Environmental Mitigation Measures
Protecting wildlife and their habitat is a key part of conserving Kingston's biodiversity. As the Third Crossing progresses the project team is working hard to protect the rich variety of life and ecosystem near the future bridge. Experts have and will continue to conduct surveys of plants and wildlife from the east-side and west-side areas and marine environment.
A number of wildlife reports have been completed as part of earlier phases of the project; however additional surveys are needed to satisfy environmental requirements prior to construction taking place:
- Terrestrial Surveys
- Botanical surveys: Investigations to locate butternut trees (Juglians cinerea) will be made.
- Breeding bird surveys: Early morning breeding bird surveys will be conducted following standard protocols. The purpose of these surveys is to search for the presence of common and species at risk (SAR).
- Bat surveys: Bat surveys will be conducted in the study area and will include a habitat assessment, stand-watch exit surveys and the use of acoustic bat detectors.
- Wildlife habitat and visual encounter surveys: during all site investigations, area searches for wildlife will be conducted, including for those species groups not specifically targeted through the surveys. The visual encounter surveys will be conducted following the recommended procedures.
The results of the site investigations will be summarized in a Species at Risk Summary Report.
Significant features within the vicinity of the project
- The Cataraqui River: a slow-moving channel which flows into Lake Ontario within the federally regulated navigable channel extending from the LaSalle Causeway northwards as part of the Rideau Canal.
- Rideau Canal: the Project Area crosses the Rideau Canal, which is a 202 km long waterway linking the Ottawa River to Lake Ontario. Constructed between 1826 and 1832, the canal provided a secure alternate supply route in the event of a military blockade by the Americans.
- Greater Cataraqui Marsh: south of Highway 401 the Study Area includes a natural landscape dominated by a visible cattail portion of the Greater Cataraqui Marsh Provincially Significant Wetland and the river valley’s sloped physiography, near-continuous overhanging tree canopy and shrub understory.
- Species at Risk: to determine the potential for adverse effects to Species at Risk and their habitat; the study area has been extensively investigated.
- A Species at Risk review was conducted on the East and West Approaches as well as baseline studies, including Bat snag and acoustic monitoring surveys
- Acoustic monitoring confirmed little brown myotis (Myotis lucifugus) and northern myotis (Myotis septentrionalis) within the study area, although not recorded tri-colored bat (Perimyotis subflavus) may also utilize the woodland for maternal roost habitat.
- Four bat houses were installed on April 30, 2019 on the east shore of the Cataraqui River
- 18 bat houses will be installed in the future with the location being developed as part of the Tree Management Plan
- The bat houses are planned on a replacement ratio of 10 bat houses per hectare of impacted woodlands
The active season for many migratory birds is March 31 to August 28. Accordingly, no Project works which may disturb these species or their habitat will take place in vegetated areas unless a biologist searches the areas to be cleared for active nests prior to the commencement of the works. If active nests are identified, those areas will be buffered and left undisturbed until the nest is no longer active. Nest searches will take place within 24-hours prior to the works.
Blandings and other turtles
- To protect turtles an Aquatic Exclusion and Turbidity Curtain (AETC) is installed in the river
- A turbidity curtain is a flexible, impermeable barrier to contain sediment in water. These curtains are generally weighted at the bottom to ensure sediment doesn’t travel under the curtain and is supported at the top through a floatation system. The curtain has been installed around the work area.
- A turtle fence has been specially designed to attach to the turbidity curtain to prevent turtles from possibly entering the construction areas.
- Installation of the a turbidity curtain in the fall of 2019 was to exclude turtles from overwintering within the causeway footprint, in order to mitigate potential harm during winter installation
- Five causeway eco-passage openings have also been created to allow aquatic wildlife and fish move through the openings freely and wonder up and down the Cataraqui River.
Other mitigation measures:
- Construction activities will be coordinated to either occur outside of certain times of the year or have protection measures in place to allow work to occur during sensitive times of the year
- The team will monitor and maintain the turbidity curtain in the Cataraqui River.
- Visual surveys will be conducted daily by on site personnel to ensure the turtle fencing is effective, and turtles are protected.
- Protocols will be in place to relocate turtles back into the river, if necessary.
- After any significant weather event (such as high winds or heavy rain) the turbidity fence will be inspected to ensure they are functioning as intended.
Tree management for construction
The tree management plan considers the use of removed trees by offering them to Indigenous nations as well as working with the past president of the Ontario Woodland Association to provide them with a limited number of trees.
As part of the tree management plan:
- An Arborist Report was prepared in 2019 to collect a tree inventory, assess the impact of the Third Crossing construction and make tree protection recommendations
- the project team has been able to reduce the impact area and number of trees to be removed
- as part of the tree restoration plan, for every healthy tree taken down at least one, if not more, trees will be planted as compensation.
