some office and institutional uses in the historic Cawthra-Elliott house, is now before council. [ 5 ]
When the provincially-rare Jefferson salamanders were discovered on the site three years ago, a wetland evaluation should have been done immediately, maintains Barber. [ 6 ]
The provincially-significant attribution "changes everything now," he says. "As a wetland, it's a totally different kettle of fish," he says. "The City should listen to the residents," he said, "and set aside the management program."
The new designation means that the bush should become an educational area, not a recreational one, he says.
"We differ on what he deems recreational uses," replies Lohuis. The new designation should have no effect on the proposed land uses within the woodlot, he adds.
"We're already in a preservation mode," the City staff member said. 'There will probably be similar protections to what we have at Rattray Marsh so we can be sure it's not overused."
There may be a need to add boardwalks or woodchip trails in certain sensitive areas. The City will be guided by advice from experts and its Urban Forest Management Advisory Committee. [ 7 ]
Ward I Councillor Carmen Corbasson said the City always planned a wetlands evaluation, but it was delayed when the Province wouldn't contribute to the cost. [ 8 ]
"The management study was always intended as a living document and it will be adjusted accordingly because of this development," says Corbasson. "It's not cast in stone." [ 9 ]
The trail systems planned by the municipality are not "recreational" uses, the councillor says. When Barber uses that term people have visions of playgrounds and splash pads being built, the councillor feels. [ 10 ]
The new report, like the other data on Cawthra Bush will be reviewed by staff, UFMAC and council and plans changed if required. [ 7 ]
"It's our woodlot," says Corbasson, "and we want to preserve it as a woodlot." [ 11 ]
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[COMMENTS BY DON B. ] - In general the City's plans call for a dry park, not a wetlands and wetlands take more effort to keep a wetland. If the public didn't fight so hard for a wetlands evaluation, petition and letters, it would never been done. In the words of David Culham, ex-City Councillor, to me about the wetlands evaluation, "I think you are to be commended because it is your efforts that made that happen".
[ 2 ] - As the Cawthra Bush does not have any wetlands two hectares or larger in size, Cawthra has 12 wetlands areas all less then two hectares, serious questions have to asked about how the City's official plan will cover the Cawthra Bush. Members of the UFMAC have suggested that only the 6.75 hectares of currently identified wetlands should receive protect. This would surely destroy the Cawthra Bush.
[ 3 ] - those who know the facts and don't get their pay cheque or other favors from City Hall know it was Mississaugans' fighting for years to get the wetlands evaluation. That the City is withholding what it knew when the Management Plans for the Cawthra Bush were presented to the public.
[ 4 ] - The idea that the City is putting out, to fool people, is that buying land in its self will preserve it. Not true and the persons who sat on City Council who did the buying are mostly not there today. Cawthra is three sections of land and the first was bought in 1975. "then spend the funds to properly evaluate it and enshrine it in the zoning and Official Plan." The public has fought the City to spend the money and still the City refuses to do a hydrological study and covers up facts that large volumes of water are flowing south towards the CN rail tracks and the new subdivision. As for the Official plan I had to fight the City to get a better deal. The City refused to listen to me but when the City's Official Plan was being reviewed by a more responsible level of government, the City's Plan was refused till changes were made.
[ 5 ] - Rezoning - A concern we pushed for and City has told us no in the past. It is a great concern as the City will use the Cawthra Bush for a park, having people "pound it in the ground" as City staff have said. Then rezone (down zoning from high levels of protection), the Cawthra Bush as it no longer has environmentally significant features to merit protection. In the words of our Mayor and I do have City documents to prove the City does rezone Green Belt so it can be sold for development!!!!
[ 6 ] - How very true. If the City had come out, right away and clearly stated they would do the right thing, do a wetlands evaluation right away, the public would know where the City stood. Instead the City keeps quiet and does what it can to keep the facts from the public. And the City wonders why we distrust them.
[ 7 ] - The City selected group that rubber stamps what the City presents. The FCB has done a better job then they have so far. Check this out.
[ 8 ] - Councillor Carmen Corbasson is contradicting John Lohuis here or is John Lohuis not telling the truth? Either way the City did not do the right thing and spend the money when it should have. The City waited hoping that 3 years of drought would destroy Cawthra's wetlands. Waited to see if people would just forget about the Cawthra Bush, wait us out.
[ 10 ] - Old political trick, call the person who is opposing you too dumb to know what is going on. I am well aware what kind of "recreational" uses the City plans and how they would destroy the Cawthra Bush over time. The examples she provides are from her own imagination, not mine and as she refuses to speak to me or others in our groups, she continues to live in her dream world. Some one buy her a coffee!
[ 11 ] - The perfect quote to see into the mind of Councillor Carmen Corbasson. In this case "our" means the City, after all taxpayers can't even vote on what happens to the Cawthra Bush. The term "woodlot" used by City staff and politicians means a place where trees are cut down for firewood and construction material, look it up. Which is exactly what we stopped them from doing in 1994.
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