April 18, 2009 — Cheryl Doran writes:
Blanding’s Turtles in the Greenbelt:
An irreplaceable part of Ottawa’s Natural Heritage
that must not be destroyed by LRT
Just 15 minutes south of Parliament Hill, a breeding population of Blanding’s Turtles lives quietly in the urban wetlands within the NCC Greenbelt. Shy by nature, these wonderful animals live to be well over 70 years old.
Turtles have made their home in the Greenbelt for hundreds of years. The 1863 Walling map of Carleton County and 1879 Belden Atlas of Carleton County depict this area of the greenbelt as one of the wettest parts of what was then the Leitrim Wetland complex.
Ontario is home to eight species of Turtles, and four of these species live in the Greenbelt wetlands. The Greenbelt south of Hunt Club Road contains wetlands which straddle Lester, Albion, and Leitrim Roads. Over the past 24 months we have studied the wetlands and species of Turtles to find mature and juvenile Blanding’s Turtles.
Blanding’s Turtles are threatened by the route chosen for LRT:
Turtles are one of the most endangered groups of species in Canada. Blanding’s turtles are threatened and, as a result, they are protected by federal and provincial legislation. However, a new threat to their existence is Ottawa’s North-South LRT Project which will destroy the wetlands where Blanding’s Turtles live. The existence of these turtles in the vicinity of the proposed rail alignment is no secret – their activities have been well-documented. Yet, plans are in place to expand Lester Road and build a bus turnaround lane – all in turtle habitat. Train stops are to be built within wetlands and proposed fences from South Keys to River Road will fragment the ecosystems in which turtles live.
LRT’s limited airport service misses the mark
In contrast to all other G8 capital cities, current mass transit proposals for Ottawa do not go directly into the airport and beyond to Riverside South. The airport service is secondary (despite seeing over 4 million persons/year), and takes little account of the number or people (about 11,800) who work at the airport.
Let’s not miss the opportunity to grow city transit in a way that benefits Ottawa’s economy and ecology!
The inherent beauty of Ottawa’s fragile Greenbelt is the ability for fauna, including Species at Risk, to have their habitat protected and migrate throughout the Greenbelt safely. But it is this natural beauty when combined with a well reasoned plan that includes transit directly into the Airport terminal and beyond, that puts this Greenbelt, the City of Ottawa, and the Federal Government on the world stage.
The latest City of Ottawa 2008 Transit plan, is not Getting It Right!
What you can do to help:
Call your city councilor and tell him/her that the best route for North-South LRT is directly into the airport and beyond, using the Airport Parkway corridor. Keep away from turtle habitat and preserve their habitat and Federal Wetlands in the Greenbelt, as a legacy for future generations!