At-risk species delay Blenheim development

Dec 19 • Business, Feature StoryNo Comments on At-risk species delay Blenheim development

Mother Nature – and the provincial government – has delayed the construction of a renewable energy support facility locally.

Voorwinden purchased property in the Blenheim business park last year, with the intent to build a maintenance/warehouse facility, according to Stuart McFadden, acting director of economic development with the municipality.

“This would be their first investment in Canada,” McFadden said of Voorwinden. They are based out of the Netherlands, have an office in the U.S., but this would be their first footprint in Canada.

The only problem was that the four-acre property already had some rather unique tenant.

“Unfortunately, when we were getting ready for them to begin preparing the land for development, we were notified there was a bird (the Bobolink) in the area that was on the species at risk list,” McFadden said. “People were getting ready to cut the grass and there are other people who like to walk down that area and they informed us they thought it (the Bobolink) was in there. It has a very distinctive call.”

The Ministry of Natural Resources got involved shortly thereafter.

“We were informed we would not be able to develop the property in that area until such time as that bird had left.”

Voorwinden had to wait until any young matured to the point they could fly away.

But the delays didn’t end there.

“Because we weren’t able to cut the grass, we’d created another challenge – a snake that’s also on the species at risk list,” McFadden said, referring to the Eastern fox snake. “We’ve been working with a company that’s been helping us manage this.”

But the delays have cost Voorwinden valuable construction time, forcing the firm to hold off putting shovels in the ground until next spring, McFadden said.

“We’re doing everything we can to get that property in a position so it can be developed,” McFadden said. “Voorwinden has a lot of patience. We’re very thankful that they stuck by us on this.”

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