Afternoon in Shea Woods. Photo by Glen Gower.

SHEA WOODS: ‘More than just a forest’

(PHOTO: Afternoon in Shea Woods, January 2017. Photo by Glen Gower.)

“…fallen branches become magic wands, old rotting tree trunks become balance beams that they must cross while escaping from some imaginary, forest-dwelling bad guys. They have favourite trees with perfect climbing branches. The Shea Woods really is more than just a forest…”


Mayor Jim Watson, Sabrina Kemp, and Stittsville Councillor Shad Qadri at Tuesday's announcement. Photos by Frank Cianciullo.
Mayor Jim Watson, Sabrina Kemp, and Stittsville Councillor Shad Qadri at Tuesday’s announcement. Photos by Frank Cianciullo.

 

(This is an edited version of Sabrina Kemp’s remarks at today’s Shea Woods announcement.)

I was first introduced to the Shea Woods just over 10 years ago. A friend suggested it as a wonderful spot to walk our new puppy. We were newly married and new to the Stittsville Community. I quickly realized how lucky we were to have such a beautiful natural space right in our community.

During my quiet walks there, I was enchanted by the mature cedars, the fern beds that grow in the open, sunlit areas of the forest floor and the old stone fences that border the woods ā€“ left behind, I would imagine as I walked, by one of Stittsvilleā€™s early settlers.

As the seasons change, so do the Shea Woods ā€“ from the apple blossoms in the spring, to the warm colours of the sugar maples in the fall and the dusting of snow on the trails in the winter.

In my early days of walking there, I met a gentleman who told me he was one of the first neighbours to start marking trails through the Shea Woods. At that time, he had already been walking there daily with his dog for years. Clearly, this was a special place for more than just me.

Soon, we started walking through the Shea Woods with our children. The minute they step into the woods, their imaginations soar ā€“ fallen branches become magic wands, old rotting tree trunks become balance beams that they must cross while escaping from some imaginary, forest-dwelling bad guys. They have favourite trees with perfect climbing branches.

The Shea Woods really is more than just a forest. In the middle of the woods, there is a tree where neighbours hang plastic containers filled with dog treats to share. The tree is decorated each year at Christmas.

There are daily meet-ups at the big rock and springtime clean-ups. In the age of IPhones and PlayStations, the Shea Woods is a meeting place for neighbours, a place to catch-up with old friends, and meet new ones.

It is an easily accessible natural space for our children to explore and as adults, a place to quietly walk, listening to the birds and the wind in the trees.

We all know that trees and natural green spaces are important. We know that trees filter the air we breathe and help prevent roadside runoff from getting into our waterways. We know that trees help reduce flooding, fight soil erosion, cool the air, muffle urban noise and increase property values.

We are also starting to learn more and more about how important time in natural spaces is to both the physical and mental health for adults and children alike. It has been shown to reduce stress, improve cognitive function and feelings of well-being.

Today, we celebrate moving from knowledge and planning to concrete action. Accessible green spaces like the Shea Woods are one of the things that makes Stittsville such a wonderful community to live in. Thank you to Councillor Qadri, Mayor Watson and the City Planning Team for their efforts in making this a reality.

The Shea Woods, September 2017. Photo by Glen Gower
The Shea Woods, September 2017. Photo by Glen Gower.

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3 thoughts on “SHEA WOODS: ‘More than just a forest’”

  1. We walk with our puppy and children 4-5 times per week. It’s where we take solice from the busy lives we lead. It’s a place of peace and relaxation.
    Our children love walking through the forest to find new adventures and to fill the “treat tree” for the dogs.
    It would be a total devastation to Stittsville if it were to be replaced by homes.
    This is a piece of Stittsville that should never be replaced.

  2. Sabrina Kemp’s eloquent comments about what Shea Woods means to her family will, no doubt, resonate with many residents.
    The Ottawa-Carleton Wildlife Centre has long advocated for the preservation of natural areas, particularly in rapidly-growing communities.
    Understanding that today’s children suffer from ‘nature deficit disorder’ means that we need to better balance active and passive recreation opportunities. Though it’s not just children but adults as well that benefit physically and emotionally by having access to natural areas in their neighbourhood.
    Along with residents like Sabrina, Councillor Qadri and the City of Ottawa are to be congratulated for recognizing this.

  3. Shea Woods is an oasis. In this world of ours – a world of asphalt and cement, of lights and glare, to enter Shea Woods is to encounter stillness and beauty. I cherish each visit to this sacred place as I fear it is not long for this world. Truly, it would be such a violation to destroy what simply can not be rebuilt. Someone needs to think deeply about this truth. Please.

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