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Leitrim Wetlands

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See copy of letter from the OFNC's Conservation Committee


This is a request that you make one more - perhaps final - attempt to save Leitrim wetlands. I am sending this email to members of OFNC Council and some others. Regrettably, OFNC does not have a comrehensive list of members' email addresses for use in emergency situations such as this.

The essence of the situation is that the provincial and municipal authorities long ago approved the development project, that would build houses on the lowest part of what is presently the Leitrim wetland, while attempting to preserve another part by constructing a barrier 700 metres long to prevent drainage of groundwater. Experts opposed to this plan say the barrier is unlikely to do the job, due to porosity of the underlying material, and because the barrier would not extend far enough. When or if it doesn't work, onus would be on the City to improve the barrier, or pump water back into the wetlands (all at huge public expense) or watch it die.

YOU DON'T HAVE TO DECIDE NOW WHICH OPINIONS YOU BELIEVE. WHAT YOU ARE BEING URGED TO DO IS TO WRITE TO DFO MINISTER THIBAULT AND ASK FOR A PUBLIC PANEL REVIEW OF THE DFO SCREENING REPORT. That report ignores those expert opinions and says it is OK to proceed with the project. With a panel review the experts can give their opinions publicly.

I am copying below some words of Juan Unger of the Greenspace Alliance. He provides full details on who to contact, and where to get get further information if you feel you need it.


What is said, and how many of us say it, CAN make the difference.

What is needed is a letter (e-mail is ok)--even if it is only a very, very short one--to the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans (see address below).

You can start a letter or e-mail by saying that it refers to "the Findlay Creek Reconstruction and Stormwater Management screening report" or, more formally, to "the Findlay Creek Reconstruction and Stormwater Management Environmental Assessment Screening Report".

In it, please be sure to ask for

***a public review and full environmental assessment of the proposed stormwater system at Findlay Creek and the Leitrim Wetlands.***

The "screening report" published by the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) has many deficiencies and does not provide reliable assurances against irreversible, grave damage to these exceptional wetlands. According to Mike Lascelles (former director of legislation and education, Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency), "This screening does not answer fully two key questions: Is the stormwater system likely to fail and drain the Leitrim wetlands? and Should future local residents worry about their health because of the landfill nearby? Faced with this wholesale uncertainty and public conern, the federal Fishries Minister has a legal duty to refer those questions to an independent public review by experts to give us credible and reliable answers before irreversible damage is done."

PLEASE NOTE: To be considered, a letter HAS TO BE RECEIVED NO LATER THAN 17 JULY 2003. So please do not postpone it -it's very urgent, and this is in fact a chance to effectively contribute to the possible protection of these irreplaceable wetlands!

Please consider forwarding this message and asking others--as many others as you can think of--to do the same, and write at least a minimal letter (can be an e-mail) asking for a public review and full environmental assessment of the proposed stormwater system at Findlay Creek and the Leitrim Wetlands.

Your request for a public review must be received before midnight July 17 to be taken into account by the Department of Fisheries and Oceans!!!

You can write to the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans--but please be sure to send a copy to the DFO Prescott District Office (see below). The minister's address (free of postage) is:

The Honourable Robert G. Thibault, P.C., M.P.
Minister of Fisheries and Oceans Canada
House of Commons
Ottawa ON  KIA 0A6

or E-mail the minister at

VERY IMPORTANT: Please be sure to send a copy of that letter to the DFO office responsible for the report by e-mail, fax or regular mail, at:

Prescott District Office
Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Ontario Great Lakes Area
401 King St. West, P.O. Box 1000,
Prescott, ON K0E 1T0
Fax: (613) 925-2245

If you can, please copy also:

Friends of Leitrim Wetlands,
c/o 14 Harvard Ave.
Ottawa, ON K1S 4Z1

Thank you in advance for any and all help that you can contribute to this crucial effort.

Juan Pedro Unger
Director responsible for communications Greenspace Alliance of Canada's Capital


  1. Leitrim Wetlands is unique in Eastern Ontario.
  2. Its flora is not duplicated elsewhere in North America.
  3. It is an irreplaceable part of our natural heritage.
  4. It is the most important remnant of a once extensive wetland complex that covered many thousands of acres and spread eastward to the South Nation River.
  5. It is unusually complex, resulting in a high degree of biodiversity. (It has been listed as one of Canadas "hotspots" of biodiversity.1038 species of organisms identified to date).
  6. Its complexity results from a poorly-understood, complicated hydrology and geology that would be difficult to duplicate.
  7. It contains regionally, provincially and nationally rare species over 200 species of regionally significant plants.
  8. It contains more regionally significant plants than the Mer Bleue, a RAMSAR site, even though it is only one-tenth the size.
  9. It harbours patches of old growth trees — up to 250 or more years old.
  10. It contains 90 species of resident or breeding birds, including a sizeable rookery of Great Blue Herons nesting in the tops of ancient White Pines. During migration times, up to 150 species of birds can be seen in the wetlands. The Red-shouldered Hawk, a vulnerable species, nests in wooded part of the wetland.
  11. The Canadian Wildlife Service (1993) described the Leitrim Wetlands as "clearly an area of outstanding ecological significance."

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This page was revised on 20 April 2007
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