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.

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