Port Rowan, Aug. 16, 2012 — Norfolk Country has received approval from Ontario’s Ministry of the Environment (MOE) to install the three proposed ecopassages under the Long Point Causeway. The ecopassages will allow turtles, snakes, frogs and other animals to pass safely under the roadway. One of the passages will also restore a water connection between the Big Creek Marsh and Long Point Bay.
The County undertook the environmental assessment (EA) at the request of the Long Point Causeway Improvement Project (LPCIP) that has raised the funding required for the EA process and other approvals and the design, engineering and construction of the ecopassages. To date, the cost of completing the EA, commissioning several studies and obtaining other government permits and approvals has been nearly $155,000. The total estimated cost for installing the ecopassages and connecting them to the existing barrier fencing is about $430,000.
The MOE did not accept objections filed by the Friends of the Causeway Association (FOCAS) and turned down their request to “bump up” the environmental assessment to a much more complex and costly Schedule C process.
“We’re very pleased that the MOE gave this approval based on the scientific credibility of what is proposed and rejected the unsupported alternatives and erroneous claims made by FOCAS,” said Paula Jongerden. “Clearly, the Causeway Project’s work is based in sound science. That’s why the ecopassages have been given the go-ahead.”
To date, the LPCIP has raised over $891,000 to support improvements to reduce road kill on the Causeway and reconnect the Marsh to the bay. More than half of the funding has come from Environment Canada’s Habitat Stewardship Program, with another $230,000 from Ontario’s Species at Risk Stewardship Fund. Other funders include the U.S. National Fish and Wildlife Commission ($95,000), the Nature Conservancy of Canada ($10,000), Shell Canada ($10,000) and TD Friends of the Environment ($9,965). More than $18,000 has come from local organizations and individual donors that support the LPCIP’s work.
“These organizations only support projects that are based on good science, best practices and clear environmental objectives,” said Jongerden. The approval of the EA for the ecopassages further validates our efforts to reduce the negative ecological impacts of the Causeway.”
The County plans on issuing a tender for construction this month in hopes of having the ecopassages installed in October. According to John Hamilton, Norfolk’s manager of engineering, construction should only take two or three weeks.
He said the construction work would be limited to weekdays and would involve closing one lane at a time as sections of the passages are installed. On weekends, heavy steel plates will be placed over any excavations to allow two-way traffic on the Causeway.
“We do this kind of culvert construction all over County without any problems,” said Hamilton. “We’ll do our best to keep traffic disruption to a minimum”.
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The Long Point Causeway Improvement Project is managed by Steering Committee comprised of representatives from 16 government agencies and local organizations and several individuals well-known in the community. The LPCIP receives financial and administrative support from the Long Point World Biosphere Reserve Foundation, which promotes research, monitoring, education and projects that support the goals of conservation and sustainable use in the Biosphere Reserve.
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