Residents who opposed the initial covering over an eagles’ nest in Wesbrook Village are outraged over a proposal to extend the so-called coning past the original two-year permit.
The active nest was coned Sept. 14, 2022. Coning involves placing a metal cone-like structure over a nest to stop the eagles from using it.
Clare England, who started a widely supported petition against the coning, says she and many others in the community are “deeply concerned that UBC will continue to keep the cone on the nest indefinitely as it is the easiest option, rather than balancing the needs of building and biodiversity by finding better solutions.”
For the initial permit, the Hancock Wildlife Foundation, Diamond Head Consulting, and a raptor expert from the Ministry of Forests recommended that UBC Properties Trust place a cone over the nest.
The recommendation was based on a concern that construction on a site across the street could cause the eagles to abandon the nest. The construction involves a highrise and townhouse development on what UBC calls Lot 6 at the corner of Ross Drive and Birney Avenue.
Residents in Wesbrook Village and other UBC neighbourhoods were alarmed. And England’s online petition, which called for the permit to be rejected, gathered over 19,000 signatures.
Much to the disappointment of those who signed the petition, the permit was granted and the nest was coned.
Two years later, the coning permit is set to expire on September 15, 2024, meaning that the cone must be removed by that date to abide by BC legislation.
But it now seems that UBC Properties Trust, UBC’s development arm, may apply to extend the permit beyond the original two years.
A management plan submitted by Diamond Head in June 2023 to UBC Properties Trust says the coning permit should be extended. The justification is based on planned construction in the area, this time in Lot 26. Lot 26 is located farther east than Lot 6, at the intersection of Ross Drive and Gray Avenue.
In the plan, Diamond Head recommends that: “If loud construction noises are expected to continue past September 15, it is recommended that a wildlife permit application be submitted to the province to extend the nest coning.” It further suggests that the application be submitted by June 2024, before the previous permit expires.
England says that only a small corner of the Lot 26 development falls within a 160-metre noise buffer recommended by the nest management plan for the lot during the breeding season, and none of the property lies within a 60-metre vegetative buffer around the nest. These restrictions are all according to provincial guidelines.
“The small part of this development, which is inside the 160-metre buffer zone is intended to be a courtyard, which would be easy to construct outside the breeding season,” England says. That way, the nest would not need coning while Lot 26 is under construction.
The eagle pair could return to the nest during breeding season with the cone gone and construction on the courtyard could occur during the eagles’ off season, she adds.
AMIE BERNAERDT IS A SECOND-YEAR STUDENT AT UBC WITH PLANS TO MAJOR IN CREATIVE WRITING OR ANTHROPOLOGY. SHE LIVES IN WESBROOK PLACE.