Township of Havelock-Belmont-Methuen Rotary Park Pond Ecosystem Improvement

This case study was led by ICLEI Canada in 2018 and involved the Township of Havelock-Melmont-Methuen; the case study describes a project to dredge a locally significant public pond impacted by low water levels that have been exacerbated in recent years by climate change. Dredging was intended to reduce scum built up over a number of years due to low water levels and to reduce threats that climate change poses to wildlife that rely on the pond’s natural habitat. It was hoped that dredging would also hit a natural spring within the pond that could assist with sustaining a healthier shoreline, maintaining water quality, and providing vital habitat. The dredged area was approximately 430 square meters. The project was set back by delays in the permitting process and unseasonably wet summer conditions and therefore had not been implemented by the time of the study’s publication.

Understanding and Assessing Impacts

This case study examines solutions to the existing ecological and human health risks facing Rotary Park, as well as the expected impacts of climate change in exacerbating existing water quality and pond health concerns. The Township of Havelock-Belmont-Methuen has long viewed the pond in Rotary Park as a defining feature of their community, and one of its most prized natural environments. The Rotary Park Pond located at Rotary Park is an area where residents can enjoy the pond, picnic areas and soccer field all in the natural outdoors. In recent years, however, the health of the pond has been jeopardized by low water levels leading to increased turbidity and scum. The Township is concerned that if work is not undertaken, a changing climate could exacerbate the decline in the pond’s health, threating both the wildlife that make their habitat in the pond, and also the community members and visitors who use it for recreational purposes. The Township of Havelock-Belmont-Methuen seeks to conduct dredging within a pond known as the ‘Rotary Park Pond’ on a piece of municipally owned land. Dredging will reduce the scum that has built up over the last number of years due to low water levels and reduce the threat that climate change poses to the wildlife that rely on this pond’s natural habitat. It is hopeful that the Township may also hit a natural spring within the pond that could potentially assist with a healthier shoreline maintaining water quality and providing vital habitat. The area to be dredged is roughly 430 m², while the pond itself is much larger.

Identifying Actions

The project was formalized in early 2017. A contractor performed a site visit in order to determine specific location of the dredging. Applications were submitted to Crowe Valley Conservation Authority (CVCA) and the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry (MNRF). It was expected the application would take 6 to 8 weeks to process and that field inspections could take place as early as June 15. May was spent collecting the appropriate information requested in the MNRF work permit application, and in June the Township had a meeting with the contractor to discuss the creation of sketches/drawings. In mid-July, CVCA was contacted to determine the requirements for their permit application. It became clear that the unusually wet summer might mean that even if the permits were acquired in a timely manner, that work could not proceed on the wet ground surrounding the pond. The Township received approval from MNRF to conduct the dredging of Rotary Park Pond, however the permit was only good until October 1. The Township received an approved permit from CVCA on September 25, however the approved permit specified that the Township must meet all Department of Oceans and Fisheries (DFO) requirements. This condition prevented the Township from being able to have to pond dredged before the MNRF deadline of Oct 1, 2017. Due to delays in the permitting process, and the unusually wet ground, the project could not proceed as planned in 2017 and was anticipated to be undertaken in 2018.

Implementation

The implementation of the project is set to commence in 2018, given the aforementioned permitting and wet weather delays mentioned in the above ‘Planning’ section. As of 2018, the Township is in the process of completing the DFO permit application and plan to submit it in advance of the anticipated dredging date of July 2018.

Outcomes and Monitoring Progress

This project has resulted in several positive outcomes. First, it allowed the Township to identify, celebrate, and seek to improve an important natural asset in their community, and to begin having conversations about the permitting processes involved in this type of work and better anticipate regulatory and logistical challenges in future projects. The project team plans to measure the success of this project using the following indicators: Turbidity: Baseline data will be the turbidity of the water before dredging occurs. Photos will be taken by project staff before the dredging begins, and at various stages after the dredging has occurred. Water level: Baseline data will be the current shoreline level before dredging occurs. The water level will be measured as the distance of the shoreline and middle of the pond in more than one area before the dredging begins. The project team will record the water levels of the pond at various stages after the dredging has finished.

The primary challenge encountered during this project had to do with the process by which all permits were secured. Site conditions also created challenges for the project. If the required permits had been in place, it is still likely that wet conditions would have made it impossible for the dredging to take place before the October 1 deadline. Similarly, work cannot proceed in 2018 until July, once the fish spawning season has ended.

