(Trans-Canada trail lookout looking north from the Trans-Canada Trail west of Stittsville)
On September 18, 2019 Cavanagh Construction entered a guilty plea in the Ontario Court of Justice to two charges under provincial law for illegally placing and removing material and carrying out site grading within and adjacent to the Goulbourn PSW Complex west of Stittsville. The plea was entered for the ‘unlawful development within a Provincially Significant Wetland (PSW)‘.
Written permission is required from the conservation authority prior to conducting work in a regulated area. The Mississippi Valley Conservation Authority (MVCA) is responsible for issuing permits under Ontario Regulation 153/06 that regulates development and interference within floodplains, wetlands, shorelines and watercourses. The provincial regulations are in place to safeguard the public and development against the risks associated with naturally occurring hazards such as flooding, and ensure sustainability of their ecological values and services.
With the guilty pleas, Cavanagh Construction has been ordered by the Ontario Court of Justice to remove the illegally placed fill and to rehabilitate the damage within the regulated area. The company also has to pay the maximum fine of $10,000 for each of the two charges. The order also includes a donation of $50,000 in each of the years 2020 and 2021 to the Mississippi Valley Conservation Foundation. The MVCF money is to be used for the “conservation and protection of wetlands.”
Property owners, developers and contractors are encouraged to contact MVCA prior to conducting development or site alteration in or around wet, seasonally wet and near-shore areas to determine how the regulations may apply. The regulations are in place to ensure safe and sustainable
Every person found guilty of an offence that contravenes a regulation or the terms and conditions of a permit issued by a Conservation Authority is liable to a maximum fine of $10,000 or to a term of imprisonment of not more than three months. Additionally, the court may order the removal of the development, at that person’s expense, or rehabilitation of a wetland or watercourse.
MVCA is one of 36 Conservation Authorities in Ontario. Formed in 1968, MVCA’s mandate is to manage the watershed’s resources in partnership with our eleven member municipalities and the Province of Ontario. All wetlands in the Mississippi Valley watershed that meet certain criteria are regulated including Provincially Significant Wetlands (PSWs).
• Wetlands greater than 0.5 ha (1.2 acres) in size
• Wetlands that have hydraulic connectivity (i.e. connected to a waterbody/watercourse)
Cavanagh Construction was contacted for a comment on this story, but requests went unanswered.