South March Highlands and Carp Hills - NCC Role in Protecting Natural Environment Lands: Beyond The Greenbelt
The National Capital Commission has recently published maps identifying natural environment lands within the National Capital Region as part of it's concept plans for the Greenbelt Master Plan Review.
Interestingly, none of the lands identified are within the urban boundary of the City of Ottawa. It is, as if by definition, the NCC has decided that lands within the urban boundary have no environmental value.
Of course, in the case of the South March Highlands we know that is not true. There are lands within the urban boundary and within SMH that are even zoned Environmental Protection, and others that should be, and were, but were rezoned for reasons that had nothing to do with their environmental value.
There are undoubtedly other lands of environmental value within the Ottawa urban boundary as well. It is unfortunate that the NCC has decided they are unworthy of recognition.
One of the things I noticed right away from the NCC map was the identification of one large natural environment area comprising the South March Highlands and the Carp Hills. I just recently had the opportunity to hike some of the Carp Hills land (some of which the City of Ottawa apparently owns) and was quite impressed with it's natural environment value. In examining the City Zoning Map it became obvious that a significant amount of the land identified by the NCC as natural environment is not zoned Environmental Protection (not that that guarantees it will be protected). I expect this applies to other natural environment lands identified on the NCC map.
So now that the NCC has identified these lands as natural environment lands what are they going to do about it. They will do a great disservice to the community if all they accomplish is creating a false belief within the public that these lands are actually protected from development.
Now that they have raised the public's expectations the NCC must fulfil their responsibilities and meet those expectations and take the necessary measures, whether by means of purchase/expropriation or some form of ironclad federal protection that neither landowners, developers nor the OMB can overturn, to protect these lands from development. The public expects and deserves no less.