Letter: A call for Central Manitoulin to divest Wagg’s Wood to the EBC

The EBC is protecting the very popular Cup and Saucer Trail

To the Expositor:

The future of the A.J. Wagg Memorial Park is still in jeopardy. At the June 25 meeting of the Office and Administration Committee of the Central Manitoulin Council, Bob Barnett of the Escarpment Biosphere Conservancy, Gail Meehan, granddaughter of A.J. Wagg, and I all spoke in defense of maintaining the park for posterity. Many supporters came, including members of the Manitoulin Nature Club. Three years ago, the council severed two acres of the park we call Wagg’s Wood and sold it, much of it to become a parking lot for a local dealership. 

None of us knew that the owner of the dealership would be the last speaker, and that he would claim that no harm had been done to the park by razing the trees on the property he bought. 

Had I known he would speak, I would have talked about the significance of the loss of that part of the forest. Most obvious to hikers along the creek is the sight of cars, trucks and rusty bits of things instead of forest. Walking beside a parking lot is not the same as walking in a forest. I was under the impression that cedar trees would be planted to block the view, but nothing has been done in three years. 

There are effects on the forest itself. The “corridor” that leads from the park entrance has had a number of trees falling in winter winds in recent years. This could be because they were previously protected by the trees on the west side that are no longer there. Council has not yet done anything about the trees that fell last winter. Lastly, cutting trees allows more light to come in to areas that were once shaded, favouring plants that want light over the plants that have been there for many, many decades.

We are lucky that the Escarpment Biosphere Conservancy, a land trust that already owns most of the land that hosts the very popular Cup and Saucer Trail, has also offered to save the remaining 42 acres that is Wagg’s Wood. Politicians are always under pressure to sell land to businesses, but a land trust like EBC cannot sell the land, so our park would be secured for posterity if they took it over.

I hope that the municipality will do the right thing and shield themselves and future councillors from political pressure by transferring the land to the Escarpment Biosphere Conservancy. The EBC is protecting our very popular Cup and Saucer mountain and they can protect our beloved Wagg’s Wood.

Jan McQuay