Tag Archives: dreessen

“MY CARP RUNNETH OVER”: Pathway flooding is perfectly normal, says City

Carp River, April 8, 2017. The Arcadia neighbourhood is in the background.

(Thanks Karen for the headline pun.)

The mighty Carp River overflowed its banks during the first week of April, covering the adjacent floodplain and recreation paths with water.  Officials say that’s completely normal.

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COMMENT: The good and the bad of Ottawa’s proposed new water rates

(Construction is underway for the Kanata West Pump Station on Maple Grove Road, part of a $60-million sewer infrastructure project in Kanata-Stittsville. This photo is from last April.)

Four things stand out after Ottawa’s Environment Committee recently unanimously approved a new water, wastewater and stormwater fee structure. (Council will consider this issue on October 26.) Continue reading


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A FINE BALANCE: Study looks at why Goulbourn wetlands are changing

(ABOVE: Looking north from the Trans Canada Trail, west of Stittsville, June 2016. Photo illustration.)

“No interrupting, no swearing, no shouting. We’re all here to be heard, and this is a professional meeting,” said the moderator.

She was laying down the ground rules for a public meeting on Monday about the results of a long-awaited study looking at wetlands in the area. Continue reading


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COMMENT: Sustainability, not revenue, should drive stormwater fees

Photo: Construction is underway for the Kanata West Pump Station on Maple Grove Road, part of a $60-million water infrastructure project in Kanata-Stittsville.

The City’s proposal to initiate a stormwater fee separate from water and waste water charges has stirred much passion. In the heat of the argument, the basic principle underlying a stormwater fee needs to be reasserted: You pave, you pay. Continue reading


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COMMENT: Developer’s plan won’t benefit species at risk in Kanata Lakes

ABOVE: The Blanding’s Turtle is one of the species at risk in the Kanata Lakes North land.

After intensive negotiations with the provincial Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry, Kanata Lakes North Development Inc. (KNL) has applied for a permit to destroy up to 124 hectares of Blanding’s Turtle habitat, remove up to 120 Butternut trees and “kill, harm and harass” Least Bittern — all species designated as either endangered or threatened. Continue reading


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LETTER: Who should control development in our city?

PHOTO: Construction equipment in front of the Bradley-Craig barn. Photo by Dan Pak.

The citizens of Ottawa spend considerable time and money defining the type of community we want to live in through things like the official plan, zoning by-laws, heritage designations and green space conservation strategies. Yet often developers spend just as much time and money to justify projects which contravene the City’s plan.

We often hear developers complain about how long it takes and how expensive it is to get anything done. But often this is because they are using expensive experts to prepare a rationale to be exempt from the controls set out by the City. Recently there have been several prime examples of this in the Stittsville area.

First is the Bradley-Craig barn. The City gave the farmstead (farmhouse and barn) heritage designation to protect it as prime example of the early agricultural history in the region. The developer who didn’t want it, asked to dismantle and move it. Although staff and the Built Heritage Sub-Committee voted against the request to move the barn, the Planning Committee and Council voted in favour of the developer.

Second is the clearing of 6279 Fernbank Road. The site is one of the last large nature area providing a home and refuge for wildlife. Through the “Protocol for Wildlife Protection during Construction” the City defines a number of best [ractices to minimize the impact on wildlife during construction. Regarding removal of trees and wetlands, it states that clearing should not take place in the winter (mid-October through March to protect overwintering wildlife). Yet contrary to the City’s own definition best practices they gave the developer a permit to remove trees this winter, starting February 1.

Third is the approval for the expansion of the landfill on Carp Road at the 417. Throughout the long approval process the City repeatedly prepared reports and passed motions listing environmental and community impacts. There were also concerns that more landfill capacity might impact long term waste reduction strategies. In this case the developer went above the authority of the City using the Provincial environmental assessment process. Since the province has little skin in the game it was easier for the developer to get approval and thus pressure the City to comply with rezoning and site plan approval.

So it seems that no matter what measures the City and the community put in place to direct development in a healthy way that leads to a city we want to live, work and play in, developers manage to get approval to develop a City that gives them the best bottom line.

Harold Moore, West Carleton


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Something fishy with Carp River pathway plan, say observers

(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.”

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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.

KWOG, the consortium of landowners who control most of the property along the river, are paying 70% of the cost of the restoration. In 2006, City Council agreed to pick up 30% of the tab, in part because of the benefit that the recreational pathways would provide to residents.

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 Carp River Restoration plan includes 5200 linear meters of water from Hazeldean Road to just north of Richardson Side Road.  Work will be completed in phases starting this fall, and is expected to last until November 2017.
The Carp River Restoration plan includes 5200 linear meters of water from Hazeldean Road to just north of Richardson Side Road. Work will be completed in phases starting this fall, and is expected to last until November 2017.

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THE START OF THE WORK THIS FALL WILL FOLLOW YEARS OF STUDIES, CONSULTATION AND CONTROVERSYThe 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 Authority explains: “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.”

In 2011, the Hazeldean Road bridge over the Carp River was built with pathways at a minimum of 1:10 year flood elevation.
In 2011, the Hazeldean Road bridge over the Carp River was built with pathways at a minimum of 1:10 year flood elevation.
The pathways at Ravine Park in Kanata were built to a 1:25 year flood elevation in 2014.
The pathways at Ravine Park in Kanata were built to a 1:25 year flood elevation in 2014.

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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.”

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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.


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