Old Quarry Youth Mountain Bike Skills Park

Submission to the National Capital Commission Greenbelt Master Plan Review - Part 3

By Richard W. Woodley, environmentalist, hiker, mountain biker, snowshoer, cross
country skier, kayaker

(Please note: click on images to enlarge)

While this may seem like a my most radical proposal yet it follows naturally from what I have already written:

Getting people out into the environment, onto the lakes and rivers and into the forests builds healthy lifestyles, and healthy lifestyles improve our health and reduces our health care costs. This is important at a time when obesity, and childhood obesity in particular, is at epidemic levels. We need natural spaces and trails to teach our children the benefits and enjoyment that can be had in the great outdoors. The National Capital Region is fortunate that we have a population that celebrates healthy lifestyles and rises up to challenge those that want to take our natural spaces and trails away from us. Allowing mountain biking on the trails is one more way to encourage people to get out and enjoy nature.

Young people need the type of challenges the outdoors can provide as an alternative to spending their time in a sedentary lifestyle centred on electronic devices, or other even worse, but seemingly exciting, activities like gangs and drugs. Youth can be attracted to these things by the very risks we want to protect them from. Outdoors activities such as rock climbing and mountain biking can provide exciting healthy risks that build character and a healthy body.

Mountain biking is the perfect activity to get young people active and out in the environment. It combines man and machine (or boy and machine) with a sense of adventure, all in a natural setting. The Greenbelt trails are the ideal location as many are closes to neighbourhoods and they have a wide variety of levels of riding difficulty and challenge.
The Old Quarry are trails are particularly suited for young riders just starting out in mountain biking because they provide a wide range of difficulty from easy flat gravel trails to intermediate level rooty and rocky trails.

A beginner level mountain bike skills park adjacent to these trails would be ideal for this location that is close to communities with young families and schools, as well as having it's own parking and close proximity to additional parking and facilities at the Hazeldean Mall.

The proposed location is off to the side of the trails and separated from roadways and traffic by bush.

MTB Park Location

MTB Park Trails

Why A Youth Mountain Bike Skills Park

There are two documented changes in young people's lives from when I grew up to today. They are a decreased level of physical activity and a disconnect from nature. Part of this stems from parents fear of letting their children play and wander outside alone and part of it stems from competition for their attention from technological devices from television to video games to the Internet.

We need to excite kids to get them to choose real outdoor physical activity over indoor virtual pursuits. Mountain biking is seen as an exciting "extreme" sport that can provide that excitement, yet when done with proper training at each individuals ability level it can be as safe as any other sporting activity.

A skills park can provide the setting and resources to teach young people how to handle their bikes safely and how to safely navigate technical mountain bike trails, as well as how to judge what they are capable of safely attempting on their bikes.

As well as including natural and man-made features to learn and practice their skills on, the park could also include educational displays on safe and responsible riding and respect for the trails, the environment and other trail users.

I believe this location is an excellent one for a beginner level mountain biking skills park as young riders can practice the skills they learn in the park on the adjacent trails that provide a wide range of trails of varying levels of technical difficulty.

Approaching Youth MTB Skills Park Site From Trails

Youth MTB Skills Park Site Overview

Youth MTB Skills Park Features

View of Trails From Youth MTB Skills Park Site

I also intend to propose that a more advanced level skills park be established adjacent to the mountain biking trail system in the South March Highlands.


The Truth is Coming Out About the Terry Fox Drive Extension Through the South March Highlands

After hearing from City staff and concerned residents, the Ottawa Forests and Greenspace Advisory Committee passed a unanimous motion to ask the City of Ottawa to immediately stop construction on the Terry Fox drive Extension through the South March Highland until an "in-depth ecological analysis is undertaken."

The Ottawa Citizen reported:

The Ottawa forests and greenspace advisory committee will ask city council to put the construction of the Terry Fox Drive Extension on hold and order a more thorough environmental review.

The committee passed a unanimous motion Monday night to ask the city to "immediately re-examine the demographic, transportational and economic rationale" for the project and to halt construction until an "in-depth ecological analysis is undertaken."

The request will come before the city's planning and environment committee, where it would need the endorsement of councillors before it could be voted on by City Council.

The $47.7-million Terry Fox Drive Extension is being built now to take advantage of $32 million in federal and provincial stimulus funding that runs out in March 2011.

