Category Archives: Nature & Environment

Herbicide to be used to combat wild parsnip south of Stittsville

(Adapted from an article originally published on the City of Ottawa web site.)

For a plant with such an innocuous name, the wild parsnip is a troublemaker. Like any invasive species, this plant is quick to spread, and seems to make itself at home just about anywhere, particularly in Eastern Ontario.

Unfortunately this intrepid greenery isn’t just a visual nuisance, but can in fact do real harm to humans. The plant sap contains chemicals that can cause skin and eye irritation and make the skin prone to burning and blistering when exposed to the sun.

The south and west areas of Ottawa are the most heavily impacted, so if you spend much time in the rural areas of Kanata or Barrhaven, be on the lookout.   It’s commonly found in rural areas on uncultivated land, roadside ditches, nature trails, and areas surrounding rural and residential properties.

Most rural roads south of Stittsville have been identified as having light growth, with some parts of Shea, Flewellyn and Faulkner Trail listed as “medium” or “heavy”.  The south end of Iber Road near Abbott was also identified as having “medium” growth. (See a map of growth areas here…)

You’ll know wild parsnip by its long stem and small yellow flowers.  You should treat it the same way you would poison ivy: stay away.

The City of Ottawa is looking at herbicides as a one way to combat the problem.  The plan is to target areas with the highest infestation, and areas where it’s most likely that people would come in contact with the plant. Signs will be posted every 100 metres in advance of the spraying so it’s very clear where herbicides will be sprayed. City crews will also be increasing roadside mowing in some areas to see how effective it is in reducing the spread of the plant.

The city plans to use herbicide on some parts of Shea, Fernbank, and Flewellyn to combat the plant.

Part of a map showing wild parsnip problem areas and measures planned to reduce the plant. Herbicide will be used in the areas highlighted in light green.
Part of a map showing wild parsnip problem areas and measures planned to reduce the plant. Herbicide will be used in the areas highlighted in light green. The area in blue along Faulkner trail will get extra mowing this year. Click here for a full map and legend.

 

To keep wild parsnip from spreading on your own property, mow your lawn frequently.  If you spot it, you can dig out the root, but be sure to wear protective clothing and dispose of the plant extremely carefully.

Get more tips and information on how to manage wild parsnip. If you see wild parsnip or any other invasive species on city property, report it online or by calling 3-1-1.


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Snapping turtle lays eggs at Stitt Street Park

Karla Torres and her family witnessed nature up close last week when they saw a snapping turtle laying her eggs in the sand at Stitt Street Park.

“Our kids were there and saw everything,” she wrote in a Facebook post. “It was an awesome experience! The mission now is to protect the eggs until they hatch, that will take around 9 to 18 weeks. We made a protection around the nest and a sign. Let’s spread the word and help those baby turtles survive!”

She’s contacted the Rideau Valley Wildlife Sanctuary to get advice on what can be done to help protect the eggs from predators, like birds, raccoons and skunks.

Another resident reported seeing a snapping turtle laying eggs along Sweetnam Drive the day before.

UPDATE: We’ve received reports today of snapping turtles crossing the road or laying eggs near Overland Drive in Jackson Trails; on Rosehill Drive near Huntmar in Fairwinds; and on Trailway Circle in Amberwood.

Snapping turtles are the largest freshwater turtle in Canada, and are common in Eastern Ontario. They’re often seen in areas near Poole Creek in Stittsville.   They usually dig nests in late May or June, and lay anywhere from 40 to 50 eggs.

Snapping turtles bury their eggs, usually in sand, but then leave them unprotected.  Protective netting is often used to help protect the nests, such as the one in Stitt Street Park.

According to OntarioNature.org, the snapping turtle is listed as Special Concern both the Ontario Endangered Species Act and the federal Species at Risk Act.  It’s also a Specially Protected Reptile under the Ontario Fish and Wildlife Conservation Act.

Snapping turtle lays eggs at Stitt Street Park. Photo by Karla Torres.Snapping turtle lays eggs at Stitt Street Park. Photo by Karla Torres. Snapping turtle lays eggs at Stitt Street Park. Photo by Karla Torres.


