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Good News for London's Woodlands

In a struggle that goes back to 2006, London woodlands have won in Ontario courts. In 2006, through OPA 403, the City of London made it easier to designate a woodland as "significant", thereby protecting it from being cleared.

A consortium of London developers and individuals appealed the change to the Ontario Municipal Board. Sandy Levin, working with the support of the London Woodland Coalition (of which ReForest London is a member), hired a lawyer to help support the City of London as they defended the law. The OMB upheld the City's decision. The consortium of London developers and individuals went on to appeal the decision two more times -- to the Divisional Court in 2009, and to the Court of Appeal in 2010. Each of these courts upheld the OMB's original decision, with the final decision coming just last week. There is still a chance that the Court of Appeal's decision could be appealed to the Canadian Supreme Court.

This four year fight demonstrates how just a small change to protect London's dwindling woodland cover can face a big battle. London's woodland cover is just under 8%, far short of the 30% recommended by Environment Canada. The City of London's current laws only protect woodlands that are 4 hectares or larger; smaller woodlands have no protection at all unless they are within an Environmentally Significant Area. This change in the law makes it easier to give larger woodlands protection.

Thank you to Sandy Levin and his tenacity. Sandy put forward his own money to pay the majority of the cost of the lawyer. A group of organizations and individuals formed the London Woodland Coalition to create a strong community front. Nature London collected donations to help pay the legal fees.