The original plan to build the road dates back to a 1983 Ontario Municipal Board decision to expand Kanata's urban boundary into the South March Highlands, with the road marking the outside perimeter of development.

Once the road is built, 182 hectares of natural lands inside the arc of the road are expected to be bulldozed for housing.

But the highlands, a 895-hectare area of near-pristine woodlands and wetlands, have been identified by the province as a candidate for the designation of Area of Natural and Scientific Interest containing a complex of Provincially Significant wetlands.
At the meeting many residents expressed concerns about the project.

The Ottawa Sun reported:
It was standing room only at the city’s forest and greenspace advisory committee meeting Monday evening.

Marjorie Edwards, who lives on Old Carp Rd., said she fears the extension of Terry Fox Dr. will lead to more development and further destruction of sensitive environmental areas, with devastating consequences.

“The land is going to be developed. It started out as environmentally protected land from the province and it still is, but people seem to be able to find ways of circumventing it,” she said.

The road will encroach on habitat of about a half dozen species at risk, including the Blanding’s turtle and the western chorus frog. The project will also pass through four significant wetland areas and require about 10.5 hectares of clear cutting.

Judy Makin, who also lives in the area, shares Edwards’ concerns.

“Unbeknownst to most of the city of Ottawa, we’ve got a little Algonquin Park in our backyard and we’re putting a road through it. It’s not wise,” she said, comparing the South March Highlands to the protected provincial park.

Makin called on the advisory committee to recommend council issue an immediate stop work order to prevent any further construction. She also called for the establishment of a governing body, what she called the Ottawa Forest Keeper, to protect sensitive areas and deny destructive planning proposals.

“We cannot allow this roadway to provide the final doorway to even more destruction,” she said.
Paul Renaud made a very interesting presentation on "Ottawa's Other Transportation System" in which he stated:
As you can see from this aerial photo, looking down from 50 km, we can see 3 major eco-corridors running in parallel to each other:
-Gatineau Park to the North
-Constance Lake – Shirley’s Bay along the River
-South March Highlands to the South
Each of these eco-corridors plays a vital role in the transportation system of the National Capital:
-They enable the transportation of animals, fish, and birds who live in and travel within them
-Who in turn carry native seeds, pollen, and other genetic material up and down these corridors
-This transportation of vital genetic material helps the City fight off the invasive species that our now threatening us as a result of the combination of irresponsible development and climate change
-These eco-corridors also help absorb the GHG emitted by the City’s other transportation system, turning these noxious fumes back into life-giving oxygen.
How is it that City planners have been oblivious to the whole transportation picture?
I encourage you all to read the full text of his presentation in his blog Virtual Nonsense: Can You Still See The Forest?, and be sure to view the very interesting slides he presented.

I must say, knowing how difficult it is to stop road construction in our automobile dominated society, I was very sceptical about the prospects of success for this campaign. However, it appears that the hard work being done by a lot of people behind the scenes in ferreting out the truth about these projects is starting to have an effect and I am beginning to think that there may indeed be hope, to not only stop the Terry Fox Drive Extension through the South March Highlands but to also stop the destruction proposed by the KNL development plans.


Question for Dalton McGuinty About Sex Education

When should students learn about sex in the classroom?

Before or after they learn about it in the schoolyard?

Before or after they start having sex?

When professional educators deem it appropriate or when the Roman Catholic Church says it's allowed?


Let's Send Clive to Copenhagen

I would like to congratulate the National Capital Commission, and in particular CEO Marie Lemay, for their enlightened approach to cycling in the capital. The Ottawa Citizen reports:

Ottawa has a car-first, bike-after attitude, says the chief executive of the National Capital Commission. And Marie Lemay said residents have to decide if that's really the way they want to build the future of Canada's capital.

One of the fundamental things that I think we need to have a discussion about is, do we want our National Capital Region to be bike- and pedestrian-friendly? And if the answer is yes, we have to be ready to do the things that implies. It might mean it will be more difficult for cars, for example, she said.

Do we make the decision that bikes and pedestrians come first? And if we do that, everything else follows.

Lemay said the place of cyclists and pedestrians will be a central question in the NCC's new, three-year initiative to develop a plan for Canada's capital. Public discussions on the plan are to begin this summer.
The Ottawa Citizen further reports:
The head of the National Capital Commission says she hopes Ottawa Mayor Larry O’Brien will join her and Gatineau Mayor Marc Bureau as they travel to a major bicycling conference in Copenhagen in June to pick up tips on how to turn the national capital into a cycling role-model for Canada.

