Dear Councillor White:
As the Glanworth Community Association (GCA) includes both Wards 12 and 14, I must convey to you today the sentiments of the GCA executive team on the matter of the Pen Equity proposed development, which involves the destruction of the Carolinian woodland and wetland at Dingman Drive and Wellington Road.
As you may know, we have been opposed to this development from the beginning, having submitted our objections early in the process to the planning department, in December 2012.
Our opinion has not changed. If anything, we are even more determined in our resolve to oppose it after the re-zoning recommendation reached at last week’s planning committee meeting. We know that you changed your mind on the issue and, frankly, we do not understand why.
For the record, the GCA would like to remind you before you vote this evening of what is at stake here. This is not about jobs. That has been the tactic of the pro-development community — specifically, the “jobs at any cost” faction — to deflect attention from the real issue.
The real issue, Sandy, is one of Policy, and of violating the trust of the citizens of London. We have an official plan with strict guidelines about wooded areas deemed significant, and even Pen Equity’s ecological assessment rated this wooded area as “significant.” Those results stand as fact, despite Pen Equity’s attempts to twist the conclusions to suit their purpose.
Sandy, if Council ignores city policy tonight they are in fact breaking a contract they have with every Londoner, a contract assuring citizens that the City will engage in fair and due process and abide by its own policies and procedures.
This woodlot deserves protection. London’s environmental organizations have been articulating this clearly and logically for months. And UTRCA policy is clear: development is not allowed in wetlands. Even the province has weighed in on this matter. MNR does not support the conclusions made that the wetland is “non-provincially significant.”
Countless community and citizen groups and individuals around this city have put forth fact-based scientific as well as moral and ethical arguments against the willful destruction of these woods and wetland.
Today, the GCA stands with them in opposing this development. The GCA stands with all Londoners who have spoken out against it.
Sandy, the GCA does not want this mall development. This is urban sprawl at its worst. To allow this development is to allow the destruction of a woodlot and a wetland that cannot be replaced or “replanted” elsewhere to compensate. There is NO compensation package that would ever satisfy or appease us. The woods and the wetland must be protected, and we have the means to protect them only if our representatives follow policy and procedure.
Sandy, I think you know the members of the GCA very well by now. We fight for what we believe in with passion and commitment and we always strive to do the right thing for our community and for the greater community of London.
Working to find ways to protect the wooded wetland on Dingman Drive is the right thing to do.
Victoria WhitePresident, Glanworth Community Association (GCA)On behalf of the GCA Executive
August 27, 2013
Tuesday, August 27, 2013
Let's Not Pave Paradise
There is a stand of trees basking in the late August afternoon sunshine on Dingman Drive at Wellington Road. They are blissfully unaware of the controversy that swirls around them or of the “great debate” that could seal their fate tonight.
Pen Equity Real Estate wants to remove the trees and the pond entirely so that it can build its vision for a mega-mall, a shopping complex that we Londoners really don’t need or want, because we already have so many stores and malls sitting empty in our city.
The jobs Pen Equity promises are illusory.
The trees are not. They are real. They stand tall and proud, and we need to make sure that they do.
But this evening, London City Council could actually violate the official plan’s land use policy by choosing to ignore it entirely. A thorough and proper environmental assessment of this natural area must be undertaken before any re-zoning applications are approved or building permits granted. In fact, the Upper Thames River Conservation Authority should have been consulted from the outset, as there is a wetland on the site, and UTRCA policy states that if there’s a wetland, there’s no development!
City Council cannot flagrantly disregard official land use policy without jeopardizing the public’s trust and confidence. Londoners should be very angry if they do.
The Glanworth Community Association is angry, and here is the letter the GCA sent to Ward 14 Councillor, Sandy White, who seems to be unclear about City policy as it concerns environmental assessment procedure: