North Perth council looks to establish bird watching zone behind local water treatment plant – Toronto Star


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LISTOWEL – Amy Gangl, manager of programs in North Perth, asked Doug Grant what the next project is now that the Listowel Memorial Park dam has been removed. That project had taken over the last 15 years of his life, and now he has his eyes set on the next project: a bird watching zone. Hopefully, it won’t take as long.
Grant is a local citizen who has previous experience in community initiatives. It was his involvement with the Middle Maitland Rejuvenation Committee that he first got the idea for a bird watching zone – specifically a waterfowl watching zone.
“We do a tour with Grade 9 students every year and we do tree planting… I looked to my one side, and I see a Canada goose with two light bands on it. I get all excited about that. I see another one of the two leg bands that I look at here . . . it was just thousands of birds on the water – both ponds. We don’t need to plant trees down here. We need to put a parking lot down here and put a pass up here, put a stone dust trail around everything.”
That discovery was right as the pandemic started. Grant put it on the backburner as other pressing matters took over, though now he wishes he jumped on it immediately. He saw that the area already is known among birders, who post their photos on social media and online forums. The municipality just needs to capitalize on that.
Most of the time this project will take comes from assessments and rubber stamps. Grant presented his idea on March 14 to council, and staff got to work researching the area and what needs to be done.
In terms of the actual work it would take to convert the land, Grant estimates it wouldn’t take longer than a day. The money this would cost taxpayers is negligible, too. Under the federal and provincial grant relief, the municipality is eligible for funding. Besides the money and the time, the important thing, Grant says, is that this can better the community.
“I think if we can do this and promote it properly, we can make something for not just Listowel but we can make something out of North Perth as being a destination for people who want to enjoy nature and enjoy the waterfowl,” he said. “North Perth is more than just agriculture. We just have to show people.”
The lagoons behind the Listowel water treatment plant are somewhat unknown in the local area, but the spot is a major water feature in North Perth. Even frozen over, there are plenty of birds around the area – from ducks and geese to smaller birds like sand pipers.
“It’s not just geese and ducks. Because of the water you’re going to get all kinds of different shorebirds along here,” Grant says. “I don’t expect this just to be utilized by birders. There will be guys in camouflage… I expect you’re going to get those hardcore [birders], then you’ll get the casual ones that will come out and it’ll just be a day trip for them. And with signage that will attract the people that are just driving through town on a Sunday or Saturday.”
Even non-birders will benefit from the space. “It’s also a place for North Perth residents to come. I expect to get more people coming from town, especially in the evening to be able to sit on the park bench and watch the swallows skim overtop of the water, the mallard ducks when they all start hatching and they have all the young ones.”

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