6279 Fernbank draft Plan of Subdivision (Cypress Gardens)

Kanata resident comments on 6279 Fernbank and Fernbank Creek Catchment

On August 21, 2013, Faith Blaquière, a resident of Glen Cairn, wrote to John Moser and other City staff members, as well as staff of the Mississppi and Rideau Valley Conservation Authorities, the Ministry of Environment and Councillor Qadri. She summarizes her concerns as follows:

“This report comprises a public comment on the 6279 Fernbank Draft Plan of Subdivision (File D07-16-13-0016) and Zoning By-law Application (File D02-02-13-0057) and research and comments relating to the Fernbank Creek Catchment. In reviewing the development applications for 6279 Fernbank, it soon became apparent that this development will cause major problems and that the issues are broader than this development.

The major issue is that the developer plans to build on a wetland which may be hydraulically landlocked and which may have no effective outlet, and on top of the remainder of the Fernbank Creek tributary which was entombed in the 1980s and called the Cypress Gardens Storm Sewer. This storm sewer outlets to the Church Street Storm Outfall at Poole Creek and is a primary source of Poole Creek baseflow in the reach which sustains the cool-coldwater fishery. The Cypress Gardens Storm Sewer provides constrained services to the Westwood Subdivision and a large part of Cypress Gardens. A ditch on the developer’s site is the outlet for the remaining remnant of the tributary and is contributing flows to this sewer, which surcharged in the 24 July 2009 flood. The additional research on this issue indicated that the issues are much broader than 6279 Fernbank – the issues need to be resolved for the entire Fernbank Creek Catchment and involve the prevention of apparently rising groundwater levels in the Site area, and the survival of the Fernbank Wetlands (UNF) and the fishery and cool-coldwater environment of Poole Creek.

Research has also indicated that the approval of all development involving infiltration systems within the Fernbank Creek Catchment was based on experimental stormwater management measures, that these infiltration systems are not appropriate for areas which have high groundwater and bedrock levels (this is a characteristic of the Fernbank Creek Catchment area), and that other research indicates that measures which prevent infiltration are more appropriate where high groundwater and bedrock levels exist.

Prior to any further development or intensification in the Fernbank Creek Catchment, a major study needs to be undertaken by the City, MVCA and RVCA, and should include at minimum:

– Review of subwatershed plans, boundaries and recommendations, MOE COAs, SWM and servicing reports, flood investigation records and reports, etc.

– Studies to determine geotechnical, hydrological, hydrogeological, and ecological systems which have impacted existing development and will impact future development, and the impact on the remaining Fernbank Wetlands and Poole Creek baseflow and fishery

– Evaluation of the condition, capacity, and performance of all infiltration system infrastructure and the Cypress Gardens Storm Sewer, and the Church Street Outfall.

– Evaluation of the wetland hydrology and water balance

I am opposed to the development application and the use of infiltration systems in the Fernbank Creek catchment where groundwater and/or bedrock levels are high, and where the Cypress Gardens area has no stormwater flood mitigation identified.”

Part 1 of Faith’s report is here (16 pages, 600 KB)

Part 2 is here (43 pages, 1.9 MB) – APPENDIX A – Chronological Review of Fernbank Creek Catchment Development and Problems

Part 3 is here (13 pages, 2 MB) – APPENDIX B: Photos and Maps

The link to the development application documents is here.

The application’s current status, as of August 28, 2013, is that it is put on hold.


Cypress Gardens at risk of being flooded

On October 30, 2013, Paul Renaud wrote to Councillor Qadri:

Hi Shad,

See http://www.elmfernbank.ca/important-links.html [no longer online]

Suggest you read the 2 community meeting presentations Aug 15 and Oct 28. I know the person who prepared them very well, she was flooded in Glen Cairn in 2009 and has made it her mission to battle storm water stupidity in the City of Ottawa ever since. She is currently retired and was the former librarian at the National Library, so is basically an expert at researching info. You can count on her findings as being credible.

In short:

1. There isn’t enough capacity in the storm sewer that drains Cypress Gardens and Beach Grove due to the construction in Westwood. This occurs because of piecemeal development approvals by the planning department that never seems to bother looking into cumulative effects.

2. The proposed Fernbank development at the end of Elm assumes capacity that is not there and will make matters significantly worse. The capacity that is supposed to be there was documented by engineers who signed off on Cypress Gardens, before Westwood was ever even contemplated.

3. Neither the Westwood or Cypress Gardens engineers hired by those developers ever considered the impact of climate change on increasing intensity of rainfall – because there is no requirement for them to do so in Ontario. Engineers hired by developers are only required to meet minimum standards and although these standards keep increasing, they are not keeping up with climate change. You can ask Darlene Conway, Doug Nuttal, Charles Goulet, or Ted Cooper (all qualified hydrological engineers employed by the public) about that if you don’t believe me, but the real proof is the flooding that occurred during the “unusual” storm in July 2009. It’s tough to be a defender of those standards as being adequate when you are standing in one of the 900 flooded basements in Stittsville.

Continuing to develop in wetlands is just plain dumb – these natural features help manage water and don’t have to be maintained over time. Developing wetlands requires tricky engineering models that have to guess at peak storm water flows; a task that climate change pretty much makes impossible.

Then there is that pesky Provincial Policy Statement that also says that it is a bad idea. The fact that lawyers hired by developers will find enough holes in these policy guidelines to argue for developing wetlands doesn’t make it any better of an idea, or the basements any less wet.

I suggest you try walking across the Fernbank property where this development is proposed sometime before it freezes – you can’t – because it is 90% under water. Could that be because of the storm water already emptying into it?

What this City needs is new leadership in the Planning Department and a City Council with a better vision than just letting developers do whatever they want. I’ve always respected your common sense and I hope you will not be silent on this at Council.

Paul Renaud
14 Cypress Gardens


Residents and the City of Ottawa expressed concerns about several aspects of the proposed development, including the effect it could have on stormwater drainage. See this letter (27 October 2014).