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Peterborough-Kawarthas chapter works to protect pristine urban forest

The Council of Canadians Peterborough-Kawarthas chapter is working to defend Harper Park. They were at the Peterborough Farmers Market yesterday to promote awareness of the park.

Peterborough Field Naturalists note, “Harper Park and its adjacent major open space lands contain a diversity of habitat types and are therefore the most ecologically significant lands within Peterborough, with high biodiversity and a high percentage of native plant species (78 per cent). Harper Park’s size (60 hectares) provides habitat for area-sensitive birds and mammals not normally found within city limits such as Sharp-Shinned Hawk, Great Horned Owl, Snowshoe Hare and Woodland Jumping Mouse.”

Chapter activist Roy Brady describes the park as an “incredible watershed ecosystem”.

The chapter opposes the construction of an Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation (OLG) casino that would be located adjacent to the park. The chapter has also called for a full environmental assessment of the proposal for the casino. And there will be an Ontario Municipal Board hearing on the casino this coming May.

A poll confirms that there is strong local support for the chapter’s position. The Peterborough Examiner reports, “Seventy six per cent of city residents don’t want a casino, according to a new poll [while] 74 per cent believed a full environmental assessment should be part of the casino planning process. Meanwhile, 54 per cent were in support of the Ontario Municipal Board appeal against the casino development.”

In addition, chapter activist Jo Hayward-Haines tells us, “A dialogue summit is planned for March 25, which will pull various strands of engaged groups together for further planning towards protecting and developing this urban forest which has been described by a local ecologist as a mini-Algonquin Park. The diversity of its flora and fauna and the spawning ground for endangered brook trout make it a thrilling alternative to a windowless casino flashing artificial lights. It’s an epic and a metaphoric fight!”