The Isle of Man is a relative unknown part of our neighbourhood. It is located in the north east corner of Colonel By Lake, bordering Gibraltar Bay, see the satellite photo below. The City of Kingston Council just approved, with some restrictions, a 29 estate housing development bordering the bay.
Gibraltar Bay is a secluded small bay and the development will dominate this sensitive nature enclave. The bay is shallow and has several marshes: two at each end and one right in the development.
Colonel By Lake from space with Gibraltar Bay at the upper right corner. The development is at the east side of the bay near the mid lenght of the bay.
Below is the site plan. OS is open space it was changed from EPA or Environmental Protection Area to OS; OS 16-17 borders on a sensitive wetland. FP is a meandering greenspace, they are “major storm swales” ; that means all the runoff from the estate house lawns are directly fed to the wetland and then mixes in with the small and sensitive bay. We can only hope that extensive lawns around the estate houses will not use fertilizer as it would cause much weed and algae growth in the small and shallow bay.
The satellite photo below is the same as the development site and is cropped from the first overall satellite photo of the bay and its littoral zone. The white areas are pasture and hay growing agricultural land. Note the forested shoreline which will play an important role in absorbing the runoff from the manicured lawns that might be expected from a compact estate development.
The little bay in the shape of a human ear, located just left under the middle of the photo, is marsh and wetland. Please relate this to the building site map below.
These are the environmental protection areas inside the development and along the shore,they have been amended as Open Space. But, There are several setbacks from the high water mark and from greenspaces within the development.
Here are some of the the by-laws as they apply to estate developments in general and in addition for this particular plan. We can only hope that they will be strictly enforced.
No structures shall be located closer than 40 metres from the high water mark of Colonel By Lake, defined as 88.92 metres above sea level.
The lands zoned OS, open space, shall be used for no purpose other than conservation use and tree protection area.
Restrictive Covenants: “That lots abutting Colonel By Lake (Gibraltar Bay) are ‘water view lots’ with a minimum 40 metre setback from the high water mark of Colonel By Lake and the maintenance of a 30 metre ‘no-cut’ area within the setback. Marine facilities (including but not limited to boathouses and/or docks) are prohibited.”
Elsewhere “no cut” is described as: ” no disturbance of the soil mantle or vegetation cover.” If this is strictly enforced the shoreline of the highly secluded Gibraltar Bay might be protected, have a look how it is now…
Just before entering Gibraltar Bay looking towards the new 29 estate development land.
This the entrance from Colonel By Lake through its north-eastern arm into Gibraltar Bay through a shallow and narrow natural channel. Adult cormorant with young perching on one of the rocks at the entrance.
Just through the entrance into Gibraltar Bay looking to the north-east: a nice well protected shoreline. This cannot be cut and will act as a filter for the run-off from the 29 estate buildings each with their septic systems and large lawns that drain towards the bay.
A little further, the pasture land runs up to the water’s edge. From the water the estate houses will be in full view and replace the bucolic landscape..
We can only hope that the sensitive habitat is respected by the future owners of the estate development. Gibraltar Bay is shallow, small and would only tolerate some fishing and canoeing. The restrictions on the development might mitigate its effect on the water and the adjacent land, let’s hope.
Other areas around Colonel By Lake are being studied for the possibility of more estate development see our post at: “Three Areas on Colonel By to be Studied”.
Here is a letter added to the city report as exhibit F:
RE: Zoning By-Law Amendment D09-064-2012, DJ4-235-2012, 012-067-2012
I am writing to express my concerns about rezoning of 2611 Isle of Mann Road, the majority of which fronts onto Gibraltar Bay. These are protected waters that form part of the Cataraqui/Rideau System, but most importantly are pat1 of a marsh that is critical .to pollution treatment and nutrient cycling of Colonel By lake. It is also a vital Fish and Bird habitat.
You may already be aware that wetlands cleanse water by filtering out natural and many manmade pollutants, which are then broken down or immobilized. In wetlands, organic materials are also broken down and recycled back into the environment, where they support the food chain. Wetlands are also one of the most productive habitats f01: feeding; nesting, spawning, resting and cover for fish and wildlife, including many rare and endangered species.
This particular wetland is home to a healthy diversity of fish, birds and amphibians and I have documented the presence of Wood Ducks, Bald Eagles,, Red-tailed hawk, and ospreys (with an osprey nest right on the property). Birds that stop to feed for about a month on their way north or south are Mergansers, Swans, Rails and Cormorants, among others. Many duck species use the quiet shelter of Gibraltar Point as a summer nursery. The marsh is also home to snapping turtles and painted turtles as well as a variety of frogs and fish. These are just a sprinkling of the incredible habitat whose balance is already incredibly challenged with the intensity of residential development at Rideau Acres Trailer Park. To create another high-intensity residential area could tip the balance of the health of the waterway.
Two years ago at the “Source Water Protection” meetings held for the public, residents on Colonel By lake expressed concerns about the impact of sewage output into the lake (Colonel By) from hundreds of trailers at Rideau Acres. Their concerns seemed justified since over the last couple years we’ve seen the blue-green algal bloom start offshore from the trailer park and spread across the lake. I think the marsh is critical to counteracting the pollution and cleaning up the water but it seems to have reached its tolerance level and we have already seen a couple species of frogs disappear. (They are like the canary in the coal mine). Protecting this marsh provides cleaner water and benefits all residents including those who live further downstream all the way to the St. Lawrence River.
This zone is already marked as “Environmentally Protected” so I’m surprised that the city even entertains applications for development in this area. I have copied the conservation authority in the hopes that they will 11 support the continued protection of this area for the benefit of all Kingstonians.
Thank you for your consideration of this matter.
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