The Niagara Peninsula Conservation Authority (NPCA) is the provincial government agency tasked with the protection and management of watershed domains in the Niagara Region. They are most notably responsible for best practices for climate resilience and sustainability, source water and species protection and the conservation of natural green infrastructure within the Niagara Peninsula watershed. The agency’s vision is ‘Nature for all’ and advocates for ‘a healthy and vibrant environment’.
That responsibility bears weight. At a time when climate and weather-related events shape our lives and the lives of future generations the actions and decisions of this agency require astute and transparent leadership.
However, from the recent developments regarding the Canada Summer Games (CSG) Mountain Bike Trail along Twelve Mile Creek it appears that weight may be too much to bear.
The St. Catharines Environmental Alliance (SEA) was first availed of this highly controversial issue in the late summer of 2021 when reports circulated about residents of Riverview Blvd. bailing from their pools, salamanders that had been displaced by mid-slope construction along the creek. That was followed by posts from decorated cyclist Steve Bauer regarding ‘significant environmental destruction of the Twelve Mile Creek woodland and watershed’ the result of a new mountain bike racecourse for the Niagara 2022 Canada Summer Games. And most recently a website dedicated to the issue, www.friendsof12milecreek.com, detailed the eradication of this fragile ecosystem including the removal of natural habitats and mature trees.
As a result of these actions and the lack of information available to the public, SEA has engaged the NPCA to provide all particulars regarding construction permits granted to the CSG on these regulated lands. It is our understanding that this racecourse was considered ‘passive’ and therefore permissible. To that end we referred to the NPCA policy manual section which states, in part:
6.2.6 Passive Recreational Uses within Valleyland Erosion HazardIt is recognized that certain forms of passive recreational uses can be appropriate for the public within a valley land setting. Passive recreational development applications within or adjacent to erosion hazard limits and valley lands will be considered subject to the following criteria:
There are no adverse impacts on ecological features or functions;
All new development is set back from stable top of slope or toe of slope in accordance with the policies of this section, apart from access routes and lookouts; etc.
At this point in time, it has become alarmingly apparent that those lands held in public trust for preservation and conservation have been abandoned in favour of a bike racecourse for a two-day event. The permanent damage to the natural vegetation and wildlife habitats and the removal of mature trees is beyond reproach. We urge the public to visit the websites dedicated to this issue, sign the on-line petition or contact your local representative. The NPCA, CSG and any other participating government agency must be held accountable and in short owe the public an explanation for their actions.