Ontario Parks Calls This Habitat Protection?

We disagree. This is “Habitat Destruction”.

This photo was taken on March 24, 2011. It documents the demolition of a concrete tennis court adjacent to a family cottage within Rondeau Provincial Park. The tennis court was installed 60+ years ago with the support & permission of the Park Superintendent at the time. This was the only structure like it in the entire park.

For well over half a century this was a preferred sunning spot for countless Five-Lined Skinks, Fowler’s Toads, and other dune-dwelling creatures. They would likewise seek shelter & safety in the sand beneath.

But no longer.

On the fourth day of spring, Rondeau’s skinks, toads, and snakes became helpless “collateral damage” in Ontario Parks’ war on its own tenants. Family-owned cottages have been part of Rondeau for over a century, and research studies have credited man-made structures such as decks, boardwalks, woodpiles, and concrete pads for providing a safe home for many threatened or endangered species — allowing them to thrive.

No wonder Rondeau is the most species-rich provincial park in Ontario.

Our cottages ARE the park’s environment.

This tennis court WAS the park’s environment.

Until today.

The Rondeau Cottagers Association believes that Ontario Parks’ destruction of this lawfully-built privately-owned structure was illegal. We further believe that Ontario law requires an Environmental Impact Assessment prior to destroying such a significant endangered species habitat within a provincial park. Formal public notification should have been posted on the Environmental Bill of Rights as well.

No E.I.A. was completed nor was it ever listed on the E.B.R.

These laws were enacted to prevent exactly this type of authoritarian, secretive, and unwarranted environmental attack. And yes, they apply to provincial park superintendents too. Or at least they’re supposed to.

The Rondeau Cottagers Association believes our cottage community is a unique model of environmental integration that everyone in Ontario should be proud of. We believe sheltering structures such as this old tennis court are a proven reason for Rondeau’s success. We believe the destruction of this long-established protective habitat is contrary to the principles of Ontario Parks. And we believe something is wrong when a provincial park superintendent claims “protecting the environment” starts by destroying the environment — with a diesel excavator. No matter what the collateral damage.