MEDIA RELEASE 09/10/18: Northeast Avalon ACAP Applauds City’s Efforts, Calls on Province to Protect Wetlands.
Northeast Avalon ACAP (Atlantic Coastal Action Program) applauds the City of St. John’s on their recent efforts to protect our local wetlands. They have announced a much-needed update to the 1993 Significant Waterways and Wetlands report and back in January they rejected a controversial development proposal at the Anglican Synod Wetlands. Today they will vote to amend the St. John’s Development Regulations to help protect another important wetland area in Galway.
We strongly support the proposed amendment. The Galway lands in question are at an important headwater for the South Brook / Waterford River watersheds. In our 2014 report we identified a potential for a severe reduction in important and valuable wetland areas in Galway without designation and protection. The wetlands here provide a number of valuable natural services including providing habitat for wildlife, improving water quality, retaining floodwaters, and storing carbon. The cost of replacing these services is enormous, as we’ve seen with expensive flood-proofing measures at Leary’s Brook.
In the proposed designation of these wetlands, the City has taken an important proactive step in protecting them from unnecessary alteration or in-filling. These lands were previously considered unavailable for development about the 190-metre elevation, and were not considered in the now outdated 1993 Significant Waterways and Wetlands Study.
Furthermore, these wetlands are vulnerable without municipal intervention. There is no adequate Provincial wetland designation or compensation policy. To date, the Province has still not created a Wetland Inventory, the first crucial step in designating wetlands. The Water Resources Act does not adequately consider the variety of marshes, fens, bogs and other wetlands that exist or their valuable ecological services.
We are one of the only provinces in Canada without wetland policies in place. As such, municipalities should take precautions when considering development around any wetlands.
We applaud the City of St. John’s for their leadership, ensuring that no development may proceed which may have a detrimental effect on our valuable wetlands. We hope the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador will follow suit and develop a wetland inventory along with protective measures and compensation policies.