St. John’s council voted Tuesday evening to designate and protect a portion of the Galway wetlands.
It’s a decision that doesn’t go far enough, according to councillors who voted against the decision.
That’s because Tuesday’s vote dealt with protecting the wetlands under delineations set out in a 2014 study rather than the study done a year earlier that would have protected more wetlands.
Council voted on Feb. 26 to use the 2014 study rather than 2013 study.
That vote saw Mayor Danny Breen and councillors Wally Collins, Jamie Korab, Deanne Stapleton, Debbie Hanlon, Dave Lane and Sandy Hickman vote in favour of the 2014 report, while Deputy Mayor Sheilagh O’Leary and councillors Maggie Burton, Ian Froude and Hope Jamieson voted against.
The vote was split the same way Tuesday evening when it came time to vote on designating and protecting the Galway wetlands.
Burton told The Telegram she voted against the 2014 delineation because that report was “done with the intent of adding more developable land,” while the 2013 report was more consistent with wetland protections in other areas of the city below the 190-metres contour.
“I could not support the 2014 delineation knowing that it would result in less hectares of wetland than if we used the 2013 delineation. I feel that we have a duty to protect and enhance our city’s wetlands,” Burton said.
Froude also said he dissented because he didn’t agree with the original decision that led council to vote on the 2014 delineation rather than the 2013 delineation.
Breen said there will be no further development in the Galway wetlands area until a city study of wetlands all across the city – including the rest of the Galway wetlands – is complete. He did not provide a specific timeline as to when that study would be done.
He said this particular vote dealt with “a very small portion of the total Galway development.”
“There’s a tremendous amount of lands there yet, and there’s a tremendous amount of wetlands, so the next step is that we’re doing a wetlands study right across the city, so the remainder of the Galway development will be studied under that.”
Council’s decision to designate and protect the Galway wetlands will now be sent to the provincial government for registration. Breen said the province had previously indicated it would accept council’s decision.
St. John's city council divided over Galway wetland