In fall 2017 a student team from the Group Research in Environmental Science Project at Carleton University are undertaking a study that will form the basis for monitoring programs and future research projects.
The Carp River Restoration Project commenced in 2016 and incorporates approximately 6000 metres of stream restoration, habitat improvements (ponds and wet meadows), and recreational pathways in a large, rapidly urbanizing area running parallel to Terry Fox Drive in Kanata.
The student’s project will assemble available information about the Carp River before and after the restoration to establish a baseline description of the restored section. The baseline information and the restoration’s objectives will serve as the foundation on which to base an educational and interpretive program, begin monitoring programs, and conduct research projects related to the efficacy of the restoration.
…The third year Carleton University Environmental Science students completed their project about the Carp River Restoration area along Terry Fox Drive in Kanata. The students outlined four recommendations related to the restoration:
adding interpretive signs to educate and engage the community;
monitoring water quality, particularly conductivity, which is a result of metal ions and toxins from road salting that can adversely affect some species causing infertility or death;
monitoring by “citizen scientists” of the changing ecosystem of plants, animals, invasive species, and water quality as the site matures; and
engaging schools in nature education programs on the site including building bird and bat boxes, and recording species.
The students prepared a short video about the site… The view shown in the link is from a point halfway along the restored river, looking north from over the Queensway. Terry Fox Drive is to the right.
A shout out to CBC for continuing to focus on Stittsville development issues this week. Here’s an excerpt (in red) from an article by Laura Osman published today, along with my comments. I’ve added some additional context based on my work with the Fairwinds Community Association.
Bottom line: If councillors and city staff really believe in the importance of public engagement, this case illustrates how far they still have to go to ensure transparency and trust in the development process.
Residents not allowed to weigh in on big subdivision, councillor says Councillors approve application to build 945 residential units on Maple Grove Road after decade of holdups
by Laura Osman, CBC Ottawa
A large new subdivision in Stittsville has been approved, despite the fact the last public consultation meeting happened more than a decade ago.
As far as I can tell, the last public consultation for this zoning bylaw amendment was in December 2004, when most of the area was still farmland.
The planning committee approved the rezoning for Richcraft to build 945 residential units on Maple Grove Road.
The last update we heard about the project was in December 2013, when a plan of subdivision was submitted for around 800 residential units.
The development has been in the works since early 2004 but was held up by an appeal to the Ontario Municipal Board. Richcraft then filed an appeal against the city because it’s taken so long for the city to make a decision.
Coun. Shad Qadri asked the committee to hold off on the decision on behalf of the neighbouring Fairwinds community, which didn’t exist when the initial public consultations were done.
“The area now didn’t really have the opportunity to put their comments in,” Qadri said, adding that planning documents were also not posted online.
Qadri lost the vote seven to one.
Usually when there’s a zoning bylaw amendment in front of Planning Committee, it’s easy to search the city’s web site to find background documents like planning rationale, transportation plans, environmental studies, etc. We couldn’t find anything on the city’s DevApp web site, or on the councillor’s web site, or even on alternate sources like ottwatch.ca.
The Fairwinds Community Association asked Councillor Qadri to put forward a motion to defer a decision on the file until next month’s planning committee, to at least give residents time to access and review the documents.
Planning committee chair Jan Harder said the public had the opportunity to be heard at Tuesday’s meeting.
The committee received two written statements responding to the report that was tabled last week.
They would have received more than two written statements if there was a more proactive effort to alert residents about it. I stumbled upon it last week when I was reading the agenda. I doubt that many of my neighbours make a routine of reading the weekly agenda updates! Besides that, how can we provide proper comments without the full information to work from?
(I would have loved to attend today’s meeting, but work commitments kept me from taking the morning off work to trek downtown.)
If the committee held off on making a decision, the developer would simply withdraw the zoning application and go through the OMB instead, Harder said.
“And then we’ll have a made-in-Toronto decision that may not be that great,” said Coun. Rick Chiarreli.
