Study finds no risk to endangered salamanders. Hanlon Creek Business Park gets green light.

Following an in-depth field study, fears that the endangered Jefferson Salamander would be put at risk by development of Hanlon Creek Business Park in Guelph have proven unfounded.

Announcing that development of the Business Park on the west side of Hanlon Expressway would now proceed, Guelph Mayor Karen Farbridge stated:

“In consultation with Dr. Jim Bogart and the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources, we have concluded that there is no Jefferson Salamander presence on the Hanlon Creek Business Park lands.”

On behalf of the City of Guelph, Guelph Land Holdings Ltd. and Belmont Equity (HCBP) Holdings Ltd., a comprehensive salamander monitoring program was conducted by Natural Resource Solutions Inc.

Carried out during the salamanders’ peak breeding season, from March 11 to April 30th, the program took in 5.5 kilometres of drift fencing, with 122 minnow traps and 611 pitfall traps to monitor the location and direction of the amphibians’ movement to and from their breeding ponds.

Analysis of DNA from captured salamanders was performed at the University of Guelph, by Dr. Bogart, Chair of the Jefferson Salamander Recovery Team. The analysis found no presence of either pure Jefferson salamanders or individuals with Jefferson-dominated genes.

On May 7th, the Ministry of Natural Resources confirmed that, based on the rigor of the program and its results, development of the Business Park required no authorizations, agreements or permit under the Endangered Species Act.

Responded to the announcement, Bill Cooper Jr of Cooper Construction Ltd. stated; “This is good news — for the salamanders, the City of Guelph, and all involved in development of an important business and employment location for the City. Now we can go ahead with creating and servicing the subdivision.”

Noting that the study had provided information on the location and movements of other amphibians within Hanlon Creek Business Park, Cooper stated: “This information will allow us to undertake measures to protect wildlife during construction.”

Approval for the sub-division’s development was originally granted by the Ontario Municipal Board in November 2006. Mayor Farbridge stated: “We will move forward with our plans to service and develop these important employment lands and grow jobs in our community, while ensuring excellence in environmental protection and restoration. In Guelph, sustainability and prosperity go hand in hand.”

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