10:30 a.m., April 4)
Public meeting sheds new light on Navan wetland restoration
By Fred Sherwin
effort to restore a wetland area in Navan came to a head
Monday night as more than 80 residents attended a meeting
at the Navan Memorial Arena organized to address a long
list of concerns over the project.
of those in attendance are against the project which would
create three to four shallow ponds on the north side of
the Prescott Trail which runs just south of the village
behind Birchtree Crescent.
project had its genesis in a meeting early last year during
a walking tour of the area by members of the Navan 150
committee and staff from the South River Conservation
original plan was to apply for Ottawa 2017 grant money
to build a gazebo at the Harold Dent Memorial on Smith
Road and install benches and several interpretive elements
along the Prescott Trail.
it came to light that the railway bed on which the Prescott
Trail has been established, is owned by CN which leases
back to the city, the Navan 150 committee changed tack.
At the same time, the South Nation Conservation Authority
floated the idea of restoring the wetland in the area
between the old railway bed and a slope that leads up
to Birchtree Crescent which gained the support of Ducks
Conservation Authority first made their plan public at
a meet and greet session last June that was attended by
25 people. The organization then secured $180,000 in funding
from the City of Ottawa and Ontario Power Generation over
explaining the project were mailed to local residents
on Nov. 9, inviting them to attend an information meeting
co-hosted by the Navan Community Association on Dec, 15.
Only a handful of people took the Conservation Authority
up on the invitation.
by a show of hands at Monday night's meeting, a lot of
people either never received the letter, or if they did,
didn't bother to open it.
handful of residents on Birchtree were abundantly aware
of the project, especially after they were personally
informed that a public easement between two properties
on the street would be used to access the site.
later, workers started cutting down some trees to clear
a path for the heavy equipment which followed. Before
they could start digging, however, the residents convinced
Cumberland Ward Coun. Stephen Blais and the City of Ottawa
to temporarily halt the operation until further public
consultations could be held. Monday night's meeting was
opposed to the project brought a petition with 139 signatures
everyone agreed the Conservation Authority could have
done a better job communicating with the local community,
SNCA watershed planner James Holland explained that the
organizations prime motivation was to enhance the area
on behalf of the community.
not coming here to force a wetland on you," Holland
tried to explain. "The (community association) approached
us and we thought we could do something that would benefit
the community, by enhancing the wetland and improving
the biodiversity of the area."
a result of the Conservation Authority's proposal to restore
and enhance the wetland through the creation of several
shallow ponds, and the uncertainty over the future use
of the rail bed, the Navan 150 committee decided to change
their focus to building a boardwalk around the finished
project, and secured $200,000 from the City with Blais'
help to build it.
two projects are mutually exclusive, as are the monies
earmarked for each of them. In other words, if the projects
are canceled the money would go back to their original
source. It can't be used for another unrelated project
such as sidewalks.
debate at the meeting centered on two key areas -- whether
or not the area in question is actually a wetland -- and
the impact the project will have on the quality of life
of the residents living on Birchtree Crescent.
the first issue, it was made clear both by the Conservation
Authority and several residents that the area is a wetland
for most of the year.
Arpin has lived in Navan for 15 years, and is familiar
with the area in question, which he described as a bog.
can not go down there unless you have hip-high boots on
and are prepared to be rescued, because it's a bog. It's
always been a bog," said Arpin. "I think (the
project) would be an asset to the community."
the many concerns residents on Birchtree have are traffic,
safety and mosquitos.
the issue of traffic, the Conservation Authority is of
the opinion that the project is so small, it will only
attract people from the local community who would walk
to the site. That opinion was shared by several residents.
mosquito concerns were addressed by City of Ottawa natural
systems senior planner Nick Stowe, who explained that
the types of mosquitos the addition of the ponds might
attract are not of the nuisance variety and therefore
wouldn't cause a problem. Any increase in the local mosquito
population would be a result of increased rainfall, which
would be the same result whether the ponds are built or
the concerns over safety were measured off against the
existence of a creek and drainage ditch that are already
present in the area and are much deeper than the proposed
one concern the presenters couldn't address is the potential
of vandalism to the boardwalk.
the end of the meeting, it became clear that not everyone
in the room was against the wetland restoration/enhancement
project. Some were in favour of it, while others were
in favour of the boardwalk, but not the wetland restoration.
Those who were against the two projects altogether, had
not changed their minds and reinforced their stance by
presenting their petition to Councillor Blais.
the end, the Conservation Authority agreed to hold a second
meeting to further address the community's concerns. When
that meeting will be held is still to be determined. In
the meantime, work on the project has ceased. The equipment
will be removed when the ground is dryer and any damage
to the area will be cleaned up and rehabilitated.
story was made possible thanks to their generous support
of our local business partners.)
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