Tom Spears, Ottawa Citizen
A wildlife coalition in Kanata says tree-cutting by developers should be delayed until fall to lessen the danger to wild animals.
KNL Developments, a joint venture from Richcraft and Urbandale Homes, is clearing forest between Goulbourn Forced Road and Terry Fox Drive. Opponents of the work say they realize the development will go ahead, but argue Ottawa shouldn't allow it in winter.
The developers recently began cutting trees on about 175 acres.
Donna DuBreuil of the Ottawa-Carleton Wildlife Centre says the rule book — a protocol at city hall for the protection of wildlife during construction— "is not being adhered to at all."
The protocol sets out the "best practices" for clearing land before construction. In large forests with a lot of animals, it's best to cut trees in fall, Dubreuil said. She said cutting in winter destroys their homes in trees or dens, and takes away their stores of food, at a time of year when they have nowhere else to go.
"It's a very special natural area with a lot of species in there, and we're really dismayed that the city has given this permit. They could have waited until next fall. This thing has been in the works for years.
"The city's story is: Oh no, the animals just move on. Well they don't ... Where are they going to move to?"
Dubreuil said she is more upset with the city than with the developers because the city is failing in its role as a referee.
Opponents brought a petition with about 2,500 signatures to Ottawa City Hall in mid-January, asking to have it presented to Mayor Jim Watson.
A spokesman for KNL said the home builders have no intention of delaying the work.
"We've received all the permits and all the approvals necessary to do the work we are undertaking," said Jack Stirling, a consultant on the project.
"This is a group that has really quite frankly done nothing but attempt to delay this development," he said. "We really don't have much desire to listen to this group."
The developer's own consultants have said winter is a better time than fall to do the work.
He said KNL has a "very limited window" to do the tree-cutting, since it must finish by April 15. It's not allowed to work on the site in spring when birds are nesting and Blanding's turtles are coming out of hibernation.
Coun. David Chernushenko, who heads the city's environment committee, said the city's own experts feel there is no contravention of the protocol.
"Our own experts and the people who developed the protocol have assured me that there is nothing about doing it now in January that is worse than other times of year," he said.
"Everybody has know it was coming for a long time," he said.