We call on the current Ministers of Transportation and Works, and Municipal Affairs and Environment, as well as the C.A. Pippy Park Commission to reconsider the current plan to build a new – and much needed – mental healthcare facility in a floodplain. The infilling of the wetland located between Prince Philip Drive and the Heath Sciences Complex will only exacerbate current and future expected flood risks in this location and downstream along Rennies River. The proposed engineering solutions for controlling the expected flooding along the Leary’s Brook/Rennies River system involving the construction of many new downstream dikes and berms will be costly and, as we have seen this spring across the country, are solutions that are prone to failure. Finally, the province’s own policies regarding the types of development that can occur in a floodplain should have omitted this plan from the beginning, as institutional buildings are not to be built in floodplains according to Section 6.04 of the Policy for Floodplain Management.
We advocate for a more sustainable design, that incorporates available science, the concerns of the City of St. John’s council and staff, and concerns of residents.There are other location and design options for this important piece of health infrastructure. We urge everyone, especially those who live and work in the Memorial University, Churchill Park, and Rennie’s areas, to ask for a new plan. A plan that does not involve filling in a wetland that currently serves an important ecological and economic role in St. John’s.
Please read our open letter to the Ministers and Commission here.