Letter: Conservation Is Like
Peeling An Onion; You Love It,
But It Can Make You Cry

42

In reading opinion pieces regarding wetlands/ conservation in the Bruce Peninsula Press I thought I would jump in being an owner of land in a life science ANSI with a provincially significant wetland on the NBP.

There are many layers to these concerns/issues. I think the mayor and councillors are doing a good job – I do think there are problems, but not with them.

Organizations acquire land/money through donation etc. with a mission of conservation. But do they deliver on their mission statements? Do those donating land/money research the origins of such groups? Are donated lands signed informing visitors of protected species and plants? Are there boot cleaners to curb the spread of invasive species? Are they gated to prevent motorized vehicles? Do they advertise to the public to visit these lands, because how does that protect the land/species? People trampling through leaving garbage and human waste. Are property boundaries marked? Because if not, these visitors will be trespassing on neighbouring properties. With thousands of acres, how many stewards do they have? What happens if the group is dissolved? Does the land get sold to the highest bidder?

Taking this into account, groups such as these likely don’t pay taxes or very little. So how does the Township pay for roads, police, fire, schools? How can they hire more police/by-law? 

The Government of Canada gives millions towards conservation (ex: The Natural Heritage Conservation Program) which filters through many groups/ partners. I didn’t realize there were so many fingers in the conservancy pot. So, I think if you donate land you love, or money, you need to do your homework. Just because someone has a pretty website or newsletter, or is a good sales person doesn’t mean they have the best intentions. Do your homework… and seek advice from family/ friends before signing anything. Perhaps even consult with a lawyer, yours.

Another thing is to think about your neighbours, whether you’ve purchased a property or are selling. I am aware of one conservancy group who purchased a property and they are causing grief for a neighbouring property. People who have done everything like environmental studies, archaeological studies etc. People who owned their property some 50 years before the conservancy group even existed. Boy, I bet the family who sold the property wouldn’t be happy knowing a good neighbour was being negatively impacted. Also, did Federal Taxpayer money filter through veins to such groups and now they turn on taxpayers?

When buying, try to think about the footprint you want to leave not about square footage, the materials you will use to build. 

So in the end I think the NBP staff/council are doing a good job with the resources they have. 

Conservancy groups who acquire land need to be researched. Here’s an example of why: If the group has 1000 acres, with no one on site who lives there, no barriers to prevent access, inviting the public on facebook/internet by group, what do you have? Land open for illegal camping, risk of forest fires, garbage, spread of invasive species, motorized vehicles, human waste, trespassing. Who bears the cost? The Municipality and neighbouring properties if there is a fire/negative impacts. Not to mention the impact on living creatures, flora and fauna being harassed and trampled.

Yes, we need to look after the environment. What better way…. being good stewards to the land we own/live on. Through education, teaching youth respect for people/the law, and the environment. Through a series of checks and balances by our government on who they give money to, including inspections and ensuring groups who receive funds honor their mission statements.

Lots of layers, involving research, co-operation and compromise. Play fair and look after your friends/neighbours. You may need them one day. But beware and be diligent when a salesperson knocks at your door. 

Don’t criticize builds because it’s inconvenient to you. If someone owns the land they have rights. Because the land was divided into lots/parcels for a reason. To have people share the land with nature and embrace it. Let’s just hope we do it responsibly.

Carol Porter,

Georgian Bluffs