A study in contrasts

Terri Saunders
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Residents want council to toss out environmental report; town not sold on idea

Gander Coun. Rob Anstey is shown in front of a diagram outlining a proposed residential development between Ogilvie Street and Carr Crescent at a recent public consultation. Residents of the area have asked the Town of Gander to consider the impacts on a nearby pond should the development go ahead. — Photo by Terri Saunders/The Beacon

Residents of Ogilvie Street in west-end Gander say council should not consider a hydrology study commissioned by the town when it decides on a proposed residential development.

The study, conducted by AMEC — an engineering, project management and consultancy company — examined the potential  impact of the development on a nearby pond. 

Residents got their first comprehensive look at the study following a public consultation held Feb. 28 at the Gander Town Hall. 

The Ogilvie Street residents allege the study is “both superficial and seriously flawed, and is practically worthless in determining the impact on Little Cobb’s Pond of housing development in the proposed area.”

A letter, signed by 26 residents, says they are not opposed to development in the area per se, but they suggest that any development be conducted with respect to the environmental factors that affect water levels, water quality and wildlife in the pond. They also want any new development to take into consideration the traffic, street conditions and access issues on Ogilvie Street.

“I compare that report to the weather report that Noah got — we’re going to have a couple of showers,” said Mac Moss, an Ogilvie Street resident. 

“If you look at the report, there are a lot of charts and graphs and things like that, but there’s nothing there about the water. They only looked at the immediate area that the development is going to occupy.”

Moss said the location for the proposed development is a wet area. Residents are concerned that development there will have a negative affect on the water levels of Little Cobb’s Pond, which will, in turn, have a negative impact on wildlife in the area.

 Residents say four duck species nest and breed on the pond, while Canada Geese and loons often visit to feed on trout. They say changes in the pond’s water levels — which they say is less than two metres at its deepest point — would result in significant water temperature fluctuations that could have a negative affect on the trout population.

“If they take out that bog which supplies the pond and fill it with a solid mass of gravel and sand, there’s nowhere for water to come from to go to the pond,” said Moss. “We know this because we walk that bog every day. The walking trail goes right through it. We know the area intimately.”

The residents are also concerned about the proposed connection of Ogilvie Street to any new road that would extend to their neighbourhood from Carr Crescent. They say a connecting road would lead to increased traffic in the area, and they say Ogilvie Street is a narrow, winding road with no curb, gutters or sidewalks, and is not always quickly and efficiently cleared of snow in the winter.

At the public consultation, town officials said a road between Carr Crescent and Ogilvie Street would actually improve snowclearing operations, as crews would not have to travel on the Trans-Canada Highway to access Ogilvie Street.

Residents are also concerned the proposed development and connecting road will increase commercial truck traffic in both directions.

The residents’ letter was brought before a meeting of the town’s public works committee on March 15. 

Meanwhile, Coun. Rob Anstey said council has faith in the hydrology report, and has no plans to simply toss it out.

“To say that’s it’s a totally useless report, no, I can’t say that,” said Anstey. “I read through the report, and there are some things that I have concerns about, and I’m not ready to say, ‘Yes, this is a fantastic report, and everything in it is perfect.’”

He said the public works committee will review the report again, and the letter from residents, as part of the process of determining whether or not development should occur.

“We do want to develop that area if we can, because there are only so many places in town we can develop, and we’ve got people coming in every day saying they want to build a house and asking where they can go,” Anstey said. “In the meantime, we’re not going to rush ahead with this. We’re going to make sure if it’s done, it’s done right.”

 

The Beacon

 

Organizations: AMEC, Canada Geese, Trans-Canada Highway

Geographic location: Ogilvie Street, Gander

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