Niagara Health partnered with community to recycle and preserve South Niagara site’s natural elements

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Ontario Construction News staff writer

Niagara Health will be commissioning the removal of a woodlot thicket located on the southeast portion of the South Niagara Hospital site, to make way for future construction of the new facility.

Last fall volunteers harvested pin oak acorns from the thicket to be replanted on north edge of the project site in the spring. In the coming weeks, Niagara Health will be investigating opportunities to select harvest suitable trees from the southeast corner of the site to be repurposed and used in, and in support of, the future South Niagara hospital.

After consultation with Indigenous community members, Indigenous Knowledge Keepers spoke to the land to pay respect and explain the new purpose of the area, both its past and its future, connect with Mother Earth, and take time to recognize that the site will be a place of healing for many.

Prior to the thicket removal, community members from the Indigenous community have been invited to extract/harvest materials for their use.

Niagara Health has completed site assessments and reports on the site that include: archeological reports, environmental site assessment reports, a natural heritage assessment and a tree inventory report.

The reports noted:

  • No Species at Risk (SAR) or SAR habitat were observed on the property.
  • The thicket measures 3.87 hectares in size – too small to be considered a designated woodland.
  • The woodlot thicket contains only younger trees.
  • No significant natural areas are located within or adjacent to the woodlot thicket.
  • No watercourses or waterbodies located within 30 metres of the woodlot thicket.

Niagara Health plans to remove the woodlot thicket, once province-wide shutdown measures are lifted, to avoid the risk of new habitat species inhabiting the area and to avoid bird-nesting season.

An Outdoor Landscape Design Strategy will set the overall goals and priorities for the outdoor spaces. The outdoor landscape will be designed to “make the best use of nature, provide a connection to nature for all, and provide a healing environment for patients”. The plan includes planting at least 600 new trees to restore the natural environment of the site.

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