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Archive for the ‘Strategy’ Category

Well, the start of a new season on the Rideau-so what’s new?

For those who may have heard of the short season being imposed this year, be philosophical. As the book tells the story, this has happened before in living memory. As a matter of fact, that great organization, the Friends of the Rideau, was born from the desire of those Rideau-philes and local settlers’ descendants to see the beloved canal preserved.

The whole thing is in the book !!

The Landscape Strategy is “rapidly” (a joke, son) creeping up on the same schedule, i.e., it may take as long to complete as it did to build the canal in the first place. And imagine if you will, that public input has been restricted, so that it can’t hamper progress ! It isn’t clear what the problems are that are causing the glacial pace, and we probably don’t want to know.

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Himself !!!

Well, I was out at Read’s Book Shop in Carleton Place the other day, signing books and talking to people. I find it stimulating to meet readers, and to explain what has moved me to write about the Rideau Canal and the men and women who have kept it alive for almost 180 years.

In that light, the current government squeeze is depressingly familiar – that has been an invariable part of the history of the canal – “do more with less, charge more for less”. Pile on the bureaucracy, spout lofty inanities about the priceless heritage of Canadian parks, but don’t spend any money on it. Sigh …

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Dad-sketch-5

May 29, 2009

 Courtesy of the RVCA

Canadian Rivers Day Cleanup

 

Sunday, June 14th is Canadian Rivers Day and to help celebrate our local creeks and promote clean water, the City Stream Watch program is holding a stream  cleanup on Sawmill Creek in Ottawa.  

From its headwaters along Lester Road, Sawmill Creek flows north through the community of South Keys and along the heavily-urbanized Bank Street before eventually joining the Rideau River at Billings Bridge.   Because of its urban watershed, a lot of garbage tends to collect along the banks and in the stream itself which can harm the important fish and wildlife habitat along the creek.  

The Sawmill Creek Cleanup runs from 9 am to 3 pm, with on-site lunch generously provided by the Monterey Inn Resort and Conference Centre.  If you would like a sandwich, please register by Monday, June 8th.   

We will meet at Heron Park and wade along the creek from there.   Heron Park is off Heron Road east of the Airport Parkway and west of Bank St.  From Heron Road, turn north onto Clover St., and the community centre and park is on the left side of the street.  We will park and meet there at 9 am.    Please bring your own drinking water, sun block, rubber boots, chest waders (if you own them) or sturdy footwear.  

To register or for more information, please contact Julia Sutton – City Stream Watch Coordinator at citystreamwatch@rvca.ca or  613-692-3571  x 1180.

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Dad-sketch-5

                                                                                                                                                          May 28, 2009

 Here’s a contribution from Charles Billington, the Rideau Valley Conservation Authority, with a well-timed update to your New Year’s resolutions.

MID YEAR RESOLUTION

 

            Now here’s a mid year resolution to consider: spend more time in the hammock this summer.   Read more.  Sleep more.  Leave the lawnmower and chainsaw in the shed.  Remove less vegetation.  In fact, let your shoreline revegetate itself.  Let nature take its course.  Relax.  Both you and your lake will be healthier for it.      

            After all, Mother Nature knows what she is doing.  Those soggy shorelines you see along the creeks, streams and lakes of the Mississippi and Rideau valleys are mixtures of alder, bulrush, sedge, cattail, pickerel weed, Virginia creeper and mud sometimes called “wet scrub”.  These streambank areas are also known as the “Ribbon of Life” because about 90% of the plants and animals living in the water need these scruffy-looking areas at one time or another in their life cycle.  And they are as essential to the health of the river as your kidneys are to you. 

            Plants are right at home here.  Insects, fish, birds and mammals move in where the plants are.  These rich areas are nurseries, food cupboards, hiding places and hunting grounds.  They are a buffer against floods, wind and erosion.  They filter out large quantities of nutrients washing in off the land.  Vegetated shorelines are small pieces of ecological heaven with the best of all worlds: heat, light, water, land and food. 

            These fragile areas are under siege in the urban and rural parts of our local watersheds.  People cut and fill in and “clean up” and “harden” the shorelines with little thought for the health of the stream or lake.  Those types of old-fashioned practices have let us down badly.  Clean water, lots of wildlife and stable shorelines are at risk in many parts of the Mississippi and Rideau valleys. 

