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Posts Tagged ‘Strategy’

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-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-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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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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