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Archive for March, 2009

March 4, 2009

To: President John McLaughlin, University of New Brunswick
Stephen Strople, UNB Board of Governors
Roland Haché, Minister of Environment
Fredericton City Council
Media

The UNB Woodlot, located on unceded Wulustuk land, is over 3,500 acres of woods, wetlands and wildlife, home to mature forest, herons and lady slippers.

Many residents of Fredericton enjoy the Woodlot as a place of recreation and refuge from the increasing proliferation of concrete, asphalt, litter, light, noise and visual pollution. How many cities can boast a wild area of its size in its city limits? Many people value the UNB Woodlot for its trails.

The development of the UNB Woodlot, replacing forest and wetland for big box stores, is unthinkable in today’s knowledge of the conservation importance of such natural gems. Today, we are deeply concerned about the proposed Costco development that will adversely impact a wetland.

The UNB Woodlot is used by students and UNB Faculty as an important natural research lab for fish ecology, forestry and other studies.

Urban forest such as the UNB Woodlot reduce air pollutants and carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, which is a key factor in mitigating climate change.

Rain capture by the UNB Woodlot supplies the headwaters and tributaries of Corbett Brook, Phyllis Creek, Garden Creek and Baker Brook watersheds, and smaller watercourses that flow through Fredericton and towards New Maryland. The forested wetlands of the UNB Woodlot contribute to our aquifer – the sole drinking water supply for the City of Fredericton – and act as a giant sponge during severe rain events by retaining water and slowly releasing water to surrounding forests and aquifers that supply our drinking wells.

UNB’s land endowment plan in its current form will result in irreversible adverse changes in the ecological goods and services provided by the UNB Woodlot to the City of Fredericton.

We feel there has been inadequate public engagement on the proposed developments in the UNB Woodlot.

We call upon the Board of Governors of the University of New Brunswick to immediately put into place a moratorium on all development in the UNB Woodlot until there is a time for adequate public engagement on the issue. We call on the university to engage the community, including First Nations, conservation groups, forest and wetland ecologists, users of the UNB Woodlot as well as the wider community in any future proposals for the UNB Woodlot.

Sincerely,

Tracy Glynn and Julie Michaud,
Fredericton Chapter of the Conservation Council of New Brunswick
180 St. John St.,
Fredericton, NB
E3B 4A9
Tel: 506 458-8747
Email: forest@conservationcouncil.ca

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Wetland | Conservation group says sometimes the damage can’t be fixed
By HEATHER MCLAUGHLIN,  The Daily Gleaner, Published Friday February 27th, 2009

A ticket has been issued by the province to a company that dug into the wetland area adjacent to Wayne Squibb Boulevard at the University of New Brunswick’s Corbett Centre without the proper approval.

Tracy Glynn of the Fredericton chapter of the Conservation Council of New Brunswick said the group was alerted after UNB biology Prof. Rick Cunjak observed activity near a wetland buffer zone at the edge of the retail development site atop Regent Street.

“It was good that Rick noticed it … I sent a message immediately to the Department of Environment,” said Glynn. “They said they would follow up on that.”

Read more: http://dailygleaner.canadaeast.com/search/article/586590

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Jacques Whitford

711 Woodstock Road

Fredericton, NB

E3B 5C2

February 25, 2009

Re: Costco development

Dear Ms. Murdoch,

On behalf of the Conservation Council of New Brunswick, I am writing to point out that the proposed Costco development in the UNB woodlot is short-sighted and potentially very dangerous. The proposed gas bar must trigger a new Environmental Impact Assessment, since underground reservoirs for gasoline in this area of wetlands are too risky given the potential for leaks. The original Costco plan included maintaining a wetland with surrounding green space – it is unacceptable that under the new plan this has been changed to a storm water holding pond surrounded by asphalt.

The forests and wetlands located in the UNB woodlot and on other properties near Knowledge Park Drive and Regent Street provide ecosystem goods and services to the residents of Fredericton, and at no cost. These services include erosion control and sediment retention, recreation, food production, air regulation (including cleaning and filtering), climate regulation, water supply, and soil formation. To replace these functions with other man-made structures after failing to protect a perfect natural (and free) design would be unimaginably costly.

In addition to the above concerns, it appears that the proposed Costco store will encroach on the 30 metre buffer around a wetland. This too is unacceptable. It is clear that the opinions of the public must be taken into account in any decisions made in the UNB Woodlot including the option to reject the proposed development.

Sincerely,

Megan de Graaf, MScF

Forest and Watersheds Project Coordinator

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The Daily Gleaner, Published Monday February 23, 2009
http://dailygleaner.canadaeast.com/search/article/581297

* Internal and external consultation sessions to prepare UNB’s land management strategy and woodlot implementation plan, 2001-2004

* Information sessions on the woodlot implementation plan held for UNB community, stakeholder groups, media and the general public, October 2004

* Municipal plan amendment, public process, 2004

* zoning for 45-acre Corbett Centre retail development, public process, 2005

* Environmental approvals and environmental impact assessments conducted for the retail development, 2005-07

* Retail development construction begins, fall 2005

* First retail store, The Home Depot, opens, June 2006

* Subdivision of land and lease negotiations for the Sports and Leisure Complex, 2005-06

* Subdivision approved for extension of Knowledge Park Drive, public process, 2006

* Environmental impact assessment conducted and approved for Knowledge Park Drive extension, 2006-07

* Work on extension of Knowledge Park Drive by city of Fredericton, 2007

* Call for expressions of interest for development along extension of Knowledge Park Drive, February 2008

* Groundbreaking for Sports and Leisure Complex, spring/summer 2008

* Knowledge Park Drive extension to open, spring/summer 2008

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The Daily Gleaner, Published Monday February 23rd, 2009

For environmentalists, there’s no compromise. The University of New Brunswick wetland atop Regent Street should remain pristine and wild.

