This Wednesday, March 2, the City of Ottawa’s official recommendation for the Brian Coburn Boulevard extension will be presented to the Transportation Committee. The meeting will begin at 9:30 AM. Staff will be recommending the route known as “Option 7”, despite the serious habitat fragmentation and ecological disruption this would cause in the Greenbelt. This multi-lane arterial road will run in close proximity to the Mer Bleue wetland complex, bringing numerous forms of ecological disruption which seriously threaten this internationally-significant habitat. As the city’s position has not changed, the OFNC’s position has not changed, either. You can read more details about the OFNC’s objection to this project here, as well as in an Ontario Nature blog post here.
One point worth re-emphasizing is the threat of artificial drainage, which is particularly insidious to bogs like Mer Bleue. This project will involve the disruption and relocation of Mud Creek, which is fed by groundwater from the wetland, just outside the official wetland boundary. In addition, the entire project will require significant ditching and drainage, increasing storm runoff into erosion-prone creeks. Disrupting natural hydrology just outside of a peat wetland, where the particular situation of surface and sub-surface water is very important, can irreparably change the character of that wetland. In its current state, the Mer Bleue bog is a huge carbon sink, but this could be destroyed if the hydrology is altered. It is very important to understand that wetlands are as easily affected by activities beside them as they are by direct activities in them.
In addition, the Option 7 plan now includes new details, such as “interim” road expansion on Innes Road, which will remain after the Brian Coburn extension is complete. This would lead to a section of Innes Road eventually being ten lanes wide (eight traffic lanes, two bus lanes), in addition to the multi-lane Brian Coburn artery running parallel a short distance to the south. This is a huge footprint and a hugely fragmentative effect in the Greenbelt, with negative consequences for wildlife trying to move in the Green’s Creek corridor. It also raises questions about why future developments that should be sustainable and transit-oriented would need so much car-centric infrastructure in the first place.
The meeting will be held virtually, and you should be able to view it at the city-provided link here, or by searching on YouTube. If you wish to speak at the meeting, or to obtain further information from the City of Ottawa, please contact Kelly Crozier, Committee Coordinator, at 613-580-2424 ext. 16875 or by email at Kelly.Crozier@Ottawa.ca. If you are available to do so, please consider participating and voicing your concerns about this project. Again, the meeting is this Wednesday March 2 at 9:30 AM.
It is also important to note that the experts at the National Capital Commission are opposed to this plan; please support them. Please also consider expressing your concerns about protecting the Greenbelt from further fragmentation, the importance of habitat preservation, the need to protect the integrity of important wetlands, and the need to manage our natural spaces sustainably so we can benefit from them now and in the future.