A Truly Green Proposal
This blog is written by Guest Blogger, Blair Scott.
Prince Edward County has been described as Ontario’s go-to ecotourism destination. Its distinctive soils give life to renowned and award-winning wines! Its high proportion of globally-rare alvar habitat supports an abundance of specially-adapted plants and wildflowers, such as the endangered Four-leaved Milkweed. It is home to a globally-recognized Important Bird Area (IBA), and its Prince Edward Point site has seen a recorded 298 bird species over the years! Furthermore, the south shore contains at least 30 of Ontario’s listed species-at-risk. In sum, it is an excellent candidate for protective environmental status!
Located about two hours east from Toronto, ON, Prince Edward County’s south shore is one of few Lake Ontario patches to remain free from disturbance – and this freedom has been the pivotal factor keeping its flourishing biodiversity in-tact. Nestled within its 279.31 square kilometre territory are several sites of integral ecological value:
- Prince Edward County South Shore Important Bird Area (IBA) – which encompasses all of the bulleted regions below
- Prince Edward Point National Wildlife Area (NWA) – which contains the Prince Edward Point Bird Observatory and is classified as an International Monarch Butterfly Reserve
- Ostrander Point
- Point Petre Provincial Wildlife Area
Click here for a full gallery of critical species-at-risk on Prince Edward County’s south shore!
Nature Canada is looking to initiate either a National Wildlife Area (NWA) or a National Marine Conservation Area (NMCA) on the south shore of Prince Edward County. It is understood that the region’s current IBA-designation does not serve as sufficient protection against industrial developments.
Prince Edward County residents were expressly concerned about the detrimental impacts wind turbine development would have on the county’s ecosystem. Specifically, they cited the risks it would pose to the threatened Blanding’s Turtle and the thousands of migratory birds that pass through the area.
Their environmentally-conscious determination gave rise to Save the South Shore – a local movement against wind turbine construction on the south shore. Luckily, the concerted efforts of the Board of the Prince Edward County South Shore Conservancy, along with the Prince Edward County Field Naturalists, led to a halt on the project in the spring of 2015.
After learning about the Save the South Shore movement, I was left with the content feeling of knowing that there are people out there who care more about preserving what’s left than furthering human development. These residents were not opposed to renewable energy; they simply saw biodiversity and conservation as a more important and necessary priority. Ultimately, they felt that Prince Edward County – with all of its tourist attractions and treasures – was the wrong place for this scale of a project.
Nature Canada is adamant that a more official conservation status be made to protect the south shore of Prince Edward County. In doing so, it is hoped that industries will not look to places of high ecological significance to construct their projects – even if alternative, more sustainable endeavours, like green energy, are on their agendas. In the arena of strategic interpretation, vague environmental statuses, like “Important Bird Area,” afford too much wiggle-room. Therefore, it is imperative that Canada ensures land designations match the real value at stake.