Council OKs Paxton's Bush report; looking into preservation options
Paxton's Bush - Photo from the Paxton's Bush Facebook Group
By Aaron Hall – Daily Post Editor
Preserving a “gem in the community” was the main theme at Monday’s (May 17) Planning meeting held at the Civic Centre in Chatham.
The Chatham-Kent Council Chambers was packed with members of the community, as Council considered options for preserving Paxton’s Bush – a woodlot located in the North Side of Chatham.
After nearly three-hours of community presentations, Council voted unanimously in support of the following staff recommendations:
- 1. Council adopt the alternative concept plan prepared by administration, which preserves all of the Paxton’s Bush woodland, permits low density residential development in the southwest portion of the northwest quadrant of the area and retains the existing urban reserve land use designation for all the remaining lands, as the position administration will take at the Ontario Municipal Board (OMB).
- 2. A second public meeting be held at an appropriate time prior to the commencement of the OMB Hearing scheduled to begin October 25, 2010 to confirm Chatham-Kent’s position regarding all issues, in addition to the development of the Paxton’s Bush woodland.
- 3. Administration continue attempts to settle the Brombow appeal.
A fourth recommendation, which instructs Chatham-Kent’s solicitor to prepare an agreement of purchase and sale for the purchase of the north part of the woodlot, was brought forward by the organizing committee for the Preservation of Paxton’s Bush. North Kent Counc. Bill Weaver entered a successful motion to include this option with staff’s recommendations.
West Kent Counc. Bryon Fluker entered a successful motion as well to include a recommendation from the Preservation group, which stated if the previous option does not succeed, Council will move to pass a by-law to expropriate the same land.
A staff report indicates that Brombow Developments, which made an appeal to the OMB, is proposing a mix of land uses for development in the area, including a subdivision. A section of Paxton’s Bush is proposed to be included among this development.
Tom Storey, of Storey Samways Planning Ltd., said at Monday’s meeting that it is unknown what role the Ministry of Natural Resources will play at the OMB hearing – as the Endangered Species Act indicates that Paxton’s Bush has an endangered species within the woodlot – the Butternut tree.
Chatham Counc. Steve Pickard said he believes everyone on Council wants to see the popular woodlot preserved.
“This is completely about seeking a fair resolution,” Pickard said.
East Kent Counc. Steve Pinsonneault said Council needs to make a responsible decision on its attempt to preserve the bush.
“We can’t just out out a blank cheque to buy the problem,” he said. “That would not be responsible to all of the tax payers. I don’t think anyone around this horseshoe wants to see any trees cut down.”
Chatham Counc. Douglas Sulman said fundraising efforts would be a great initiative for the community to under take.
“If you got a toonie a week from everyone in the Facebook group… that could go a long way,” he said.
Wallaceburg Counc. Tom McGregor said he is confident a resolution could be reached.
“A responsible government has a duty to preserve the environment,” McGregor said. “I’m very confident that administration, with some direction from Council, can get to that point.”
Wallaceburg Counc. Sheldon Parsons said the situation with Paxton’s Bush, is very similar to that of Sycamore Woods in Wallaceburg. Parsons said the community rallied together to purchase the 10 acre lot in Wallaceburg for $64,000 a couple years ago.
“A good outcome can come of all of this if we work together,” he said.
West Kent Counc. Brian King said various government grants should be available if the purchase of the woodlot becomes a reality.
“We need to get on this,” he said. “We need to strike a deal.”
Chatham Counc. Marjorie Crew said she visited Paxton’s Bush recently, and was very impressed.
“It’s quite a gem,” she said. “You forget that you are in the city.”
Crew added that she intends to look into entering a motion to create a tree cutting by-law in Chatham-Kent.
Noting the endangered species located with Paxton’s Bush, Chatham Counc. Anne Gilbert said she believes Chatham-Kent has a good case to bring forward to the OMB hearing in October.
“Any negotiations need some clout no matter what… unless we can strike a deal,” she said.
Mayor Randy Hope said he wanted to thank the O’Neill family, owners of Brombow Developments, for allowing the public to utilize portions of the woodlot for years.
Hope also commended the various youth and members of the community for providing their presentations to Council on Monday night as well.
Check out these other two stories from Monday’s meeting:
Chatham-Kent youth open up about Paxton’s Bush
Community discusses Paxton’s Bush, calls for access and preservation