The Regulations Committee of the Mississippi Valley Conservation Authority will hold a meeting on September 9 at 9:30 am to review the application from Enerdu to permit that company to construct, place fill, or to alter a watercourse or shoreline.
No one except the MVCA and Enerdu have standing at the hearing. The public can watch but cannot ask questions or make submissions. The meeting is a technical presentation after which the Regulations Committee will decide in camera. Enerdu already knows that MVCA staff will recommend the committee approve the application based on the hydro-technical analysis supplied by Enerdu.
The only obstacles Enerdu still faces to its expansion plans are:
- It must renew its water-taking permit by the end of this month (there may be a delay).
- It may wait until completion of the mandated review of the Mississippi River water-management plan scheduled for 2016. (A review may see the water level lowered to revive the Appleton wetland.)
- And, a small dragonfly may throw a wrench into the works.
In June, local biologists photographed the rare Rapids Clubtail dragonfly by Metcalfe Park. Dragonfly specialists confirmed the sighting.
Only a few hundred individual Rapids Clubtail dragonflies exist in Canada, all in Ontario. Of the four locations in the province where this dragonfly was confirmed in the last 15 years, three are in Mississippi Mills—the falls at Pakenham, Blakeney and Almonte. It lives in our town and, I believe, it deserves our protection.
This insect is one of the most threatened in Ontario. Provincial and federal legislation classify it as endangered. The proposed Enerdu expansion could harm the remnant population in Almonte. The Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry enforces endangered species legislation but MNRF also approves hydro-generation facilities. That leaves them in eternal conflict. People and organizations need to lobby MNRF to meet its obligations under the Ontario Endangered Species Act.
The endangered species legislation does allow construction of a generation plant on the habitat of an endangered species, but the proponent must get a permit, construct with care and put mitigation measures in place. At present, not enough is known about where this dragonfly lives while in larval stage to make mitigation effective. The pond between the Barley Mow and the flour mill appear to be ideal habitat. We need a proper biological study.
A discussion paper I wrote for Council will appear in the August 25 Committee of the Whole agenda. That paper gives the scientific and legal details related to this dragonfly, and it urges Council to play a role in preserving this species in our town.