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Parks In Peril - Komoka Provincial Park

There are very few public lands in southern Ontario, and even fewer protected areas. Most of the land south of Ottawa from Windsor across to Cornwall is privately owned including shorelines. The areas currently protected under the Provincial Parks Act are very small, and often surrounded by runaway development.

Komoka Provincial Park protects a key natural core along the Thames River. The Thames River is one of Southern Ontario's major rivers, and was designated as a Canadian Heritage River in 2000. It is located on the western edge of the City of London, and is the largest remaining natural area within 15 kilometres (km) of downtown London. The park is one of the major remaining stretches of riparian forest and adjoining upland forest in southwestern Ontario, and plays a crucial role as a corridor for plant dispersal and wildlife migration - yet it is only 189 hectares.

Two previously purchased parcels of land - a former gravel pit immediately north of the Thames River, and a woodlot separated from the rest of the park - will be added to the park expanding its area to 324 hectares.

The Komoka Park Management Plan states the Ontario government will consider acquiring other land and adding it to the park, but Komoka Provincial Park is surrounded by runaway low density housing development, and without active advocacy to expand the boundaries of the park or regulate development in the immediate area, the opportunity to effectively protect the natural core of the Thames River will vanish.

Click here to view the Komoka Provincial Park Photo Gallery.

Southern Ontario desperately needs more protected areas, not only to protect natural areas but also to expand public space including access to shorelines.

Other public infrastructure developments expected over the next 20 years just outside Komoka Provincial Park include: widening of Oxford Street to Commissioners Road; a possible ring road expressway that would extend north from Highway 402 and pass just east of the park; and expansion of the sewage treatment facility east of Komoka Road.

Most of the park contains natural heritage features and areas defined by the Provincial Policy Statement under the Planning Act. Municipalities are required to be consistent with provincial policy that natural heritage features and areas are to be protected from incompatible development on adjacent lands. Provincial policy also requires municipalities to consider the impacts of planning decisions on provincial parks.

Ontario Parks will recommend to the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing that the Municipality of Middlesex Centre and the City of London be asked to ensure that their official plans fully identify the park's lands, waters, and natural heritage features, so that new development near the park is assessed with regard to any potential impacts on the park and its natural heritage values in accordance with provincial policy.

The unusual step by Ontario Parks to advocate on behalf of any provincial park to other governing bodies is unprecedented.

Please Add Your Voice. Please demand that the City of London and the Municipality of Middlesex Center adhere to provincial laws that require them to recognize the value of the province's protected areas in all municipal development decisions. And please tell Dalton McGuinty to expand the boundaries of Komoka Provincial Park through land purchase today. Tomorrow is too late. Please send a personal note to:

Mayor Joe Fontana
London City Hall
300 Dufferin Avenue, London, Ontario N6B 1Z2
Direct Line to Mayor's Office 661-2500 ext. 4920
City Hall Fax: 519 661 5308
Email: jfontana@london.ca

Mayor Al Edmiondson
Municipality of Middlesex Centre
14484 Eight Line, R.R.1
Arva, Ontario N0M 2A0
T. 519 660.0559
Email: wa.edmondson@sympatico.ca

Dalton McGuinty, Premier
Legislative Building
Queen's Park
Toronto ON M7A 1A1
Fax: (416) 325-3745.
Email: http://www.premier.gov.on.ca/feedback/default.asp

Clearly Green Design