Westminster Ponds ESA Update
by Jason Fredin
Tonight I attended the Westminster Ponds Environmentally Significant Area Community Update held by the City of London, at the Western Ontario Fish and Game Protective Association on October 24, 2012.
The meeting had a great turnout of around 50 individuals, especially considering its limited geographical scope.
The meeting got down to business quickly and was packed with information. I’ll try to keep things brief.
Where does the city put pathways?
First off was the presentation about the planning the city has done around formalizing a process to decide where and what kind of maintained pathways can be placed within an environmentally significant area (ESA). The PDF is available on the city’s website.
Pathways are important within an ESA to direct or funnel traffic into less harmful routes and discourage the formation of several smaller “unofficial” paths.
The document is long, but a great reference.
What is the city doing to maintain the Westminster Ponds / Pond Mills ESA?
Next up was Jason with a presentation about the city’s current efforts such as:
Combating the Emerald Ash Borer.
- most of us have heard about this problem already
- workers identified 200 viable trees, prioritizing the ones near trails
- using insecticide currently on 54 trees
Combating Japanese Knotweed
- invasive species
- 3 identified patches
- chokes out all other plants
- performing tests to best combat (treat with herbicide, or cut then treat with herbicide)
- purple loosestrife has been returning possibly due to dry summer
Designation of a Heritage Tree
- new maps on kiosks at trailheads
- unofficial trails closed
- some shortcuts still being used by commuters
- laying brush across trail to discourage traffic
- some individuals thought they were Huckleberry Finn and built a raft
- city workers dismantled and removed it
- constant problem
- workers are vigilant to remove quickly
- dead and dying trees must be removed for safety
- sprayed orange and numbered to mark
Did you say heritage buildings?
Well, actually no, but they are looking into a cultural heritage landscape designation for the old veterans lands, which includes buildings. Built for soldiers returning from war, it was ahead of it’s time allowing patients to look out the window to a beautiful natural area. beautiful surroundings are just now being proven to improve healing.
the city has hired the same consultant for the old London Psychiatric Grounds.
Will be presented to LACH on November 14 @ 5:30PM with public input to follow. BE THERE!
One attendee asked about the condition of the buildings and a representative of the hospital was there to answer that all the buildings have new roofs and are structurally sound. Three of four remaining buildings are currently in use by environmental groups, but the fourth (the big one) requires at least one million dollars of infrastructure to be useable.
Who the heck is the Westminster Working Group?
A better question is “why doesn’t every community have one of these?” You can get more information about them on Facebook on the Westminster Is page. They are a regularly meeting community group focused on urban planning, public safety, active transportation and accessibility, availability of food and physical activity. I’,, be looking to see if something similar exists in the Whit Oaks area, where I live.
The group has already brought a proposal to city council in hopes to get a walkway placed through the ESA to establish a route from Parliament Crescent to Commissioners Road.
The city has teamed up with them on this as well as proposing a branch run from Parliament Crescent to Silverdale Crescent. This is a safety concern due to the large amount of people who use it as a shortcut already. The major issue is that a CNR track runs between the two. These must also pass though CNR approval, as well as engineering a safe elevated (bridge), or level crossing for pedestrians.
For funding, it was pointed out that existing budgets take care of the ESA assessments for the projects, the city has set aside money for the rail crossing, but additional money would need to be applied for, after all planning is done to build the actual paths.
Is that all?
Nope, but that’s the gist of what went on.
Feel free to ask me any questions on Twitter (@jasonfredin) or hit up my contact form and I will tell you what I know, or remember, or point you in the direction of who might be able to answer your question.