            That’s not to say that we can’t use and enjoy our rivers, lakes and streams.  We can but it does take a little shift in attitude towards the unique and fragile Ribbon of Life.  It costs nothing and it pays huge dividends in terms of a healthy river system for future generations.   

            It is time to start respecting our alders.   Leave the natural vegetation along the shore alone.  It has been there through thick and thin for the past 10,000 years and is in perfect harmony with the river environment.  If it’s already gone or substantially changed, let it grow back by not mowing within five metres of the shoreline (ten metres is even better).  Mother Nature will do the rest.    

Avoid using fertilizers and other chemicals on your property.  Common sense tells us that liquids do find their way into either the groundwater (which we drink) or lakes and rivers (which age faster with chemical boosts).   Check that your septic system is up to scratch.   Check with your municipality, Conservation Authority or Parks Canada about permits needed for any shoreline projects such as docks.    A good first step is always the helpful folks at the LandOwner Resource Centre at 613-692-3471 or 1-800-267-3504 ext 28 or ext 32 (or info@lrconline.com). 

            The battle for healthier waterways will be won by thousands of people staying in their hammocks longer on the shorelines of every lake, river and creek in Eastern Ontario.  Power to the people indeed!

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Dad-sketch-5Flash! The great wall of the Rideau is being rebuilt and for only $2 million –  read all about it this morning in the Ottawa Citizen. Minister John Baird is positioning this expenditure as necessary to remain attractive to tourists –  something like Botox ?

I recall reading that the post-WWII Department of Reconstruction paid then-big money to rebuild thousands of feet of concrete wall along the canal and around Dow’s Lake. This was aimed at stimulating an economy just making the transition to peace-time industries and looking for employment for returning soldiers.

When the Canal Basin was abandoned and filled during the late 1920’s, the original thousands of feet of concrete wall went up. There was 1455 feet worth from Connaught Place to Laurier Avenue on the west side; over 6100 feet of concrete went up on both sides of the canal from Bank to Bronson; 655 feet on the north side of Dow’s Lake, and a further 3000 feet planned to join this small wall to the rest of the canal.

The late 1920s was the flourishing era of the new concrete technology – it quickly pushed out the original stone masonry of the canal lock structures. Stone in the necessary sizes had become scarce, and thus expensive – concrete was one-third the price and didn’t need skilled masons, stone-cutters, etc.

Hartwells, Long Island, Burritt’s Rapids, Old Sly’s, Beveridges, Beckett’s Landing, Nicholson’s, Smiths Falls Combined, Chaffey’s, Jones Falls, Ottawa Locks – all had facilities reconstructed in concrete over this period.

I guess that we can’t go back and replace the “heritage” concrete with stone now, even if we could find it and the skills (and the money) to do it. It just wouldn’t qualify as “shovel-ready”.

Sic transit gloria mundi ……

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dad-sketch-52Howzat for alliteration, eh!

This Very Saturday – May 9th – The Annual Spring Meeting of the Friends of the Rideau – Legion Hall – Merrickville – 9:30 AM. Scawf down coffee and sweets, including coffee cake.

The Visual Landscape Strategy for the Rideau update from Heather Thomson, Heritage Planner, Parks Canada, is the highlight. It will be followed by a tour and talk by the one and only Ken Watson, webmaster, author and all-around guru of the Rideau.

See you there!

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dad-sketch-57The Landscape Strategy for the Rideau just got some more  publicity from the other end of the Corridor – Kingston Whig-Standard, to be precise.  The article noted that Ottawa’s planning and environment committee is expected to endorse the draft vision for the Rideau Corridor.

Somerset Councillor Diane Holmes is introducing a motion to support the Parks Canada “Visual Landscape Strategy” initiative because Ottawa rightly regards the canal as a major visitor attraction. The visual beauty of the Rideau Corridor will be a major factor in drawing people from around the world to visit the newest World Heritage site.

The township of Drummond-North Elmsley has yet to endorse the principles being drafted by Parks Canada’s Pam Buell and Heather Thomson, the heritage planner for the canal.

Thanks to Margaret Brandt of the Westport Review-Mirror for advising me of the Whig’s article. Margaret and the Westport area are keenly aware of the need to provide municipalities and other groups with agreed-upon and effective principles, processes, procedures and permits that will guarantee future generations the same or better level of enjoyment that we have.

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