- The plan considers the use of removed trees by offering them to Indigenous nations as well as working with the past president of the Ontario Woodland Association to provide them with a limited number of trees.
- With respect to permits for trees, the project team has received approval from the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources & Forestry (MNRF).
Removal of some vegetation will be required during the construction of the project. To accommodate this vegetation measures have and will continue to be undertaken. The following measures will be undertaken:
- surveys will be undertaken in advance of excavation activities to assess for any sensitive vegetation, the removal of shoreline vegetation will be minimized to the extent possible
- the landscape improvement works will be an opportunity for ecological restoration on the west side lands and ecological compensation on the east side lands
- a Natural Heritage Protection and Enhancement Plan will be prepared and include detailed design measures related to wetland restoration, aquatic habitat enhancements as well as stabilizing and rehabilitating the shoreline shallows
To reduce or offset the impacts, the project is:
- Creating 437 m2 of shoreline habitat through the decommissioning and removal of the Music Marina Seawall, excavation of the sediment build-up on the western shore
- Decommissioning the boat launch at Music Marina
- The project has also committed to studying a portion of the adjacent Little Cataraqui Creek Watershed to identify future fish or fish habitat improvement locations.
- To ensure long term goals are achieved 6 years of monitoring is planned with contingency measures built into legal permit requirements. Monitoring includes fish usage, aquatic and shoreline vegetation recovery, tracking the return of the food web (i.e Benthic Invertebrates) as well as sediment and water quality monitoring.
Proposed plans, additional studies and monitoring measures
The Project Team is committed to being environmental stewards during the construction of the Project. Plans, procedures and monitoring measures have been developed to measure compliance with regulatory requirements and assist in avoiding or minimizing potentially adverse environmental effects.
The following plans and procedures will be prepared during the detail design phase of the Project
- Feedback reports to document consultation efforts with the public, potentially affected Indigenous communities and other stakeholders;
- Review and approval of work plans by regulatory agencies will be prepared for any additional on-land and in-water fieldwork proposed within the Project Area;
- An offsetting plan will be prepared for an Authorization under the Fisheries Act along with contingency measures and reporting requirements;
- An aquatic vegetation post-construction monitoring program will be developed in consultation with the Department of Fisheries and Oceans and Parks Canada
In addition, the following studies are proposed prior to construction of the Project
- A Scour Study will be undertaken to determine the effects of scour on the bridge piers based on local bed conditions as well as refinements to the proposed pier design, pier construction and riverbed restoration techniques;
- An Ice Loading Study will be undertaken to identify mitigation measures to minimize the effects of ice loading on the pier footing;
- The City and Point St. Mark residents will continue collaborations on traffic calming options;
- Riverbed sediments within the area of disturbance will be sampled prior to construction;
- Specific Project design elements will be further developed with stakeholders, members of the public and interested Indigenous communities. These will include the bridge and approach roadway design, design of the permanent bridge pier and deck, navigation channel span and, bridge lighting.
Proposed Environmental Management Plans
- Twenty-six Environmental Management Plans will be compiled and submitted for approval by relevant regulatory bodies, as appropriate.
Four bat houses have been installed on the east shore
Listen to fish and wildlife biologist Caleb Coughlin talk about bat houses installing in Kingston on CBC Ontario morning. LISTEN NOW
As part of our work with the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry, four bat houses were installed on April 30 on the east shore. The mix of standard and nursery bat houses were installed in the north side of the meadow on the Pittsburgh Library property. Another 18 bat houses are also planned to offset the removal of the 35 snag trees within the east approach. The location of these houses will be developed as part of the landscaping plans for the bridge and may also include other locations in Kingston. The bat houses are planned on a replacement ratio of 10 bat houses per hectare of impacted woodlands. Read more about the bat houses on our recent newsletter. Join our newsletter to get updates about the project.
Protective turtle fencing has been installed - June 12
Protecting wildlife and their habitat is a key part of conserving Kingston's biodiversity and the team is working hard to protect the ecosystem within the Project Area. Experts have and will continue to conduct surveys of plants and wildlife around the Project. To protect against adverse effects to Blanding's Turtles, Snapping Turtles, Painted Turtles, Northern Map Turtles and other native turtles who may use or be in the Project Area, turtle exclusion fencing has been installed to prevent turtles from nesting. Throughout the Project, continuous visual surveys will be done by onsite personnel to ensure the fencing is effective, and turtles are protected from construction activities and equipment on the shorelines. If turtles are encountered within the construction area, trained environmental professionals will be onsite, to assess and rectify the situation minimizing harm to the local wildlife. All efforts are being made to ensure activities will be timed to occur outside of the sensitive overwintering and nest season. The team is committed to being good environmental stewards during the pre-construction and construction of the Project, including implementing a series of plans and procedures to ensure the proposed activities are reflective of the City's responsibility to protect and preserve lands and waters within the Project Area.