City councillors decided to maintain its environmental covenant with the Vernon herony despite a developer’s request to have it waived after presenting its environmental impact study.
In its regular meeting May 11, Vernon councillors unanimously voted to protect the Great Blue Heron rookery to avoid another public hearing, which would likely further delay construction of developer Scotland Constructors’ project.
The 20th Street property was rezoned July 8, 2019, to accommodate a residential project, but a restrictive covenant was registered to the title to protect the adjacent rookery.
The covenant limits construction during the heron’s spring-summer nesting season and put a 100-metre noise sensitivity buffer into effect, as advised by an environmental consultant.
Following the developer’s land survey and environmental assessment, it wrote to council requesting the restrictions be lifted as the proposed property is outside the 100-metre noise buffer zone.
Associated Environmental, the organization which confirmed the recently completed land survey, said although the project is outside the buffer zone, if general construction noise were to result in a negative response from any heron in the area, “actions should be taken to mitigate construction noise.”
“High-risk activity noise produced within the 100-metre buffer during the sensitive nesting period should be monitored by a qualified professional,” senior ecologist Carrie Nadeau wrote.
City staff told councillors if they were to reverse the covenant, it would likely result in another public hearing.
Councillors recalled the first as a lengthy and well-attended public meeting and Coun. Kari Gares suggested another would simply delay construction further for the developer.
Council accepted the request as information and decided to pass over the request.
On April 30, no trespassing signs were installed around the annual nesting site of the Great Blue Herons on the north end of 20th Street.
Vernon Heronry Protection Society’s Rita Bos said an interpretive sign was installed as well for visitors to learn more about the at-risk species.