GEI Consultants (GEI) completed the natural heritage scope of work to support a planning application within Hamilton Airport’s Secondary Plan area, referred to as the Airport Employment Growth District (AEGD). The AEGD surrounds the existing Hamilton Airport and has a planned development area of over 551 net developable hectares per the AEGD Secondary Plan. GEI was retained by one of the larger landholders within the AEGD to support industrial development within the property while working to develop environmentally conscious solutions to preserve and enhance natural heritage features on the site where feasible.
GEI completed two years of ecological inventories on the site to support the proposed concept plan, which includes the realignment of three regulated watercourse features, wetland removal and compensation, woodland removal and significant wildlife habitat (SWH) removal and compensation. Several Species at Risk (SAR) were also identified within the Subject Lands including Barn Swallow, Bobolink and Eastern Meadowlark, which will require registration under the Endangered Species Act to permit alteration of their habitats.
The baseline ecological data collected during the inventories informed GEI’s Environmental Impact Study (EIS). As part of the EIS, GEI presented a conceptual restoration plan to support the proposed development application and provide further comfort to reviewing agencies that careful and detailed attention has been given to compensation for natural heritage features that are proposed to be removed and/or impacted.
GEI has worked collaboratively with the consultant team including environmental planners, engineers and fluvial geomorphologists to develop an environmentally conscious plan that minimizes potential adverse impacts to retained natural heritage features on the landscape. The proposed concept plan presents a restored and more connected ecological network while following the AEGD’s Secondary Plan requirements to avoid the creation of certain features that could cause negative impacts on the Airport facilities.
The Environmental Impact Study has been submitted to reviewing agencies for their review and comment on the proposed planning application. In order to support the proposed concept plan and client’s timelines, GEI has been heavily engaged with reviewing agencies, including the Niagara Peninsula Conservation Authority (NPCA) and the City of Hamilton, to expedite comments and alleviate concerns regarding the proposed plan ahead of the EIS submission.
GEI will complete all environmental permitting requirements to facilitate the proposed development, including permits with the City of Hamilton, NPCA, Ministry of Environment, Conservation and Parks (MECP), Ministry of Northern Development, Mines, Natural Resources and Forestry (MNDMNRF) and Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO). GEI will also prepare all detailed design work including preparation of a Tree Preservation and Management Plan to preserve and compensate for tree removals on the property, as well as a Natural Heritage Design Brief that summarizes ecological restoration criteria. Finally, GEI will assist with construction and post-construction monitoring to ensure compliance with the proposed mitigative and restorative measures presented within the EIS and environmental permitting.