Archive for April, 2009

Conservation Council of New Brunswick

Fredericton Chapter

For Immediate Release

April 29, 2009

Fredericton – The Fredericton Chapter of the Conservation Council of New Brunswick is joining those concerned with the way that Fredericton City Council handled the approvals needed to build a Costco in the UNB Woodlot.

“We are concerned with the lack of transparency and the piecemeal process involved in approving the Costco and other developments in the UNB Woodlot,” stated Tracy Glynn, the Conservation Council’s Acadian Forest Campaigner and Fredericton Chapter member.

At Monday’s City Council meeting, it was announced that the City Council would only be voting on expanding the parking lot area for Costco. The gas bar had already been discussed and approved during a closed committee meeting earlier.

“We only take small comfort with the decision of City Council to move the gas bar outside the buffer zone. During our ecological crisis, we should not be considering Costco’s profits ahead of our own needs and the planet’s needs. The city does not need more gas bars and big box stores but it does need forest and wetlands. Lessons should be learned from cities across Canada that are now footing huge bills to restore natural areas and wetlands because of past unwise development,” stated Glynn.

“The UNB Woodlot is home to herons, frogs, blue bead lilies, old-growth red spruce stands, mature forest and wetlands,” stated Megan de Graaf, the Conservation Council’s Forest and Watersheds Project Coordinator and Fredericton Chapter member. “The expansion of big box stores and housing developments into forest and wetlands deprives wildlife of their habitat and threatens our city’s biodiversity. Today, the primary threat to forest and wetlands that remain near Canada’s cities is urban sprawl. We encourage the city of Fredericton to join other cities such as Edmonton in taking measures to halt biodiversity loss.”

The Fredericton Chapter of the Conservation Council reaffirms its calls for a moratorium on development in the UNB Woodlot until a proper public participation process has been done.


Tracy Glynn, 458-8747, forest@conservationcouncil.ca

Megan de Graaf, 458-8747, water@conservationcouncil.ca

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Last Updated: Wednesday, April 15, 2009
CBC News

The addition of a gas bar and a parking lot expansion on the proposed Costco site caused close to 100 people to turn out to a Fredericton city council meeting on Tuesday night.

Eleven people spoke against the proposed expansion at the Costco site at the Corbett Centre on the city’s south side. Many used the opportunity to voice their opposition to the entire project.

But Fredericton Mayor Brad Woodside made it clear that the Costco development was not up for debate.

“That was approved, went through the entire process we’re going through now. So that part is behind us,” Woodside said.

If the bylaw amendment is passed, a wetland will be filled in to make room for the parking lot expansion and a gas bar.

Claire Gibson was one of people who told the council that it’s a bad idea to put a gas bar in that area.

“I’m not a scientist but it doesn’t make common sense to put a gas bar near a wetland,” Gibson said.

Rick Cunjak, a professor at the University of New Brunswick and the Canada research chair in river ecosystem science, also spoke against the motion on Tuesday night.

“The likelihood, my suggestion would be, that something could go wrong at a gas bar is there, is potentially high. Are we willing to take that risk? I would suggest not,” he said.
Developer says safety precautions being taken

Scott Fash, a planner with the Terrain Group, the project developer said precautions are being taken to avoid any potential harmful environmental impacts.

“Not only the underground storage tanks but the above ground fuel pumps had to be outside the buffer of the existing wetland,” he said.

Council has asked for a report on the possible effects the project could have on surface water and the city’s drinking water supply. The amendment will go to third and final reading on April 27.

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City to conduct vote April 27
A1, Published Wednesday April 15th, 2009

Move it to another location. Don’t build a gasoline bar. Don’t build any kind of big-box store. Put a moratorium on any further development of the University of New Brunswick woodlot.

That’s what the 38 environmental groups and opponents of big-box stores are telling city council about a proposed Costco.

Another five individuals, plus a group of citizens that signed a petition, stated their support for the development.

“This is an emotional issue for a lot of people,” said Mayor Brad Woodside after the nearly two-hour public discussion. “You have been very respectful and I appreciate that very much.”

Councillors gave first and second reading Tuesday night to a rezoning bylaw to allow a proposed Costco Wholesale store to be located at the Corbett Centre retail development on the University of New Brunswick woodlot atop Regent Street.

Much of the property needed for the store and its parking area is already within an approved zoning envelope.

But one corner at the Regent Street end of the property has to be added to the site plan for a proposed gasoline bar and that has put project developers at city hall’s steps for tweaking of its zoning.

It won’t be until April 27, when councillors vote on third reading of the zoning amendment, that the city’s verdict will be delivered.

Coun. Bruce Grandy has asked for a staff report on surface water runoff and the potential impacts on the city’s drinking water supply from the project prior to third reading.

Friends of the UNB Woodlot, the Fredericton chapter of the Conservation Council of New Brunswick, UNB students and a couple of UNB professors revisited most of the same arguments that the public has heard about the development.

