There is no need for DRIC (letter to editor in The Windsor Star)
© Copyright (c) The Windsor StarBy Dan McDermott December 28, 2010
Re: Millions spent on snake housing, opinion column, by Chris Vander Doelen, Dec. 21.
Chris Vander Doelen is concerned about the public money that the McGuinty government plans to spend to attempt to mitigate the damage that the Windsor-Essex Parkway would cause to at least eight species at risk.
The Sierra Club agrees with Mr. Vander Doelen that this money need not be spent. That is because there is no need to build the expensive and environmentally destructive Detroit River International Crossing project for which WEP is planned to be the Ontario access route.
In point of fact, the state of Michigan is not committed to building its part of the DRIC -- despite the government of Canada's eagerness to loan them billions of dollars for this purpose.
Without Michigan's commitment to DRIC, the Windsor-Essex Parkway will be a road to nowhere.
What the Michigan legislators have got wise to is the same information that should have caused Canadian DRIC advocates to rethink their commitment to the project. Crossborder traffic numbers have been down consistently since 1999, two years before 9-11.
DRIC fans are in deep denial of the multiple factors (passport requirements, tightened border security, the recession, the collapse of the automobile industry and the expansion of the Rust Belt) that continue to contribute to this decade-plus decline.
In addition to this clear lack of need, there is the reality that WEP will cause damage to Canada's largest remaining tall grass prairie ecosystem, the Ojibway Complex, and species at risk such as the Eastern Foxsnake and the Butler's Garter snake that depend on Ojibway to survive.
Here again, Mr. Vander Doelen has a point. The money that the government of Ontario plans to spend to relocate the snakes is money wasted.
Who says so? The Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources' own documentation notes that relocating the snakes has never worked and there is no scientific basis to assert that it will in this instance.
Credible independent scientific opinion is clear that, if the Parkway is built, the snakes will die. If the parkway is built, it will provide paved evidence that in cases where the Ontario government is promoting a project, the Ontario Endangered Species Act isn't worth the paper it's printed on.
Dan McDermott, director, Sierra Club Ontario, Centre for Green Cities, Toronto