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Posts Tagged ‘Meetings’

dad-sketch-53More info:

Ken advises that  his tour and talk is all about:

“Merrickville Landscapes:  Pre- and Post – canal landscapes of the area around the locks.”

A chance to stretch the old legs without undue danger of breaking a sweat – sweet!

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Here is an issue close to the hearts of many who live, cottage, boat or travel along the Rideau – the integrity of its visual setting. Parks Canada is embarking on a large project to define and protect the “visual values” of the Rideau.

Parks Canada’s job is to develop an action plan. Starting this summer we should expect to see more opportunities for public participation and definitive work toward the goal of protecting the canal’s visual values.

The project was started a couple of years ago after the Rideau was evaluated by UNESCO as part of the World Heritage Site nomination process. The technical evaluation found that the Rideau had good legislative protection for its environmental values ( water quality, wildlife habitat, etc.) but lacked protection for its visual values. To quote directly from the UNESCO report:

“ICOMOS [UNESCO’s technical evaluation group} considers that the visual setting of the canal needs clearer identification and where appropriate tighter controls to protect identified vistas and the background to key features of the canal, which needs protection. The current arrangement which allows development only if it does not cause environmental damage could be strengthened to include constraints against development that might cause damage to the visual setting of the canal.”

They concluded by saying  “… that the visual setting of the canal needs clearer definition and appropriate protection to ensure the visual values of the setting are protected alongside theenvironmental values.”

Since the end result of this process has to be legislative protection ( federal, provincial and municipal) the first stage for Parks Canada has been to get the various levels of government “on board” with this project. To date, 9 of the 13 municipalities that border the Rideau Canal have agreed to the general concept of this “Rideau Corridor Landscape Strategy”.

The first public meeting on the topic was held on April 2, 2009 with an invited group of over 100 representatives from first nations, federal and provincial agencies, municipalities, NGOs, property owners and business owners. The scope of the meeting was broader than just the visual values issue and a rather large laundry list of issues affecting the Rideau Canal was developed and discussed by the participants.

To find out more about this project, come out to the Annual Spring Meeting of the Friends of the Rideau in Merrickville on Saturday May 9, 2009. Our featured speaker will be Heather Thompson, the Heritage Planner for the Rideau Canal. Pam Buell is heading up the Rideau Corridor Landscape Strategy project and looking after Communications, while Heather is doing the planning. She will provide us with the details of how Parks Canada is moving forward with the project and will be able to answer any questions you might have about this critical issue for the Rideau Canal.

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Just over 175 years young, the Rideau Canal and the corridor through which it runs has been recognized as a World Heritage Site. Now, strictly speaking, the designation only extends 30 meters on either side. So…. it is urgent that the inevitable future development, tourism, and land use decisions support and enhance this international recognition.

As most people know, the National Geographic Society has not spoken kindly about land use development around the oil sands in Alberta.  All the more reason to protect what this same Society declared in 2008 to be the second most authentic, sustainable destination in the world.

There are 13 municipalities along the route of the canal, each part having an recognizably different set of characteristics and pride of place. As in many other natural beauty and heritage areas in Ontario, people are attracted to the Corridor, looking for places to enjoy the surroundings, either temporarily or permanently. This flow of interest and development can be both good and not so good, with conflicting goals being pursued.

Parks Canada, the national agency charged with the management and operation of the Rideau Canal as a National Historic Site, is also the lead agency that represents Canada for the World Heritage Site designation. Of course, there are other federal, provincial and muncipal governments with roles to play. The National Capital Commission is the approval authority for all federal lands in the National Capital region.

Beyond these groups, there are First Nations who have a direct interest. The Algonquins of Ontario, including the Pikwakanagan, must be involved in any planning and decision-making. Other First Nation groups may also become part of the process.

Clearly there is an urgent need for “sensitive, sympathetic and sustainable development” and in turn this requires appropriate planning mechanisms and processes to guide such development. Some of the new development interest is in such areas as:

  • New residential development such as condos, subdivisions and cottages – think “monster homes”.
  • Green energy production such as wind and solar farms.
  • Commercial development such as box stores and strip malls, hotels, tourism facilities, camp grounds and trailer parks.
  • Marinas.

When the World Heritage status was granted, it was recommended that a study be carried out “to identify the visual setting of the canal along its length and on the basis of this, considerate (sic) should be given to extending protection to those areas which contribute to the quality and understanding of the canal in its setting.”

Parks Canada met with provincial ministries to discuss a corridor -wide study to help identify the natural, cultural and scenic values of the area and develop appropriate land use planning guidelines.

The current thinking is that an “Open Space” workshop should be held with all the identified and interested groups and others to talk about and to develop strategies that will make it easier to work together to produce a collective vision for the management of this precious resource.

As the planners put it, “together, we have a real opportunity to ‘get it right’.” The goal is to bring about the “Rideau Corridor Landscape Strategy”. More information is available at

www.pc.gc.ca/lhn-nhs/on/rideau/index_e.asp

I’ll be talking more about this as things go on. Always interested in hearing other views, comments, questions, and so forth. I don’t know anyone who has all the right answers, but we sure need a lot of good ones.

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