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PHOTOS: Black bear near Hazeldean and Jinkinson

These photos are from Kenny B, who spotted a black bear just off Hazeldean Road near Jinkinson, just past West Ridge on Thursday, June 4.

He tells us: “I was with a friend we went for a drive with her dog to take him for a walk… About 500 yards in the distance from the road he was just there grazing.  So I hopped into action got my camera and got some shots before he disappeared back into the woods. He was a big boy anywhere from 400-500 lbs.”

It’s the latest in a series of bear sightings in the area over the past month.

Black bear near Hazeldean Road and Jinkinson Road, June 4, 2015. Photo by Kenny B Images.
Black bear near Hazeldean Road and Jinkinson Road, June 4, 2015. Photo by Kenny B Images.

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UPDATE: Bear may be looking for honey in Richmond

Here’s a note posted to the Richmond Facebook Group.

“There has been an adult male bear in the woods, back of the houses at Ottawa and Fowler Streets. It may be interested in the bee hives there but there is now an electric fence around the hives which should deter it once it’s snout has been zapped. It has also pulled down a bird feeder. It was seen about 3 days ago and has been seen today as well (Tuesday). Bear sightings do happen around Richmond every year so it likely will leave soon.”

A bear (maybe the same one) was spotted near South Carleton High School and Richmond Public School earlier this week.

Richmond bear sighting, via Facebook


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LETTER: Community involvement points way towards a better planning process

Re: City and developer agree on further study of 6279 Fernbank

The unusual and unexpected adjournment and the conditions show the advantages to communities of having a party status at the hearing. Without this, I doubt if we would have been included at this point.

As the designated party, I put a huge amount of time and effort into preparing for the hearing, as did every member of our committee — my husband Gerry Kroll, The McKims, Diana Trudeau, and Glen McDonald. Those who could were witnesses for us, as well as Bob White and researcher and retired librarian, Faith Blacquiere of Glen Cairn. Jillian McKim also cross-examined the witnesses for the other Parties, as did I on the first day, before my voice abandoned me in the dry atmosphere of the hearing room.

We are glad of the opportunity to take part in discussions and studies over the summer and into September. Our involvement gives us a chance to support the applicant’s studies into what really happens to the water that runs through the site — where it comes from, its route and ponding, and where it goes — and to influence the final decision on whether or not this development should go ahead, and what form it should take if it does. While we don’t have power of veto, we will still have the right to present our summations, and, if the City and applicant reach an agreement that we don’t like, we will be able to include our reasons for disagreement in our final summation, for consideration by the Ontario Municipal Board.

I hope this experience will lead to a better way of doing things than is now current in the City of Ottawa. In many jurisdictions, it is normal for the community to be consulted and for a feasibility and viability study to be done for both the site itself and the surrounding community and lands, before an application ever goes into the city or municipality, especially for a site that does not fit normal parameters for development, such as this piece of wetland. Such consultation here could have saved thousands of dollars and months of hard work.

I’m not sure if the activities during this adjournment will take us to the conclusion that the surrounding community believes it should come to, but I hope that at the end there will at least be better understanding of the site, and cooperation among all parties going into the future. I commend the City and the applicant for including community representatives, and I look forward to having the future of this site finally resolved.

The site does, after all, perform a natural water management function within the surrounding communities and adjacent UNF (Urban Natural Feature), and between Fernbank Wetland and the Poole Creek Watershed. It may or may not support housing on an artifical 3.5 meter-high plateau without causing harm to existing lower-level houses — in my mind, it probably won’t. But it could definitely be a lovely wetland and woodland park for wildlife, much of which has called it home for many years, and people wishing to walk around a trail and boardwalk and enjoy some peace away from the hustle of the road, absorbing the calm of nature among the trees of this very special area.

Keldine FitzGerald, Stittsville


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Bear sighting near South Carleton High School

 

South Carleton High School was briefly under a “Shelter in Place” status this morning after a bear was spotted near the school.

