Canada: one of first animals to thrive amid manmade urban development

But Metrolinx insists that the beavers are interfering with the ‘skills, lifestyle and businesses of residents’ and are disrupting the flow of water

The cause of the water-filled puddle near park to the east of Toronto has everything to do with Canada’s national park. And nothing to do with Toronto’s own beavers.

“Beloved” beavers have been running around public parks in northern Ontario since last summer and residents have been swarming to see them in action. But Metrolinx, the public transit agency that oversees most of Toronto’s roads, rail lines and airports, has been battling with the creatures by clearing the pond with massive buckets of water that could lead to dangerous runoff.

Last week, Metrolinx received a public demand to keep the beavers on in a letter from Ontario premier Kathleen Wynne, whose riding is to the east of the various public parks where beavers are present. A snowy owl and her chicks also visited one park earlier this month.

But Metrolinx insists that the beavers are interfering with the “skills, lifestyle and businesses of residents” and are disrupting the flow of water. They claim that the species – one of Canada’s first animals to benefit from development and humanity’s appetite for modern living – is an invasive species and could harm the ecosystem.

Progressive Conservative MPPs Michelle Rempel and Todd Smith have, meanwhile, called on Metrolinx to allow the beavers to stay where they are and noted that removing them will cost taxpayers about $2m dollars (£1.34m).

The sun shines on an urban pond created by urban beavers. Photograph: Canongate/Alamy

“Metrolinx should respect the natural environment that makes this city so special, especially when you see some of the great design at Metrolinx,” Rempel said. “Just because something is beautiful, it does not mean you have to sacrifice the people.”

Rempel noted that Metrolinx is the agency behind the renovations of Toronto’s subway system as well as the important Canada Line light rail project in the west of the city.

Another MPP also urged Metrolinx to take into account the costs and impact of the beavers removal – although Metrolinx claims it is saving about $500,000.

In addition to the plumes of water that have rolled down street-level, the beavers have also created small penises in the banks of the lake.

According to Metrolinx, the beavers have been interfering with human activities with the boom of construction at the site.

Craig Sinclair, manager of the wild game and fish program for the Ontario Department of Natural Resources and Forestry, said the beavers are perfectly suited to that part of the Ontario ecosystem and most could grow to maturity in an area that includes such a freshwater ecosystem as Toronto.

Metrolinx says the beavers are invasive and could harm the ecosystem. Photograph: Matt Dunham/AP

“The fact that Metrolinx is calling them an invasive species shows how little knowledge they have,” he said. “Whether or not they are correct about the beavers is not the issue. The issue is to get the water moving and clear the water so that the fish can get in.”

Sinclair added that Canada has to think about the ecosystem and not think so much about developers and their views.

“If you want to develop a public park, I’m OK with that,” he said. “But the nature of a public park is that it’s there for people to enjoy it and come and sit on the beach, enjoy the sound of the waves and to be a part of it. That needs to happen. But sometimes you can lose your way.”

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