A proposed roadway through the former Fairview Golf Course property has been removed the City of St. Catharines Transportation Master Plan and the St. Catharines Environmental Alliance played a significant role in that process. SEA members Della Trojan, Charlotte Chan and Mike Anderson engaged City Council on the environmental impact the roadway would have on north St. Catharines and the adjacent neighbourhood.
SEA members pointed out that the Fairview Mall is a prototypical Urban Heat Island – a built environment – grey structure and paved surface or blacktop that absorbs or traps solar energy and radiates it as heat. On a typical summer day the temperature here can be as much as 7 degrees higher than surrounding areas and 5 degrees higher at night. This excessive heat combined with the emissions from the cars that enter the mall increases air pollutants and damages air quality. The impermeable surfaces there send rainwater into our already over-capacitated stormwater system.
This Urban Heat Island effect essentially is abrasive heat, poor air quality and stormwater runoff. And frankly that’s not healthy. And of course this excessive heat and the poisonous greenhouse gases are easily transferred to neighbouring properties and well beyond.
But fortunately as SEA pointed out, we have a natural ecosystem of trees and vegetation adjacent to the Mall at the former FGC site. In environmental terms this site would be referred to as a ‘Heat Sink’. And because of its geographical location it is one of the most important, if not the most important Heat Sinks in north St. Catharines.
This property is everything the Fairview Mall is not. A vast open greenspace of grass, trees and shrubs – a habitat for small birds and a wildlife corridor for larger birds. It filters and cools our air, absorbs heat and cleans and drains our rainwater. And because of its location it offsets the damaging environmental effects produced by the Fairview Mall Heat Island.
Construct a roadway through this property and its environmental benefits become negligible. The heat and the greenhouse gases from the Mall will have the opportunity to travel – unabated – into the neighbouring properties and beyond.
There is also the impact that this roadway would have on those who use the park and those who live beside it. In that respect we have a ‘quality of life’ issue. This passive greenspace acts as a buffer between the 1000’s of people living in the apartments on Geneva and Scott streets and the mall. It provides passive recreation for the residents in an area that is surrounded by major arterial roads. It provides relief from the Mall both physically and environmentally. Construct a roadway here and those benefits are negated.
In April of 2019 City Council declared a ‘Climate Emergency’. However prior to the TMP the City has done little in response to this significant announcement. Protection of our greenspaces is no longer an option, it is a necessity.
SEA urged Council to not only reject the proposal for this roadway but to remove it completely from the TMP and that recommendation was endorsed unanimously.
We commend Council for their decision and look forward to assisting the City with future environmental solutions.