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7.0 Perth Catchment: Challenges/Issues

Development

Annexed lands to the west (a.k.a Perth golf course and TayView properties) and north (a.k.a. Blueberry Creek lands) are being prepared for future development. These areas are substantial and will pose a significant challenge to the Town of Perth and landowners proposing to develop those lands in a manner that is consistent with the Official and Strategic Plans for the Town of Perth.

Many existing waterfront properties contain existing non-conforming dwellings with respect to minimum water frontage and lot area and are often located within 30 metres of the water that require minor variances for expansion and/or reconstruction of dwellings where standard development setbacks from water are difficult to achieve. In these cases, staff at Drummond/North Elmsley Township, the Town of Perth and the Conservation Authority often meet with resistance and push back when attempts are made to implement standards for development setbacks, vegetated shorelines and septic systems.

Monitoring implementation of conditions of planning and regulatory approvals is challenging due to a lack of resources.

Headwaters/In-stream Habitat/Shorelines

Watercourses (Tay River, headwater and tributary streams) in the Perth catchment have 68 percent of the total length of their shoreline composed of natural vegetation (see Section 4.4 of this report). This is below the 75 percent target that is recommended by experts for the catchment’s watercourses, 30 metres back from both sides of a stream, river or lake.      

Headwater and tributary streams (excluding the Tay River) in the Perth catchment have 72 percent of the total length of their shoreline composed of natural vegetation (see Section 4.4 of this report). This is below the 75 percent target that is recommended by experts for the catchment’s watercourses, 30 metres back from both sides of a stream, river or lake. 

The Tay River flowing through the Perth catchment has 51 percent of the total length of its shoreline composed of natural vegetation (see Section 4.4 of this report). This is below the 75 percent target that is recommended by experts for the catchment’s watercourses, 30 metres back from both sides of a stream, river or lake. 

The Tay River flowing through the Town of Perth (within the municipal boundary) has 49 percent of the total length of their shoreline composed of natural vegetation (see Section 4.4 of this report). This is below the 75 percent target that is recommended by experts for the catchment’s watercourses, 30 metres back from both sides of a stream, river or lake. This condition is recognized by the Friends of the Tay Watershed who note that riparian naturalisation is inadequate in some areas of the Town, including residential areas on the right bank of the Tay River and municipal owned property along its left bank in Code and Stewart Parks.

An increase in the area of settlement (0.41 ha.) and crop and pastureland (0.81 ha.) along headwater and tributary streams of the Tay River has been observed between 2008 and 2014, due to a loss of woodland.   

Three of seven sampled headwater sites have been modified (two are channelized, one is a roadside ditch; see Section 3.4.2 of this report).

Land Cover

Woodlands cover 14 percent of the Perth catchment and 13 percent of the Town of Perth. This is below the 30 percent of forest cover that is identified as the minimum threshold for sustaining forest birds and other woodland dependent species (see Section 4.2 of this report). 

Land cover has changed across the Perth catchment (2008 to 2014) largely as a result of an increase in the area of settlement (nine ha.) and loss of crop and pastureland (6 ha.), woodland (2 ha.) and crop and pasture (1 ha.)(see Section 4.1 of this report). 

Wetlands in the Perth catchment have declined by forty-four percent since European pre-settlement and now cover 32 percent (682 ha.) of the area (Figure 50). Thirty-seven percent (253 ha.) of these wetlands remain unevaluated/unregulated and are subject to the threat from development activity, drainage and land clearing activities in the absence of any regulatory and planning controls that would otherwise protect them for the many important hydrological, social, biological and ecological functions/services/values they provide to landowners and the surrounding community (see Section 4.3 of this report).

Wetlands in the Town of Perth have declined by fifty-seven percent since European pre-settlement and now cover 26 percent (322 ha.) of the area (Figure 51). Fourteen percent (46 ha.) of these wetlands remain unevaluated/unregulated and are subject to the threat from development activity, drainage and land clearing activities in the absence of any regulatory and planning controls that would otherwise protect them for the many important hydrological, social, biological and ecological functions/services/values they provide to landowners and the surrounding community (see Section 4.3 of this report).

Water Quality

Working with staff from the Town of Perth, members of the Friends of the Tay Watershed Association sampled stormwater from the rain event on 29 September 2015 from a number of locations along the Wilson Street Stormwater Drain. Additional information was gathered about the extent of contaminant levels in the Drain's stormwater. The sources of contamination appear to be from the washing of large, more heavily trafficked paved surfaces, such as parking lots and major roads. No particular trends were displayed along the length of the Drain studied. Besides indicating the sources and extent of E. coli content in the system, this assessment raises additional concerns needing further study, including the consequences of river contamination by the nutrients and suspended solids discharged with urban storm water.

Surface chemistry water quality rating along the Tay River through the Town of Perth ranges from Fair to Good at the Rogers Road, Gore Street East and Craig Street crossings.

Instream biological water quality conditions along the Tay River through the Town of Perth are unknown because no suitable benthic invertebrate locations exist to survey in the catchment.