(Above: Aerial photo of Fairwinds. Photo by @TwitchxB)
Sally McIntyre remembers what Stittsville used to be like when she was working in the Township of Goulbourn’s planning department as a summer student in 1987.
Over the years since, she’s noticed a big drop in the amount of green space around the community — she estimates we’ve lost between one third to one half of forest space here.
“We’re losing the last of it up in the north and in the south. That’s rich, diverse landscape that we’ve lost that will never recover the way they were,” McIntyre — now an environmental planner — said, providing a map illustrating the losses since 1976.
This got McIntyre thinking about the future of Stittsville and whether it can be a green one. She thinks it can be and is working to make it so.
“The vision is basically that long-term goal of making Stittsville one of the greenest communities in Canada,” she said.
She’s been going around to various community groups, like the Stittsville Village Association, to discuss her philosophy and the kind of projects that can contribute to it. At 2 regular SVA executive board meetings, she discussed existing projects such as Sacred Heart High School’s management of the Kemp Woodland and a project with Hydro Ottawa for planting wildflowers and edibles in the utility corridor.
She’ll be having one or two more meetings with local groups in December, plus more in January, with the aim of attempting to organize something for this summer. (Anyone interested in reaching out can email her at firstname.lastname@example.org)
One idea for a project she’d like to see — “I’m in daydream world,” she said — is for the community to come together on a day like Canada Day for a big tree-planting event.
“In my daydream, I see every year the community planting shrubs between Stittsville Main Street over to Terry Fox along the Trans-Canada Trail, making that area a lush place where people can ride their bikes or walk.”
McIntyre said that ideal objective would be to evolve the community to the point where all aspects of our lives are sustainable (such as less car dependence), but until then a more attainable goal would be to start with increasing the flora.
There is real benefit to having more green space in the community, she said. Quite simply, people enjoy nature.
“Having more trees and shrubs and plants gives us calm and pleasure in being close to nature,” she said. “In real terms it can give us the type of joy of waking up in the morning and hearing birds in nature… Being able to sit and ponder, and explore.”
It’s often assumed forests and natural areas provide a habitat for other animals, but McIntyre said they play a role for humans, too. The result would be a community that is built with more than roads and buildings, she said.
“We could create something special in Stittsville where every street you walk down, there’s something unique in every person’s yard,” she said. “Stittsville can be just like every other suburban community in Ottawa, or it can be something more.”
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