The fate of wetlands and forests in the Hardy Road area will be decided during the next five months at an Ontario Municipal Board hearing slated to begin Oct. 15 at city hall.
At issue are proposed housing developments that would bring a total of 1,200 homes to the city’s northwest. The Hardy Road area is popular with cyclists and hikers and home to a number of rare plants and animals.
Developers Sifton Properties Ltd. and Grandview Ravines Inc. appealed to the OMB after city council resisted development in what Brantford’s waterfront master plan identifies as an ecologically sensitive area.
Sifton and Grandview applied to build a total of 600 homes on either side of Hardy Road just west of the Brantford Golf and Country Club. Developer Telephone City Aggregates submitted a separate plan for more than 500 homes and 39 industrial plots along Hardy Road south of Oak Park Road.
“This area begs to be preserved for our children and their children to enjoy,” said Jerry Klievik of the Hardy Road Area Citizens Committee. “The development of homes in this area will destroy this area forever and there will be no way of turning back.”
The wetlands, streams, ponds and swamps that feed the Grand River will be “pillaged” by development, Klievik said.
At risk are a number of endangered plant and animal species, a cold water spawning creek for trout, a 13,000-year old limestone formation called a tufa mound and several natural water spouts.
The area also boasts a perched fen – a hillside wetland fed by three aquifers – and an ancient Mohawk archeological site known as Davisville. These unique features earned the Hardy Road area an “area of natural and scientific interest” designation from the Ministry of Natural Resources.
Klievik will address the OMB on behalf of the Hardy Road Area Citizens Committee.
“This is not just another area to build houses,” he said. “This is a special community.”
Klievik said a traffic study conducted by the citizen’s committee concluded that the boxed-in neighbourhood can’t handle an influx of cars without the city building new arterial roads.
Coun. Marguerite Ceschi-Smith says the proposed development risks polluting an important source of groundwater and runs counter to the city’s recently adopted waterfront master plan.
“It’s old planning and old decisions flying in the face of new policy and new ideas,” she said.
As part of its deposition, the citizen’s committee will present a petition with 400 signatures of local residents opposed to the loss of natural habitat in the Hardy Road area.
The committee will also hold a bike rally on Oct. 15, the first day of the OMB hearing. The group will leave the Hardy Road trail parking area at 5 p.m. and end its ride at city hall. Klievik said members of the public are welcome.