Chiarelli didn’t want the decision to be made by the OMB because there’s no way to appeal it, he said.
The developer has been working toward this subdivision for 13 years, and the city should not be holding up the process any longer, he added, comparing the application to a criminal trial. Serious charges would be dismissed after such a long period without a decision, he said.
I don’t know how accurate this is. If the threat of an OMB decision is so significant, why did the report from planning staff attached to the agenda not call this out as a potential legal risk? The document refers to previous OMB hearings but it doesn’t explain the relevant background or approval timelines for this application. After 13+ years, what’s the rush to get this zoning approval through? Shovels can’t hit the ground until next year at the earliest.
The proposal includes townhomes, detached houses and low-rise apartment buildings. It also includes some commercial development along the south side of Maple Grove Road, which is currently entirely residential.
During the initial public meeting in 2004 the city received six responses, including concerns about the Carp River restoration project and the timing of the development.
Back in 2004, the Stittsville Village Association did submit comments about transportation impacts. Current president Tanya Hein says that they did receive advance notice of the meeting, but just barely: “By chance, I found out late yesterday that a paper notice dated October 13th was mailed to David Jenkins (a former SVA member). I think he was on record from the original application, before email was the standard means of circulation. That, in itself, might suggest a more modern public consultation is warranted.”
Part of the development is expected to be built on the former floodplain of the Carp River, which is currently under construction to alleviate flood concerns.
The development must still be approved by city council.
The Carp River restoration … commercial development on Hazeldean Road … residential development in Fairwinds and Fernbank … an evolving mass transit plan … pending departure of the Senators… These are just a few examples of major changes in our area since 2004, and reason enough in my view to treat this zoning application with more scrutiny.
Another person who sent comments to councillors about the zoning bylaw amendment was Faith Blacquiere, a retired research librarian who reviews planning documents as a hobby.
She submitted nine pages of detailed technical notes to the committee, which are included below. She really gets down in the weeds of the planning process. I haven’t fact-checked the document, nor are all of her concerns necessarily within the scope of this zoning amendment. Still, I believe she’s identified enough inconsistencies and concerns with the published staff report to justify a deferral. Or at the very least, more scrutiny from on the Planning Committee today.
Taxpayers are on the hook for $10 million more than planned after the cost for two projects to help developers build homes in the city’s west end has shot up in the last decade.
The escalating price tags for the Kanata West sewage pumping station and the Carp River restoration — projects shared between the city and local developers — have received little to no public scrutiny, despite overshooting their original budgets by millions.
In the case of the pumping station, the cost of the project has ballooned from an estimated $15.95 million in 2012 to $61 million in 2017. The city’s share of that project is about 10 per cent, and has grown to $6 million from $1.6 million.
This Tuesday, October 24, Ottawa’s Planning Committee will vote on a zoning bylaw amendment that would give the green light for Richcraft to proceed with a massive residential development on Maple Grove Road, just east of the Fairwinds neighbourhood.
You would be forgiven for thinking this latest zoning proposal came out of nowhere, even though this development has been going through the approval process since 2004. Continue reading →
(ABOVE: Carp River, April 8, 2017. The Arcadia neighbourhood is in the background.)
(Guest post from Daniel J. Kucherhan with the Arcadia Community Association.)
Residents of Arcadia have been watching the Carp River closely over the past few weeks, as record rainfall has caused water levels to submerse pathways, bridges, and trees that were delivered as part of the Carp River Restoration Plan (CRRP).Continue reading →
PHOTO: North side of the Hazeldean Bridge over the Carp River, March 2016.
