What's the Natural Heritage Action Plan ... and what does it mean to Clair-Maltby?

Have you heard about the Clair-Maltby Secondary Plan? It's the plan to develop Guelph's last greenfield - the last big open space that can easily accommodate roads, homes, parks, businesses.

The area covers 520 hectares  - 40% of which are protected wetland or forest - and is located in the southeast corner of Guelph. It's bounded by Clair Road to the north, Victoria Road to the east, Maltby Road to the south and the eastern limits of the Southgate Business Park to the west. The development sits atop the Paris-Galt Morraine, which is the source of Guelph's drinking water. Despite being hotly contested by residents and environmental advocates since the April consultation process, the "preferred" - sometimes called "conceptual" plan was approved by Council on June 25. 

Personally, I have concerns about: the massive intensification along Gordon Street; the lack of commercial spaces; an incomplete traffic study; and now, the timing of the draft Natural Heritage Action Plan that was presented to Committee of the Whole yesterday.

This Natural Heritage Action Plan (NHAP) builds on the Guelph's leadership in environmental protection and proposes a number of steps to map, protect and enhance natural heritage across the city. My concern is: if the "framework to guide our efforts in managing our natural heritage system and water resources" is not already in place, then those assumptions are missing in the Clair-Maltby plan. 

While the NHAP calls for a natural heritage inventory, which would include an inventory of the tree canopy to value carbon sequestration, plans are in place to remove hundreds, probably thousands, of mature trees in Clair-Maltby. While the Action Plan calls to restore natural spaces and protect wildlife habitat, we are poised to develop them in Clair-Maltby. The plan even calls for potential conservation land securement; but once that land is built-up, how could the city acquire it?

Let's be clear. As a growing city, we need to develop Clair-Maltby. I would simply like to see these inventories, plans, data and guidelines in place before we put the shovels in the ground on our last greenfield. I'm also very practical. It's clear that preservation is far less expensive than restoration. So let's keep an eye on the timing and alignment of these plans to ensure the best thinking applies to future development - future generations deserve no less.

You can read the full report and participate in the survey : https://guelph.ca/plans-and-strategies/natural-heritage-action-plan-2/