SUBMITTED BY DEBI GOODWIN, HARMONY RESIDENTS GROUP BOARD MEMBER.
While the Harmony Residents Group welcomes any discussion of what should become of the Department of National Defence lands (Town Council shouldn’t sleep on wetlands, April 4, 2019), we believe that discussion should be based on the facts and the true intentions of our group.
James Tupman seems to believe our group wishes to keep the lands free of human activity to benefit homeowners. Nothing could be further from the truth. Our board fervently wishes that a natural heritage park be created on the lands for the betterment of everyone in town. We want to see refurbished trails on these lands where people can enjoy this unique property that includes the last stand of Carolinian forest on the Great Lakes and is home to many species at risk. And we want to see school children coming to the lands to learn about everything from the cycles of the seasons to the needs of specific trees and wildlife. We also would like to see the park reflect the human history that has taken place there from the first indigenous people to settlers, to the War of 1812 and beyond. And more importantly, in response to Mr. Tupman, we want to give everyone greater access to the lake and not just, as he seems to fear, “a few well-to-do.”
We are not a “small, vociferous group.” We are a group that wants all parties involved to consider the importance of this land and how to best preserve it so future generations can enjoy it. Our vision is no secret. Anyone who wants to read about it can go to our website: harmonyresidents.org to see our complete proposal.
And on the matter of the wetlands, Town Council has supported our idea of keeping the two holding ponds that remain from the old sewage treatment plant as the wetlands they are becoming. We have asked that this method of handling the decommissioning of the ponds be considered instead of filling them in because we want the best option for taxpayers as well as the environment. The wetlands are already important for species at risk, such as the snapping turtle.
We invite Mr. Tupman and anyone else with concerns to come to our annual meeting in the Simpson Room on Wednesday, May 22 at 7:00 p.m. One guest speaker will be Bruce McKenzie who will talk about the process of transforming similar ponds in Grimsby into the successful Biggar Lagoons, a popular spot for everyone to enjoy.
Finally, Harmony Residents Groups is just one of the voices speaking up on what should happen to this land. The Niagara Parks Commission does not own the land, as Mr. Tupman stated. The land will soon be returned from the Department of Defence’s lease to Parks Canada. It is Parks Canada that will ultimately make the final decision on the land’s use and it’s vital that they hear from the community before it is too late.