July 19 2013
Environmental Assessment Report Released For Burlington’s LaSalle Park and It Doesn’t Bode Well For The Trumpeter Swans
The Environmental Assessment Report that was supposed to be available in April for the expansion of the marina at LaSalle Park in Burlington and the building of a permanent wave break was finally released, no surprise to any of us, in the summer when people are away or busy with their families and have little time to pour through hundreds and hundreds of pages of documentation. We have 45 days from the date of the report’s release to comment. Nevertheless, we are working through it and we are concerned about many aspects of the plan, not the least of which is that construction is scheduled to take place over the winter when the swans are there — something that the Trumpeter Swan Restoration Group (TSRG) has repeatedly said must not happen as the swans will not be able to tolerate this disturbance. We are currently working with the TSRG and BurlingtonGreen to prepare our comments on the report. If you would like to read the EA and its supporting documents they can be found here: http://cms.burlington.ca/Page8359.aspx
Once Oakvillegreen and our partners have completed our comments we will let you know and make them available on our website.
Hunted to extinction is Ontario, Trumpeter Swans were brought back to this Province 30 years ago by a dedicated team of volunteers led by a retired Ministry of Natural Resources biologist who got eggs from Alaska.
With a wingspan of up to 8 feet, Trumpeter Swans are the world’s largest swan, made distinctive by their beautiful white plumage and completely black bills and feet.
After 30 years of effort, Ontario now has a Trumpeter Swan population of between 800 to 1,000 birds. 200 of these magnificent creatures, make their winter home in Burlington’s sheltered LaSalle Park.
Unfortunately, a proposal to expand a marina and create a permanent wavebreak threatens this crucial swan habitat that 200 swans use as their winter resting and feeding spot.
The greatest concerns are as follows:
1. The permanent wave break will stop the wave action that keeps the water open in the harbour making it impossible for the swans to feed.
2. The current fall/winter construction schedule conflicts with the arrival time for the swans.
3. A longer marina operating season and allowing personal water craft will make it impossible for the swans to use the harbour.
4. Spills and pollution from increased boat usage could contaminate the water.
5. The larger marina will confine the swans to a smaller space that is inadequate for birds of their size and species.
6. The permanent wavebreak will interfere with the space they need (about 110 m) to take off and land.
Plans for the marina are supposed to be coming forward in March 2013. Once they are received, the public will have 30 days to comment on them. Then Burlington’s City Council will make a decision on whether the project can go ahead.
Oakvillegreen’s position is that nothing that threatens the Trumpeter swans should be built. After 30 years of deidcated work by volunteers, the population of Trumpeters in this Province is still fragile. We believe the swans have an inherent right to exist and that they should not be threatened for the sake of private interests. These swans are a natural legacy of the people of Ontario and while it may be up to Burlington Council to make a decision on the marina, they need to understand that they have an obligation to protect 1/4 of Ontario’s Trumpeter Swan population for the benefit of all the people of this Province.
Oakvillegreen will continue to work with the Trumpeter Swan estoration Group, BurlingtonGreen and other interested parties to ensure their winter habitat is not destroyed. We encourage our members to do the same. Please read the attachments to learn more and watch for Oakvillegreen’s emails to get updates. If you would like to let the Burlington Council know your views please write the Mayor and Council at firstname.lastname@example.org