“If it is him, I’ll be thrilled and, if it’s not, and it’s a councillor, I’ll be very happy. The important thing is that we do have a political champion with us,” said the NCC’s CEO.
Mayor Larry O'Brien as a political champion of cycling does not seem to be a very good fit. Indeed, we need someone to go the the conference who is already a political champion for cycling, who has the background and can come back even more enlightened and energized to lead Ottawa into a new future that is not dictated by the automobile. Who better to fill that role than Councillor Clive Doucet, who will almost certainly be back on Council after the next election, unlike Mayor Larry who does not even know yet whether he wants the job.
The Velo-city Global 2010 conference will feature four days of presentations and discussions by cycling experts and policy-makers from around the world. Topics include cycling in mega-cities; cycling in cold, hilly cities; suburban cycling; and lifting the social status of the bicycle, among many others.

The sheer fact of being in Copenhagen and observing the cycling culture there is also an important aspect of the trip, Lemay said.

“They definitely do put cyclists and pedestrians first. Even the signage at street lights. The priority is not to the car,” said Lemay.

“To see that and be immersed in a totally different way of thinking, then you can see that it can actually be done. I’m hoping from there, you move backwards, and say, ‘what do we like about this, and how can we get there?’ ”

Although the NCC has maintained recreational biking paths in the national capital region for 40 years, Lemay said she realized last summer the importance of moving beyond those paths to create a safe, integrated network of cycling lanes and pathways across the downtown cores of Ottawa and Gatineau.
One thing Marie Lemay has right, and that Clive Doucet would agree with, is that we need to build a city for ordinary cyclists. As the Ottawa Sun reports:
“When you have Lance Armstrong sending in a bib from the Tour de France, I mean, that accident went around the world,” said Doucet. “I think people are beginning to realize Ottawa is a wonderful place to be a recreational cyclist, but a terrible place to be an ordinary cyclist.”

Doucet said the reputation Ottawa had built as a cycle-friendly city had little to do with the municipality’s efforts. The National Capital Commission established and continues to maintain the vast network of bike trails that earned the city its good standing in the first place.

“If you strip away the NCC shared bicycle pathways, the city has nothing,” said Doucet.
Lemay makes the point that while avid cyclists may cycle anywhere and everywhere all the time ordinary cyclists will only cycle if they feel it is safe.
Lemay, who lives in Chelsea, said she owns a bike but is not an “avid cyclist.”

She said she’d love to bike around downtown Ottawa, but she’s concerned about safety on city streets. She believes this gives her something in common with other people who would like to use their bikes more, but don’t feel comfortable cycling in traffic.

“This is not about accommodating the avid cyclist. This is about integrating cycling into a sustainable mode of transportation,” Lemay said.

“It’s not about just one segment of the population. It’s everybody. It’s me. It’s all the other people that could be using their bikes if it was safer. If it was easier.
The City of Ottawa has to show that it is serious about changing from being subservient to the automobile to embracing the future, a future that already exists in much of Europe.

I have already presented my ideas and I encourage everyone else to let the City and the NCC know what they think.


Once Upon A Time In Teronia

The following is a fable, but like all fables it contains hidden (and not so hidden) truths.

Once upon a time in a land called Teronia there was a village surrounded by pristine environmental lands. The villagers cherished these lands and the village elders declared that they would be protected for all time.

Then they were visited by representatives of the Guild of Developers who told the villagers that if they were allowed to "develop" their precious environmental lands everyone would benefit. But the villagers knew better and said "never never".

So the Guild told the village elders that they would go to The Lords of Omb who would give them permission. The elders said "do you really think they would do that" and the Guild said "they always do" and the elders gave each other knowing looks and just shook their heads.

Then the Guild said to the villagers, and the elders, that they would promise to keep half of the lands as "greenspace" if they would not oppose their plans. A group of the villagers, known as "the radicals", said "you cannot trust the Guild" but the elders said "but we have no choice".

So the Guild built roads and houses and a place for a new sport called "golf" where gentlemen would hit small rocks with sticks and chase after them in chariots. They removed the trees and plants and wildlife and planted a single type of grass that the rocks rolled easily on and they spread chemicals on it to help it grow and poisons on it to stop other things from growing and called it "greenspace".

