Strong Support for Harbour Habitat Recovery
Posted on: March 31, 2017
April 12, 2017 PAC Meeting
April 12th Thunder Bay Remedial Action Plan Public Advisory Committee meeting. If attendance is any measure, there was strong support for measures to increase the quality and quantity of Thunder Bay harbourfront habitat.

The room was bursting at the seams as members of the Public Advisory Committee to the Thunder Bay Remedial Action Plan,¬† joined by members of the Thunder Bay Field Naturalists and members of the public, discussed ways, means and locations where Thunder Bay’s waterfront habitat could be improved in quality and quantity. The meeting also garnered online participation through Infosuperior’s meeting livestream. The session was held at Lakehead University on the evening of April 12th.

Waterfront development and industry have impacted harbour environmental conditions for well over a century. One of the objectives of the Thunder Bay Remedial Action Plan is to increase productive habitat for fish, wildlife, birds and plants, keeping in mind economic balance within this Great Lakes working harbour.

The session began with a presentation on some of the ingredients which make for sustainable quality habitat, gleaned from Environment and Climate Change Canada’s document entitled, “How Much Habitat is Enough.” The presentation can be viewed here.¬† This initial presentation was followed by local historian Bill Skrepichuk, who provided historic photos and information about earlier conditions along the shoreline, beginning in about 1870. Reg Nelson, of Lakehead University’s Geospatial Data Centre then displayed a map showing several potential locations along the waterfront where habitat might be revitalized.

The above map is for “brainstorming” purposes only. It is intended only as a visual aid to discussions about improved quality and quantity of Harbour habitat. Link to a larger version of the map here.

Public Advisory Co-chair Frank Edgson facilitated discussion and input about the merits of various sites. Local knowledge was a key factor in this brainstorming session. The result of the exercise was identification of a handfull of preferred sites which might benefit from remedial work to enhance productive habitat, be it sheltered nursery conditions for fish, native plants, animals or birds. A map outlining waterfront locations which might benefit from remedial measures to increase habitat is being developed and will be attached to this post as soon as it is ready. The map denotes¬† locations which “rose to the surface” during meeting discussions as preferred locations for further examination as to potential for habitat enhancement.

Remedial Action Plan representatives, including Public Advisory Committee (PAC) Co-chairs Frank Edgson and Jean Hall-Armstrong, PAC members and Remedial Action Plan Coordinator Jim Bailey would like to thank everyone who took time to attend the meeting and join in developing this habitat enhancement strategy for the Thunder Bay waterfront. Special thanks to the Thunder Bay Field Naturalists, so many of whom attended, also to Reg Nelson of the Lakehead University Geospatial Data Centre and Bill Skrepichuk for their extremely informative maps, photographs and presentations.

Further suggestions for harbour habitat enhancement are welcomed and can be sent to jfbailey at lakeheadu dot ca or by telephoning Jim Bailey at 807-343-8514.

Related Articles from CBC Radio:

Thunder Bay Remedial Action Plan to Focus on Harbour Habitat

Visual History of Thunder Bay Harbour on Offer at RAP Meeting

Chronicle-Journal Newspaper Article

Background

Harbour fish and wildlife habitat has been degraded over more than a century of development and waterfront industrial activity. For example, extensive waterfront wetland areas in the Intercity area have been all but obliterated. PAC members hope to identify locations along the waterfront which would benefit from rehabilitation work. Wetlands can be very productive for all manner of wildlife including plants, animals, birds and fish. Pockets along the waterfront still retain remnants of original wetlands. Some of these wetlands have been severely encroached upon through infilling by wood waste and other materials. Rehabilitating one of these sites, or a complex of such sites, is an option put forward by both the PAC and members of the Thunder Bay Field Naturalists.

Several harbour habitat rehabilitation projects have already been completed through the The Thunder Bay Remedial Action Plan. Infosuperior’s interactive map of these sites is accessible here.

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