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Development in popular forest raises environmental concerns

New development in Courtenay is raising environmental concerns.

Recently work began in a forested area behind Tin Town, connected to Cousins Park.

The work will focus on redeveloping a city-owned public road. A trail will be incorporated into the design of the work being done to create road access.

Local biologist and teacher Steve Paziuk says every night he goes on a walk with his daughter through the forest.

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“We commonly encounter endangered red-legged frogs, butterflies, countless birds, and smiling faces of all ages,” said Paziuk.

“It is just one of those places, and clearly a vital piece of urban nature. Signs along the way proudly proclaim this as a sensitive ecosystem that is home to many species of spawning trout and salmon.”

Paziuk says when he and his daughter went for a walk several weeks ago, the trees had been taken down in the area, leading to him feeling sad and frustrated.

He wonders about what regard was given to riparian regulations and why the city trail met a clearcut with zero tree buffer.

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Director of development services for the city Marianne Wade says the city had an environmental development permit for the work.

“Prior to it being issued, it had to be compliant with the provincial regulations in regards to the riparian area assessment regulation,” said Wade.

“There is a monitoring report and a prescription about mitigation and protection. The applicant was there, their consultant, which is a registered professional biologist, had to fill the requirements of the province before we could issue the permit.”

Along with no reports of infraction by the developer, Wade says the city does have a third-party consultant reviewing to make sure the applicant’s consultant is following what the province prescribed.

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She adds the project is in its very first stages.

“The development still has a series of requirements that they have to do, so they are working through that part before doing more significant infrastructure,” said Wade.

“I know it’s always concerning to the community when the lands that have been sitting that have development rights, start to get activity on it. We welcome any comments from the community so we can explain the process.”

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