When the villagers saw the final plan they saw that their precious environmental lands were to be destroyed - the half of the lands that was to be "greenspace", that they thought would protect their precious lands, was nothing but a "golf course" and narrow corridors with unnatural man made pathways instead of the rugged trails that were there. They knew that they had been deceived.

The local elder said "a deal is a deal and we lost and now it is time for us to change sides and support whatever the Guild wants", but the radicals said "No - it is never to late to do what is right".

So how will this fable end. That will be up to the villagers.


What We Don't Know About the Terry Fox Drive Extension (TFD) and the South March Highlands

This is based on what I have learned from from information provided by many interested local residents and activists who have been looking into the details of this project and are contributing to an informal mailing list. This is a very complex issue and to avoid writing a documented treatise I will just be presenting highlights without attribution to their sources.

For more detailed information please contact Paul Renaud at paul@renaud.ca

Fast-Tracking the Environmental Assessment Process

It has become clear that the City of Ottawa has been fast-tracking the environmental assessment process for the project in order to expedite it to gain federal economic stimulus funding. Indeed it appears the City has been playing fast and loose with the environmental assessment process for the project and taking advantages of any and all loopholes in the process. I have read copies of extensive correspondence with the authorities regarding this and the complexity makes it impossible to summarize.

The following letter has been sent (by one of the mailing list participants) to Ottawa City Councillors.

Subject: RE: CEAR, Assessment 09-01-51616

Marianne, and other members of Council,

Further to my prior correspondence, you should be aware that the 2004/2005 EA Addendum for Terry Fox Drive that was approved by City Council did NOT include ANY realignment of Shirley’s Brook. A realignment of the stream on the north side was added only in the 2007 EA, documented as Exhibit C-10, dated April 2006. However, the City did NOT file a Notice of Completion for this EA and that proposed realignment in the 2007 EA was NEVER approved by Council. This does not meet my definition of fiscal responsibility and I wish to confirm that it doesn’t meets yours either.

Subsequently the scope of the realignment has increased significantly and it is evident that this project is now out of control. It is time that Council revokes any delegated authority to staff and re-assert its control over this project.

Council should also insist that staff stop fighting with provincial authorities and follow the Municipal Class EA Process as required by law. The law states that the City should be filing a single integrated EA document, based on the provincial process and updated as required to meet federal standards, for this project.

It is inconceivable that the project is proceeding, at the provincial level, under a stale EA dated 2005, and simultaneously proceeding at the federal level (not requiring public consultation), under a newer plan dated 2010. This does not meet any definition for an integrated process.

Even worse is that the federal CEEA documentation contains significant changes to both planning and environmental context that, according to provincial law, requires the proponent to file an EA Addendum and seek feedback from interested parties.

Council should not be permitting staff to operate in a lawless and irresponsible way. What are you going to do about this intolerable situation?
Biodiversity and the Brunton Report

The following is a extracted from a summary(prepared by one of the mailing list participants) of Brunton's 2004 Study of Biodiversity in the areas impacted by the Terry Fox Drive Extension (TFD).
The area is very bio-diverse with 268 species of vascular flora and over 134 species of birds cataloged. In addition to the provincially rare species found in the area, there are also 4, formerly 5, Regionally Rare species of plants:

- Rusty Woodsia
- Southern Blue Grass
- Wood-Rush
- Long-leaved Chickweed

According to this study, page 13, the 5th regionally rare species of plant life, “Spiny Coon-tail (Ceratophyllum echinatum) [was] extirpated in 2003 by the destruction of wetland habitat in Richcraft Property east of First Line Road right of way.”

This is the very same Richcraft that proposes to use the Plan B extension of TFD to appeal to the OMB to further destroy (I mean “develop”) lands west of the planned road!

The area of our first hike included the Richardson Forest habitat straddling the watershed divide between the headwaters of Watt’s Creek (which I have previously incorrectly referred to as Kizell Creek because it runs thru the Kizell Drain wetland) and the Carp river. According to Brunton, page 15, this area is one of the 4 most significant areas for ecological connectivity in the South March area and contains a White Pine forest area that is Regionally Significant.

TFD will sever this connectivity and development of the KNL land will “result in a major reduction in the ecological corridor function presently active [in the area]” and “virtually all of the interior forest values of the Richardson Forest will be eliminated.” (pages 23-24).

