An update was given regarding the Ontario Municipal Board and Point Estates. Members of the St. Mary’s River BPAC were notified on Wednesday that a pre-hearing on the subdivision project is scheduled for March 11th at 10:00 a.m. in Council Chambers. Klaas Oswald will be representing BPAC at the pre-hearing. He plans to address but is not limited to discussing the evaulation of the affected wetland, a draft environmental impact statement and a scoped environmental impact statement. People interested in attending will be screened for either ‘party’ or ‘presentation’ status. Should BPAC be designated as a ‘party’ for the hearing, it will join the Point Protection Association, which will also be in attendance as a ‘party’. What specific issues will be dealt with, as well as how many witnesses are participating will be determined at the pre-hearing. Oswald told BPAC members that he has been picking up an idea of what to expect while attending the Bow Lake Wind Farm Project Environmental Review Tribunal this week. The actual hearing is expected to take place sometime in mid or late summer before taking a break and then resume in the fall. This is the latest development after the Sault Region Conservation Authority board approved the 90-plus lot subdivision in December 2012 — council voted against the development last summer. At issue is that the subdivision would be built on wetland, an amount more significant than the 2 and a half hectares allowed by the province.
A presentation was made at Wednesday night’s BPAC meeting on a water quality study by Algoma University. Study Field Technician Carrie Ginou discussed highlights from the first year of the study. Activities during 2013 ranged from selecting the sites for the study to collecting samples to determine the presence of undesirable algae and the degradation of aesthetics in the St. Marys River Area Of Concern. Preliminary results indicate that nutrient levels in the water at five sites are within acceptable levels and characteristics of oligotrophic waters. No algae was found between Gros Cap in the west and Richards Landing in the east. There was a slight yellowing of the water and the highest level of turbidity at Echo Bay, but the yellow was not of any great concern. 2014 will mark the second year of the study that will feature more frequent sampling periods and a much higher number of samples collected between April and October. Work is also planned to capture samples resulting from high rain events. A more detailed report on 2013 activities is expected to be available soon on the BPAC website.