Developers are proposing major changes north of the Saugeen River

Residents who live north of the Saugeen River in Southampton are concerned about proposed ‘unchecked’ development when it comes to several issues including destruction of significant woodland, urban tree canopy and wildlife habitat.

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The applicant is proposing to create a residential subdivision in Southampton consisting of 14 single detached dwelling lots and 15 townhouse dwelling lots along a new municipal road constructed within a current unopened road allowance. A total of 29 new residential units are proposed. The applicant is proposing to re-zone the lands from Planned Development (PD) to Residential First Density (R1) and Residential Third Density (R3) to facilitate the proposed development.

While the developer’s Environmental Impact Study, that was completed by John Morton of AWS Environmental Consulting, said that “… there was no confirmed Significant Wildlife Habitat within the Site Lands, further review and impact assessment for SWH is not warranted or deemed required. Therefore, it has been demonstrated and can be concluded that the site development within the Study Lands would be in compliance with the PPS 2.1.5 (d) and 2.1.8 and the Bruce County Official Plan policy and the Town of Saugeen Shores Official Plan policy“, residents report the opposite.

They said that there have been sitings of black bear, deer, coyote, fox, raccoon, salamanders, snakes and frogs in addition to many species of birds, including hawks, wild turkeys and even eagles.

In his report, Morton also states that mitigative measures should be implemented through the Site Plan Control, Development Agreement and/or Development permits/approvals. These measures are recommended to maintain the ecological functioning role and natural heritage features that have been identified within the Study Lands and are in compliance with applicable Acts, Legislation, and Natural Heritage Planning Policies of the Provincial Policy Statement, County and Town Official Plans and environmental guidelines, including:

No tree cutting or vegetation removal should occur from April 1st to August 31st in compliance with the Federal Migratory Birds Act for woodland bird nesting and rearing habitat.

In his report, Morton concluded that, “All natural feature locations are estimates based on current Bruce County air photo imagery, and plotting by a hand-held GPS unit, of significant features and through site topographic mapping on Ontario Base Maps. The maps contained within this report should not be considered ‘a legal survey’ but are deemed adequate for this planning/application review process.”

In a prior proposed development where Morton was the ‘hired environmental expert’, it was determined that he, in fact, worked for the developer and had not made field ground-site visits to the property.

In these times of dire predictions of climate change say residents, “it has been proven that trees mitigate CO2 emissions, reduce soil erosion and flooding and help stormwater management by reducing and storing run-off. The protection and regeneration of our urban tree canopy and local forests must be a top priority for both municipal government and private property owners.”

During a recent municipal All Candidates meeting held on October 13th, each candidate, almost without exception, said that the tree canopy was a priority along with maintaining existing trees and woodlands.

In addition to vegetation and wildlife, the residents have also raised concerns over sewer and storm water management.  According to the residents, sewer plant peak capacity in the area will need to be improved by 2023 and that, with the possible influx of 100 new residents, it will add to the significant sewer odour that now exists.

With the proposed subdivision zoning of R3 in an R1 neighbourhood, residents are concerned that the character of the area will also be impacted.  The residents will be meeting at the Chantry Centre on October 27th at 7:00 p.m. and have invited Mayor Luke Charbonneau and Southampton Ward Councillor John Divinski to attend and discuss the proposed development.

The residents have also developed a petition, which can be opened, signed, scanned and returned via email to: