The St. Catharines Environmental Alliance (SEA) was first availed of this highly controversial issue in the late summer of 2021 when reports circulated about residents of Riverview Blvd. bailing from their pools, salamanders that had been displaced by mid-slope construction along the creek. That was followed by posts from decorated cyclist Steve Bauer regarding ‘significant environmental destruction of the Twelve Mile Creek woodland and watershed’ the result of a new mountain bike racecourse for the Niagara 2022 Canada Summer Games.

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NPCA Staff have confirmed that Section 6.2.6 of its policy is applicable to the racecourse ravine and required the Games to comply with some subsections. They also confirmed that the Games racecourse is not set back as policy requires. However, they allowed this because the course involved “existing trails” and “minor improvements”. These descriptions do not match the facts, and the policy does not contain exceptions for “minor”. All sections should have been applied. A Board Member pointed out that the Permit for the racecourse contains a map from the Games showing approximately 25 new structures and 10 new trail sections.

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“I think your group has exactly the right concerns about the construction of a mountain bike trail along the sloped edge of the 12 mile creek valley”. Doug Larson is an Emeritus Professor, Department of Integrative Biology, at the University of Guelph, having retired after a 35-year teaching and research career. He is best known for the discovery of the ancient forests of the Niagara Escarpment. Four books and 130 research papers formed the core of his distinguished academic career.

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We know that the permit was ultimately approved as a “passive recreational use”. We believe that is not supportable in view of the significant development that the racecourse construction requires, and the type of impacts that racing entails.

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There is no discussion by NPCA of the further vegetation destruction and soil loss which will almost certainly be caused by racing events and inevitable rogue trails post-Games. Who is responsible for this re-vegetation once the Games are over?

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The erosion issue in this ravine is an existing and well-known fact. It is not theoretical. Some homes here require retaining walls and further up Riverview Blvd. some have been demolished to prevent collapse into the ravine. The racecourse and racing events will accelerate erosion in this ravine, negatively impacting ecological function.

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NPCA believed that the racecourse was being built on existing trails, because that is what they were told by the racecourse vested interests. Much of the racecourse consists of new trails. Some time after the permit was issued, the Mayor of St. Catharines publicly confirmed that the racecourse was in fact created to be a new trail system.

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We have been taking video footage since September, 2021.  Regret not taking extensive drone footage in July so as to capture what the area in question looked like before any construction of paths…

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