OTTAWA SUN, JULY 30, 2011:“A $4-million bridge over the Carp River will take an extra month to complete after a structural problem caused it to sink this week. A Sun tipster said the project foreman ordered workers off the Hazeldean Rd. structure this week after it sank four inches when supports were taken away. Stittsville Coun. Shad Qadri said city engineers confirmed to him Saturday something called a “deck deflection” took place. The deck of a bridge is the roadway portion, including the shoulders. A deflection is the displacement of a structural beam or system under load. Qadri said there was structural testing of the bridge this week, but said he heard the deflection was “a matter of centimetres, not inches.” (Link)
STITTSVILLE SOUTH ZONING APPROVED This week the City’s Planning Committee unanimously approved a zoning change for a subdivision at Stittsville South, paving the way (pun intended) for a new residential development including 339 single detached, 162 multiple attached and 152 low-rise apartment units. It goes to City Council for full approval on February 24. Continue reading →
TRAFFIC’S KEY FOR MINTO PLAN
City planner Patricia McCann-MacMillan sent out an atypically frank email to residents who submitted comments on Minto’s proposed Potter’s Key development. The email summarized what’s next for Minto and the City. Continue reading →
Updates on stories we’ve been watching over the past few weeks…
GOULBOURN REC CENTRE POOL The GRC pool re-opened in June after extensive repairs to fix structural deficiencies. We were wondering about the status of potential legal action by the City to recoup the repair costs. Here’s a response, from an email attributed to City Solicitor Rick O’Connor:
“In accordance with the request made by the Ward Councillor that Legal Services report back to the Finance and Economic Development Committee on potential legal action involving the remediation of the Goulbourn Recreation Complex, the City Clerk and Solicitor has engaged an external legal review and it is anticipated that the results of that review will be presented to the Committee as part of the semi-annual Comprehensive Legal Services Report for the June 2015-December 2015 period, in early 2016.” Continue reading →
Every week we get lots of comments from our readers on our web site, via email, and social media. Here’s a sample of what we heard this week. Add your thoughts to the comments at the bottom of this article or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
(Above: A heron and ducks swim along the Carp River between Hazeldean and Maple Grove. This photo looks north towards Maple Grove from the Hazeldean Road Bridge.)
After years of delay, restoration of the Carp River in Kanata and Stittsville will start this fall, but some observers say the planned recreational paths will be prone to excessive flooding.
Erwin Dreessen of Ottawa’s Greenspace Alliance is one of several people in the community who’ve been keeping a close eye on development around the river.
“The design would see those pathways flooded with a two-year storm,” he says. “It’s not in accordance with what one expect with responsible government to approve… I find this very disturbing.”
A contract to carry out the work — a project known as the Carp River Restoration Plan (CRRP) — will be awarded on September 11 and construction is expected to start shortly after that. It covers 5.2km of river from Hazeldean Road to north of Richardson Side Road.
The City of Ottawa, along with the Kanata West Owners Group (KWOG)has been developing the plan since 2000. It’s the blueprint for an engineering project that would alter the existing Carp River to reduce flooding during spring runoff and heavy rainfalls and allow for more nearby development in what for years was considered a floodplain.
The first phase of the work (from the 417 to Richardson Side Road) is expected to be complete in fall 2016 and future phases (from the Queensway south to Hazeldean) will be done by the end of 2017.
In 2006 the total price tag was estimated at $5-million. The most recent estimate, based on a preliminary design, is $14.8-million, according to the City. The final price tag won’t be known until the tender process is complete.
THE START OF THE WORK THIS FALL WILL FOLLOW YEARS OF STUDIES, CONSULTATION AND CONTROVERSY. The final design that was tendered by KWOG earlier this summer went through the scrutiny of a variety of governments departments and agencies from the municipal to the federal level.
“We’ve actually been through many years of very rigorous approvals. The approvals that we have, we have them from the City, from Mississippi Valley Conservation Authority, from the federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans, the Ontario Ministry of Environment, the Ministry of Natural Resources, and even the Ministry of Transportation just to go under the freeway bridge… This has taken many many years to get the point we’re at now.” said Kathleen Willis, the project manager for KWOG.
What Dreesen and others are concerned about are the flood elevation levels. Early plans called for recreational pathways at a 1:100 year flood elevation. As the Mississippi Valley Conservation Authorityexplains: “A 1:100 year flood is a major flood that risks causing serious damage to people and property. These major floods have a 1% chance of occurring in any given year. To compare, a 50 year flood has a 2% chance of occurring in any given year. Simply because a major flood occurs does not mean that it cannot re-occur the next year.”