Evidently the Kizell Drain wetland scored 585 out of the 600 minimum points required to qualify as a Provincially Significant Wetland. So close! Given that the City of Ottawa’s Official Plan has a goal of protecting Locally Significant Wetlands, I doubt that city planners can reconcile why Kizell Drain is being allowed to be ecologically severed from South March and be turned into a storm sewer for the surrounding urban development. Saying that the “OMB made me do it” doesn’t cut it as an excuse.

Also making this area special is the presence of 18 Regionally Uncommon species of flora and 8 Regionally Uncommon species of birds. These birds require “uncommonly pristine forest habitats” now threatened by the development that will accompany this road. Brunton notes that the open condition caused by right of way (i.e. TFD) facilitates the spread of invasive, non-native vegetation.

Brunton also found the largest local population of Regionally Rare Short-headed Sedge (Carex brevior) growing on the bedrock outcrops near Richardson Side Road. He also observed Blanding’s turtle and the Golden-winged Warbler in the Special Study Area that we hiked through.

In this report, Brunton expresses concern that the mitigation proposed by the City for TFD is an ecological passageway whose location may be sub-optimal. Evidently a developer proposed an even less optimal location than the one originally determined by Dillon Consulting’s 3-month winter study (when most wildlife are hibernating). Evidently, discussion on the merits of one location over the other centered on the amount of rock to be removed and whether this was any worse than the earthwork impact on wetlands caused by the road itself. (perhaps this line of thinking should be given a name - the logic of incremental destruction)

Brunton’s report points out that ecological connectivity would be the more important criteria for planners to use! Final selection of this route was not determined by the time Brunton’s report was completed, so it would be important to find out the rationale & facts relied upon by the City in choosing the location of these “mitigation” measures.

Brunton, page 29, recommends a 50 meter protection zone (per the Ontario Natural Heritage Manual) around all lands zoned NEA due to the “uncommonly sensitive nature of the South March Highlands landscape. … This is particularly so in light of South March Highlands soils being generally more vulnerable to disturbance and less capable of supporting disturbance-tolerant natural vegetation than landscapes on the clay and loom based lowlands which dominate eastern Ontario.”

He also goes on to recommend that the waterways that drain some of the area into the Carp River maintain their natural course and that the standard City of Ottawa 30 meter no-development buffer is applied.

As for TFD, he states bluntly “the finished roadway would constitute: (1) a significant impediment to wildlife movement along the Hazeldean Escarpment, raising public safety as wildlife mortality issues, and (2) increased fragmentation of the habitat.”
2004 Brunton Report

2008 Brunton Report

Species at Risk

There are many species at risk in the habitat of the South March Highlands that are potentially impacted by the Terry Fox Drive Extension. The City of Ottawa has identified Trillium Woods as the most environmentally significant section of the South March Highlands. The Terry Fox Drive Extension will cut off this smaller section from the larger conservation area placing its habitat under great stress and at great risk.
One of the challenges facing the public is the incomplete documentation surrounding the patchwork of environmental studies done by the City over the years. Each document discovered seems to surface more facts not previously disclosed and often omits other information previously disclosed about the South March Highlands ecosystem and the Terry Fox Road project that seeks to sever it in two.
The total is now 17 species-at-risk:

3 x Endangered Species
- American Ginseng (Plant)
- Butternut (Tree)
- Loggerhead Shrike (Bird)

6 x Threatened Species
- Blanding’s Turtle (Reptile)
- Whip-poor-will (Bird)
- Western Chorus Frog (Amphibian)
- Eastern Musk / Stinkpot Turtle (Reptile)
- Olive Sided Flycatcher (Bird)

8 x Special Concern Species
- Bridle Shiner (Fish)
- Short Eared Owl (Bird)
- Black Tern (Bird)
- Common Nighthawk (Bird)
- Snapping Turtle (Reptile)
- Eastern Milksnake (Reptile)
- Monarch (Insect)
- Bald Eagle (Bird)

The Ontario Species at Risk at will provide automatic habitat protection for 4 of these 12 species within 2 years. Some would consider it immoral for the City to act now in a way that it knows will be illegal in 2 years. Hundreds of residents have already objected to Richcraft, KNL, and Urbandale developing subdivisions in this ecologically sensitive area.
Shirley's Brook Realignment

There are some serious issues regarding the extent of the Shirley's Brook realignment that is being done as part of the Terry Fox Drive Extension (as well as the KNL development), especially as regards the inaccurate reporting of fish populations done as part of the environmental assessment process.
Misinformation appears to have been the City’s agenda because any statement that fish are not present is unfounded on fact. The 2000 ESR notes the presence of Central Mudminnow, Northern Redbelly Dace, Finescale Dace, Bridle Shiner, Buntnose Minnow, Fathead Minnow, and Brook Stickleback in the area where Shirley’s Brook will be relocated near the rail crossing.

