August 15, 2010
Nathan Helder, president of Gelderman Landscaping, wants his fellow Landscape Ontario members to be aware of potential restrictions when purchasing property.

“Anyone who is thinking of purchasing property for his business, needs to make sure that there are no restrictions placed on the land by organizations such as a conservation authority,” says Helder.

He learned first-hand that, even though he owned property that was zoned commercial, a portion of that property was deemed sensitive wetlands by the Halton Conservation Authority (HCA).

Helder found out when the Authority notified him that, not only did he not have control over portions of his property, but he needed to restore portions within the area deemed sensitive. “Until the Conservation Authority contacted me, I had no idea the property was deemed sensitive wetlands.” The area was approximately one acre within an area Gelderman Landscaping wanted to develop. The cost to the company to improve the area was around $20,000.

Helder reflects that the property appeared dry to him, but HCA had it located within a wetlands protection area. Instead of fighting the CA, Helder decided to turn the issue into a positive experience. He moved a driveway over 14 metres outside the sensitive area, as well as removing a massive mulch pile, bringing the area back to an acceptable condition.  

“It’s buyers beware. There is nothing online, it’s up to you to go to the Conservation Authority’s offices to find out if your land is within the wetlands area,” cautions Helder.

He’s happy with the outcome. Although his immediate reaction was anger upon hearing the news that a part of his property was deemed lost within the wetlands area, in the end it was more beneficial to work with the CA instead of against it. Nathan Helder and his company received a 2010 Conservation Award, in the stewardship category, for his efforts (See July 2010, Horticulture Review). Helder serves as the chair of LO’s environmental stewardship committee.