The day dreaded by many in London’s conservation scene has arrived. In southeast London, Ontario, groundwork begins to unfold in the tranquil Meadowlily Woods neighbourhood as land clears to accommodate a contentious development that has been challenged for several years.
“Barely a tree is left standing,” noted local resident Bruce Richardson. With his home on Meadowlily Road adjacent to the embattled site, Bruce watched as the colossal machines disembowelled the verdant landscape, devouring trees and shrubbery, expelling mounds of processed wood chips.
The unsettling sight of ancient trees vanishing and witnessing the local wildlife disperse across his property away from the hubbub was deeply troubling. The site at 101 Meadowlily Rd. is earmarked for the construction of a collection of 88 residences, which include a blend of houses and townhouses, thus posing a potential threat to an enviromentally significant area (ESA).
The plan also envisages a manicured buffer to segregate the incipient development from the adjoining nature preserve. Critics, including the organisation Friends of Meadowlily Woods, assert that the projected intensity of development is inconsistent with the region’s rural tranquility. The transformation of this environmental sanctuary is unreasonably severe, they contend.
Joanne Richardson voiced her fears too, noting, “With the influx of houses, the risk of our wells becoming contaminated is worryingly tangible. The Thames isn’t safe from this threat either.”
Despite the outcry, city council’s approval was granted over two years ago, prompting helpless resignation among opponents. Neighbor, Linda Mason, swallowed tears as tree after tree collapsed, her voice trembling, “They’re also building across the bridge, replacing everything with condos, apartments, and duplexes. I’m afraid this forest, our forest, will be lost. It’s heartbreaking; it’s as if it wants to make me cry. It’s truly terrible.”
Ward 14 Coun. Steven Hillier admitted his shared concern, but acknowledged an unwelcome reality. He told, “Although I campaigned to safeguard Meadowlily Woods and the surrounding ESA buffer zones, we were overruled. Given the province’s new housing mandates, developments like this, we should brace ourselves for more such disruptions, whether we choose to accept them or not.”