The 2007 Addendum further notes that “the presence of larval fish within the area [i.e. in the location of the rail crossing] indicated that the site is utilized as a rearing and nursery habitat.”

In the area most affected by the diversion, the 2007 Addendum notes the presence of Central Mudminnow, Brook Stickleback, Northern Redbelly Dace, Blacknose Shiner, and Creek Chub. The report states “Based on the fish species present within this watercourse, this watercourse is characterized as providing seasonal spawning, nursery and forage habitat during spring and/or high flow conditions for cyprinids [minnow species] and other baitfish species.”

Evidently, the City would like to bury the 2007 study as it seriously contradicts their assertion that no fish are present.

FYI, the 2000 ESR also notes that muskrat was observed in the area of Shirley’s Brook.
The Terry Fox Drive Extension and A Quebec Bridge
TFD might also become a major arterial route for the proposed site of the western bridge to Quebec.

The most logical site for a western bridge would be up Moodie where the 416 meets the 417, but that cuts through an existing developed subdivision and the river is wider at that point. Terry Fox is the City's next best choice - especially since it will eventually cut thru the wetland on the other end to link to Hunt Club via Maple Grove Road.

The reason that the transportation factor scores were low for the bridge at Riddell was that March Road provided the only link to the 417. Earlier bridge studies (e.g. 1995, 1999) had included the dotted line for Terry Fox, and referred to it as a "ring road". Now it's happening... So not only would it be a link between Morgan's Grant and Centrum/ Stittsville, it would also eventually be a trucking route from the 417 to Aylmer/ Gatineau!
Alternative Roadway

It has been suggested that an upgrade of Goulbourn Forced Road would be a suitable alternative to the Terry Fox Drive Extension.
While a road may be needed to facilitate access between the Centrum and Morgan’s Grant, it does not have to follow the route currently chosen. NONE of the environmental assessments conducted by the City for this road have ever considered the impact on these species-at-risk in decision-making about where the road should go. Incredibly, in the 10-year planning history of this road the City has consistently opted for road alignments that have greater impact on the natural environment than other alternatives. Better alternatives were discarded by planning staff because they failed to apply any prioritization to the criteria that they obtained during public consultation.

An upgrade of in Goulbourn Forced Road (GFR) in conjunction with the Part A re‐alignment of GFR will meet the local transportation needs of residents and has already been studied and identified as the environmentally best alternative by the City’s 2000 Environmental Assessment (EA). There is no need for Part B other than to support development in a sensitive area. The only objection to using GFR as an alternative is based on the assumption of significant development in sensitive areas and the increased traffic that it will generate. Although future development has been approved by the Ontario Municipal Board (OMB), final development plans have not been approved.

Left un-opposed, the Terry Fox project could ultimately devastate 3 wetlands (Cederview, March Highlands, Ottawa River/Morgans Grant)
Can KNL's Development Be Stopped

Since the damage from the KNL development is related to and arguably much greater than that from the Terry Fox Drive Extension, can it be stopped. While I tend to think that this is not possible there is another view.
The clock doesn’t have to be rolled back, it just has to go forward in a different direction.

Refusing the road significantly undermines the economics of development in the area and creates a basis for limiting future development. Developers will have to modify their plans and they cannot force the road to be built.

Meanwhile Federal infrastructure dollars can be applied to upgrading GFR which was already studied as alternative 4-3B in the 2000 ESR. This is just as “shovel ready” as the poorly conceived TFD Part B.

Land repurchases to protect NEA land is consistent with the City’s official plan and can further shrink the urban footprint on the area. Strategic repurchases to augment already protected land can save valuable eco-corridors and eco-connectivity in the triangle between South March Highland, Trillum Wood, and Watt’s Creek.

With no new road, reduced economics, rising costs, and an opportunity to recoup land costs with a reasonable profit, it is likely that developers can be convinced to sell land back to the City.

So why can’t we buy the land back and build a park instead that will rival Gatineau park? Even if not all the land in the area is repurchased, any repurchasing reduces urban pressure on both the environment and traffic volumes in the area.

