Deer in the Greenbelt between Kanata and Bells Corners. Photo by Glen Gower.

OPINION: Why the City’s wildlife construction protocol is so important

Canada has the second largest land mass of any country but sadly we are losing our natural habitat at the highest rate. As our cities are becoming more and more congested, people are opting to live in the suburbs, causing urban sprawl to encroach further and further into wildlife habitat.

There seems to be an endless amount of new development sprouting up in every direction, especially in Stittsville. While most people are sad to see forests cleared and wetlands drained, few people put conscious thought to the plight of the wildlife that once lived there.

Unlike many forward-thinking cities which already have in place a progressive and sustainable developmental approached to wildlife-sensitive planning, the City of Ottawa is still in the dark ages in respect to how it handles its wildlife and development. Presently thousands of animals needlessly die at the hands of bulldozers, blasting and construction machinery, either being buried alive or crushed to death and even suffering from internally bleeding through the effects of blasting (for animals that have their nest underground).

This type of habitat destruction happens throughout the year, with no regard to the animals that live there, or the birthing season, which leaves mothers and babies vulnerable and defenceless, creating orphans which are left to die through injury or starvation. To date wildlife in areas slated for development are not given any chance to relocate or even escape.

After 15 years of empty promises, the City of Ottawa has finally developed a Wildlife Construction Protocol with input from a variety of wildlife organisations which addresses the very important issue of how wildlife are treated before, during and after land is developed. Whilst this is a big step forward for wildlife, the protocol is still only in draft form and needs to be approved by the committee and the City Councillors. This approval will only go ahead if there is enough public support. Whilst we cannot stop developers from destroying wildlife habitat, with this new wildlife construction protocol we can at least force them to follow a protocol which would allow a more humane way of treating our precious wildlife.

Today we have the ability and means to give wildlife the protection they deserve. We can be a leader in sustainable development and show our children and future generations what respect and compassion for all truly means.

We must not forget that the way we treat our most vulnerable creatures on this earth is a measurement of who we are as human beings. I really believe that this issue should be a major concern to all Canadians.

(The City of Ottawa is accepting comments on the updated Wildlife Construction Protocol until end of day on Sunday, February 8. More info here.)


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7 thoughts on “OPINION: Why the City’s wildlife construction protocol is so important”

  1. While I agree more needs to be done but this idea some have that construction should only happen late summer early fall that means some projects that should take 2 or 3 years would take 8-10 years.

  2. Thank you very much Andrea Sedgwick for reminding us that we need to speak out on behalf of those who can’t. We may not be able to stop the urban sprawl but we can make an effort to minimize the negative effects caused by it.

  3. Hi Jayme,
    Whilst the wildlife construction protocol does try and protect wildlife before, during and after construction, it is needed most at the land clearing stage where most of the animals are killed. No-one want to see construction projects take longer than they really need to, but with careful forward planning and proper wildlife staging, the protocol would not necessarily extend the time needed for development. Instead of developers just going into a site and clearing it when they ‘feel like it’ they would need to take into consideration the time it would take for the animals to either leave or be re-located and that they would need to build that into their planning and time management. Other countries have been doing it successfully for years without having the building time necessarily increased. Also every development site is different, some have lots of wildlife living on them whilst others do not and that developers need to take into account at planning stage. Whilst the wildlife construction protocol might start off as more of a ‘inconvenience’ to some developers, I really think that our wildlife are well worth it.

  4. Andrea

    There are places that have rules when you can only start construction at certain times of the year but there is no place that states you can only have construction once a year.

    Now with that said do I support a rule where construction can start say late summer yes but we can’t just say 2 months a year for construction there has to be give and take on both sides.

  5. The thing people need to keep in mind is why these groups mean well there will be other groups come along and say there needs to be a bylaw that states you can’t open your pool until mind june or you can’t build a new deck.

  6. Hi Jayme,
    Are you referring to the actual construction of homes/buildings or the development of the land itself?? It is the actual development of land that needs to be carefully calculated as to its timing as it has the greatest impact on wildlife, whilst the actual construction phase has limited impact on wildlife as the land has already been flattened and the animals are not there. So no the construction phase would not have the same restricted window as the actual development of land phase- ripping up of the land phase, lets call it for what it actually is. The actual clearing of the land is where the majority of wildlife carnage happens, so this is the part that has to be ‘timed’ and handled right. The building/construction side would have little to no impact.

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