Sadler Creek reserve entrance off Hwy #6. No effort to prevent motorized vehicles from entering and doing damage.

My husband and I own approximately 107 acres on the Northern Bruce Peninsula. We have had some hurdles with trespassers hunting illegally and ATVs tearing up our marsh which is the Provincially Significant Wetlands of Sadler Creek. However there is a much bigger threat to owning property on the Northern Bruce Peninsula and elsewhere. 

I recently received a notice of intent to build on a property near ours on Sadler Creek Rd. It included archaeological and environmental studies which were impressive and vast, probably costing these landowners many thousands of dollars. My husband and I were pleased to see another family move to our road as only one other residence exists on Sadler Creek Road. One of the most beautiful places I have ever seen. 

I was made aware that there was opposition to this build. I couldn’t figure out why so I read the letters submitted. I was appalled; approximately 21-22 letters. It became very clear that the Executive Director of the Escarpment Biosphere Conservancy (EBC) had written a letter in opposition and had people he knew copy all, parts, or simply write letters in opposition to this build. This build is a cottage, detached garage with septic. So I wrote a letter in support which I emailed to the planner. I also spoke to the owners of a residence to the North of the build and they support it also. 

I discovered that the EBCs executive director Mr. Barnett put a Facebook post on the EBC’s page encouraging “Friends of EBC” to use parts of his letter or write a letter in opposition. I found very interesting points referencing the Massasauga Rattlesnake, rare plant species, ancient cedars etc. Also the Zinkan Cove ANSI which would be negatively affected by any building approval.

So here’s the irony. The EBC were donated 6 acres of land abutting this building site on Lake Huron by the Harkins Family. Now referred to as the “Harkins Reserve”. The public have access as they do to many of the EBC’s 158 plus reserves. The EBC as quoted “acquired this environmentally sensitive site to protect its extremely important ecological attributes on both our property and those around it” — did you catch the point of “around it”? Anyway the EBC do not maintain these reserves as stated under the “Sadler Creek Reserve” blurb online. In fact when walking on the Sadler Creek Reserve accessed by 4629 Hwy 6 which is ironically “a provincially significant wetland and is in the Zinkan Island Cove ANSI” according to the blurb on the EBC site, Last year I saw tires dumped there plus damage by ATVs. This year an old bed frame, wood put in deep wet trenches to give ATVs more traction, the occasional beer can etc. 

It would appear to me that the EBC should get on the ground and look after the land they hold in the name of conservancy — because I don’t see any conservancy. 

I brought ATV damage to Mr. Barnett’s attention last year but there still is no signage at 4629 Hwy 6 nor a gate preventing access. Probably because they can’t prevent access to land so vast, it’s impossible. So how do you conserve land you have no control over? You can’t. 

Yet the EBC have the gall to interfere with a build on a small property in the name of conservation. This family, who has owned the land since the 1940s, will be better stewards than the EBC could ever be — by being on site. 

To the EBC: leave these people alone get on with your mission of convincing owners to donate land to conserve, which in my opinion you have no hope of doing. Perhaps you could do something about the snowmobiles, ATVs, etc. accessing adjoining properties and spreading the invasive species you’re trying to prevent as there is no attempt to stop them via gates, etc. The Sadler Creek reserve, as an example, has multiple accesses. Your lack of maintenance and policing on your vast reserves undermines conservation of neighbouring properties. 

I hope in the future I may sit down and have a nice cup of tea with Sara Jane Martin the lovely 90 year old lady who has a dream of a family cottage. Perhaps if we all add our voice to her cause we can make a difference. 

For those building, selling, donating etc. beware and be diligent. 

Carol Porter,

Northern Bruce Peninsula & Georgian Bluffs