Open Letter: Why I Oppose the Thundering Waters Forest Destruction

Dear Niagara Falls Planners,
I am deeply opposed to the destruction of the Thundering Waters Forest by the Paradise Development Secondary Plan.
I have taken a moment to review the proposal for the Niagara Falls Slough Forest Wetland Complex and I have some technical questions:
  1. WATER IS PRICELESS: If Dr. Barry Warner is correct that the NFSFWC is a “gem in our backyard” then how is the value of the combined work of the intact forest weighed against the work of only about half the forest?
    ‎Is there some kind of financial accounting for the value added of fresh water filtration and biodiversity? Will an EIS account for underground hydrology? Can their even be a real value attached to it considering the externalities of the potential environmental disruption, encroachment of the residential commercial buildings on the NFSFWC, etc.?
  2. FIRST NATIONS HERITAGE: Doesn’t the presence of American Plum indicate that this area has a special historical significance to my people – the Haudenosaunee (Six Nations/Iroquois) – that requires special consideration above and beyond the usual hunting grounds treaty obligations? Particularly considering Canada’s recent commitments around the UNDRIP (UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People) won’t this potentially be of Federal/Big Crown Nation to Nation concern? (more on that in a moment) Won’t this warrant special attention by technical experts from my community above and beyond the current checkboxes of requirements?
  3. ‎PEER REVIEW: there are glaring discrepancies between the observations of Dr. John Bacher and the preliminary observations in the Dougan report. Notably there are disappearing re-appearing gum trees depending on who you ask (though a picture of the gum tree that couldn’t be found I am sure has been made available to you) and John Bacher makes an obvious point that doesn’t seem to be reflected in the Dougan Report about how Salamanders don’t know where the deliniation starts and ends and there is strong evidence that their protected system is dependent upon and interconnected to the attached unprotected dry forest system. Each and every time I have attended a meeting involving experts or read reports by professionals, Dr. Bachers work also seems to be more advanced and detailed than the experts employed by the developers and the developers proponents. I can only work with the information presented by the developer and proponents of protection and I only have a layman’s knowledge but how could I be assured that the environmental assesment will have been done in a fair and accurate manner when there seems to be no track that leads to indicate that this is how the project is currently proceeding? Is this what a peer review is for? Is it common for citizen experts to have the more comprehensive authoritative information in this type of process?


I also have some ideological questions that may fall out of your area of expertise as a planner:

  1. VALUE vs. PRICE – there is a multimillion dollar initial investment, and a figure over a billion dollars that has been touted to put a price on the economic value of this project but who is considering the real value of this large woodland complex? What it will mean for our current water supply and species diversity as well as the compounding exponential value as inevitable development makes an intact forested area more and more valuable in pursuant years? It is sort of a simple question: who ultimately decides that a development has a longer term value than a valuable natural system?
  2. DISH WITH ONE SPOON – this area (most of Southern Ontario) is considered to be Dish with One Spoon treaty area as per the Treaty of Albany/Nanfan with my people so isn’t the size and value of this complex large enough to warrant special consideration under treaty law? Again I don’t expect you to be a treaty expert here but my people have a reasonable expectation of stewardship by Canadians as per the terms of all Treaty agreements and I would really hope that you could direct me to a path that might satisfy my concern that the proper value of this large forest is being weighed in concern to the Treaty obligations of Canada. Could you point me to the right people to follow up on this concern from the government side of things?
  3. INTEGRITY – there are gum trees that only certain people can see…some people see turtles, some don’t…some folks have publicly stated a range of figures for an offset/land swap that ultimately never happened…there has been a lot of changing info‎. I have a hard time believing that the concerns of environmentalist and social justice minded citizens carry any weight against the interests of showing a big big big cash investment number. I could understand if this isn’t a fair question for you as a planner, but I guess I should ask what measurable assurance can you give me that at least from a planning perspective that the facts that have been swirling around this development will settle down with integrity and honesty?
  4. GENTRIFICATION – won’t houses starting in the high 500 thousands and soaring upwards have net negative impact on the economy in Niagara? Since the only argument in favour of this development is the added jobs and money it will pump into the economy is there someone who is looking at the longer term effects of driving up the cost of living in an area already under-performing in a number of areas monitored by poverty experts?


I have to restate what I stated at the public meeting at the Gale Centre meeting about how I could not support this project. I can only make decisions that I deem to be in the best interests of the generations who have yet to be born. This complex forested hydrological network system right next to the Welland River I know will have value to the seventh generation from us. A flashy development that will drive up housing prices and may have a net positive impact on the job market (the argument I hear every time a developer comes to town) won’t impact them in any positive way that I can see.


In Kindness,

Karl Dockstader


One thought on “Open Letter: Why I Oppose the Thundering Waters Forest Destruction

  1. Gerrit and Willy Heeg

    Dear Karl, We wish you much strength and wisdom as you undertake to stand for preserving what needs to be preserved and we commend you in the way you approach.Respectfully , Gerrit and Willy Heeg

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