The Portuguese Swamp is a Provincially Significant Wetland, most of which is owned by the City of Cambridge with some parts privately owned. The Portuguese Swamp is bound on the south by Burnett Ave, to the east by Townline Road, the west by Can-Amera Parkway and to the north by a residential subdivision.
The swamp supports a number of significant species of plants and herptiles and the diversity and size of the aquatic components provide habitat for amphibians. Amphibians and reptiles have survived on the planet for some 350 million years, but world-wide populations have declined just in the last two decades. Amphibian and reptile declines may indicate both local and global environmental change. Although population declines have been documented in areas close to human activities, even more alarming is that populations have also disappeared from pristine wilderness areas.
The name was chosen in the mid-1980s when the Ministry of Natural Resources first evaluated the wetland as provincially significant using their wetland evaluation system. The name was used as a locator reference for the swamp which was accessed from the rear of the Portuguese Club on Townline Road prior to the residential development around the swamp. There are now a series of trails that border the Portuguese Swamp.
In 1989 the Portuguese Swamp was cited as a reason that a new subdivision should not be allowed to proceed as it would isolate that subdivision from the rest of the city. This objection was noted but did not stop the construction of the Mattamy Townline subdivision which started in 2002.
The residents of the Mattamy Townline subsequently forced the Cambridge City Council to investigate what can be done to control nuisance mosquitoes within a two kilometre radius of the Portuguese Swamp.
The City’s Community Services Department provides maintenance services through an agreement with the Grand River Conservation Authority, which provides wetland management services.