Creation of a larger, better-managed, South March Park will create a recreational destination that also will boost tourism dollars spent in your ward, benefit local business and increase property values.

I also believe that it is possible to raise matching funds for purchasing land for a park from the high tech sector. They will respond to an alternative vision for the area as well as to the perpetual branding opportunities that it might contain (think “RIM-park”, “Mitel-interpretive centre”, etc.). If 3-year branding of the Palladium can be sold for $25 Million, perpetual branding in a highly visible tourist destination nearby can certainly be sold.

All that is missing is bold leadership at a time when everyone else at City Hall is wringing their hands and saying “the OMB made me do it”.
For more detailed information please contact Paul Renaud at paul@renaud.ca


Terry Fox Drive Extension Upcoming Events

April 15: Educational meeting on recovery plans for species-at-risk. Organized by Mississippi Valley Field Naturalists. Meeting is at 7:30 pm at 106 Elgin St. Almonte

April 18: Walk on the Land Part III – Hike to locate and measure the 200 year old Maple that is threatened by the roadwork. Return via Shirley’s Pond which is the headwater for the stream being diverted for the road. Meet at RIM parking lot on Innovation Drive at 1pm.

April 24: 7th Annual Ottawa EcoFair and opportunity to raise awareness about TFD. Our participation in this will be determined at the April 21 meeting. The EcoFair runs 10am – 5pm at the RA Centre, 2451 Riverside Drive.

April 26, City of Ottawa Forest & Greenspace Advisory Committee Meeting – – Colonel By Room at City Hall, 110 Laurier Ouest – 6:30 pm
Steve Stoddard, senior project planner for TFD, discusses environmental implications and the City’s mitigation plan. (same presentation as April 8)

May 2:
Walk on the Land Part IV – Hike along Watt’s Creek marshland to attempt to sight Blanding’s turtle and other natural features such as an ancient white pine in the Richardson Forest beside Kizell Drain. Meet at parking lot on Goulbourn Forced road at 1pm.

May 16: Walk on the Land Part V – Hike to Heron Pond which is the largest body of water in the South March Highlands. Hike will leave at 1pm from 2nd Line Road and Klondike (ample parking available along 2nd Line Road) in Morgan’s Grant after first distributing flyers to raise awareness about the increased traffic volume caused by the road expansion.

Please distribute this information widely to interested parties. Everyone is welcome to attend any or all of these events.

Anyone interested in joining on one of the walks should e-mail me ( paul@renaud.ca ) so that we know how many people to expect. All walks will take place rain or shine, so please dress accordingly and with proper footwear for hiking in the woods. I will circulate further logistical info to those participants that I receive email from.

Cheers, Paul Renaud


Do Shoppers Drug Mart and Rexall Own CTV

As far as I know they do not, but anyone who watches Ottawa CTV (CJOH) news might think otherwise as their news coverage of the attempt by the Ontario government to reduce generic drug costs and eliminate drug industry kickbacks to pharmacies could have been written by the pharmacy industry's PR departments.

Background: CBC News - Grits seek ban on generic drug fees


The Fifth Column Takes A Stand on the Terry Fox Drive Extension

The Fifth Column has had an opportunity to receive information from the Sierra Club on it's campaign against the Terry Fox Drive Extension through the South March Highlands and it has become clear that the City of Ottawa has been playing fast and loose with the environmental assessment process for the project in order to expedite it to gain federal economic stimulus funding.

Based on what we have learned the Fifth Column opposes the fast-tracking of this project and believes that all construction and other work that impacts the environment should be halted until a full and thorough environmental assessment has been completed.

While the Fifth Column still needs to do more studying of this project and the alternatives, based on what we know now, we certainly are leaning towards completely opposing the project.

The Fifth Column plans to post more on this in the near future.


West Virginia Coal Miners Murdered

Perhaps not in the legal sense, but this speaks of moral responsibility:

Massey Energy's sprawling Upper Big Branch mine has a history of violations involving the ventilation of combustible methane gas.

Last year, the mine faced 458 safety violation citations, and 50 of those were classified as "unwarrantable failures to comply," according to the Mine Safety and Health Administration.

At the time of Monday's explosion, the mine was facing more than $150,000 US in fines for pending safety violation charges.

In 2006, Massey Energy was fined $1.5 million for 25 violations that inspectors concluded contributed to the deaths of two miners who were trapped in a fire in another West Virginia mine owned by the company.
Click here for full CBC News report