OPEN LETTER: residents misled, not misunderstood – Johnwoods Multi-use Pathway

(The appearance of the Johnwoods Multi-use Pathway shrub bed at the east side fence as it appears on September 5, 2020. Note dead tree in central area. Photos: Carol Lenz)

(Editor’s Note: A resident of Bryanston Gate reached out to Stittsville Central to share this OPEN LETTER to Councillor Glen Gower regarding the Johnwoods Multi-use Pathway in response to his update provided on September 1, 2020. Perhaps this would be an opportune time for another developer or local business to step in and work with the residents to bring some goodwill to the Johnwoods MUP.)

Dear Glen:

It was with great disappointment that I read your update regarding the Johnwoods Multi-use Pathway (City Takes Over Johnwoods Multi-use Pathway, September 1, 2020.) Some of your comments imply that residents did not have reasonable expectations for this project. We were essentially rebuked and told ‘this area was always meant to be a bit wild”.

When the community was informed of the Johnwoods Street closure in May 2016, former Councillor Qadri referred to the area as the ‘Johnwoods Linear Park’. He continued to refer to it as a linear park well into 2018. By signing an agreement with the City of Ottawa, Mattamy Homes suddenly had a convenient way to provide the requisite park for their Fairwinds West development. The City did not convert the road to a pathway with any
intention of providing a north-south corridor. In 2015, pedestrians, cyclists,
and 15-minute neighbourhoods were so low on the priority list as to be
virtually non-existent.

A completed shrub bed. More weeds than shrubs.

The local community, Bryanston Gate, was provided with the detailed plans from the landscape architect hired by Mattamy. While these documents referred to the area as the Johnwoods Multi-use Pathway, the fine print indicated the construction standards of a linear park. These were the documents that the City of Ottawa sent to residents, leading us to believe this was our future.

The landscape architects’ schematics were lovely and so promising. The fine print provided exact details as to what was to be planted and maintained in this area. This is where the community was informed in writing that there would be low maintenance eco-lawn and low-growing native seed mix. We were invited to make planting suggestions. With the plans in hand, how could residents ‘mis-understand’?

Mown area immediately adjacent to pathway – wild rhubarb, thistles and weeds.

In truth, we were mis-led. After discussing this issue with you on September 5, I learned that the City has no requirement to follow through on what Mattamy contracted. It seems that the true city obligation in these agreements is “vague”. The city contracted with Mattamy to develop some form of open space but the details are not specified in the contract. In other words, no matter what is promised and contracted by a developer, the City can choose to construct whatever it wishes in the future.

Shrub bed along path. Noxious weeds along pathway include nettles and thistles.

The landscape plans specified exactly what was expected of Mattamy Homes in order to consider the job complete, at which time the area would be turned over to the city. Your comment “Mattamy’s work on the pathway….has been completed to the City’s satisfaction…” is disingenuous. In fact, residents spoke with the contractors who completed the work this summer. They were employed by the City of Ottawa! It seems this developer defaulted on their responsibilities and failed to complete the bargain they contracted with residents. Unfortunately, with no ‘official’ definition of what the city expected, they could have run a gravel cow path down Johnwoods and the city could consider it complete!

Specimen tree between shrub beds. Located next to pathway.

While you thank residents for contacting you over the past few months, in fact, the Bryanston Gate Community Association and many frustrated residents have contacted you repeatedly over the past two years regarding the state of disrepair of this pathway. Photos were taken and shared with your office regularly.

Imagine my surprise when I received a request from you in July of this year, asking for a copy of the landscape plans that I kept referring to! I suspect that it would be extremely difficult to respond to the community effectively without the associated documentation; that it took almost two years to ask for it is mind-boggling. Discovering that the landscape plans are reportedly worthless is just par for the course with this city.

For your vision of the 15-minute neighbourhood to be successful, sidewalks and winter maintenance will be essential. I have no doubt that residents will look forward to seeing these amenities put in place in order to enjoy the Johnwoods MUP – such as it is.

Carol Lenz


3 thoughts on “OPEN LETTER: residents misled, not misunderstood – Johnwoods Multi-use Pathway”

    1. This path looks like it belongs on a farm. Wild parsnip, poison ivy and thistles grow along the edges the whole way, on both sides of the path. It is so bad that my dog has suffered blisters on her paws from walking along the infested cow path.. Many residents who walk along here are unaware of the poisonous plants. It is quite the eye sore. I am surprised the City would approve of such a rinkydink pathway for citizens to use. No ownership and passing the buck with the upkeep. Shame on the City.

  1. Well said Carol
    Having spent 31 years working for the city I learned that what developers want they get and the council will never stand up to them. As my neighbour says we might as well make developers the councillors as no matter what plan is shown and approved by the community it will never end up like that.
    While we will be fined and abused if we do not get proper permits permissions etc to make any changes to OUR own property, developers can build what they want with little or no accountability
    David Keenan

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