A recent Doug Herod column in the St. Catharines Standard caught my attention. A former downtown industrial building will undergo construction to house the Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts. Cool! The campus of Brock University is ever-expanding and it will now have an educational facility in the downtown core. Though no conclusive answer was given at the time of the presentation, there is a possibility that the school might have to retain the building's chimney.
Why? Recent monitoring suggests there may be about 10 Chimney Swifts using the brick stack as habitat. Though we missed it this year, Jean and I have participated in the Chimney Swift blitz by monitoring the chimneys at the Lake Street Armoury. From 2009 to 2010, we observed an increase in the amount of swifts using the armoury's chimneys. A good sign that the population in St. Catharines is increasing. With a shortage of open chimneys in the downtown area, it would be sensible to include the chimney in the reconstruction of the Canada Hair Cloth building. The Chimney Swifts are considered a species-at-risk and need all the help they can get. If the goal is to preserve the building, then the chimney, shown in this TVCogecoOntario video a few times, should be included in the preservation. Eliminating the brick chimney will just make it more difficult for this species to continue a healthy population in the city of St. Catharines.
This in one Brock graduate that hopes his Alma mater, with the guidance of the Ministry of Natural Resources, makes the right choice and will allow the chimney to continue being a home for Chimney Swifts for many years to come.
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