On a gorgeous September day, Board Chair, Kate Lazier went on a fishing expedition. Literally!
Using electrofishing (very safe to fish and humans alike when done properly) and minnow trapping, Kate, along with donor-funded natural heritable consultants, were able to briefly trap, identify and measure numerous fish species in the Beaver River and at the Talisman Spring tributary. The spring, starting in the forest behind the Amik water treatment plant and cutting across the old golf course, is a result of water flowing from the top of the Escarpment.
We documented that the Talisman Spring and Beaver River are very important fish habitats, with Rainbow, Brown and Brook Trout present along with many minnow species. Particularly notable is the presence of Brook Trout as they require very cold water to spawn, and due to the amount of shading and its source water the Talisman Spring is perfect at a cool 9.9 degrees Celsius.
What does this mean for the future of the Talisman site? Well, any future developers will have to show that they are protecting these important fish habitats in their development plans. Federal, provincial, and municipal legislation all regulate development around fish habitat and the Grey Highlands Official Plan recommends a minimum 120m buffer around all streams and rivers as well as around fish habitat.
An Inspiration: While the Spring and the River are somewhat healthy, they could be even better if, instead of development, lawns and golf courses, they were renaturalized. This would knit together the Valley’s lands to the north and south, improve habitats for fish and aquatic land-based species as well as help tackle climate change. Our friends at the Beaver River Watershed Initiative have been able to do exactly that and have dramatically increased fish spawning through shoreline restoration projects, an inspiration for our area.
It is only through your generous and continued donations that work like this is possible - Thank you again.
Municipal Policies and Protecting Talisman Lands
PTLA, and other community members, are actively engaged in following what is happening at the municipal level as it not only has implications for everyone in Grey Highlands but also for the future of the Talisman lands.
Planning – an important part of keeping the Beaver Valley green and natural
What is our collective vision for the Beaver Valley and the Talisman site? Where should we build water and sewage pipes and plants? Where should we allow for more housing? Good planning, underpinned by a strong vision, is the most important tool for answering these questions.
Ultimately it is our municipal and provincial governments who make planning decisions through layers of legislation. We at PTLA are laser-focused on how we can influence planning regulations and processes to ensure the Valley remains green and natural, not just to protect fragile ecosystems and gorgeous views, but to support the kind of high-quality tourism that also benefits residents and local businesses.
Here’s what we’re working on:
Advocating for a Secondary Plan
On the Talisman site, we have advocated for a secondary plan, a detailed section of an Official Plan, to achieve a vision and plan for the entire site. A Secondary Plan would address the site’s many environmental complexities, design issues, competing interests of the two major owners, and important questions about road, water and sewage system expansions. Read our letter to Grey Highlands Council here.
Zoning Bylaw and Official Plan Review
At the municipal level, we are reviewing the new draft zoning bylaw very carefully and will be submitting recommendations aimed at reducing the negative impact of any new development at Talisman. The Municipality of Grey Highlands (MGH) plans on creating a new Official Plan in the next year and we will also be reviewing this rigorously. Depending on how Council and other parties respond to our recommendations in the new zoning and Official Plans, we may need to participate in Ontario Land Tribunal hearings where zoning and Official Plan appeals are decided.
Niagara Escarpment Plan
Another planning layer rests with the Niagara Escarpment Commission and we are also working to ensure they are aware of what is planned for the site and that they uphold their obligation to protect the natural environment of the escarpment. When the Niagara Escarpment Plan was approved in 1985, it grandfathered existing recreational uses such as ski hills and allowed more permissive development in these areas in order to support recreational use. Scientists are predicting continued warming in the next several decades which threatens the future of skiing in the Georgian Bay area. The NEC needs to be planning proactively for the future of these sites as our climate changes.
Finally, we are preparing for development applications from both BVDG and Ellis, owner of the lodge and ski hill. We have hired two experienced planners, Susan Robertson and Allan Ramsay, to help us with this work, and are nailing down contracts with other consultants. We are putting together a team so we can effectively respond when these applications are submitted.
To do all of this, we need your help with time and money.
As always, please consider donating here. All donations will receive a charitable receipt.
We are also looking for volunteers who would like to be PTLA ambassadors. The job is simple: talk to people about the threat to the Beaver Valley we know and love. We’d like to host tables at a variety of community events over the next 6 months and we need your help to get the word out. Please email us to learn more.
Jeanette on behalf of PTLA