Bird deaths prompt legal action at local building
Dead and injured birds found at the Yonge Corporate Centre has ruffled the feathers of environmental groups and sparked legal action against its owner.
Albert Koehl, a lawyer with the charity Ecojustice, is arguing that about 800 birds were either killed or injured due to the reflective glass at the Yonge Corporate Centre, located on Yonge Street, just north of York Mills Road.
As a result, the building’s owner, Cadillac Fairview, has been charged with causing animals to be in distress and discharging a contaminant, in this case reflected light, which caused harm to animals.
“The building we’ve gone after is particularly troublesome because they’re essentially mirrors,” Koehl explained. “What the birds see reflected in these windows are skies and trees — in other words, safe places. They fly toward these things, and they collide into these buildings and are either killed outright or fall to the ground.”
Koehl said the Ecojustice team was first made aware of the problem by Fatal Light Awareness Program (FLAP), a group that claims to have collected from the site about 800 injured or killed birds, including the Canadian warbler and olive-sided flycatcher, which are considered threatened species under the Species at Risk Act.
Tom Poldre, a spokesperson for Cadillac Fairview, said they take bird protection very seriously.
“We have been working with FLAP since 1998 at the Yonge Corporate Centre and have implemented numerous measures to attempt to minimize the number of bird strikes at the building,” Poldre said.
He added that they will be applying an innovative bird film on the north side of the building, which is supposed to reduce bird strikes by up to 80 per cent.
However, Koehl said that, should the courts find Cadillac Fairview guilty, they could be facing a hefty fine.
The City of Toronto took action to protect birds from dangerous developments in the city in 2010 when the Toronto Green Standard came into effect.
“As of 2010, all buildings are essentially going to be bird friendly,” said Kelly Snow, an environmental planner with the city. “Green elements need to be incorporated into all new buildings in the city.”
But buildings built before 2010 continue to cause concern for groups such as FLAP and Ecojustice.
Snow added that although Yonge Corporate has not been on his radar as an environmental planner, he includes a tour of the site in the environmental planning class he teaches at York University.
The case has been adjourned and will resume in August.