In My Backyard; Impacts on my community with new Bracebridge arena development

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Tricia Bilissis

Muskoka is committing to a $50 million dollar decision to rebuild our arena in a part of Bracebridge where fields are now growing secondary forests. Deforesting this portion of land has dramatic repercussion and if we don’t educate ourselves on understanding the direct consequences of our actions, the mismanagement of our resources will lead to irreversible damage.

Our home is at risk to flooding, we have all traumatically experienced first hand this last year. Our waters are powerful in shaping their own routes through aquifers and ancient river systems below us. Muskoka is a Delta land.  The fact we are building on a water table behind Salmon Ave is unsettling and irritating.

I have noticed the following issues arising in the area;

⦁ The length of the entire west side of the ravine is now completely bare. Clear cut deforested - very wasteful of our resources. Water way is subject to shift without roots holding the banks together.

⦁ I have noticed strange sinkholes evolving in the area, as if our whole town were built on a bowl of jelly. My house shakes every time a large truck goes down Wellington Street.

⦁ Culverts are collapsing where the service road meets Salmon Ave.

⦁ Beavers are being displaced from the area under construction to down stream Annie Williams Park and the Kelvin Grove Park -chomping down our most recently planted trees.

⦁ Safety concerns with snowmobile trails adjacent to site and wildlife crossings with development fringing more and more onto untouched land.

We need to stop cutting down trees so hastily and realize the value of one tree and its amazing abilities to produce oxygen while taking in carbon from our atmosphere. This is a direct cause of global warming and ozone thinning. One tree may provide us with shelter from storms, shade from the sun and fruit that we eat. For however many trees have been deforested during production and development of a project the same amount should be biodiversly reforested in the appropriate location.

Push the project developers and architects to embrace a future living institute model of regenerative design.  Buildings with solar panels, composting toilets, vertical vegetable gardens, and the surrounding landscape designed thinking about safety of wildlife, humans and highly active winter snowmobile trails.

We urge the Town of Bracebridge to replant a diversity of trees edging the ravine. Roots of those trees are the reason the rivers and ravines maintain their shape, the root systems also act as purifiers when water passes through. Allow beavers to build their dams without our interference. Beavers instinctually know preventative flooding techniques and will sense natures next move.

I have observed this site for 20 years walking the beaten trails discovering more of who I am today; our nature provides me with curiosity to keep moving and a serene peace of mind during difficult times. Further development along the deep ravine could have tremendous economic loss and severe ecological damage. Observing the survey flags placed throughout the forest it is clear that they are completely taking over. I don’t agree with extending Maypark Drive, warranting the eco-tourism plight would only obstruct locals daily activities. Monk Public school students as young as 5 years old walk to and from school daily. The neighbourhood does not see this future plan as being in their best interest; having to live with not just traffic hazards but also air, land, and noise pollution.

As a whole I don’t disagree with the proposal of a new arena being in town and accessible to locals. The library on the other hand, I am not so positive on moving the library from its original heritage site or knocking down the chimney. While we have pressed the need and ordered the priority of housing to be of precedence in this town, it still rushes this multi-million dollar development. It's -23C outside this morning and construction is in full operation in my backyard. A simple silent morning walk in the woods is broken with now a ringing of machines and explosion of exhaust breaking my heart. Town of Bracebridge just received both a provincial and a federal grant worth $20 million each, that’s a lot of dough, surely we can think of a better future for our generations considering all the knowledge and access to prominent resources within reach.

The new arena project will not be completed for years to come, there is still time to change our designs. Can we freeze this development so that we may discuss a regenerative design so that we can implement the serious priorities of preserving our natural forests and resources. Our ecology attracts tourism and without that drive our economy will stifle. I would like an opportunity to sit down and discuss with the architect and those influencing the growth of this project this alternative. I would furthermore like to talk with land owners of the parallel farm fields and remainder forests. Can we get Muskoka Conservancy on board with us to preserve this valuable last piece of forest and important water system?

How about building a green house and implementing a serious food security program, solar panels, roof-top gardens. The perfect community center would have open classrooms, kitchens, resource center, music studios, practise rooms, art equipment and supplies.

I would like to see a community system which acquires these important resources for everyone.

Born and Raised Local Girl

Tricia Bilissis

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