Parker wetlands group vows to stop bulldozers
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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 09/06/2017 (2189 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
A group of conservationists is preparing to defend Winnipeg’s Parker wetlands after receiving several tips that a local developer will begin bulldozing the lands as early as today.
Cal Dueck of the Parker Wetlands conservation committee said a member received a letter from Gem Equities Inc. this week stating the firm will begin deforesting 75 per cent of the land — a process that will severely harm the ecology of the wetlands and its inhabitants.
“The health of the city is dependent on forests and any time we destroy a huge area like this, we are poorer as a people,” Dueck said Friday.
The wetlands — a 42-acre ecosystem in Fort Garry consisting of aspen forest, grassland and wetlands — was given to Gem by the City of Winnipeg in 2009 in a controversial land swap. The company hopes to develop residential real estate there.
In an email to the Free Press, developer Andrew Marquess denied there are imminent plans to remove the trees.
“It is unfortunate that untrue rumours are circulating regarding the Parker lands,” Marquess said. “There are no plans to remove any trees on our property until such time as we have an agreement with the City of Winnipeg on potential locations of the naturalized greenspace area to be protected.”
The conservation committee is prepared to stand up to the bulldozers should they proceed, Dueck said. It appears the green-space agreement is the only thing preventing development.
A spokesperson from the province’s Sustainable Development department said there are “no permissions required” from that office for bulldozing to occur.
Dueck, who lives on the edge of the Parker wetlands, said the area is home to some 200 species of flora and fauna, and that isn’t including insects. He said he’s heard the birdsong of both the Canada warbler and the whippoorwill, two birds protected under the Migratory Birds Convention Act, which prohibits any harm done to the birds or destruction of their nesting places.
The provincial spokesperson said unless there’s evidence of the birds nesting, “there is no reason to preserve the habitat for nesting of these two species.”
Dueck said if the habitat is destroyed, nobody will know whether the birds are nesting.
Dueck’s neighbour, Nettie Michaluk, moved into her house in 1960, drawn to the nature in her own backyard. What’s left of the wetlands is nothing in comparison to what she remembers from 50 years ago, when trees and brush were plentiful.
“It’s disgraceful, what they’ve done to it,” said Michaluk, 78. “I was depressed when it was going on. They shredded those trees down like toothpicks.”
Michaluk and Dueck dread the day when the sounds they love disappear.
“People bought houses here for the peace and quiet,” Michaluk lamented. “Things have changed too much.”
Michaluk said she fears it’s too late to save the wetlands, given all that has already been destroyed.
Ben Waldman covers a little bit of everything for the Free Press.
Updated on Friday, June 9, 2017 9:54 PM CDT: Full edit