Archive for the ‘Green Space’ Category

Corbett Falls, UNB Woodlot. Oct. 2010.

Silt in Corbett Brook near the mouth where it meets the St. John River. UNB Woodlot. Oct. 2010.


Corbett Marsh. Oct. 2010.

Geese flying over the UNB Woodlot. Oct. 2010.

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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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The Daily Gleaner, Published Friday December 26th, 2008

Re: Story published Dec. 11 called Costco variances approved

I am absolutely sickened by the news regarding the building of a Costco store on the University of New Brunswick Woodlot.

What a sad and pathetic sight it is to now see paved roads, parking lots, and greedy consumerism taking over one of the most beautiful, peaceful and natural areas in this city.

As for the argument that development is taking place on only a small portion of the woodlot, the destruction of any part of a supposedly protected area cannot be justified. If our protected areas can be so easily modified to suit the needs of those in power, how can we have any trust in those who are meant to be protecting these areas?

To those Fredericton shoppers who have been clamouring to have Costco set up, I suggest you make the effort to spend some time in the remaining woodlot where you will undoubtedly see how fortunate we are to have a true forest within our city.

If instead you choose to keep on clamouring for Costco, I hope you enjoy your wholesale super packs of chewing gum.

Jill Seymour

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Letter to the Editor, The Daily Gleaner

Published Monday December 15th, 2008
Re: UNB woodlot development
At a time when climate change has finally been recognized as the world’s number one threat to survival, it is hard to understand how anyone can support plans to develop UNB’s woodlot.
We need those trees. We need those wetlands and watersheds.
Without them, we will face further climate change, further soil erosion, further flooding.
We’ve been told to plant trees by the City of Fredericton’s Green Matters campaign.
Meanwhile, Fredericton clear cuts conservation forests.
UNB has started a new environmental studies program.
Meanwhile, they are falling over themselves trying to convert conservation wetlands into retail development. Enough hypocrisy.
The proposed Costco development will first require a rezoning of conservation land to development land.
City council must not approve such a rezoning.
Not only is it environmentally irresponsible, such a vote will also kill what is unique to this city.
All this big box development is ultimately diluting the special character of Fredericton.
Do we really want to become another Moncton, or do we want to retain the unique beauty of a historical city?
Is shopping so much more important to us than the natural beauty surrounding our city? Are we ready to face a dead downtown core?
Fredericton has so much. Let’s not kill it for the sake of shopping.
Taeyon Kim

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NDP Candidate
New Maryland-Sudbury-West

As a concerned citizen and a supporter of Fredericton’s “Green Matters” campaign, I am greatly disturbed by the rapid development that has already destroyed acres of UNB’s prided woodlot, and that has been given the OK to continue to destroy this environmental landmark as time goes on.

The UNB Woodlot, priding itself as being an active teaching and research base for forestry students, is also “a provincially designated wildlife refuge and is a favourite place for people of Fredericton and surrounding communities to run, jog, walk and enjoy nature.” This is a direct quote from the University of New Brunswick’s Faculty of Forestry and Environmental Management home page, which goes on to list the large variety of wildlife and plants that call this woodlot home. This UNB webpage, which beams of pride for their woodlot, sure doesn’t make sense when paired with the UNB Board of Governor’s decision to allow 50 per cent of the woodlot to be destroyed and privately developed over the coming years.

As the New Democratic candidate for the New Maryland-Sudbury West riding, I urge UNB to reconsider the consequences of their actions. Please submit this land to comprehensive environmental assessment, and realize that you are putting all of the wonderful aspects of the woodlot at great stake. I also call for a moratorium on any further development of the woodlot. Big box development is not the answer to Fredericton’s “Green Matters.” We must raise our voices together to save our environment, and ourselves.

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In light of Fredericton’s loudly publicised goal to be the first city in Canada to reach the Kyoto protocol, and its self-proclaimed title as a “Green City”, it seems ironic that Fredericton is participating in the destruction of the UNB Woodlot, that it continues to support development of sprawl, and that Lee Breen was jailed for riding his skateboard on city streets, to name just a few. Why has there been so little coming out of Fredericton’s City Council that really gets to the teeth of curbing climate change? Read more…

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July 25th, 2008. A Fredericton company charged with violating the Clean Water Act in March has been ordered to rehabilitate land it has filled in on Bishop Drive.

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July 24, 2008 at CBC News: http://www.cbc.ca/canada/new-brunswick/story/2008/07/24/nb-bog.html

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July 18, 2008
Recently, Mayor Brad Woodside stated that he will not pressure the University of New Brunswick to conduct a comprehensive environmental assessment of its woodlot – 1,500 acres of which is slated for development over the coming years.
This was surprising to me in light of the city’s newly launched “Green Matters” campaign.

