Planning for the project began in 1988 during the preliminary design
stage for the construction of a new corporate office facility for
General Motors of Canada Limited. The land was considered environmentally
sensitive as it related to nearby Second Marsh and Darlington Provincial
Park. The company not only created a study team consisting of environmental
consultants and engineers among others, but also requested assistance
from several non-government environmental organizations. Among
these, the Friends of Second Marsh were asked to assist in the planning
to further ensure that biophysical functions would not be compromised.
Discussions relating to all aspects of the structure and surrounding
land-use practices and activities took place. Issues such as storm
water management to direct silt and surface run-off away from Second
Marsh were addressed.
care was taken to ensure that building height would not interfere
with migratory bird flight patterns and that computer controlled
lighting would be activated during migration periods. General Motors
of Canada Limited worked in harmony with these groups to ensure
that nature and the environment would be protected and that opportunities
would be presented for improvements.
Planning for the Reserve was an integral part of the overall design
and concept for the actual building and parking facilities. Protecting
and enhancing adjacent lands was at the forefront of the planning
process. Good stewardship of lands entrusted to General Motors of
Canada Limited was a primary goal. This partnership resulted in
an exceptional office building that has become part of the natural
landscape and a good example of business, government and the public
working together to preserve and create vital habitat.
reserve itself occupies over half of the original parcel of 81 ha.
It was created to provide a place for wildlife in an urban setting
and to establish a continuous corridor for wildlife and people along
the Lake Ontario shoreline. It serves to protect the integrity of
the Second Marsh Wildlife Area. It provides a home and migratory
staging area for a wide variety of plants and animals while ensuring
public access to the waterfront for non-consumptive activities.
When physical work on the office complex was completed in early
1990, plans to create numerous habitat islands, wildlife corridors
and forested zones were acted upon in keeping with the Master Plan
for the site. While a large portion of the site will be treed, most
of the area will remain as open meadow and allowed to naturalize.
Tree and shrub planting began in the Fall of 1990, and over a period
of 10 years, over 35,000 specimens have been planted. While the
vast majority of the trees and shrubs involve native species, a
few domesticated species were introduced. Part of the Master Plan
objective called for the establishment of a small botanical garden
component and a living classroom including certain Carolinian species.
Introductions were governed by their individual ability to provide
food and cover for wildlife, and in some cases, for their aesthetics.
General Motors of Canada Limited employees, retirees and their families
were encouraged to be part of the planting process to help create
a sense of pride and ownership in the site, as well as creating
community awareness about the natural environment. As well, the
general public was invited to participate, along with Scouts Canada
and Girl Guides Canada, and they played a vital role in establishing
the vegetative component of the Reserve. In addition, during the
first four years, massive cleanups were undertaken annually. This
activity called 'Operation Cleansweep' rid the area of tons of accumulated
debris left over from years of abandonment and neglect prior to
General Motors of Canada Limiteds acquisition. Employees and
the general public have been instrumental in building and erecting
birdhouses and feeders on the site as well. While no estimate of
cost for the Reserve has been done, it has been considerable, as
have thousands of hours of volunteer commitment. The placement and
construction of walking and cycling trails resulted in almost 7
km of pathways including an innovative trail designed specifically
for the visually-impaired. The trails will take visitors through
a wide variety of habitats; open fields, sedge meadows, forested
areas, shrub thickets and lakeshore. Access to the storm water ponds
(Dogwood Pond, Jim's Pond and Wilkinson's Pond) has been accommodated.
ponds not only act as filters for surface run-off, but serve to
provide additional brood habitat for waterfowl and feeding and resting
areas for migratory waterfowl and shorebirds as well as a home for
many amphibians. The setting aside of a large and unique landmass
on the waterfront in this manner embraces the concept that people
and wildlife can co-exist in an urban setting. Our trails are linked
to adjacent properties and provide a vital component of the Greater
Toronto Area Waterfront Trail system.
The McLaughlin Bay Wildlife Reserve is professionally managed.
School groups find it an interesting place to visit because of the
diversity of wildlife/nature to be observed as well as easy access.
More recently, the planting of emergent and submergent aquatics
in and around the ponds got underway. These plants will serve as
food and cover for wildlife in addition to assisting in the purification
of the run-off water. The establishment of ferns and wildflowers
is also underway, and while the Reserve continues to naturalize,
many new native species will be introduced in the future.
In the upkeep of the reserve we do regularly cut grass on walkways and trail areas. We also fertilize. In the past we have in some instances used glyphosate herbicides (which do not bioaccumulate) to control weed growth. Application was done sparingly to increase the survival rates of new seedling plants and sapling trees that are routinely planted. Now as a herbicide substitute, we are using a postemergent, foliar active, vegetation management product formulated to contain organic acids that are components of vinegar and lemon juice.
If users have concerns or suggestions related to our maintenance of the MBWR, we welcome input. It is through user input we continue to ensure our stakeholder community appreciates the MBWR.