Dianne Saxe was Ontario’s Environmental Commissioner from 2015 to 2018. In one of the last reports of the office, it was said that not enough was being done to prevent wetland loss in Ontario. Additionally, there was a 260-year backlog for unevaluated wetlands.
A Twin Pad arena development was proposed for Trent University in 2015 and approved in 2017. From the beginning, this was a controversial decision due to the location being on a wetland, and the proposed removal of the wetland to allow for parking. There were questions about the effectiveness of a compensation wetland and the effects on wildlife. This site is also close to Camp Kawartha, an environmental education centre at Nassau Mills road and Pioneer road. This site was not evaluated for provincial significance before approval, which angered many environmentalists and the First Nations community, as protections for wetlands change when they become provincially significant.
As the Northcrest Arena in Northern Peterborough was reaching its end of life, a new hockey rink was needed, putting pressure on councillors to find a location. For some reason, the Otonabee Conservation Authority did not request a wetland evaluation for the wetland at the site. Politicians who sit on the Board of Directors of the Conservation Authority allowed for an arena to be developed with small buffers. Buffers are spaces between a wetland and development that protect biodiversity, reduce erosion and flooding concerns, and are beneficial recreationally as well as spiritually. Since the development approval, Pioneer road has been widened, and Trent University has started consultations on the Trent Land Use Plans (after selling its property to the city). In April of last year, protestors took over a room at Trent University and the Sacred Water Circle, a group of Indigenous and non-Indigenous allies, worked together to defend the water. In addition to this, wetland activists were at Trent Open Houses with banners and signs protesting the development. After the 2018 provincial election, the Conservative government cut funding for the arena, delaying the development.
In April of 2019, DM Wills completed a wetland evaluation which found that the Nassau Wetland Complex, which includes the arena site, is provincially significant. This only became public knowledge in late August after a review from the Ministry of Natural Resources. At the same time, the city’s Draft Official Plan was being criticized for not having a big enough buffer requirement. The City of Peterborough also recently passed a Climate Emergency Declaration, making destroying a wetland that stores carbon counterproductive.
Late Thursday October 10, it was announced that city staff recommended moving the Twin Pad arena to Fleming College after $3,156,592 had been spent from Report CSD19-016 in the General Committee meeting agenda for October 15. There is a council meeting on October 28, and the public can speak at 6 p.m. It is because of the work of Water Walkers, community members, Debbie Jenkins, the Council of Canadians and people behind the scenes that made this developing news possible.