When Thorold resident Carla Carlson drove by her beloved frog pond last Tuesday, she could not believe her eyes. The pond, situated on the corner of Richmond Street and Decew Road, had been completely decimated.
“What I can’t figure out is why nobody remembered it was a protected pond,” Carlson says, in an interview with ThoroldToday. “It’s pretty much destroyed. The only tiny little bit, maybe the size of my small kitchen, hasn’t been squished to pieces.”
Back in the 1990s, Carlson started a group called ‘Friends of the Richmond Street Forest’ to save the frog pond and neighbouring forest from encroaching development. A long legal battle followed and in the end, Carlson convinced the city and developers to sign a memorandum of understanding that the forest and pond never be touched.
“Our Friends group hasn’t been active, those files are somewhere in City Hall in a filing cabinet—I don’t know, people apparently forgot," Carlson says.
After witnessing the destruction, Carlson immediately reached out to the city to find out what happened.
“The pond had a mostly dead ash [tree] in it and they wanted to get rid of it,” Carlson explains. “They sent in a heavy piece of machinery and everything that was in there has been churned up and squished through the clay. So all the chorus frogs are dead, everything is dead in there now.”
Carlson says she doesn’t necessarily disagree with the decision to take down dead trees, but she wishes the developer would have been more careful.
“Take down those dead trees, for safety reasons and to add new vegetation, that sounds good,” she says. “But they should have gone in with chainsaws and then cut down the trees, left the stumps, pulled out the tree trunks. Then all the salamanders and chorus frogs would have stayed in their hibernation bed in the pond. Everything would have been status quo.”
Carlson was told by city staff that a cease and desist order would be sent to the developer. But Carlson says she returned to the site over the weekend and it had been completely cleared.
“Without our knowledge the developer has torn down the whole bush,” councillor Fred Neale confirms. “It was just levelled.”
Councillor Neale says he will speak to the issue at Tuesday's council meeting.
“Since it’s already down, I’m bringing forward a motion to make sure the developer redevelops the bush and the frog pond,” he says. “There’s a lot of people upset. I’ve had many phone calls and emails regarding it.”
ThoroldToday phoned and emailed the developer, DG Group, for comment. The company has yet to respond.
Carlson still can’t wrap her head around what happened.
“We spent thousands of dollars hiring a lawyer, a planner, going to provincial mediation,” she says. “We spent years of angst and real heartache and stress trying to save all those things. And then to see this happen, it just brings it all back.”