“Putting a gas bar next to a wetland probably isn’t a good idea,” said UNB Prof. Charlene Mayes. “It shouldn’t be about how much risk we can tolerate, but how much risk we can avoid.”

She said councillors have a golden opportunity to uphold the environmental protection goals that are stated in the city’s environmental plan.

“We need to consider whether it’s right and correct to roll out the red carpet for them by allowing them to expand their project, expand their parking lot and construct a gas bar,” said Julie Michaud of the Conservation Council of New Brunswick.

UNB Prof. Rick Cunjak takes his fish biology class to the Corbett Brook marsh area because the upper part of the brook is the only place where brook trout are found.

“What’s the significance of brook trout? They’re like a canary in a coal mine. They’re a very good indicator of environmental sensitivity … There’s still something right here. Let’s not mess with that,” Cunjak said.

“What’s the likelihood of a problem occurring with a gas bar? I don’t know. I would say is it worth the risk?” Cunjak said. “I would suggest not.”

Professors at UNB and St. Thomas University are working behind the scenes to try to change UNB’s approach to the woodlot plan into a more environmentally sustainable model, Cunjak said.

Wolfgang Faig, retired dean of engineering at UNB, said groups and individuals that want to revisit UNB’s plan for its woodlot had the opportunity to speak when the university prepared its woodlot plan.

“To hear that students didn’t have input is incorrect,” Faig said. “I’m a little frustrated to see now that members of the university community object while they could have objected all through the process.”

Terrain Group Inc., the engineering and site planning group hired by UNB to plan the property layout, has been working with the Environment Department on modifications to minimize intrusion on the marsh.

“Previously on the site plan, we had shown encroachment in these areas (the 30-metre buffer zone) … but the Department of Environment has prohibited any encroachment into those buffer areas,” said Scott Fash, a planner with Terrain Group Inc.

“We’ve agreed and will be putting retaining walls so that the development will no longer be encroaching.”

The gasoline bar fuel pumps have to be moved an additional 30 metres away from the buffer, he said.

“There are significant monitoring programs that are going to be required by the Department of the Environment,” Fash said.

“In terms of water supply, this wetland and the proposed gas bar is outside of the city’s wellfield protection zoning.”

In 2004, UNB adopted a land management strategy to turn half of its 1,526-hectare (3,815-acre) woodlot into future development lands. Because its land is an endowment from King George III dating back to 1800, the university can’t sell it, but can lease it.

At the time the strategy was drafted, the university held stakeholder and public talks about the proposal.

“Forcing Costco out of Fredericton would be a tremendous loss for this city and its inhabitants. I would not like to see that happen,” Faig said.

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The public presentations to Fredericton City Council will take place tonight starting at 7:30 PM.  Anyone can speak.  You simply have to show up and ask to speak.

To get to the Council chamber, you walk up the front steps of CIty Hall that face Queen Street.   Once inside, you turn right and go up the stairs to the Council Chamber on the 2nd Floor, and the public gallery on the 3rd Floor.

Here are 2 key points:


The Friends of the UNB Woodlot just learned that the gas station will be allowed by the Department of Environment.  There will be conditions placed on the gas station such as a monitoring plan, and a surface runoff plan.  There will be no encroachment allowed within 30metres of Corbett Brook Marsh.  Also, there is a condition for a compensation plan to be prepared for the loss of the 0.7 hectare wetland (the one beside the New Maryland Highway) which is being lost due to the construction of the gas station.


Here is the proof of UNB’s commitment back in 2004 to preserve 80metre buffers and ecologically sensitive areas.
(Note:  A permanent record of this pdf will always be available on the Internet Archive website.  The Internet Archive retrieved this page from the UNB website on Dec. 27, 2004.)

And the same information sheet can be found as part of the many public presentations given by Dr. John McLaughlin and Mike Ryan. (click on the “Display Panel 3 – UNB Woodlot – Endowment Conservation Lands” found on the UNB website: http://www.unb.ca/lms/woodlot/openhouse.html

Therefore, the proposed Costco development cannot proceed without a significant change to the footprint of the building and the parking lot.  The 80metre buffer on the sensitive wetland Corbett Brook Marsh must be preserved.

Please show up at CIty Council tonight and add your voice in support of the Woodlot.

