Watch the video of Conservation Matters Webinar 6 and take action!

We had a great audience that actively engaged in a conversation about the Hamilton Conservation Authority’s (HCA) Natural Heritage Offsetting discussion paper. Our guests provided great insights into the controversial practice of offsetting, which essentially means allowing developers to “replace” wetlands and natural features destroyed by their projects. These supported Hamilton 350’s stance that the best offsetting policy is a no offsetting policy.

Later in the webinar we outlined Hamilton 350’s stance against moving wetlands and other natural features. We encouraged audience members to take action by supporting staff members of the HCA who are against offsetting, and calling on members that support the “offsetting policy” to reject developer-driven plans that encourage such actions. We finished with a lively Q&A and a call to let the HCA know that the best “offsetting policy” to conserve natural features in the face of development is a “no offsetting policy”.

When we work together, we win! Organize to protect wetlands and natural features from developers.

The Hamilton Conservation Authority staff have been asked to create an “offsetting policy” to conserve natural features damaged or destroyed as part of development. Advocates of this policy say it would only be used as a last resort. While the idea of relocating natural features for the sake of development may seem like a protective action, there has never been a genuine offsetting success story in Ontario.

The HCA is asking for your input on the best way to protect Hamilton’s watershed, connect people with nature, and design development projects that avoid any negative impacts to natural heritage features. We are concerned that the consultation leaves the false impression that an offsetting policy strengthens protection of natural features when the opposite is true.

The request for this policy has come from land developers, not out of an interest of protecting the public good. Developers have little understanding of natural features like wetlands, and attempting to relocate them will almost certainly disrupt fragile ecosystems, negatively impact wildlife habitats and interfere with the positive environmental services that wetlands provide.

On top of that, this policy makes no mention of including Indigenous participation in this decision though it affects treaty obligations to the Haudenosaunee people.

It’s critical that as many people as possible provide their input on HCA’s Natural Heritage Offsetting Discussion Paper so the decision made about it reflects your priorities.