By Dave Flaherty/The Oshawa Express
A comprehensive study on the Oshawa Creek places the value of the water body and its surrounding areas at approximately $400 million.
Back in 2018, the City of Oshawa was one of five Canadian municipalities selected to participate in the Municipal Natural Assets Initiative (MNAI).
MNAI aims to provide communities with resources and tools to identify, value and account for natural assets in financial planning and asset management programs.
The MNAI project involved faculty and students from the University of Toronto, Department of Civil and Mineral Engineering.
According to the project’s summarization by Cheekwan Ho, the project measured how Oshawa Creek’s natural assets are currently reducing erosion and maintaining water quantity and quality, and identified opportunities to improve both through natural asset management and low-impact development practices.
The MNAI’s findings indicate the natural assets in the seven-km area of study, excluding the surrounding floodplain, have a value of $18.9 million in terms of managing stormwater.
“When including the full length of the creek and surrounding floodplain, the total value of the Oshawa Creek watershed increases to between $392 million and $414 million,” the summarization reads.
It is recommended “preventative measures” be taken to protect natural assets upstream of the studied area to manage post-development stormwater flows.
The Oshawa Creek and tributaries drain an area of approximately 119 sq. km. from the headwaters of the Oak Ridges Moraine, south of Lake Iroquois Beach and into Lake Ontario.
MNAI also identified the Oshawa Creek as a “prime conveyance of stormwater” to Lake Ontario, providing a “necessary service” to the City of Oshawa’s management process.
The project did not measure other possible benefits identified by the MNAI team, including improved human health and well-being, aquatic and terrestrial habitats, reduced flood risks, and more attractive creek corridors, which can increase property values.
With the study now complete, MNAI has made a number of recommendations:
– Using the Oshawa Creek analysis and its quantifiable data as the first major step in an asset management approach
– Develop a natural asset policy
– Develop a natural asset management road map
– Enhance co-benefits and implement additional preventative measures.