“A community member contacted us and Richmond Public to indicate a bear had been sighted near the Jock River earlier this morning,” principal Colin Anderson told StittsvilleCentral.ca. Continue reading


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New product revolutionizes home-based organic food gardening

(Press release from Seed Haven.)

Finally, urban gardeners have pesticide free protection for growing vegetables and herbs. They can produce higher yields from the small garden spaces typical of this rapidly expanding market segment. Seed Haven blocks crawling pests, concentrates sunlight on seedlings, and captures nutrient rich rainwater. The result:  accelerated plant growth and maximized quantity and quality of produce. Continue reading


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Volunteers needed for Cleanup the Capital in Jackson Trails

Volunteers are needed to help with the Tim Hortons Cleanup the Capital Campaign in the Jackson Trails area. We will be picking up litter on Saturday, April 25 from 9:30am to 12:30pm. The targeted areas are Pioneer Park fronting on Main Street, Main Street to the dead end, along the path near the Storm Water Run-off Pond and behind and around St. Stephen school. People may participate for as little or as long as they wish, whatever time they can spare. Everyone is welcome. It’s a good idea to bring your own green garbage bags, and wear disposable rubber gloves. Rain date is Sunday, April 26.

Please RSVP to tpaard@bell.net.


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City staff want councillors to refuse development at 6279 Fernbank

(Aerial image via Bing Maps.)

City planners are recommending that councillors formally reject a proposed development at 6279 Fernbank Road due to concerns about flooding and environmental impact.

(UPDATE APRIL 14: The city’s planning committee approved staff’s report to reject the development. It will be presented to city council on Wednesday.)

Continue reading


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Rural affairs committee to vote on zoning for new Fernbank quarry

(Above: Location of the proposed Taggart quarry near Fernbank and Jinkinson. The Trans Canada Trail is along the north of the site. Via Bing Maps.)

UPDATE: ARAC approved the zoning application on Thursday. It will now go to City Council for approval.

***

The City’s Agricultural and Rural Affairs Committee (ARAC) will vote on Thursday on a zoning change that would allow Taggart Construction to operate a new quarry on Fernbank Road. Continue reading


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Update on new stormwater pond on Maple Grove

(via City Councillor Shad Qadri)

A new stormwater management pond, including a new outlet to the Carp River, is being constructed within the property at 1635 -1655 Maple Grove Road, between Silver Seven Road and Huntmar Drive.

The need for this stormwater management pond, known as Pond 4, was identified in the Kanata West Master Servicing Study and is required to support ongoing residential development in the area.

This pond will service the future development area between Palladium Drive and Poole Creek on the west side of the Carp River and is being constructed now to facilitate two new subdivisions being developed along Maple Grove Road by Mattamy and Tartan/Tamarack.

This pond will allow Mattamy to decommission their existing pond servicing Fairwinds South that is located along Maple Grove Road. All aspects of the proposal have been reviewed by the City, the Mississippi Valley Conservation Authority and the Ministry of Environment. Required permits for the infrastructure project were recently issued and work on-site began in February.

The project is expected to be completed by and operational for home construction within Q2 of this year.


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Algonquin student plants the seeds for a community garden

Algonquin College student Kelsey Boggis-da Silva wants everyone in Stittsville to have the opportunity to start a garden, even if they don’t have enough room in the backyard, or any yard at all.

She’s organizing a meeting on Saturday, March 21 at Quitters Coffee at 2:00pm and is hoping to connect with people who want to help establish a community garden project.

“It not only would promote a sense of community, but allow those who don’t have the space or even expertise learn from neighbours and observation how to grow their own plants,” she says. “I think gardening is a wonderful, and important activity. We should know how our food is grown, how to grow our own food and care for the earth.”

She posted the idea to the Stittsville Neighbours group on Facebook and received dozens of comments in support and nearly 50 likes.

“The comments have been many, and all excited about the idea, with offers of support and suggestions. It’s been wonderful. It seems like it would be a project that could really get us together as a community,” she says.

A typical community garden is usually a co-operative effort between residents who share the costs to maintain a small plot of land, on public or private property. They grow vegetables and other plants for their own use and sometimes donate the produce to local food banks.

