Environmental Recklessness

March 23, 2022

Many residents in the local community where the 12 Mile Creek ravines are situated, have enjoyed having nature around us for decades, and we fully appreciate what it has offered to our quality of life.  And the area has been a destination for people across Niagara to enjoy.  But, some of us really did not know enough about the abundance of wildlife, indigenous plant species and the unique history that surrounded us. 

All of that changed in June, 2021 with the delivery of a flyer from the Niagara 2022 Canada Summer Games that informed the community about work to be done in our local neighbourhood.  That work was described as “upgrades of safety and other minor improvements to the trail system”.  As we asked questions about this and became personally involved, we learned that this was not entirely true and now large areas of the ravine have new trails and man-made features, especially in the middle and upper slopes.  

After reading a lot about the importance of biodiversity, the value of wildlife corridors, the new Niagara Official Plan information about linkages and need for restoration including in this specific ravine, the Ontario Power Generation 2019 Natural Areas Inventory Study results about the unique and highly biodiverse DeCew area, the importance of this ravine in connecting the St. Catharines green belt with the Escarpment, the highly diverse plant and wildlife species here, the City’s Significant Woodland designation, the urgent need for more tree canopy, the serious and increasing effects of climate change in ravines, reports identifying this ravine as an Environmentally Significant/Sensitive Area in need of protection etc., — we now understand just how unique and special a natural habitat the 12 Mile Creek ravines are, and the importance of fighting to protect it.

And after that quick education, our newly educated opinion would be that it is very clear that a racecourse is not appropriate for this area at all, and that the proliferation of more mountain bike trails is a terrible idea, in this urban ravine; and certainly, with climate change so clearly a threat to the environment overall.

This ravine is a critical link leading into the rest of the 12 Mile Creek green belt, and in essentially destroying it with racing, we will destroy the green belt to the north.

Racecourses and racing events are active, high impact activities that should not qualify as passive recreation in regulated valley lands as they cause ecological damage.  They would also interfere with the enjoyment of this ravine by long-standing passive users (walkers, joggers, casual cyclists, and nature lovers)

This is all so unnecessary and short-sighted. The Games and the City of St. Catharines should not be forcing the need for a mountain bike legacy by destroying a valuable and vulnerable ravine. And doing so violates their own sustainability goals and environmental policies.

The term “Environmental Recklessness” comes to mind, and we should all acknowledge that is an accurate description for what is happening right now in the 12 Mile Creek ravine.  Take action today and together we can stop further construction of new trails and work together to have the area reinstated to its natural state.

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