In my backyard: Impacts of new arena development

Bracebridge is committing to a $50 million decision to rebuild our arena (Mult-Use Community Centre) in a part of the town of Bracebridge where our once fields are now growing up secondary forests.

Deforesting this portion of land has dramatic repercussion and If we don’t educate ourselves to understanding the direct consequences of our actions, mismanagement of our resources will lead to irreversible damage.

Our home is at risk to flooding we have all traumatically experienced firsthand this past year.

Our waters are powerful in shaping their own routes, through aquifers and ancient river systems below us.

The Muskokas is a delta land.  The fact we are building on a water table behind Salmon Avenue is unsettling and irritating.

Tricia Bilissis is concerned about the impact the proposed new arena/library/community centre in Bracebridge will have on the environment. She also questions why money can be found for this while affordable housing is needed.

Some issues arise in the area that I notice:

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

⦁              I notice 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 Avenue.

⦁              Coincidentally, beavers are displaced from the area under construction to down stream at 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 one tree that is undermined of its amazing abilities to produce oxygen, while taking in carbon from our atmosphere — the loss of which is a direct cause of global warming and ozone thinning.) One tree also provides 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 will have the same amount to be biodiversity reforested in the appropriate location.

⦁              Push the project developers and architects to embrace in a future living institute model of regenerative design. Buildings with solar panels, composting toilets, vertical vegetable gardens, and the landscape designed to think about safety of wildlife and crossing humans with 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 and act as purifiers when water passes through.

⦁             Let the beavers build their dams without our interference mimicking nature and learning from their behaviours. Beavers instinctually know preventative flooding techniques and will sense nature’s next move.

I have observed this site in revelry for 20 years, walking the beaten trails, discovering more of who I am today. Our nature provides me curiosity to keep moving and serene peace of mind during difficult times.

Further development along the deep ravine could impact tremendous economic loss and severe ecological damage.

I don’t agree with extending Maypark Drive, as encouraging the eco-tourism plight would only obstruct the daily activities of locals and Monk Public school students, as young as 5 walk to and from school daily.

The neighbourhood does not see this future plan in their best interest; having to live with not just congesting traffic hazards but also air, land, 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 about moving it from its original heritage site or knocking down its chimney.

While we have pressed the need for more affordable housing, the town still rushes this multi-million dollar development.

It’s minus-23 outside this morning and construction is in full operation in my backyard, where a simple silent morning walk in the woods is broken now with a ringing of machines and the explosion of exhaust breaking my heart.

The town of Bracebridge expects provincial and federal grants worth $36 million and thus will require $13 million to be hustled within the town.

Surely that’s a lot of dough can we bake up 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 and there is still time to change our designs.

It was odd, I noticed, the name of the architect involved, Maclennan. Is this my hero, Jason Maclennan, who is the next big leading visionary for designing completely sustainable regenerative buildings? (Maybe its an omen.)

Can we freeze this development, so that we may discuss a regenerative design implementing 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.

I would also like to talk with landowners of the nearby farm fields and forests. Even the Ball family?

Can we get Muskoka Conservancy with us to preserve this valuable last piece of forest and important water system?

The land looks perfect for a greenhouse. How about implementing a serious food security program of educating public on sustainability? What about solar panels and roof-top gardens?

The perfect community centre would have open classrooms, kitchens, a resource centre, music studios, practice rooms, art equipment and supplies.

Rather than a system in which the Individuals have to acquire all of these things for themselves, the Community acquires them for everyone.

Tricia Bilissis

Born and Raised local girl