Boggis-da Silva is a business administration student at Algonquin so she’s hoping to put her management training to work out the details needed to get this project off the ground, like budgets, design, contracts and equipment.

One of the biggest challenges is finding a location for the garden.  She thinks the big space near Hazeldean and Stittsville Main that was once home to the Stittsville Flea Market would be great, but wants to get more feedback and ideas from the community.  Another idea is using space in Bell Park on the south end of Stittsville Main near Fernbank.

UPDATE: Shad Qadri says he’s been in contact with City staff about using the park between 67 and 77 West Ridge Drive for a community garden.

“My approach is goal-oriented. Look at the requirements of what is needed to reach that goal, put them in a logical order, access community resources the City has set aside for such endeavours and get our hands dirty. (Then we) rally the troops and put the people with specific talents in the right jobs, whether it be research, organization or community outreach,” she says.

She’s planted the seed, now she needs support from the community for the idea to take root and grow.

***

The City of Ottawa provides funding for community garden projects through an annual grant to Just Food, a local non-profit organization that promotes sustainable food programs.  This year they will receive about $90,000 to help establish new gardens and support existing projects through the Community Gardening Network.

The network started with three or four gardens in central Ottawa nearly 20 years ago, and has grown to include more than 50 community gardens within the City of Ottawa, according to interim coordinator Jordan Bouchard.  Some of them have long waiting lists to get a plot.

“We’re building more each year,” he says. “Call me in three months and it will be a bit different!  It’s probably a fairly even split between gardens in central areas and gardens in the suburbs.”

“Our goal is to get as many people gardening in the City of Ottawa as possible.”

He says the number is actually much higher than 50, perhaps as many as 100, when you take into account about 30 gardens at local schools and other projects that aren’t part of the Community Gardening Network.

The group holds regular workshops throughout the year to help people in the community learn about what it takes to get a community garden project going.

He says community gardens can go just about anywhere, including private and public property, hydro corridors, Greenbelt land and park spaces.

***

Stittsville does have an existing community garden on Stittsville Main Street near Cathcart.  It provides vegetables exclusively for the Stittsville Food Bank.

“Food Bank volunteers and Scouts helped build the boxes.  The horticultural society planted the vegetables and looked after the weeding and watering,” says Theresa Qadri, chair of the Stittsville Food Bank.

“Now the Food Bank volunteers plant the vegetables and work with the horticultural society in weeding and watering and harvesting. We are very thankful for our partnerships.  It is nice to know you can call on organizations to help the Food Bank and they respond with a yes so quickly,” says Qadri.

***

For more information about Boggis-da Silva’s community garden project, check out the Stittsville Community Garden Initiative page on Facebook.


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Early birds can register now for Tim Hortons Cleaning the Capital

(Press release from the City of Ottawa.)

The City of Ottawa and Tim Hortons are pleased to announce the annual Tim Hortons Cleaning the Capital campaign, which will take place from April 15 to May 15. Early-bird registration is now available.

Registration is quick and easy:

  • Go to ottawa.ca, or call 3-1-1 (TTY: 613-580-2401) to register for the cleanup. The new interactive map on our website will show you which locations have already been claimed, allow you to register your own project site and choose the cleanup supplies that you need.
  • Select a location such as a park, ravine, shoreline, bus stop, pathway or any public area that requires litter pickup, graffiti removal or cleanup.

Win prizes

Volunteers who register their cleanup project before April 14 have a chance to win one of many early bird prizes donated by our generous sponsors. Volunteers who submit a final cleanup report by May 31 will be eligible for more prizes.

Cleaning the Capital is a city-wide event that brings together neighbours, communities and friends to help keep Ottawa clean and green! Last year alone, 80,000 volunteers collected almost 140,000 kg of litter from 1,400 locations.

This is a great opportunity for families and friends to work together on community cleanup projects that help make Ottawa clean, green, graffiti-free and litter-free. Cleaning the Capital is also an excellent way for high school students to earn their community volunteer hours.


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