Background: From Concept Plan to Watershed Study to the formation of the Carp River Coalition (CRC)

Development proposals in Kanata West may be traced back to the construction of the “Palladium” (a.k.a. the Corel Centre, a.k.a. ScotiaBank Place) in 1995. At the time, the Ontario Municipal Board (OMB) decided that the surrounding agricultural land could not be developed. But in 2000, months before the municipal election for an amalgamated City of Ottawa, Regional Council decided to designate the 1,900 surrounding acres (780 hectares) as General Urban land.

The 42 landowners in the Kanata West area formed a Kanata West Land Owners’ Group (KWOG Inc.) An elaborate process of development of a Kanata West Concept Plan followed. At the same time, a Carp River Water/Subwatershed Study (CRWSS – 1.6 MB) was completed in December 2004; see also the City’s web site.  City Council approved the Concept Plan in March 2003 and approved posting of a Notice of Completion of the CRWSS in May 2005.

The Concept Plan did not at all focus on what would happen around the River. Only towards the end of the meetings of the Public Advisory Committee was mention made of a partial filling of the flood plain.

The CRWSS, on the other hand, contained a long list of prioritized recommendations to improve the functioning of the watershed in both the rural and urban reaches — below (north of) and above (south of) Richardson Side Road respectively. In the urban reaches, it saw opportunities for narrowing the flood plain, subject to more detailed flood level analysis.

A large number of studies was commissioned:

  • Pre and Post-Development Flow Characterisation and Flood Level Analysis for Carp River, Feedmill Creek, and Poole Creek (CH2MHill)
  • Master Servicing Study (Stantec/CCL)
  • Transportation Master Plan (Delcan)
  • Carp River, Poole Creek and Feedmill Creek Restoration – Class Environmental Assessment (TSH, Parish)
  • Delcan also produced a Consultation Report

(In 2005, as a result of the City losing a developers’ appeal to the OMB, another 455 ha in the area was designated Urban – the Del, Brookfield and Westpark lands [see the Fernbank Community Design Plan page elsewhere on this web site.]  Some 200 ha of that land is estimated to drain to the Carp River.)

Over the course of 2005-06, members of the Friends of the Carp River, Ottawa Riverkeeper, Sierra Club of Canada-Ottawa Group and the Greenspace Alliance formed a “Carp River Coalition” (CRC) and engaged in an intensive dialogue with KWOG and their lawyers and consultants, and City representatives.

On April 11, 2006, the CRC issued a media advisory highlighting its concerns about the environmental assessments which it had expressed in a letter to the provincial ministries.  A meeting of all stakeholders, also attended by two Councillors, took place on April 20 (Meeting Notes, 10 pp.)

Following a Joint Meeting of Transportation and Planning and Environment Committees on May 3, 2006, on May 24 City Council approved the posting of Notices of Completion of the studies and gave the green light to some 22 projects proposed as supported by the studies. Twenty-eight hectares of the Carp’s flood plain would be filled. This despite a very solid CRC brief, with attachments, sent to all Councillors, asking to defer approval until the environmental assessments would be completed and all concerns addressed.

Further intense discussions with KWOG followed, in a genuine effort to stave off appeals but in the end there was insufficient assurance that the Coalition’s concerns would be heeded and on July 20, 2006 the Coalition filed a “Part II Order” Request under section 16 of the Environmental Assessment Act with the Ontario Minister of the Environment asking to stay a number of the projects until further, more reliable studies would be done.