Sunday, 3 June 2012

Much ado about toads - Bay Beach civil suit dismissed but toad permit presents final hurdle (James Culic) {Excerpt} - via Herp Digest

 NIAGRA THIS WEEK (Ontario) 5/8/12  Much ado about toads. The developers behind a condo project for Bay Beach may have cleared a major hurdle in having a civil suit against it dismissed, but there’s still the issue of a Ministry of Natural Resources permit for a plan to ensure the well being of the at-risk Fowler’s Toad. Although a judge’s dismissal of a civil suit against the Bay Beach condo was seen as one of the final hurdles hurdles for the project, the lingering issue of the Fowler’s Toad has kept council from putting the topic behind them, as evident by an hours long debate at Town Hall on Monday.

Since the toad is considered an at-risk species in Ontario, the condo developers, the Molinaros, must obtain a permit from the Ministry of Natural Resources (MNR) which guarantees an overall net benefit to the toads as a result of the construction.

To accomplish an overall benefit to the toad while still building the condo, a roped-off habitat for the toads will be built in the area.

A draft copy of the overall benefit conditions was submitted to council for information purposes Monday, and Ward 5 Coun. Don Lubberts spoke at length about how he believed it was going to cost the taxpayer money, and accused staff of omitting his concerns from previous Bay Beach discussions in the report. 

“I don’t think that we should be putting this to the taxpayer, and allowing the taxpayer to take the burden of paying for the toad habitat, the maintenance and the repair of the toad habitat,” said Lubberts.

“We have given the Molinaro’s $2.7 million worth of property and we’ve made an agreement that they are going to give us community benefits in return for that, now we just gave them the rest of this property to use for free, and now they come back, and staff comes back and asks council to approve to allow the Molinaro’s and us to enter into a cost sharing agreement, but this isn’t us, this is the taxpayer that has to pay this, they’ve paid enough, the Molinaro’s have got a pretty good deal here,” he continued.

After Lubberts repeatedly asserted that costs for the toad habitat were going to end up on the backs of taxpayers, even Ward 3 Coun. Bob Steckley began to doubt himself.

“I was under impression they were costs to the Molinaro’s, but hearing councillor Lubberts, he seems pretty convinced that’s not the case, perhaps you could clear that up,” Steckley asked staff.

Richard Brady, the town’s director of community and development services, explained the Molinaro’s are the ones holding and the permit and would be responsible for the costs, but Lubberts remained unconvinced, and discussion continued back and forth until acting CAO Ron Tripp stepped in to try and put the matter to rest.

“With respect to cost I think councillor Lubberts has made the assumption several times that anything in addition, specifically with the toad habitat, is going to be to the taxpayers, and that is fundamentally incorrect, or at least is not in line with the philosophy of all the other agreements, and what the objective is of the maintenance cost sharing agreement,” said Tripp.

Satisfied with the explanation, Lubberts moved on to his second point of contention with the report.

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