Snakes, woodpeckers fail to stop official plan amendment

When the county OPP planned to expand its policing buildings in Mount Forest with an identification unit, proponents had no sus­picion they might be scuppered by a hawk – or chimney swift.

The county was hoping to pass an official plan amend­ment of an L-shaped parcel in the town limits, northeast of Industrial Drive, along High­way 6. The property is about 4.5 acres, and is owned and managed by the Ontario Realty Corporation for the province.

The existing OPP station is currently on lands designated highway commercial, but the parking lot area to the north and some of the lands to the east are designated industrial. The zoning on those lands is the same as the official plan designations.

Planning committee chair­man Walter Trachsel said the committee was deliberating the official plan amendment when it received a letter at the last minute and learned that the plans might be scuppered be­cause some animals and birds on, or being considered for the endangered species list, might use that land as a habitat.

Those were the common nighthawk, the chimney swift, the redheaded woodpecker, and the eastern milk snake.

Trachsel said a quick check with the Ministry of Natural Re­sources provided the in­formation that there is currently no presence of those species on the property, so the county could proceed to the redesig­nate the lands from industrial to highway commercial.

The identification unit build­ing would be placed on the property near the current OPP building. The new build­ing would have 12,750 square feet of space.

The change in designation would place all the OPP property under a single official plan desig­nation.

Trachsel assured council that those species “have been within that area” but added, “it has been evaluated.”

He said a threat to any of those species “does not exist. Ac­tually, there’s no significant impact to the habitat.”