Ceccacci seeks greater awareness for Chatham-Kent wildlife crossings

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A Chatham-Kent councillor hopes the recent approval of his motion, along with collaboration with the local conservation authority, will help protect the lives of wildlife on the road.

Anthony Ceccacci entered the successful motion on April 26, asking that staff develop an annual campaign starting this year to increase public messaging and promote awareness, education and opportunities to mitigate the animal casualties.

Noting his family often frequents the Erieau area, he said he’s noticed an increase in the number of animals injured or killed by vehicles over the past year.

He wondered if this was due to more people spending time outdoors because of the pandemic, travelling to beaches, trails and other natural areas.

“I’ve seen a lot more road casualties last year than I did in previous years,” Ceccacci said.

His motion noted that Chatham-Kent is home to 106 species at risk, with many of them living and nesting in significant wetlands located near roadways.

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He stressed that these creatures are irreplaceable and worth fighting for.

“Once some of these are gone, they’re gone for good,” he said.

He also requested that municipal staff return to council with a report detailing the location of signage designed to protect species at risk. The Lower Thames Valley Conservation Authority would be responsible for the mounting hardware while the municipality would provide posts and installation.

Ceccacci hopes to kick start the discussion about how fortunate Chatham-Kent is to have these species on its doorstep, calling his motion a relatively inexpensive measure to put into place.

“I know the (conservation authority) was very supportive of this initiative,” he said. “We have the staff already there to do so. It was more so about sharing that message.

“Some people that live in Chatham-Kent, but maybe don’t frequent Erieau, or other areas, like Mitchell’s Bay, they might not be aware of certain areas. Sometimes that little head’s up to slow down, or that sign, might be a good message.”

As for timing, he said it’s already a busy season for the public works department, given all the construction projects, but believes that it’s never too soon to start.

“There really isn’t a timeframe, but at least that conversation’s starting, (the motion) passed. … Hopefully it’s a lot sooner than later,” he said.

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