Ottawa: NCC Greenbelt plans get revised
(EMC news) - Thanks to comments from residents the NCC will be hanging onto Greenbelt land near the Queensway Carleton Hospital.
The latest details of the NCC's vision for the Greenbelt were unveiled at a public meeting at the Nepean Sportsplex on Feb. 19.
The Greenbelt master plan - which is set to go before the crown corporation's board in the spring - will also see Pinhey Forest designated as natural area.
Pinhey Forest, which lines the west side of Woodroffe Avenue to Black Rapids Creek, will be designated a core natural area and have its existing footprint protected from development.
"We listened to the concerns of residents who really wanted to see that space kept," Lalonde said, adding there is land to the south of Baseline Road available if the hospital chooses to expand in the future.
Other changes to the west-end portion of the Greenbelt include an amendment to the Nepean National Equestrian Park to allow for the proposal submitted by the Wesley Clover Foundation.
The Greenbelt Research Farm, a federally-owned facility on Woodroffe Avenue across from the Sportsplex, will its footprint.
Lalonde said it was slated for expansion in the 1996 master plan, but with the new focus on capital recreation, natural environment and agriculture, the NCC is trying to get away from using Greenbelt land for federal buildings.
The study of a master plan for the 20,000-hectare expanse of land started in 2008, then moved to a series of consultations that looked at land uses, potential additions and conservation.
If the plan is approved by the commission's board, it would be implemented between 2014 and 2067.
"We wanted to make the Greenbelt more relevant," Lalonde said. "We wanted to give it a clearer identity and roles."
Lalonde said core natural areas like Shirley's Bay, Pine Grove and Mer Bleue make up 40 per cent of the Greenbelt. Agricultural lands make up another 29 per cent.
"The natural environment is a priority," Lalonde said, adding they are also looking at sustainable agriculture practices and links to bring together the different sectors of the Greenbelt.
Due to a lack of interest from private landowners, planned additions to Mer Bleue, Shirleys Bay, Carlsbad Springs and the airport will likely not happen, Lalonde said.
But Green's Creek will remain a core natural area.
Lori Thornton, acting chief of planning for the NCC, said just because private landowners didn't want to surrender their land to the Greenbelt, it doesn't mean they aren't watching over the wildlife.
The NCC is also designating 1,300 hectares of land at the airport as buildable in exchange for a lease from the Ottawa Macdonald Airport Authority on 169 hectares of land south of the airport to link to the Leitrim Wetlands.
The lease would be renewable until 2057.
"It was hard to come up with an agreement," Thornton said. "Our objectives were different. The airport authority's focus is making it an economic centre, while we are working to protect the environment."
Thornton said that while the land is no longer Greenbelt, it's unlikely the airport authority will heavily develop the area.
"We will focus on the wetlands and entrance features around the Airport Parkway," she said.
One resident said she would like to see the NCC replace the total amount of land lost through the deal.
"We got a sense that people just didn't want another level of government on their land," Thornton said. "That doesn't mean they aren't aware of the environment on those lands and being stewards." she said.
Lalonde said studying the best natural linkages to the core natural areas will be ongoing.
"We will study an existing quarry near the RCMP headquarters in the east end for possible rehabilitation," Lalonde said. "It would provide a good link but we don't know yet if it's a possibility."
Lalonde also said the Cleroux Farm near the Blackburn Bypass would be protected to provide space for sustainable architecture.
In Kanata, land on Eagleson Road near Stoney Swamp is similarly flagged for sustainable agriculture projects.
Peter Ruiter, a dairy farmer in Ottawa that leases land from the NCC, said he was concerned the sustainable agriculture focus will result in more regulations for his farm.
Ruiter lost $100,000 this year because of the dry summer. He also replaced a barn on the property a few years ago but said the next generation likely won't want to invest on leased land.
There are currently 70 crop farmers leasing land from the NCC, as well as three dairy farmers.
"They are currently trying to build something like the Greenbelt around Toronto, but it's much more difficult after the fact," Thornton said. "So we are ahead of the game."
As part of the master plan, the NCC is working with the city's transit master plan to identify spaces for roads through the Greenbelt to alleviate traffic in the city.
Sol Shuster, a resident of Nepean and chairman of the Greenbelt Coalition, said the coalition has no problem with the removal of airport lands, but doesn't want to see roads going through the Greenbelt.
"Particularly projects like the widening of Richmond Road, which would go right through Stoney Swamp," he said.
Thornton said just because the roadways had been identified through the city's master plan doesn't necessarily mean the NCC would give all the proposed routes a green light.
"They are just being considered," she said.
Residents are still able to comment on the proposed plan at www.canadascapital.gc.ca.