A Road to Ruin: Endangered Species Everywhere
OTTAWA--Sierra Club Canada has appealed to Ottawa City Council to reconsider the fate of the threatened Blanding’s Turtle as well as several other endangered and threatened species that reside in the area of the proposed Terry Fox Drive Extension. The City of Ottawa is forcing through a $47.7 million extension of Terry Fox Drive, the construction of which will sever and fragment this pristine and richly diverse area.
“Sierra Club Canada does not believe the citizens of Ottawa want to be responsible for any more extinctions and certainly not for something as trivial as another road,” said John Bennett, Executive Director of Sierra Club Canada. “City Council must act responsibly at this important juncture to ensure Terry Fox Dr. extension does not go forth as planned.”
Recently, Marianne Wilkinson, Kanata North Councillor, conceded that the route through the natural area will cause environmental disruption, but showed little regret for the inevitable devastation to the area, “There’s no way that all development in Ontario is going to be stopped because of endangered species. They’re everywhere,” she said.
“We aren’t asking that all development be stopped in Ontario, only this ill conceived Terry Fox Road extension, it’s not a lot to save the Blanding’s Turtle from extinction,” said Bennett. “We should be very concerned if endangered species are everywhere.”
A local community association in the area has also expressed the need for a new road, as the only route now is the winding and narrow roadway, Goulbourn Forced Road. But Goulbourn Forced Road will itself be improved and the City in fact has plans to spend $18.2 million on improvements in the coming years.1
Furthermore, the Terry Fox Drive Extension was never intended to be constructed as a stand-alone project to serve as a thoroughfare from North Kanata southward. The 2003 Transportation Master Plan identified the rationale for the project as "Provides access to adjacent developments."2
In fact, the new road will pave the way for the development of more subdivisions, which according to an October 2009 draft environmental screening report by Dillon Consulting, commissioned by the City of Ottawa, will result in “significant” loss of habitat and displacement of wildlife. Ron Brooks, the lead turtle scientist with the federal-government-supported Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada, has also warned vehicle collisions on the busy new road will wipe out the local population of Blanding’s turtles, unless extreme mitigation measures are undertaken.
The project has not had a complete and proper environmental assessment and may be open to costly legal intervention. There is not a need for this road at this time. Endangered and threatened species should be given priority over development given the rapid and steady decline of wetlands habitat in Ontario.
Director of Media Relations
Sierra Club Canada
(o) 613.241.4611 x230
Toll free: 1.888.810.4204