Picture: PLANS: Revised version of the proposed site for Costco wholesale store, planned for the Corbett Centre development at the top of Regent Street.

For the University of New Brunswick, becoming the lessee of 10 hectares (26 acres) of its vast 1,416 hectare (3,540-acre) forestry holdings for retail development, has meant trying to re-engineer nature’s wetland to earn revenue for university coffers.

And, it seems, never the twain shall meet.

Tracy Glynn, a member of the Conservation Council of New Brunswick’s Fredericton chapter is calling for a moratorium on all development atop Regent Street.

That’s where the university has partnered with engineering and planning firms, Trinity Development Group and RioCan, to market the site to big-box stores, restaurants and smaller retail shops.

Read more: http://dailygleaner.canadaeast.com/search/article/581296

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The Daily Gleaner, Published Tuesday March 10th, 2009
Re: UNB Woodlot development
I live in St. John’s, Newfoundland, but I grew up in New Brunswick and went to the University of New Brunswick for a couple of years.
I have family living in Fredericton who have told me there is pressure to develop the woodlot above the UNB campus.
My husband and I have long fought for the retention of natural environments in cities as the most important factor in flood control. Both cities are prone to flooding at lower levels. In St. John’s, there is a large watershed out of which several rivers flow towards St. John’s harbour and Quidi Vidi Gut, a small harbour in the east end of the city.
Tributary streams have been put underground and channelized, culverts improperly installed, storm sewers often are not cleared, and because of climate change, heavy precipitation is happening more frequently.
The city council has ignored the warnings of experts such as my husband and other scientists, including many at Memorial University, who point out the errors in city plans. Development and tax revenues take precedence over property values, wildlife, and of course, human health and even our lives are put in danger by flooding.
Our home (built in 1840) was not on the flood plain when we purchased it; but the following year the flood plain was redrawn and our insurance does not cover any flood damage. This has happened to many people.
As a result of our experiences with our council, I did a lot of research and was able to confirm that trees and urban forests are primary factors in absorbing rain and snow, releasing it more slowly so that flash flooding is less likely to occur.
St. John’s still will not pay attention. I know that Fredericton residents and businesses, supported by intelligent scientific advice from knowledgeable sources, have protested plans to develop the woodlot.
Councillors and planners are culpable if they make decisions which fail to recognize the danger of removing any part, no matter how small, in Fredericton, which has even worse floods than we do here in St. John’s.
Judy Gibson
St. John’s, NL

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March 10th, 2009
By GRAHAM FORBES, For The Daily Gleaner
To some, the University of New Brunswick woodlot represents recreation, green space, quality of life and ecological services.
Photo: REPLACING TREES: New stores at the Corbett Centre can be seen past the trees from the UNB woodlot. While some want development and others want preservation, writer Graham Forbes points out that what UNB teaches in many of its courses is contrary to its decisions on its woodlot.
To others, it represents jobs, housing, tax revenue and opportunities to shop.
The first group wants more protected, the latter, more developed. My point is not so much to debate the percentage developed, but, if development is to occur, to illustrate a better way to develop.
The Feb. 12 information session on proposed changes to a wetland promotes the removal of a wetland (already approved by government) that would retain run-off but also some natural forest and ecological function. It would be replaced with two bathtub-like holding ponds for runoff.
Apparently, the approved wetland needs to be removed simply because Costco stores have pre-determined dimensions and parking areas, and they want the store sign to face the entrance of the road.
I offer that this proposal is another case of poor environmental management by UNB. Two years ago, UNB cleared forest for the Home Depot area. The woodlot development plan has 80-metre buffers on waterways, but, in this first evidence of how UNB develops, the forested corridor oddly becomes 30 metres, the minimum required by provincial regulation.
A road was pushed through a wetland, the site where traffic caused significant frog mortality in fall 2008. A 30-metre buffer on a wetland was clear cut, without a permit, and UNB was forced to mitigate the violation, which they did by replanting trees in the buffer.
Recently, UNB clearcut three lines for geotechnical work, each about four metres wide into this wetland. Was there government approval to impact this wetland? A large wetland was found where the new hockey rinks near Kimble Drive were to be built. The wetland was not in the original environmental impact assessment and would have been destroyed; the hockey rink layout had to be changed at considerable expense and delay.
The water detention pond at the Kimble Road end of the woodlot breached twice and dumped extensive sediment into Corbett Brook. These are not shining examples of sustainable development.
I note that the loss of populations of animals and plants will have no impact on these species. They are not rare, they are found in many places.
The loss is at the scale of Fredericton. People in Fredericton want clean water and natural features, and they want nature close to where they live and work. One would hope we do not have to keep sacrificing natural areas so that a single box-store can have its store sign seen as you drive in.
I am not so naive to believe my values or advice drive the actions of the university. I do, however, question a troubling hypocrisy.
If UNB promotes sustainable management, sustainable development, wildlife management, environmental planning, environmental economics, and corporate citizenship, it would seem we could expect more of that teaching be put into practice.
By my count UNB has over 20 relevant courses in virtually every discipline, from engineering, forestry, biology, to economics and sociology. We have at least 25 professors who research, write about and work in these areas. If a university cannot promote supposed new-and-improved methods, a better balance between development and conservation, then who can?
The woodlot should be a showcase of what is possible, not an example of the status quo, of flat-earth planning or of removing wetlands so a big-box store can fit its predetermined shape.
Graham Forbes, PhD, is the director of the New Brunswick Co-operative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit, Faculty of Forestry and Environmental Management and Faculty of Science at the University of New Brunswick.

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