Save the Bruce-Berczy Ecological Corridor and its wildlife inhabitants!
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A critical wildlife corridor in Markham is at risk of being destroyed and needs your help!
The Bruce-Berczy Ecological Corridor is essential for protecting wildlife and their habitat. It is an open wildlife corridor between the main tributary of Berczy Creek west of Warden Avenue and the Bruce Creek wetland on the east side of Warden Avenue. This corridor represents a small segment of a more extensive conceptual ‘Core Linkage Enhancement’ element in the Greenway System identified in the Markham Official Plan, which is intended to ultimately provide an east-west natural heritage linkage between the predominantly north-south valley systems in Markham. The Core Linkage Enhancement extends from Berczy Creek eastward to the Little Rouge Creek and beyond. This Linkage is part of Markham’s long term vision for a connected and integrated natural heritage system. It implements a fundamental principle of conservation and natural heritage planning by ensuring a system of natural corridors across the landscape that connect natural habitats and support the long term survival and sustainability of both plant diversity and wildlife.
At present time, the City of Markham Mayor and members of Council are faced with the decision to either protect the corridor or permit it to be lost to development. Landowners and developers want to destroy this corridor for land development, which will put many wildlife species, fauna and the environment at risk. As lands urbanize in Markham, this vital east-west connection will enable wildlife to move across the landscape in a safe manner while reducing potential conflicts with humans and cars. The wildlife corridor will enlarge existing wetland habitat, provide for a pedestrian connection as well as groundwater related benefits. Strategically located wildlife corridors connect core habitats and support the long term survival and sustainability of plant diversity and wildlife by allowing the passage of animal species for feeding, breeding and migration. Connected natural heritage systems create a more robust and resilient system to address the unforeseen impacts associated with our changing climate, unpredictable weather patterns, insect and pest infestations.
If they vote in favour of destroying this green space, it will bring massive development and higher than usual housing densities. The impact will be disastrous for the environment and the wildlife inhabitants in the corridor. Please show your support for this critical Bruce-Berczy Ecological Corridor! Ask the Mayor and Councillors of Markham to ensure this Ecological Corridor is not lost to the future development of Future Urban Areas in Markham, and to adhere to the Master Conceptual Plan and continue to be a leader in environmental and wildlife protection.
Wildlife inhabitants of the corridor, many of these are rare and significant to the area and some are endangered:
- A range of significant wildlife habitat (SWH) exist within the Future Urban Areas (FUA) which lies over the Bruce, Bertzy and Robinson subwatersheds. Current species that are found in the FUA include deer that use this area for winter congregation; breeding habitat for a variety of birds; amphibian breeding habitat; bull frog concentration areas; bat maternity colonies; turtle nesting and wintering areas; and animal movement corridors.
- The Creeks also supports diverse communities of resident fishes, which is an indication of high water quality in this area.
- Berczy and Bruce Creeks support several coolwater fish species including the Brook Trout, a coldwater Mottled Sculpin, several common warmwater species including Brook Stickleback, Creek Chub, Blacknose Dace and Bluegill. These areas also provide spawning and nursery habitat for Rainbow Trout, which migrate upstream from Lake Ontario to spawn.
- There are also locally rare/sensitive flora and fauna species found within these areas. A total of 686 vascular plant species were initially recorded in the study area. Of the species reported within the FUA, 16 are provincially rare and 141 are locally significant.
- Within the FUA are seven anuran species, including the American Toad, Gray Treefrog, Spring Peeper, American Bullfrog, Green Frog, Northern Leopard Frog and Wood Frog. With the exception of the American Toad, all are considered significant.
- 117 species of breeding birds were documented; of these, 90 could be confirmed specifically from the FUA. Woodland habitats supported the highest diversity of birds, followed by early successional/agricultural habitats, wetland habitats, and urbanized/residential areas.
- Other species that have been observed within the FUA and adjacent lands include Eastern Gartersnake, Eastern Milksnake (listed as ‘Special Concern’ federally), Midland Painted Turtle, Snapping Turtle (listed as ‘Special Concern’ federally and provincially), and Pond Slider (introduced turtle species).
- Sixteen Species at Risk (SAR) were recorded in background studies and field investigations in the FUA and neighbouring lands. Of these, 12 are designated as Endangered or Threatened within Ontario, including Little Brown Bat, Butternut, Barn Swallow, Eastern Meadolark and Bobolink, amongst others. Four (Eastern Wood-Peewee, Wood Thrush, Grasshopper Sparrow, and Snapping Turtle) are designated as Special Concern in Ontario.
Markham’s Official Plan devised in 2014 was one of the components to accommodate projected population and employment growth to 2031. The new neighbourhood and employment lands is in north Markham and it encompasses approximately 1,300 hectares (3,200 acres). The general boundaries are defined by Major Mackenzie Drive to the south, the Hydro Corridor and Woodbine Avenue to the west, Elgin Mills Road to the north, and Warden Avenue and Robinson Creek to the east . The identification of these lands for inclusion within the City’s urban area is one of the components of Markham’s strategy to accommodate assigned population and employment growth to 2031.
The Official Plan identifies these lands as Future Urban Area (FUA) and a key component of planning FUA is the development of the Conceptual Master Plan and it is based on City-led supporting studies, one of them being a Subwatershed Study as the FUA lies on 4 watersheds: Bertzy Creek, Bruce Creek, Robinson Creek,
The key principles and parameters for planning the Future Urban Area includes protecting and enhancing the natural environment and ensuring the development minimizes impacts to natural features, topography and soils, and enhances tree canopy. Protecting the natural environment means confirming a protected Greenway System through an understanding of the natural systems and their functions, including species at risk; managing groundwater and surface water resources; providing an integrated natural heritage system/open space network that respects ecological sensitivities and supports healthy and active communities; and incorporating natural topography and features as much as possible into neighbourhood design.
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