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CLOCA highlights “information gaps” in environmental reports

More information needed on wilflife and erosion ahead of approval of waterfront development

The Graywood Development proposal is for two parcels of land off Park Road South in Oshawa.

By Joel Wittnebel/The Oshawa Express

For months, residents have been trying to poke holes in the environmental reports submitted by Graywood Developments for a pair of residential developments in the city’s south end. Now, they have the Central Lake Ontario Conservation Authority (CLOCA) on their side after the authority identified a series of “information gaps” in the consultant reports.

In a recently released response to the documents provided by Graywood for proposals on land at the corner of Park Road South and Phillip Murray Drive and for the lands south of Renaissance Drive, which included reports on wildlife, erosion, groundwater and a series of other aspects as part of the Environmental Assessment (EA) process, CLOCA is looking for more information before granting any approvals.

In terms of the Environmental Impact Study (EIS), CLOCA found a series of gaps, including information related to breeding birds, drainage, significant wildlife habitat and the migratory function of the lands. Gaps were also found in the reports related to the proximity to Lake Ontario, and the hydrogeological investigation.

The EIS, prepared by Niblett Environmental Associates (NEA) for Graywood,  found several bird species, only one mammal species (eastern cottaintail) and no reptiles or amphibians. However, CLOCA notes that only a single breeding bird survey was conducted on the site when in fact they require a minimum of two to be completed.

CLOCA also notes that further efforts need to be done to identify the significance of the site as a migratory passage.

“Given the location of this property on the north shore of Lake Ontario, effort should be made to characterize this site in terms of a migratory stopover for Monarch Butterflies and Migratory Birds and how the proposed development potentially impacts that function,” the CLOCA report reads.

The draft EIS prepared by NEA includes no mention of monarchs. However, the CLOCA Wildlife Corridor Protection and Enhancement Plan created in 2015 identifies this site as significant, not necessarily for the quality of the habitat, but the value it serves as part of a regional migration corridor along Lake Ontario.

“This regional corridor, while not continuous, recognizes the important function of east-west movement between the large habitat patches along the waterfront and provides valuable migratory stopover function,” the CLOCA report reads. “The omission of the migratory function this property provides, is seen as a significant information gap that a revised report must address.”

Along with the additional requirements for environmental information, CLOCA is also looking for further analysis of the long-term water level impacts, and the future impacts on runoff at the site.

CLOCA is also looking for an updated look at the erosion on the edge of Lake Ontario due to the proximity of the Block B development, especially when it comes to the additional water flow caused by the development itself.

“An assessment of erosion potential should be provided for the discharge of stormwater from the development into the existing swale and shoreline bluff,” the CLOCA response reads. “The increased drainage from the development is likely to increase the rate of erosion and gullying at the shoreline. Remedial measures will be required.”

Lake Ontario is also facing increased erosion this year with the record high water levels. However, according to Perry Sisson, CLOCA’s director of field engineering and field operations, in the longterm, the impacts would be balanced out.

Taking climate change into account and the growing unpredictable nature of weather patterns, some years may see increased erosion, and later years, none at all.

“This year, the amount of erosion we’re going to be getting is very high, then you peter out for a year and you get no erosion,” Sisson says. “The predictions are we may get these kind of high lake levels more often, but we may also get those dry, drought years quite often.”

Requests for comment sent to Graywood were not returned as of The Oshawa Express press deadline.