Sincerely yours,

Mark D’Arcy and Caroline Lubbe-D’Arcy

379 Northumberland Street
Fredericton, NB

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Store | Facility planned for Corbett Centre
Published Monday April 13th, 2009
A public hearing of objections will be held at city hall Tuesday as citizens get to state their case for or against a Costco store in Fredericton.
A handful of individuals and interest groups has signed up to address councillors.
As of late last week, city clerk Pam Hargrove was sifting through a lot of letters that her office received to be able to report how many support and how many oppose the project before Tuesday’s council meeting.
Hargrove said letters and comments can still be submitted Tuesday and will be added to councillor information packages.
Groups such as the Friends of the UNB Woodlot and Fredericton chapter of the Conservation Council of New Brunswick are gearing up to fight the project. They oppose any development of the marshy area atop Regent Street and will have representatives at Tuesday’s session.
City council is expected to follow its typical pattern on rezonings Tuesday night. Councillors will hear the public, then give automatic first and second reading to the rezoning bylaw.
Councillors make their final decision on the application April 27. They will either support the project or kill the concept on third reading.
Moncton-based engineering and planning company Terrain Group Inc. is applying on behalf of the University of New Brunswick for the rezoning to allow the store to be built on Regent Street at the Corbett Centre retail development.
UNB is the property owner that’s leasing land to stores such as Winners, Home Depot and Dollarama.
It’s working with its consultants, Trinity Development Group, and its partner, RioCan Real Estate Investment Trust, to add the Costco store.
Costco signed a letter of intent with UNB last fall, but it hasn’t announced a construction date.
Costco Canada spokesman Ron Damiani has said the company continues to have an interest in entering the Fredericton and Saint John markets.
The provincial Environment Department has asked the developers to submit modified plans to manage storm water or surface runoff from the additional big-box store site at Corbett Centre.
A student group in late March called for an immediate moratorium on further development of the woodlot. Students handed a 650-signature petition to outgoing UNB president John McLaughlin. Incoming UNB president Eddy Campbell has been made aware of their concerns.
Mayor Brad Woodside sampled public opinion in March after he launched his Costco For Fredericton site on Facebook. Woodside quickly saw more than 6,000 members join the site and 1,300 people express their opinions.
The majority of those who joined the Facebook group supports a Costco store. Fredericton has many shoppers who are members of the wholesale, bulk grocery and household goods store and who routinely drive to Moncton to pick up buys.
Opponents of the development suggest the store should seek a different location.

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Published Tuesday March 24th, 2009

A public hearing of objections to a zoning amendment and subdivision to permit a Costco store at the Corbett Centre retail development on Regent Street will be held by Fredericton city council April 14.

Two weeks later, councillors are slated to cast their final vote on third reading to determine the store’s fate.

As the property owner, the University of New Brunswick is making the application to the city for the zoning approvals needed to allow the project to go forward.

Long before the first store, the 42,390-square-metre (471,000-square-foot) Home Depot was built at the 18-hectare (45-acre) Corbett Centre property, Costco had been identified as a retailer of interest to UNB and its partners.

UNB is working with Terrain Group of Moncton, an engineering, planning and surveying firm, to help it do site preparation of its land and with Ontario’s Trinity Development Group Inc. and its partner RioCan Real Estate Investment Trust to attract retailers.

Costco signed a letter of intent with UNB in the fall of 2008, but hasn’t yet announced a construction date for a Fredericton project.

“Yes, we still have an interest in entering the Fredericton market and the Saint John market as well. At this point, that’s all that I can comment on,” said Ron Damiani, Costco Canada spokesman in Ottawa, in a recent interview.

Due to design changes, the provincial Environment Department has required additional engineering work from Terrain Group to show how it will manage storm water flows from the property and surrounding land.

Local environmental activists are opposed to any further development on the site and want UNB to protect its woodlot holdings from any type of commercial development.

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Don MacPherson, The Daily Gleaner, Published Tuesday March 24th, 2009


A trial date for a local development company being prosecuted by a private citizen for an alleged environmental infraction has been set.

Provincial court Judge Leslie Jackson set a Nov. 12 trial date for RAR Properties on a charge that it violated the Clean Environment Act by altering a wetland at 584 Bishop Dr. by filling it without a permit from the Department of Environment between June 28 and July 10.

It’s not the province that’s brought the charge forward, but activist Mark D’Arcy, through rarely used legislation allowing private citizens to launch prosecutions.

RAR Properties defence lawyer Patrick Hurley entered a not guilty plea to the charge.

D’Arcy also abandoned three other private charges he filed with the court last month – counts under the Clean Air Act and provincial Health Act, as well as another Clean Environment Act charge.

D’Arcy’s is the latest in a series of private prosecutions to be heard before provincial court judges in Fredericton in recent years.

In previous proceedings, the province’s attorney general exerted its authority to take over such prosecutions, only to stay the charges.

That effectively brought those prosecutions to an end.

Whether that will happen in this instance remains to be seen.

D’Arcy said last month he’s not worried about that and can’t spend his time worrying about what the attorney general might decide.

Elaine Bell, a spokeswoman with the Office of the Attorney General, was mum on the issue when asked about it Monday.

“We don’t have any comment or info at this time,” she wrote in an e-mail.

D’Arcy has been protesting RAR Properties’ development efforts since last year for filling in land under development at its Bishop Drive property.

He maintains it’s a significant wetland and that the province has abdicated its responsibility as the New Brunswick’s steward of the environment.

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