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Niagara chapter organizes second protest against biodiversity offsetting

The Council of Canadians Niagara chapter is holding a second protest against “biodiversity offsetting” tonight.

CKTB reports, “It looks like Niagara Falls council is next in line to tackle the controversial issue of biodiversity offsetting at their regular meeting tonight. A resolution found at the end of council’s agenda package, asks councillors to back a proposal by the region [on this] to move forward.”

The concern is that Niagara regional council could permit 13 acres of provincially-significant wetland in the city of Niagara Falls to be destroyed to accommodate a $1 billion “Paradise” development project, which includes a hotel, entertainment facilities, apartment housing, and a private school.

Four members of Niagara Falls city council sit on the Niagara regional council.

On April 7, more than 200 people filled Niagara regional council chambers to oppose the biodiversity offsetting plan.

The St. Catharines Standard reported at that time, “‘I would say this turnout is really quite amazing’, said Daniel Nardone of St. Catharines, who set up a Facebook page to organize the protest. Nardone, a member of the Council of Canadians of South Niagara chapter, said among his concerns is a 580-year old gum tree on the property.”

For tonight’s protest, Nardone posted, “We call on all community members to come out and oppose the approval of biodiversity offsetting in the Niagara Region! A protest will take place at the main entrance of the Niagara Falls City Hall (4310 Queen Street, Niagara Falls) at 4:30PM, ahead of the City Council meeting that will begin at 5PM.”

This evening Niagara Falls city council will be considering the following motion: “THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED That Niagara Falls City Council support the province being requested to initiate a pilot project to allow for Bio-Diversity Offsetting of wetlands for Paradise Development in Niagara Falls, to facilitate the proponents’ proposal that increases the net area of wetland and supports and encourages the significant foreign direct investment being offered.”

That “significant foreign direct investment” refers to CITIC Asset Management, the group of investors behind this plan. The CITIC Group Corporation, formerly the China International Trust and Investment Corporation, is a state-owned investment company in the People’s Republic of China. This has raised the concern that the investment protection provisions in the Canada-China Foreign Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement (FIPA) could be utilized should the $1 billion project be stopped through public pressure over environmental concerns.

The biodiversity offsetting plan is expected to be voted on by Niagara regional council on April 21 or April 28.