For a city aiming to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by six per cent by 2010, where is the logic in ripping out over 1,500 acres of forests which absorb incredible amounts of carbon dioxide?

Recently, there have been warnings from environmental experts, insurance bureaus and urban planners from across Canada that city planners must make whatever efforts they can to try to minimise the effects of climate change.

If our best natural defense against greenhouse gases, flooding and water shortages is mowed down and paved over, the “Green Matters” campaign becomes nothing but a publicity stunt – or a cruel joke.

That the city has been recently criticized nationally for its environmental hypocrisy should make it more, not less, willing to make the UNB woodlot its business. If city council’s present development mindset is continued, Fredericton’s motto (Fredericton – noble daughter of the forest) will become a thing of the past.

Frances Campbell


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Who speaks for the beavers?
Published Thursday July 3rd, 2008
Chris McCormick
The Daily Gleaner
After development began, nesting trees were felled throughout the fall and spring during wildfowl migration. Contractors were hired to clear the land and large numbers of white tailed deer were driven onto nearby roadways and killed.
“Hundreds of burrowing mammals including beavers were buried alive, and one bulldozer operator said he had to continually stop and empty his bucket because rabbit and squirrels were leaping into it as he ploughed through their burrows.”
This paraphrase is from a public consultation document describing what happened during a particular development in British Columbia.
It also shows what happens to animals during development, an issue much discussed lately in the local media.
When it comes to controversial issues, people line up and state their positions. In the debate, some voices usually dominate while others are silenced.
For example, in a debate over gun control in the United States, news media, newspaper articles, editorials and letters to the editor came to be dominated by a “cosmopolitan worldview.”
This worldview or way of looking at and talking about the world emphasized risk avoidance as well as the government’s responsibility to reduce risk.
The end result was the marginalization of gun owners.
How contentious issues are framed in the news media will privilege some points of view while silencing others, as is the case with environmental conflicts.
More importantly, it can hamper efforts to find common ground on those issues.
However, seeing that the conflict is about worldviews gives us a way to approach the discussion of resource management.
In another example, researchers looked at how protests against the World Trade Organization held in Seattle in 1999 were represented.
Stories in the news drew largely from official sources and public opinion, sponsoring viewpoints critical of the protestors, as in, “a furious rag-bag of anti-globalization protestors converged on downtown Seattle.”
This characterization worked to marginalize and demonize anti-WTO protestors, while adding credibility to those people and organizations supportive of the WTO.
In my favourite example, during the fishing conflict at Burnt Church natives were described as “setting out on the water in defiance of the DFO,” despite the fact that the Supreme Court had already ruled in their favour.
Imagine how different the reading would be if the line had read “native fishers set out on the water and were challenged by the DFO, who were acting in defiance of the Supreme Court.”
From my point of view, it is obvious that socially responsible news media should allow a variety of ways of looking at the world to play out in an effort to promote public debate.
However, the very opening up of debate is often where these different worldviews are found.
For example, in a study of how environmental issues were discussed, researchers found that different stakeholder groups stereotyped others’ points of view and disparaged their motives, while also justifying and privileging their own reasoning.
Those in the dominant, development-oriented group tended to construct their opponents as naive, idealistic, paranoid and fanatical.
On the other hand, environmental activists constructed their opponents as sinister, political, untrustworthy and deceitful.
As each group took a position in the media to criticize the others, those who were criticized could claim victim status and take action to promote their own identity because of the other parties’ criticisms.
In the recent debate over woodlot development in Fredericton, activists have been criticized for being naive, told to get a life and were accused of butting in on the university’s legal rights.
The university, on the other hand, which has played a major role in this development and which could have pioneered green technology, has been criticized for contributing to environmental degradation and for avoiding an important environmental assessment.
When environmental issues are discussed in the media, the dynamic relation between humans and the world they inhabit is revealed.
Articles, commentaries and letters to the editor act as a forum for public dialogue on perceptions of land use and the environment.
Upholding democratic process as a determinant of land use policy is difficult, however, because the voices have unequal amounts of power.
Voicing an alternative environmental discourse is portrayed as a fringe interest. This is particularly dangerous because when a less powerful party is portrayed as “crazy,” it effectively stops the conversation.
When this happens, as the opening paragraph so vividly portrays, it is the wildlife itself which ultimately loses in the debate.
Chris McCormick is a criminology professor at St. Thomas University. His column on crime and criminal justice appears every second Thursday. Comments can be sent to letters@dailygleaner.com.

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