Over the past number of years, there has been an unprecedented expansion of residential neighbourhoods in the city of St. John’s, city of Mount Pearl and the surrounding towns.
Most, if not all, of these developments have one common trait. There are generally no plans to minimize the impact of the development on the landscape.
Nor does there appear to be any efforts by the various municipalities to ensure that the impact on the landscape is minimized. What we have here, in my view, is development that has gone amok.
For example, the town of Paradise has exploded in size. The town’s tax base has increased accordingly. But what do they get for this increased revenue and expansion? A community of cookie-cutter housing developments with very little natural green space left.
Look from several vantage points in the town and all you can see are roofs. There is an exponential increase in traffic volumes that rivals some of the bigger cities in the Atlantic provinces.
It used to be pleasurable to drive a car or a motorcycle and even a bicycle out over Topsail Road and go by Octagon Pond and get a smell of the woods surrounding it.
Go by there today and those various woods are mostly gone and housing developments are stacked on top of each other. What will happen to Octagon Pond? Will that be filled in to make way for more development?
Another example is the town of Portugal Cove-St. Philip’s. Developments in that community have already started to scar the landscape.
In particular is the drive down Thorburn Road to the small marina at the end of the road. This drive is a tourist attraction and again one of the more travelled roads for tourists and locals alike to drive on. That drive is now becoming a drive through residential developments on both sides of the road.
Clear-cutting on the sides of this road for development is out of control and needs to be stopped and controls put in place.
When I drove through this area recently, I was shocked, saddened and in disbelief over what people will do to make a buck through the means of residential development.
The town of Conception Bay South’s development strategy appears to be better managed on the surface. But developments like Cherry Hill was not one that they should be proud of. Even though this development is a number of years old now, this area was originally a forested hill.
Now there is no forest per se. You can’t fully see the damage it has done to the landscape by driving in your car. You need to look at the community from the water, from Conception Bay itself.
It is a scar on the landscape comprised of roofs and windows; very little in the way of natural forest viewable.
At the end of Conception Bay is the town of Holyrood. This community is a jewel in Conception Bay and its future is bright as a vibrant community for recreation, oceanic research and training, and retirement living. There is a lot of interest in Holyrood from around the world.
Well, that interest will surely be lost if the town doesn’t get a handle on its development. There are a number of developments currently ongoing within the town. These developments have, as part of their plan, a clear-cutting of the landscape, a strategy that has already scarred the landscape from all vantage points on land, by water and by air.
These scars are not reparable. They cannot be replaced with maple trees and lawns that belong to a golf course. Holyrood is in danger of being just like the towns next to the cities of St. John’s and Mount Pearl.
You would think that I am against development but I am not. I am against bad development, I am against development which gets approved without an environmental assessment and landscape impact plan that is approved by the local municipality.
I am against development that affects the natural beauty of our landscape and, in particular, affects our recreation and tourism industries.
My message to the municipalities in all parts of the province is to promote good development by establishing development bylaws and regulations that protect the landscape that is visible from the land, air and sea.
It is not too late to start. We need to protect the landscape as our future will depend on it.
Wayne Stokes writes from St. John’s.