Next Steps

The Township is in the process of completing the DFO permit application and plan to submit it in advance of the anticipated dredging date of July 2018. Other alternatives to improving the Rotary Park Pond were discussed for future projects when funds become available. These include planting more native species plants and grasses, and removing any invasive species plants. The Township also views the pond improvement project as a first step in a longer process that aims to increase the beauty and functionality of this special and uniquely attractive park in the area.

Resources


Understanding and Assessing Impacts

This case study examines solutions to the existing ecological and human health risks facing Rotary Park, as well as the expected impacts of climate change in exacerbating existing water quality and pond health concerns. The Township of Havelock-Belmont-Methuen has long viewed the pond in Rotary Park as a defining feature of their community, and one of its most prized natural environments. The Rotary Park Pond located at Rotary Park is an area where residents can enjoy the pond, picnic areas and soccer field all in the natural outdoors. In recent years, however, the health of the pond has been jeopardized by low water levels leading to increased turbidity and scum. The Township is concerned that if work is not undertaken, a changing climate could exacerbate the decline in the pond’s health, threating both the wildlife that make their habitat in the pond, and also the community members and visitors who use it for recreational purposes. The Township of Havelock-Belmont-Methuen seeks to conduct dredging within a pond known as the ‘Rotary Park Pond’ on a piece of municipally owned land. Dredging will reduce the scum that has built up over the last number of years due to low water levels and reduce the threat that climate change poses to the wildlife that rely on this pond’s natural habitat. It is hopeful that the Township may also hit a natural spring within the pond that could potentially assist with a healthier shoreline maintaining water quality and providing vital habitat. The area to be dredged is roughly 430 m², while the pond itself is much larger.

Identifying Actions

The project was formalized in early 2017. A contractor performed a site visit in order to determine specific location of the dredging. Applications were submitted to Crowe Valley Conservation Authority (CVCA) and the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry (MNRF). It was expected the application would take 6 to 8 weeks to process and that field inspections could take place as early as June 15. May was spent collecting the appropriate information requested in the MNRF work permit application, and in June the Township had a meeting with the contractor to discuss the creation of sketches/drawings. In mid-July, CVCA was contacted to determine the requirements for their permit application. It became clear that the unusually wet summer might mean that even if the permits were acquired in a timely manner, that work could not proceed on the wet ground surrounding the pond. The Township received approval from MNRF to conduct the dredging of Rotary Park Pond, however the permit was only good until October 1. The Township received an approved permit from CVCA on September 25, however the approved permit specified that the Township must meet all Department of Oceans and Fisheries (DFO) requirements. This condition prevented the Township from being able to have to pond dredged before the MNRF deadline of Oct 1, 2017. Due to delays in the permitting process, and the unusually wet ground, the project could not proceed as planned in 2017 and was anticipated to be undertaken in 2018.

Implementation

The implementation of the project is set to commence in 2018, given the aforementioned permitting and wet weather delays mentioned in the above ‘Planning’ section. As of 2018, the Township is in the process of completing the DFO permit application and plan to submit it in advance of the anticipated dredging date of July 2018.

Outcomes and Monitoring Progress

This project has resulted in several positive outcomes. First, it allowed the Township to identify, celebrate, and seek to improve an important natural asset in their community, and to begin having conversations about the permitting processes involved in this type of work and better anticipate regulatory and logistical challenges in future projects. The project team plans to measure the success of this project using the following indicators: Turbidity: Baseline data will be the turbidity of the water before dredging occurs. Photos will be taken by project staff before the dredging begins, and at various stages after the dredging has occurred. Water level: Baseline data will be the current shoreline level before dredging occurs. The water level will be measured as the distance of the shoreline and middle of the pond in more than one area before the dredging begins. The project team will record the water levels of the pond at various stages after the dredging has finished.

The primary challenge encountered during this project had to do with the process by which all permits were secured. Site conditions also created challenges for the project. If the required permits had been in place, it is still likely that wet conditions would have made it impossible for the dredging to take place before the October 1 deadline. Similarly, work cannot proceed in 2018 until July, once the fish spawning season has ended.

Next Steps

The Township is in the process of completing the DFO permit application and plan to submit it in advance of the anticipated dredging date of July 2018. Other alternatives to improving the Rotary Park Pond were discussed for future projects when funds become available. These include planting more native species plants and grasses, and removing any invasive species plants. The Township also views the pond improvement project as a first step in a longer process that aims to increase the beauty and functionality of this special and uniquely attractive park in the area.

Resources