By Pat Finney, Port Rowan Good News
November 18, 2013 – The vision of further reducing reptile and amphibian mortality on the Long Point Causeway road and increasing the historic movement of water between Big Creek Marsh and the Inner Bay of Long Point, is one important step closer to becoming reality.
At a Council-in-Committee meeting on November 5, Council agreed a) to be the proponent of the next phase of the project to install as many as nine more ecopassages: two aquatic or ‘wet’ ecopassages and seven more dry ecopassages, potentially bringing the overall total to 12 b) to enter into a ‘Memorandum of Understanding’ with the Long Point World Biosphere Reserve Foundation (LPWBRF) and the Causeway Improvement Committee (CIC) which would provide ongoing scientific, technical and financial support for maintenance as well as scientific knowledge for the County and c) to contract S. Burnett Engineering, which has completed the work to date, to finish the ecopassage installation on the Causeway, ideally by 2015.
The final number of ecopassages will depend on the cost of Environmental Assessments (EA)s and the LPWBRF/CIC would be responsible for “some of the capital maintenance costs” in the future, said Eric D’Hondt, General Manager of the Public Works & Environmental Services Department.
CIC Coordinator Rick Levick explained: “Our game plan is to get through the first approval process. In the best scenario, we’d have approvals and be ready to go by the spring of 2014”. “The overall plan is to have all the work completed before Norfolk County does the repaving and improvements of the road in 2017-2018”.
Levick’s interview with the Good News on October 25th was a milestone for CIC. “Our first meeting was at Bird Studies Canada 7 years ago on this date, October 25, 2006”. “As of last September, we’d raised $1,404,000. Who knew it was going to grow like that?”
Informed by “some of the oldest data on road mortality – it goes back to 1979” said Levick, the CIC Scientific Advisory Committee has become a respected resource on the topic. Rick remembered: “When we started, there was no one to copy. The science is really new- the implementation of the science is even newer. We’re way in the lead now”.
Levick’s deputation to Council in Committee on November 5th acknowledged the elephant in the room: would another EA be required before work could commence and at what cost? “Some things are very puzzling as to why we have to do them” said Levick, pointing out the time, expense and labour that has been expended already on EAs to install the 3 existing ecopassages.
Council may have to undertake further EAs when Causeway road improvements are made in 2017-2018 – an important motivator for Norfolk Council to partner with LPWBRF and CIC for their scientific expertise and support during the approvals process.