Swan Supporters to have Input on LaSalle Marina Expansion; Marina doesn't mention any involvement in their media release. Trouble in paradise.

News 100 blueBy Staff

July 28, 2015


The Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change announced last week they will not seek further environmental assessments at this stage for a controversial LaSalle Park Marina expansion proposal that includes building a permanent breakwall and doubling the marina’s boat capacity.

The report, released July 21, does not rule out potential harm to the recovering Trumpeter Swan population that overwinters in the area and imposes tighter protection measures for the project.

Trumpeter swan - wings wide

The Trumpeter Swan has always had a strong emotional tie to the public – they are beautiful birds.

Minister of the Environment and Climate Change Glen Murray required the City of Burlington and the LaSalle Park Marina Association (LPMA) to include Trumpeter Swan supporters in the design process if the project does go forward.

The advisory committee is proposed to include representatives from Conservation Halton, the Hamilton Conservation Authority, and the Trumpeter Swan Coalition, as well as representatives from the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry, the Hamilton Harbour Remedial Action Plan Stakeholder Group, Environment Canada, and Fisheries and Oceans Canada.

The much-anticipated report is the response to calls for an advanced Part II Environmental Assessment that would have further examined the proposed breakwall’s impact on wildlife who call LaSalle home – including the Trumpeter Swans, a bird that had previously been completely wiped out in Ontario.

LaSalle Park MArina

Sun shining on boats at the LaSalle Marina

Three requests for deeper study were made in the summer of 2013 including submissions by Conservation Halton and the Trumpeter Swan Coalition, of which BurlingtonGreen is a member. The requests cited concerns for the Trumpeter Swans’ survival and numerous flaws and unanswered questions in the proposal’s initial environmental review.

Despite the Part II study denial, the Ministry decision orders the creation of a Stakeholder Advisory Committee that would include representatives from the environmental watchdogs who first raised the concerns.

The expansion initiative can only move forward with the committee’s participation in the creation of what the Minister called an Aquatic and Terrestrial Environmental Monitoring and Mitigation Plan to “address any potential impacts from the project on the aquatic environment and/or overwintering Trumpeter Swans in the vicinity.”

The imposed conditions do not exclude the possibility of denying further environmental approvals if the project does prove harmful to the swan population and their habitat. The committee’s involvement will be crucial in highlighting those potential issues and ensuring appropriate actions are taken.

BurlingtonGreen is pleased the Environmental Ministry is insisting on the inclusion of a Stakeholders Advisory Committee to provide input on habitat and wildlife protection and believe we are an important voice in that process.

However, some concerns remain about the effectiveness of even the best- intended mitigation efforts at the LaSalle site. As an organization, we are committed to protecting natural habitats.

Trumpeter Swans are native to North America and are the largest swans in the world. The birds were wiped out in Ontario in the late 1800’s; by 1935, there were only an estimated 69 Trumpeter Swans left in all of North America.

LaSalle Marina - baots lined up

The LaSalle members with their boats up on blocks.

In 1982, retired Ministry of Natural Resources biologist Harry Lumsden made it his mission to bring them back. After 30 years of efforts, there are close to 900 Trumpeter Swans in Ontario – roughly one quarter of the entire provincial flock calls LaSalle Park home.
The Trumpeters first chose LaSalle as their wintering grounds in 1993, making it an established habitat for more than 20 years. Habitat loss, especially of wintering areas, has a significant negative impact on recovery efforts

In kits media release the LaSalle Marina Association had the following to say:

“The Board of Directors of the LaSalle Park Marina Association are pleased to announce that the Hon Glen Murray, Minister of the Environment & Climate Change, after due and careful consideration of the City of Burlington’s LaSalle Park Marina Wavebreaker Environmental Assessment / Environmental Study Report (ESR) tabled July of 2013, has on Tuesday (July 21, 2015) made a decision with respect to the Study Report and the Part II Order Requests for an even more detailed Environmental Assessment.

LaSalle Park Marina Blue Flag ECO Award Flag Photo Floyd Doctor - June 6 2015

The LaSalle Park Marina is using its own environmental creds – they earned Blue Flag ECO Award. Sown is John Birch on the left of the flag along with Ward 1 Councillor Rick Craven and Floyd Doctor

“The Minister has signed off on the LaSalle Park Marina Wavebreaker Environmental Assessment / Environmental Study Report (ESR), declined the Part II Order Requests for a more extensive Environmental Assessment, and issued workable conditions which will allow the proposed project to move forward to the detailed construction level engineered design phase.

“As we go forward, LPMA is committed to working with agencies and stakeholders to ensure compliance with the Minister’s wishes in furtherance of the goal of a true Safe Harbour for Burlington, boaters, the community, fish, birds, wildlife and the environment.

“We thank the Minister for his learned decision, Eleanor McMahon MPP, Ward Councilor Rick Craven, the City of Burlington staff and council, the consultants, agencies and stakeholders involved as well as those who have expressed concerns.

“The proposed project will bring benefit to all. We are committed to following process.”

Trouble in paradise for sure.

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