Winter wonderland isn’t going to be so white

This feature often goes unnoticed to the general public, but for Durham College it’s a step in the right direction.

A path winds around it, trees stand along its slopes and raindrops rest here. It’s the campus’ storm pond.

The pond was created to better the environment on the north campus and the community since the campus borders Camp Samac and Durham Fields.

Over the past 47 years the north campus has seen the shift in development in the township and the environment.

Suzanne Chasse, Durham College and UOIT manager of Facilities and Services has worked on campus for almost three decades.

“Having more buildings on the campus we have had to widen our scope of what property we have to maintain,” she says. “We do now have storm water management ponds. Environmentally, it’s very good for the environment.”

She says it acts as a filtration system so the salt doesn’t go into the water supply.

“We also have water monitoring in the summer to make sure there aren’t any mosquito larvae,” she said.

But what is Durham Region doing?

Durham Region has an official plan that highlights two themes. The region says it will manage growth and live in harmony with the natural environment.

The policy for environmental establishments and possible development says a property with crucial environmental features, such as fresh spring fed creeks, can be considered.

As the region grows, construction consumes land. It may be true the development will undergo environmental consideration, but the natural environments are protected through means such as easements.
The Oak Ridges Moraine covers Ajax, Uxbridge and some of Oshawa’s northern land. A land easement can prevent the destruction of the ecologic systems.

A fact sheet on clarifies how easements work.

“An easement helps you control future use and development on your land and enlists a conservation organization to help, even after the property changes hands,” it says.

The easement restricts uses by development if it will damage the cultural features protected on the property.

Susan Walmer, executive director of Oak Ridges Moraine, says the moraine is protecting 3,700 acres of land.

“Durham is one of our largest areas that we’ve been protecting land. We have over 2,145 acres protected in Durham,” she said. “That’s quite high, that’s almost 60 per cent of our land is protected in Durham.”
She says it’s because the landowners in Durham are quite motivated.

Walmer says Oak Ridges Moraine has partnered with many other organizations, including Toronto Region Conservation Authority, the Township of Scougog and the Township of the Kawartha Lakes. Together they have worked to keep protecting the natural environment. Earth Works in the Township of Scougog has soil coming from the construction and development of the 407 highway and the 2015 Pan Am games.

Not only is there an international plan to decrease gas emissions, but also there’s a Community Climate Adaptation Plan organized for Durham Region of this year.

This plan requires five steps and oversees infrastructure design and upgrades, extreme weather and emergency response, business continuity programs, rural and urban improved design, human health and property protection measures. The results gathered were to give insight on the decade 2040 to 2049.

It’s been projected that in winters to come snow will be less common. “Less snow and more rain in winter,” the plan says. “About 16 per cent more precipitation [snow and rainfall] overall.”

The Western Durham Water Quality Monitoring Program has observed Lake Ontario, the watershed at Duffins Creek and the water intake at Carruthers Creek.

Gary Bowen presented the findings that explain the phosphorus levels in the lake. From understanding the lake physics over the course of the program between 2006 to 2014, the water quality in the Great Lakes is quite better than comparable lakes in Ontario.

The phosphorus levels found in the GTA are much better than Lake Simcoe, Lake Nipissing and the Six Mile Lake.

Bowen believes that while the Great Lakes are quite clean it’s such a temperamental ecology that it’s a big project to maintain.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change says in a report in 2014 that between the years 1983 to 2012 it has most likely been the warmest 30-year period in the last 1,400 years. The report’s purpose is to express the dangerous, almost irreversible impacts, but there are ways to limit the effects.

“Over the period 1992 to 2011, the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets have been losing mass,” it says. “Northern Hemisphere spring snow cover has continued to decrease in extent.”

With this said, the report emphasizes the importance of reducing the human impact. “Mitigation can be most cost effective if using an integrated approach that combines measures to reduce energy use and the GHG intensity of end-use sectors, decarbonize energy supply, reduce net emissions and enhance carbon sinks in land-based sectors,” it says.

Recommendations to beneficially stop greenhouse emissions include international, national and local efforts to stand on the same side regarding going green. The efforts made to date are a good start, but according to the report the tiers mentioned need to link together and sync efforts in order to create a bigger impact on the environment’s well being.

Michael Blake, a planner with the Durham Region Planning Division, says in this generation we most likely won’t see the environment go back to its natural status.

“I think going forward as more efforts are made we will see improvements to the natural system and the environment,” he says. “However, there are also some issues which will be challenges, such as climate change.”

Blake agrees that all tiers of government-municipal, provincial, national and international-need to bond together.

“Governments nationally and internally do have to work towards things like climate change together.”

He also thinks that as developments grow in rural and urban areas, the public should be mindful that traditional weather for the Canadian four seasons will be changing in years to come.

“In terms of climate change it will be a significant turn for us going forward in the future, that we will have to deal with,” he says. “It’s something we should prepare for in terms of severe storms that may be associated to climate change.”

From the predictions made from the reports mentioned, Durham Region may not see a white Christmas in the decades to come. Instead creeks and rivers are going to fill up with the winter flooding.