Environmental specialist raises concerns over proposed Splash Pad location

December 12, 2016


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Town Council (December 7, 2016)

I am a new resident in Port Elgin and I thoroughly love this community. One of the biggest selling points for me is the beauty and serenity of the North Shore Park.

I have no political or any other mandate in providing these comments other than to be protective of one of Port Elgin's treasures. It is a place where I see many people walking and trying to collect their thoughts in a quiet and beautiful environment. The old growth cedar forest is unique and carries with it a long history of this area.

As you know I am retired now but was involved in Environmental Management at senior levels in both government and industry for 35 years. I have an Honours degree in Environmental Science and my work has always been my passion.

I have reviewed the available information regarding the proposed location of the new splash pad in the centre of North Shore Park and I believe that this location could be detrimental to that sensitive ecosystem and that other locations in the community should be reconsidered.

It is difficult to be specific about the potential
environmental impact to the park from the proposed project because there is no detailed (public) information about the design and/or environmental studies that may or may not have been done prior to focusing on that location.

Therefore, I will refer to a couple of specific excerpts from the posters at the public information night on Nov 30, 2016.

"The splash pad will cover an are which represents only 2% of the park therefore the potential for environmental impact is minimal" "Very few trees will be cut down so the impact to the park is minimal"

- How do you know if there is potential for any significant environmental impact - unless you do physical testing of the area and assess the sensitivity of the ecosystem?  At the very least, you should be gathering baseline data which can be used as a comparison point in the future to monitor the park.

- The shallow groundwater table has historically made this an excellent location for those cedar trees because they require significantly more water than many deciduous trees. If a 2500 square foot concrete pad is installed, with an additional apron of unknown size, that surface area will be blocked from any downward seepage of rain water which the surrounding trees require for their survival. Do we know how this could impact on this other trees?

- There is a creek adjacent to the proposed site which has running water to the lake in the spring, summer and fall. Has there been any consideration of spillage of chlorinated or contaminated waste water from the pad into this creek?  Has there been any calculations done for the amount of seepage of waste water from the pad to groundwater which could either find its way to the lake via the creek or by direct flow? The soils are full of gravel, silt, rocks and boulders and are therefore highly permeable.

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Local residents have told me that they have seen fish in that creek therefore, that water way may be a fishery and have special protective rights under the legislation and Environment Canada's Department of Fisheries and Oceans. 

- I also understand that large 7500 gallon recovery storage tanks will be buried in the vicinity of the mailboxes by McVicar road. I have two concerns with this action

1. Has there been any review of the potential impact on groundwater from installing these tanks as it is likely that they will be, if not in groundwater, very close to it?

2. I haven't seen any calculations however how do you know that this volume of storage will be enough and if not where will the excess water go because, essentially it would be considered grey water?

I am also concerned about the available parking. The November 30, 2016 Information night states that a maximum of 10 car parking sufficient for any given day in the summer and if not there is overflow parking in the harbour parking lot. We know that the public are already complaining about the number of cars in that lot and boaters being blocked from being able to launch their boats.

Surely, there has to be a more logical and environmental friendly location for this splash pad. I don't understand why council would potentially decide to locate this facility in the middle of the park and disturb the serenity of this beautiful place, and even worse potentially impact on this sensitive ecosystem. 

I believe that another location to be considered and if not then an environmental study, if not a formal environmental assessment be completed and provided to the public prior to any construction at that site.

Yours Truly

David Hiller

Concerned Saugeen Shores resident

Canadian Community News, and thereby its subsidiaries, does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. All comments must be signed and are published at the discretion of the editor

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Monday, December 12, 2016