Some concerns over woodlot development possibilities
Windsor Mayor Drew Dilkens is celebrating a decision by the province to remove a sensitive wetland designation on 46 acres of the South Cameron woodlot.
The move could pave the way for future residential development in an area susceptible to flooding.
But some residents are nervous about the decision.
The optics aren't good considering some of the city's top priorities include flood prevention and tree coverage, but in a Facebook post made Thursday afternoon, Dilkens said he met with premier Doug Ford late last year to address the wetland designation, to attract future development.
"The province simply didn't do their job the first time around," says Dilkens.
Dilkens is calling 'foul' on previous provincial governments for erroneously declaring parts of the South Cameron woodlot a 'provincially significant wetland'.
“What people need to know is the original designation was done by a person working for the MNR sitting at a desk in Alymer, Ontario they never actually sent boot on the ground to look at the area and determine with precision where the boundary should be."
One resident tells CTV News she just heard the news Thursday and it's bothering many people in the neighbourhood.
Flood-prone residents in the area are worried that developing an inner-city woodlot will enhance flood risk, though Dilkens assures that more than half of the woodlot will stay protected.
Ward 10 councillor Jim Morrison says it's about finding 'balance', ensuring that properly designated wetlands are protected, while addressing Windsor's housing shortage.
"We do need some development and I will be there to make sure we don't do something that is just knocking down trees for no reason," says Morrison.
The director of watershed management services at the Essex Region Conservation Authority Tim Byrne says this latest retraction from the province doesn't mean developers can start bulldozing.
"The concern that some are speaking about paving over paradise that's not going to happen," says Byrne
Byrne insists the city should update and review its planning process, while residents do their part as well.
“You can't just all pave everything and cover everything," says Byrne. “We have to plan for more resiliency in our development processes. Our planning processes have to provide for us that resiliency."