“Be the change that you wish to see in the world.” — Mahatma Gandhi
- Preserve Our Remaining Greenbelt:
Hikers, dog walkers, nature lovers and casual cyclists can still enjoy one of the last greenbelt areas in St. Catharines. It is full of mature forest, unique plants, birds and other wildlife. The vast and expanding network of new mountain bike racing tracks will destroy this area for the vast majority of users.
- Support Other Trail Users:
One politically connected subset of our community (mountain bikers) is being given this ravine, and many other areas of the urban forest along Twelve Mike Creek. Mountain bikers already have extensive trails all over the Region, and don’t need more, especially a course designed for elite riders. Everyone else loses because these new trails will be dedicated solely to mountain bike racing. No more dog walking or nature walks. And this mountain bike playground will only expand over time, as more paths are created. They have been empowered and have political support behind them.
- Promote Government Transparency:
This ecosystem destruction is the result of a few large egos using deceptive and misleading communications. The process ignores the legitimate concerns of local residents and nature lovers while serving a misguided and incompetent commercial exploitation. We need support for our efforts to ensure that there is honesty, transparency, and community involvement in any development of the natural heritage areas in St. Catharines and the Region.
- Protect Conservation Areas:
After 4 months of planning and building without a permit and under the cloak of secrecy, the Niagara Peninsula Conservation Authority (NPCA) then provided the Games with a permit to continue to build this racecourse as a “passive recreational use” of the ravine. That term, “passive”, has a special meaning when permits are issued for the exploitation of protected areas. Basically, it means there should not be damage to the ecosystem. In fact, mountain bike racing, especially, is anything but “passive”. The new trails and features will destroy the ecosystem, permanently. This area is classified as Significant Woodland (under the St. Catharines Official Plan). It is the duty of the NPCA to enforce passive use, and to protect this area and others that require conservation. Instead, they were manipulated by the local political structure.
- Retain Health Benefits of Tree Canopy:
If you believe urban tree canopy should be preserved, you should be concerned. The Twelve Mile Creek ravine is the last major area of priceless tree canopy in our city. Municipalities promote the preservation and expansion of tree canopy because it has many benefits. What is happening here, however, is that a commercially driven desire to create an “athletic Mecca” is driving the destruction of mature trees, removal of saplings, seedlings and groundcover and displacement of soil. The canopy will be gone, leaving a blasted heath of muddy slopes and dead vegetation. Sadly, the area is not even suitable for the intended use. Mountain bikers know that north facing slopes are too muddy for reliable use. In contrast, our incompetent local administrators have some very strange views about what an athletic Mecca is.
- Maintain and Enhance Niagara Region Biodiversity:
The Riverview ravine is an important part of the ecosystem of the Niagara Region Peninsula Watershed, which is abundant in unique plants and wildlife, and is part of the Carolinian life zone – the most biodiverse and threatened ecoregion in Canada. The racecourse project involves removal of native vegetation and soil, destruction of wildlife habitat and movement corridors, collateral damage to aquatic life in the Creek, and other ecosystem disruption. This is not the way to preserve critical biodiversity. Preliminary new planning by the Niagara Region identifies this ravine as part of Key Natural Features and as an area to be Enhanced, not exploited.
- Protect Wildlife:
The ravine is home to many dozens of important and protected bird species and other wildlife, and is an important stopover for special birds during migration seasons. Birds are necessary for ecosystem health and their habitats are fragile. Speeding racers will threaten or destroy wildlife, especially given that the new race tracks are purposely being constructed on wildlife paths; identified as such in the Game’s application for the permit . The high impact of racing events and the constant noise and pollution of race track maintenance will also drive wildlife away.
- Manage our Natural Heritage Areas:
Urban ravines, with their constant water flows, are particularly sensitive to the effects of vegetation removal and soil displacement. The creation of mountain bike trails often leads to accelerated environmental damage, compounded by the inevitable expansion of rogue trails and the invasion of the trails by noisy and destructive dirt bikers. These side effects are already occurring here and there is no mechanism in place to prevent trail wars between the various types of bikers There will be conflict, and no one will care about the ecosystem, just who owns it. The ecological damage will be exacerbated by climate change, which impacts erosion and slope stability in the bare and heavily travelled areas. The damage will be permanent and any present plans for remediation are laughably inadequate. All alterations to Natural Heritage areas in Niagara should be properly planned for and managed with sustainable funding to minimize these impacts. There is no plan.
- Change to a Better Location:
Alternative locations for a mountain bike racecourse already exist in this area. They are in much less environmentally sensitive areas than this ravine. They are actually much better sites for mountain biking because they do not face north and they tend to dry more quickly. They are also subject to at least some oversight by the land custodians such as Brock. There is a better way for the mountain bikers. There is a better way for our community. Tell the politicians that our natural heritage is irreplaceable, and that they should do everything they can to protect it.
- Repair the Damage and Shut Down the Racecourse
Local residents were only informed about the change of location to 12 Mile Creek in June and one month later the Niagara Trail Maintenance Association (mountain bike club) signed a contract to do the construction of the course and began to do so immediately. So we have been at a disadvantage from the outset, and it has taken us some time to understand what happened and what was true or not. We do not believe that a work permit should have been issued by the NPCA and we are working towards asking for it to be revoked. We are working hard to generate awareness with our political representatives and the greater Niagara community, in order to pressure the Games to re-assess what they are doing and explore other possible location options for the Canada Summer Games mountain bike competition. However long it takes we want the racecourse shut down and the natural area where new trails were built to be reinstated to their natural state.
The Niagara community will have back the 12 Mile Creek valleyland and the established trail system that we have enjoyed for decades; multi-purpose trails for legitimate “passive use” for walkers, hikers, nature lovers and “recreational” cycling.
We need your support to affect change ….