The Leitrim Wetlands are a Class 1* provincial wetland located in the Ottawa region. It is home to several rare and threatened species, and boasts an old growth forest, including white pine in which Great Blue Heron nest.
* Class 1 is a designation that has been used by the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources to indicate that a wetland is Provincially Significant. Class 1 is the highest designation.
The wetland is threatened with a massive housing development, bringing sprawl, cars and new municipal infrastructure to accommodate what is essentially a new town.
In connection with development in the Leitrim Wetland, the federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans on June 18, 2003 released a screening report (a low-level, non-comprehensive, federal environmental assessment) which has been widely denounced by environmental groups, naturalists and local and national scientists (a list of the some of the report's deficiencies can be read here). The Department of Fisheries and Oceans required that public comments on the DFO screening report be received on or before July 17, 2003.
However, if youre concerned, please consider writing directly to the federal Minister of Fisheries and Oceans and demand that he act to initiate a public review. Draft letter and e-mail messages available on this site summarize key issues.
Write a letter to (no postage necessary):
The Honourable Robert G. Thibault, P.C., M.P.
Minister of Fisheries and Oceans Canada
House of Commons, Ottawa, Ontario, KIA 0A6
Or e-mail the Minister at Min@dfo-mpo.gc.ca
The following documentation provides additional background on the Leitrim Wetlands.
July 17, 2003 letter from SCC Executive Director Elizabeth May to the Honourable Robert Thibault
Draft a letter/ e-mail to the federal Minister of Fisheries and Oceans
SCC Media Release
Leitrim Information Pamphlet
DFO Screening Report
July 3, 2003 CBC news story
Full story is available here
Groups contest DFO's Leitrim Wetland assessment
OTTAWA - Ottawa-area environmentalists say an assessment by Fisheries and Oceans Canada, which gives the green light to a huge housing development, is "shoddy."Fisheries and Oceans Canada recently released a report giving the go-ahead to a south-end development that would build 5,000 homes near the Leitrim Wetland.
The report acknowledges that the development will "add to existing and future losses in the quantity of wetland habitat in the Findlay Creek watershed," but is not environmentally important because "significant wetland ecosystem components are located in the 'core' of the Leitrim Wetland, which will be protected."
The area's environmentalists want more research done, because they aren't confident the proposed measures for water management will actually prevent environmental harm from coming to the wetland and its "several rare and threatened species." They also say the Ministry of Natural Resources has asked for further study.
"We believe that it is of the utmost importance that Canadian environmental law be followed and that a full public screening be ordered by Minister Thibault," said Daniel Green, with the Sierra Club of Canada.
That would mean either putting in place a mediator or setting up a panel to examine more scientific data, with the final decision to be made by the entire cabinetnot just one minister.
Map of Leitrim Wetlands (click on map for larger image)