Tag: Maps

Changes To The Greenbelt Could Impact Peterborough for the Worse

Caption: The Oak Ridges Moraine (Green Highlight) feeds several local creeks and rivers.

It’s no secret that Peterborough is a city intimately connected with the water. From the lakes that surround us to the rivers and canals that criss-cross the city, you don’t have to go far to spend time on the water. We are also a city that considers ourselves distinctly different from the urbanites to the south. We’re proud to be on the frontier of Canada’s south, a gateway to the land between, and the Canadian Shield beyond. When legislation regarding the greenbelt is passed at Queens Park, you’d be forgiven for thinking it might not apply to us, after all, the greenbelt is there for Toronto, why should the people of Peterborough care?

You don’t have to go far back in memory to think of summers where Jackson Creek has nearly dried up completely. You might wonder why there is still a little bit of water in the creek for fish to survive the dry months. After all, in June 2021, we went for several weeks without rain, so where does the water in the creek come from? Well, in short, that water comes from the Greenbelt, and the Oak Ridges Moraine (ORM) within. The ORM functions as a giant sponge that stretches across southern Ontario, soaking up water when it is wet, and slowly letting it out when it is dry. It is because of the ORM’s ability to act as a giant reservoir that Jackson Creek, Cavan Creek, and countless other rivers in the Peterborough area continue to flow long into a drought.

Changes to the greenbelt act proposed by Doug Ford at Queen’s Park mean that the integrity of that sponge will be eroded. Building houses on top of this “big sponge” is similar to applying a plastic coating on top of that sponge. The ORM’s ability to absorb water during rainy months, and snowy conditions will be negatively impacted, and there will be less water to feed our creeks and rivers.

The limestone riverbed below Jackson Creek is exposed during low flow conditions in the summer.

The Greenbelt was a visionary piece of legislation that helps protect our critical water resources, but continued degradation will negatively impact the resiliency of our aquatic ecosystems. It is obvious that the proposed changes are meant to enrich a few individuals, and not to build affordable homes for citizens. Even the government’s own housing task force acknowledges that there is no need to alter the boundary of the greenbelt to provide adequate housing. It is my hope that the government will change course, and remove the proposed changes to the Greenbelt from Bill 23.

Author’s Note: Sorry I haven’t been active much lately. I’m sure many of you have found the world an overwhelming place lately, and I’m right there with you. I was also a little bummed out in the spring after getting ghosted by the newspaper, but I’m in the process of finding another home for some of my writing. Anyways, that’s all to say I haven’t had much of a spark for writing for a little while, but here’s hoping I can change course on that one going into the winter.

The Endangered Bird Above Peterborough’s Downtown

Next time you’re in downtown Peterborough, look up and there’s a good chance you’ll see one of Canada’s endangered species. The chimney swift is a bird that lives entirely on the wing, only landing to rest in its roost, often a chimney. Before European settlement, chimney swifts made their homes in large hollow trees that were common before the landscape was cleared for agriculture. Chimneys made a suitable replacement for their roosts, hence their name. Here in Peterborough, we have even erected a chimney swift “tower” in Beavermead Park to provide them with some additional habitat.

A chimney swift tower in Beavermead, Park Peterborough, Ontario 2019

Often confused for a swallow, chimney swifts can be identified by their high pitched chirping as they erratically pursue insects above the downtown. They will generally forage within 1/2 km of their roost but sometimes as much as 6 km.

This year, several field naturalists including myself have identified chimney swifts in areas far beyond their typical range in Peterborough’s downtown, so I have started collecting sightings of chimney swifts around Peterborough. Send me your sightings on twitter @StewardsNotes or using the contact form. I’ll be sure to add your sighting promptly! (Special shout out to Alexandra Anderson for all the great sightings!)

If you’re interested in monitoring chimney swifts in greater detail join Bird Studies Canada on their Swift Watch I assure you it is a relaxing way to spend several evenings!

Travel the Coyote Parkway

For the past 50+ years the city of Peterborough has been debating the creation of the parkway on top of some of the greenest spaces and most widely used trails in our city. You may be surprised to hear that this space has become another different transportation corridor in our city. Coyotes roughly appear to be traveling from through our city along this corridor. You may recall the map produced earlier this year detailing Peterborough’s natural heritage system in the form of a metro map, this is a prime example of how wildlife moves around our city.

Get your sighting featured on the map by using the tag #PtboCoyote on twitter or typing a comment below.

On November 13th @SarahDeeth from CHEX news posed the question on twitter if people had been noticing greater numbers of coyotes within the city limits. People were eager to share the approximate locations of their sightings across the city. I realized that this would be an interesting dataset, and quickly went to work assembling everybody’s sightings into a single map. The results were surprising! You can see the live map below!

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Incredibly the Coyotes seem to be using the parkway corridor to travel around the city. Sightings from the north end all the way to medical drive indicate active populations roaming the area. Neighborhoods in Monaghan Ward seem to have active populations surrounding the golf course. I can also personally corroborate an active population within and around Harper Park. It is equally interesting where there are an absence of coyote sightings. Almost no sightings have taken place in the areas on the East Bank sandwiched between the Canal and the Otonabee River. My guess is that it is a relatively highly populated area that lacks easy escape routes, so coyotes avoid the east bank.

Peterborough Natural Areas Atlas

With the fall colours upon us, there is no time like the present to get out and enjoy what Peterborough’s natural areas have to offer. Over the course of the winter I will be working on an updated version of the Natural Areas atlas for people to enjoy next spring! In the meantime, why not head over to the downloads page and get a copy for yourself? The atlas covers some of the most interesting natural areas within the city limits and has some suggested walking trails marked on the map. Make sure to share your wildlife sightings on iNaturalist, ebird, reptile and amphibian atlas or some other citizen science program! Bring a friend and I’ll see you on the trail!

Stewards Notes Now Airing Live

Last week I had the opportunity to show Hayden Watters from CBC the natural heritage system map of Peterborough. I had never intended the popularity of the map to take off in the way it did, I simply needed a visual aide. Follow us around the city as we explore the different “transit stops” along the different transit lines. If you’re interested in the interview or want to learn more, head on over to CBC Ontario Morning and check it out. The interview starts at 12:22.

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Peterborough’s Natural Heritage System Metro

One of the obvious metaphors for a natural heritage system is a road or subway network for species that aren’t humans. Just as you require pathways to to work each morning, species need a pathway to move from their homes to their feeding grounds, water, and breeding areas. As a fun little project I decided to create a fictional metro system for all of our feathered, furry and slippery friends in the city. Each of the metro lines correspond with a real corridor that may be used by foxes, birds, snakes, and others to move between the core natural areas in our city. When we discuss the protection of our nature areas, we must not forget the metro system that connects these important natural spaces.

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