Just a few centimetres change to the elevation, up or down, can have a large effect on the possibility of flooding.
Now, some sections of the remaining pathway are planned at a 1:2 to 1:10 elevation, meaning that there’s a 10-50% chance of flooding in any year. That could mean the Carp River would overflow its banks and cover the pathways with anywhere from 30-100 centimeters of fast-moving water. (One report suggested that signs warning of the possibility of flooding could be put up along the path to mitigate the safety risk.)
Besides the safety factor, there’s also the clean-up. Every time the Carp floods the pathway — a 1-in-2 chance of happening each year — there will likely be clean-up required to get rid of the mud and debris that the river leaves behind.
There have been other tweaks since the last time the public was consulted on the plan during an environmental assessment in 2010, including skinnier pathways (from 4 meters down to 3), changes to fish habitat ponds, and the elimination of two pedestrian bridges over the mighty Carp.
“The current design approach is to build the pathways at grade to the river between the 1:2 and 1:10 year elevations. The final elevation of the pathway system will be in accordance with Provincial standards and City requirements,” the City said in an email attributed to Don Herweyer, Manager of Development Review.
“Each project is unique in the context of the Carp River and other situations across the City – recreational pathways are set at different elevations. In the case of the Carp River the proposed elevation of the pathway is the most appropriate design solution,” he wrote.
Just last year, the City spent about $400,000 in nearby Glen Cairn to elevate the pathways in Ravine Park to 1:25 year flood levels. That ravine feeds into the Carp River close to Terry Fox Road.
The Hazeldean Road bridge over the river was completed in 2011 with pathways underneath built to at least a 1:10 year flood level.
Besides concerned citizens, at least one Ministry of Environment engineer has asked questions about the plan.
“Will the proposed pathway meet the City’s risk management policy with respect to parks and recreational facilities? Will the pedestrian pathway conform to the City’s risk management policy for stormwater conveyance infrastructure?” wrote Charles Goulet in a March 2014 email obtained via a freedom of information request. “…The mix of flooding waters and children is a dangerous one.”
WE CONTACTED THREE COUNCILLORS with wards that include parts of the Carp River, and asked them if they had concerns about flooding on the pathways.
“I do not have significant concerns with the pathway elevations,” wrote Stittsville councillor Shad Qadri. “Yes, there will be times when there is significant rainfall that the pathway may flood, however that is often the case with parks and pathways in other areas of the city. In those cases residents exercise caution or avoid the area until it has dried.”
“I discussed the elevation of the pathways with staff last year and found out that they could not be higher as they need to have clearance under the Campeau Road bridge that will cross the Carp and it would be both difficult and expensive to raise the bridge higher due to soft soils in the area,” wrote Kanata North councillor Marianne Wilkinson. “Temporary flooding of pathways is common – for example the paths along the Beaver Pond in Kanata North sometimes flood but they soon drain off and paths along the Ottawa River in West Ottawa do the same during the spring runoff.”
“Ravine (Park) is more than recreational as it links over 2,000 people to their only bus stop on Eagleson,” wrote Kanata South councillor Allan Hubley. “We also had significant erosion of private property issues that had to be dealt with thanks to a bad design in 2003. Unless there is special circumstances such as just provided, there is no reason for taxpayers to pay for the higher design level. The new pathway from Cope to Eagleson for example would be at same lower level.”
THE PATHWAY PLANS ARE JUST THE TIP OF THE ICEBERG when it comes to issues with the CRRP, according to Dreesen. He’s concerned with many aspects that he’s seen over the years, often uncovered through freedom of information requests.
“There’s so many things that have been done the wrong way throughout this whole saga,” says Dreesen. “We see flooding problems, we see a river that’s been badly abused, and we see it all seemingly motivated by a desire on the part of the development community to gain more land.”
“Eventually nature will give its answer. Let’s hope there’s no loss of life,” he says.