Its a beautiful summer afternoon. We’ve just driven through a torrential downpour and arrived at Harper Creek. You can still detect that fresh earthy smell after a storm. We’ve come down to pay a visit to two of the most recent development projects in the watershed. As we pull off the road we can already see the significant changes that have taken place on the site of the future casino. The developer of the site has gone to great lengths to backfill the site with soil. Nearly a meter and a half of material has been deposited on top of the former wetland. Looking in areas where fill has not been placed, it is apparent why such great effort to fill the site has taken place. Patches of water, mud and aquatic plants permeate the site, signaling water at the surface of the soil, or just below. Years of degradation have still not managed to beat back the inexorable march …
Where is Harper Park? Never heard of it. Oh, is it that place in the SW end, north of Sir Sandford Fleming Drive, you know, the one with the barbed wire fence around it? Isn’t that an industrial park, or an old dump?
For a park that has been described in reports as:
“easily the most ecologically important area in Peterborough”
And recently in a CHEX interview with author Drew Monkman,
“like a piece of Algonquin Park…dropped into the City of Peterborough”
Harper Park remains relatively unknown to the citizens of Peterborough. Some may say that this is a bonus, that the cryptic nature of the park has allowed it to remain in its natural state, with its wild inhabitants relatively undisturbed. The flip side of this argument of course, is that it is hard to feel an attachment to a place if you have never interacted with it in a meaningful way. Such is the conundrum with Harper …