Opponents say proposed Vernon development could threaten at-risk herons - InfoNews

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Opponents say proposed Vernon development could threaten at-risk herons

An online petition has received over 1,000 signatures objecting to proposed housing development next to wildlife habitat containing a vulnerable species of heron.
July 08, 2019 - 11:33 AM

VERNON - An online petition has received over 1,000 signatures objecting to proposed housing development next to wildlife habitat containing a vulnerable species of heron.

The petition calls for Vernon city council to reject an application to rezone the roughly one-acre site, which sits adjacent to the Vernon heronry, to allow for up to a 41-unit housing development. Council is scheduled to make a decision on the rezoning this evening, July 8, at a public hearing.

The site proposed for rezoning at 5000 20 St., sits adjacent to the well-known heronry currently has over 50 great blue heron nests. The great blue herons are registered federally as a species at risk and provincially they are blue listed, meaning they are an at-risk species.

Veron Heronry Protection Society director Rita Bos has owned the acreage for several decades and in 1992 registered a restrictive covenant on the property at 5204 20 St. to protect the habitat for the great blue herons. In a letter Bos sent to Vernon council, she says the birds have been nesting on the site for 32 years.

The Vernon heronry sits adjacent to a proposed housing development.
The Vernon heronry sits adjacent to a proposed housing development.
Image Credit: SUBMITTED/Friend of Animals Vernon

"We strongly urge you to prevent any development beside this very sensitive area," says Bos in the letter.

Friends of Animals Vernon founder Rose Daniell said outside of the loss of habitat, noise from the construction site could scare the birds away from nesting.

Daniell points out it is an offence under the B.C Wildlife Act to make loud noises that cause birds to abandon active nests.

"It could actually be a legal issue, if it causes the birds to not come back then the developers should be responsible for that," Daniell said.

City staff's recommendations to council state the impacts of the construction site on the blue herons can be mitigated and suggests council make sure the necessary mitigation measures are adhered to during development.

The public hearing is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. today, July 8.

The petition can be found here.


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