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OPG’s Wesleyville site certified Gold by Wildlife Habitat Council

OPG’s Wesleyville site is the latest OPG property to be awarded Gold Certification by the Wildlife Habitat Council (WHC).

An Osprey platform at OPG's Wesleyville site. The site has received gold certification from the Wildlife Habitat Council.
An Osprey platform at OPG's Wesleyville site. The site has received gold certification from the Wildlife Habitat Council.

The site, located near Port Hope east of Darlington Nuclear Generating Station (GS), achieved the WHC’s highest certification in September in recognition of 20 years of active conservation efforts. The biodiversity program at the site includes enhancement and monitoring of Wesleyville Creek, a pristine coldwater stream that hosts native brook trout, conservation of marshes in the area, and wildlife habitat studies, including nest box monitoring, and osprey platforms.

“This international WHC recognition is a reflection of all of the outstanding biodiversity work that is being done at our OPG-owned facilities, with Wesleyville being one of our crown jewels,” said Gerry McKenna, Section Manager of OPG’s Corporate Environment Programs.

The WHC certifies conservation programs on corporate lands around the world and promotes environmental management through various partnerships and education. All applications for certification are reviewed and scored on an individual basis by a third party against project specific criteria.

A score can fall into three categories: Certified, Certified Silver, and Certified Gold. The Gold Certification is a three-year designation, after which the station will have to reapply.

Wesleyville Creek is one of the highest quality cold water streams on the north shore of Lake Ontario.
Wesleyville Creek is one of the highest quality cold water streams on the north shore of Lake Ontario.

The initiatives at Wesleyville are part of OPG’s biodiversity program, which aims to protect and nurture species and their habitats wherever the company operates.

Since 1998, OPG has worked with the Ganaraska Region Conservation Authority (GRCA) to protect the native brook trout population at Wesleyville Creek, which is one of the highest quality cold water streams on the north shore of Lake Ontario.

As part of the partnership, the GRCA has tagged several brook trout and rainbow trout in an effort to gauge the health of the fish population in the creek, compare the size and age of the fish, and track their movements. Recently, OPG removed derelict and collapsed culverts to restore natural connections to help the fish migrate freely upstream and to Lake Ontario.

The brook trout program scored the highest overall points in WHC’s evaluation, receiving full points for alignment with other regional plans for wetland monitoring, climate change, waterbodies protection, and biodiversity. The project has been nominated for an individual project award by the WHC.

“We’ve put a lot of effort into the brook trout program over the past few years, so the fact that it scored so well in the final assessment by the WHC is something we’re really proud of,” said McKenna.

A look at a marsh area near OPG's Wesleyville site.

OPG will officially receive the Certification for its Wesleyville site at the upcoming WHC Symposium in November.

Earlier this year, OPG’s South Central Operations received Gold Certification, and in 2018, OPG’s Eastern Operations hydroelectric group and its dual-fuelled Lennox GS received the same designation. In 2017, OPG’s Darlington and Pickering Nuclear stations were also recognized with WHC’s highest certification for conservation work at those sites.

Across the company, OPG is engaged in a number of programs with conservation authorities and agencies that range from habitat restoration to planting native trees and shrubs to managing ponds and wetlands.