Monthly Archives: December 2010

Happy UN Year of Forests! So Why is Ottawa letting its Great Forest be Destroyed?

Rugged and beautiful, the Beaver Pond Forest is scheduled to be clear cut and blown up to build a subdivision in Kanata North. Just a 20 minute drive from Parliament Hill, this urban wilderness has 679 known species including over 160 bird species, and 18 species at risk. It is rated as a Provincially Significant Area of Natural and Scientific Interest (ANSI). It has archaeological and cultural significance that has not been adequately assessed.

And yet, the developers who own the land are poised to destroy it. And the City of Ottawa is standing idly by.

Through a series of short-sighted decisions over the years, the part of the South March Highlands now known as the Beaver Pond Forest was zoned for development, and eventually was bought by KNL, a partnership of Urbandale and Richcraft. They want to build houses as soon as possible.

In November 2010, the outgoing Ottawa City Council considered the grass-roots, community created Stewardship Plan – an alternative to KNL’s subdivision plan – as realistic, innovative, and inspirational.  The stewardship plan demonstrates excellent vision, such as establishing an Education, Research, Peace and Eco-tourism centre, attractive to scientists as well as schoolchildren and tourists.

The community has not been given the chance to make this plan a reality. Instead, on 15 December, the new City Council decided to “save” an ecologically meaningless corridor between the Beaver Pond itself and the protected Trillium Woods through a land swap. And let the rest of the 70 acres of irreplaceable Forest be destroyed. Urbandale plans to start cutting it in early January.

How can the City of Ottawa allow a forest with 18 species at risk to be cut down when missing storm water management and environmental issues remain?

How can the City of Ottawa allow this destruction when we are so close to the Ontario Municipal Board (OMB) hearing on January 31st on this issue?

How can the City of Ottawa refuse to require a new Archaeological Assessment in the spring time – when this has been requested by leaders within the First Nations Anishnabe/Algonquin Community?

It is time for the City of Ottawa to take its role as the Steward of the development process seriously. The City must ensure the developers follow each of the conditions of the subdivision plan and the laws of Ontario. These laws can fully protect this land – if they are actually followed. However, City Council is being told by City Staff that these conditions have been met. They have not and our proof is being ignored.

What can you do?

First, go visit the forest. Then you will understand why it should be saved and cherished. You may be inspired with your own ideas on how to save it. But to get you started:

– Write to Mayor Jim Watson and your City Councillor. Ask them to ring in the International Year of Forests by saving what should become Ottawa’s Great Forest.

– Write to Urbandale. The company can be a Hero or Villain on this.

– Write to the media. Why hasn’t there been more coverage? The City’s own documents posted at OttawaLeaks.ca show problems with how Ottawa makes decisions. We need the media to get the word out and follow-up.

– Write to the NCC and Ministry of Tourism and Culture.

– You can email me at julie.comber@uottawa.ca if you are interested in volunteering. We also have a Facebook group: “I want to save the land North of Beaver Pond Park in Kanata Ontario”.

Thanks for reading this. It’s never too late to do the right thing!