By Katherine Haas, Guest Blogger: In the Town of Uxbridge, a proposal has been made for a by-law amendment to rezone approximately 5.3 hectares of forested land to permit the clear cutting of a heritage forest, and construction of a 52-unit medium density condominium townhouse development. The development proposal is an 'infill' application in a forested area in the community of Coral Creek/Avonlea.
Uxbridge is “The Trail Capital of Canada,” a well-deserved designation recognizing our amazing natural trail systems, heritage bridges, and a strong partnership of local businesses and residents supporting the environment and giving it a voice and identity. The forested area that is the subject of this proposed development is a small, but mature forest, in the heart of Uxbridge. For the residents of this town, it symbolizes what it means to live here with a strong community, in harmony with nature, and is proudly identified as “The Trail Capital of Canada.”
This forested area is not something that can quickly be dismissed or assumed to be easily re-created. There are no studies that support the removal of the forest and, also, no studies that claim removing the forest will have no real impact on the environment or the wildlife habitat. That is easy to understand. This forest is an established wildlife habitat, untouched for decades, with tall, mature and thriving trees that are estimated to be perhaps 100 years old. This small forest should not be disregarded, nor destroyed, in the name of urban growth and development, especially given readily available brownfield development lands, with an estimated capacity for 800 new homes, within a 5-minute walk of this forest, on the other side of the street. The distinction of ‘infill vs brownfield’ is an important point as Provincial requirements specify that development of brownfield lands must take precedence over 'infill' applications. Simple compliance with this provincial government requirement would result in the saving of this heritage forest.
To be clear, there are 13 homes that share the property line with this heritage forest site, and the residents are clearly opposed to destruction of this forest. However, more importantly, over 400 people, from throughout Uxbridge, and its surrounding communities, who do not live on that street, have signed a petition in support of this forest and have voiced their disapproval for this proposed development. To the residents and others it defies understanding that a small, heritage forest in the heart of “The Trail Capital of Canada” would be destroyed to build 52 condominium townhouses when there are available brownfield lands immediately nearby for over 800 homes.