Over the past several years I’ve been asked by several people, “how much of Peterborough is protected?” Its not a straightforward question to answer; between overlapping jurisdictions, policies and laws and the ways in which they are enforced the area of protection in the city limits changes. Recently Debbie Jenkins reached out to me with a proposal to produce a map that attempted to finally answer the question “How much of Peterborough is Protected?“
I first needed to decide what I would consider as a “protected area” in Peterborough. There are several regulations that do not necessarily act as protections for ecological purposes, but have ecological implications. Meanwhile regulations such as the 120m setback for wetlands are technically required by legislation, but rarely adhered to. I decided to take a qualitative two tier approach to my assessment.
Tier 2 protections were generally identified as areas that have some degree of protection, yet are generally ignored, circumvented, or have limited significance. Examples:
- 120m setback from Provincially Significant Wetlands although technically required by provinical legislation, are rarely enforced on new building developments.
- Alterations to Shorelines and Watercourses Regulations technically prohibits construction within the regulated areas adjacent to wetlands and watercourses, although the conservation authority is generally willing and able to provide exceptions to this rule.
Tier 1 protections were identified as areas with significant hurdles to development, and in my experience are generally spared within development applications. Exceptions to these rules are rarely granted (not never granted). Examples:
- Within 30m from Provinically Significant Wetlands I can only think of limited examples in the past decade where this limit has not been enforced.
- Parks Canada Land this land is federally protected and I consider unlikely to be developed.
- City Parks generally city parks are not developed within the city of Peterborough, in large part due to public outcry and what I consider to be “cultural” protections.
This map is far from perfect and includes several approximations, however it should paint an accurate picture of “protected areas” within the city of Peterborough. It will be interesting to see when the official plan is released how this map might change. Advocating for nature has been a huge part of how many of the protected areas in our city have gained and maintained their status, and I hope this map paints an excellent picture of how that work has pieced together.