9/11/15

Council Takes Stand in Favor of a Rare Dragonfly

On Tuesday, September 8, Mississippi Council took a stand in favor of the very rare rapids clubtail dragonfly. The motion (copied below) shows Council’s concern for the environment and acknowledges our collective responsibility. This is historic--I do not recall our local government ever taking an official stand in favor of a specific endangered species.

The motion arose from a discussion paper I submitted to the Committee of the Whole August 25. Its summary set out this issue:

Only a few hundred individuals of the Rapids Clubtail dragonfly exist in Canada, all in Ontario. Of the four locations in the province where this dragonfly has been spotted in the last 15 years, three are in Mississippi Mills. This insect is one of the most threatened in Ontario and is classified as endangered in provincial and federal legislation.  Of the three confirmed sites in Mississippi Mills—the falls at Pakenham, Blakeney and Almonte—the latter has activities pending that could harm the remnant population. (You can see the full text at the Riverwatchers site.)

The paper listed five possible actions Council could take. The first, and easiest, was to write to the Minister of Natural Resources and Forestry (it enforces endangered species laws) requesting a comprehensive biological study to determine the extent of the dragonfly’s habitat and its population. On September 8, Council put that recommendation into effect. The wording did not reflect my original—it removed references to the waters adjacent to Enerdu and deleted some specific scientific requests—but the final motion did express real concern. So I applaud my colleagues for that.

My next four options in the paper required hiring consultants, biologists or lawyers to provide missing research and information. For example, no biologist has explored the sediment between the first and second falls for larvae of this dragonfly. I believe that is critical to determine the potential impact of the Enerdu expansion.

On September 8, Council asked staff not to follow-up on any of those remaining options. Council does not want to commit money at this time--and I cannot argue much with that sentiment.
It remains for provincial agencies or local residents to sponsor that additional research.

Here is the motion Council passed:

WHEREAS an endangered species, the Rapids Clubtail dragonfly, has been observed along the Mississippi River west of the Main St. Bridge in Almonte as recently as 2015 (p.10; Recovery Strategy for the Rapids Clubtail in Ontario, MNR, 2010);

AND WHEREAS the 2008 Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC) report estimated the remaining Canadian population at 318 individuals in all life stages;

BE IT RESOLVED THAT the Municipality of Mississippi Mills requests that the Minister of Natural Resources and Forestry order a comprehensive study be undertaken by biologists to determine if the Rapids Clubtail dragonfly inhabit the Mississippi River in the 3 areas in Mississippi Mills identified in the recovery strategy;

AND THAT, if the study shows that the Rapids Clubtail dragonfly does inhabit those waters, the Minister of Natural Resources and Forestry apply the relevant sections of the Endangered Species Act;

AND FURTHER the Municipality of Mississippi Mills resolve to cooperatively work with the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry to develop a Rapids Clubtail Dragonfly habitat regulation program for the three areas identified within the Municipality of Mississippi Mills as part of a species recovery project.

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