THUNDER BAY – ENVIRONMENT – Thunder Bay’s Nor’Wester Mountain Escarpment has made Heritage Canada Trust’s top ten list of endangered places in Canada. The annual list was released on July 17th.
The Top Ten Endangered Places List is released annually to bring national attention to sites at risk due to neglect, lack of funding, inappropriate development and weak legislation. From unique 19th-century landmarks to simple vernacular housing, stone railway stations to Modernist airports, heritage districts to single buildings, the list has become a powerful tool in the fight to make landmarks, not landfill.
The National Trust uses three primary criteria to determine the 10 final sites for inclusion on the list:
• Significance of the site
• Urgency of the threat/potential for a positive and creative solution
• Community support for its preservation
The group states, “The ancient Nor’Wester Mountain Range rises dramatically above Lake Superior and extends southward from the city of Thunder Bay toward the Ontario-Minnesota border. It defines the city’s setting and skyline, and is immensely important to the Anishinabe community of the Fort William First Nation (FWFN). Mount McKay (“Thunder Mountain” or Animikii-wajiw in Ojibwe) has been a landmark gathering place by the Ojibwe Anishinabeg for many generations.
“Their presence at this locale long predates the arrival of European traders who established trading posts nearby, first in 1684 during the New France era and again in 1803 with the construction of the North West Company’s Fort William. The range provides habitat that is essential to moose, Eastern cougar, and other flora and fauna unique to this provincially important ecosystem, and the Loch Lomond watershed is an important freshwater resource for the region”.
The range remains important for cultural, ecological and aesthetic reasons and plays a vital role in the area’s recreational and tourism economy.
Why it’s endangered
The proposed development of an industrial wind turbine installation called Big Thunder Wind Farm on a portion of the Nor’Wester Mountain Range land owned by the City of Thunder Bay (located between and on the Loch Lomond Watershed, First Nation Traditional Territory and the provincially declared Area of Natural and Scientific Interest), is a project that would see sixteen 139-metre-high, 32-megawatt wind turbines erected on the Nor’Wester’s skyline south of Mount McKay.FWFN believes the wind farm project will have a deleterious effect on the watershed, on the long-standing cultural heritage values of its people, and on essential habitat.
The Fort William First Nation is seeking court action over the site where already there has been some significant removal of old growth maple forests.