About 20 people holding signs in support of saving Fredericton’s UNB Woodlot lined Regent Street in front of the future site of a Costco store over the noon hour today.
The action, organized by the Friends of the UNB Woodlot, was meant to draw attention to the infringement of the 80-metre buffer zone of a wetland for the Costco store. Similar to two previous actions at the Woodlot last fall, they used pink flagging tape to demarcate the area that they say should be protected as part of that buffer zone. Over 40 students, professors, alumni and concerned citizens attended the first flagging event in October 2009.
The UNB Land Management Strategy for development of the UNB Woodlot promises 80-metre buffer zones around ecologically sensitive areas, including Corbett Brook Marsh, Larch Swale and Regent Bog.
“The recent cutting of every tree by heavy equipment on the proposed Costco site is unacceptable. This razing of the entire development site included both the 80 metre buffers for Larch Swale and Corbett Brook Marsh, as well as the two additional wetlands discovered during our first 80 metre flagging event back in October 2009,” said Mark D’Arcy, an organizer with the Friends of the UNB Woodlot.
The two wetlands missed in the Environmental Impact Assessment were confirmed in a letter from the Minister of Environment Rick Miles to the Friends of the UNB Woodlot last January.
“How is it possible to miss wetlands when doing an environmental inventory for such a well-documented land as the east side of the UNB Woodlot?,” questioned D’Arcy who says that UNB Forestry, the Forest Ranger School and the Fredericton Foxes Orienteering Club have data files on such attributes as wetlands.
D’Arcy questions the work of environmental consultants such as Jacques-Whitford (now Stantec) that have missed important features in their environmental assessments in recent years. In 2006, Jacques-Whitford consultants claimed that a huge wetland was beside the proposed Knowledge Park Drive when it really crossed directly through it. In 2007, Jacques-Whitford missed two significant wetlands in the proposed Southside rink property of the UNB Woodlot.
“What does Environment Minister Rick Miles intend to do, if the destruction of wetlands will not be tolerated in our province? To date, a total of seven wetlands have been completely or significantly destroyed for Corbett Place and Knowledge Park Drive. And now Costco is being allowed to destroy two more wetlands,” said D’Arcy.
The Friends of the UNB Woodlot, recently recognized for their efforts with a Conservation Council of New Brunswick’s Annual Milton F. Gregg Award, is demanding that UNB take responsibility for wetland protection on its lands. “The destruction and degradation of wetlands by piecemeal development must stop,” said D’Arcy.