Goulbourn Wetlands in the news

December 2018

In November 2016, the City released a report (6.0 MB) by Dillon Consulting which summarized the results of its re-assessment of the boundaries of the Goulbourn Wetland Complex.  The analysis was based on GIS data as well as on-site surveys where access was granted.  It concluded that 53 ha should be removed from the 2008 designation and 464 ha should be added.  The City then gave landowners one year to provide alternative evidence.  (For more background, please visit this City of Ottawa page: https://ottawa.ca/en/city-hall/public-engagement/projects/flewellyn-special-study-area-and-goulbourn-wetland-complex-re-evaluation.  See also here [2006-07] and here [2017] and Minutes of 29 January and 26 March 2018 elsewhere on our site.)

This is the key map:

One year on, landowners do not appear to have spent the effort.  Instead, they managed to get the attention of CBC to do a story on their alleged plight.

On CBC Radio (7m25s)  On CBCNews/Ottawa   On CBC Television

(Paul Johanis was interviewed for this story — @ 4:30 on radio, @ x:xx on tv.)

The story was replete with unproven claims and Ken McRae swiftly refuted them in an email to the journalist.

+ The story stated: “In recent years, encroaching development has flooded large sections of the property, turning it to marsh. The land has become so saturated that 65 per cent of it has now been identified by the city as provincially significant wetlands (PSW).”  Ken’s response:

Wetland has been on the northerly portion of the Morley property long before any construction of the Deer Run subdivision began sometime between 1999 and 2002. Please see Part of pre-1999 soils map and Part of pre-1999 soils map – legend.  Zoom in closely along the top of the soils map to where you can see the word “Stittsville”. Look just to the left of that and you can see two dark green areas with the number “7” in them. The first such area is roughly three and a half times the size of the smaller such area and has the former Canadian Pacific railway line (now part of the Trans Canada Trail) running through it. Zoom in closely on these two areas and you can see that they have the mapping symbol for wetland in them. All of the larger area below the former rail line is on the Morley property. Part of the smaller area is also on the Morley property. Now look at the attached part of the legend for that soils map and you can see at the top that for dark green areas with the number 7 in them the legend states “ORGANIC DEPOSITS: mainly muck and peat in bogs, fens, swamps, and poorly drained areas.” This proves that the PSW was on the Morley property before any construction of the Deer Run subdivision began.

Please see City of Ottawa 1999 aerial photo showing watercourses, forest and open areas on Morley property before Deer Run construction began.  Zoom in for a closer look. Poole Creek runs downstream through Stittsville into the Carp River. To the right of Poole Creek there is a tributary on the Morley property which feeds into Poole Creek a little upstream of a concrete box culvert under the Trans Canada Trail, former Canadian Pacific railway built in the 1870s. The watercourse shown in the southerly part of the Morley property drains under Fernbank Road and on a short distance into the Fernbank Wetland. This latter watercourse usually dries up completely after the spring freshet. Please note that the Deer Run streets network shown on this aerial photo is just an overlay and wasn’t built at that time.

Please see City of Ottawa 2017 aerial photo showing PSW on Morley property. The yellow lines on the aerial photo are property lines. Please note that the smaller property below part of the main Morley property was created via a severance a few years ago. I don’t know if Mrs. Morley still owns it. In looking at this aerial photo one can see that the PSW takes in much less than 65% of the Morley property. It appears to me that the PSW only takes in roughly 30 to 35% of the property. I assume that the Sabourins told you that the PSW takes in 65% of the property and that you blindly reported that as being fact without doing any checking. Having it reported to the public that 65% rather than roughly 35% of the property is up for designation in the City’s Official Plan as PSW will draw more sympathy and shock from a public, politicians, and reporters having little or no knowledge of the history, issues and laws regarding PSWs in general and the Goulbourn Wetlands Complex in particular. They took advantage of you.”

+ From the story: “Sabourin has lived on the farm for most of her 55 years, and has watched Ottawa’s suburbs creep closer and closer. Now the backyards of the vast Deer Run subdivision to the northeast slope toward the family’s hayfields. The neighbourhood’s culvert drains onto the land just behind the fields.” Ken’s response:

I haven’t seen the backyards of the Deer Run subdivision houses that are adjacent to the Morley property, so I don’t know if they have a downward slope towards the Morley property. Did you see for yourself that they do? Regardless, even if they do slope downwards toward the Morley property that doesn’t necessarily mean that there’s any water or sufficient water running off of those properties onto the Morley property such that would interfere with their growing hay and harvesting it. If there is water running off of the subdivision onto their property and causing a problem has the Morley family contacted the subdivision developers and asked or demanded that they correct the problem? Have they sued the subdivision developers to have their stated problem corrected? The City had a Drainage By-law for many years, since replaced earlier this year with a Site Alteration By-law. Did they make a complaint to the City under either of those by-laws to have any drainage problem from the subdivision onto their land corrected? I suspect the answers to all of those questions would be no because I suspect that there is no drainage problem from the subdivision onto the Morley property.

In regard to the culvert mentioned in the on-line story and shown on TV I see on the City’s geoOttawa mapping only one storm water outlet in the subdivision anywhere near the Morley property. Please see City of Ottawa 2017 aerial photo showing a storm water outlet in the Deer Run subdivision. Zoom in for a closer look. The bright light green lines represent storm water drainage pipes. The arrows on those lines represent the direction of the flow of water and the dot at the end of the line represents a storm water pipe outlet. I’ve overlaid a black letter “C” just above what appears to be the end of a culvert between two properties on Birchland Crescent. Is this the location of the culvert that was shown to you for your story? If not, where exactly is the culvert in your story located? If yes, then be aware that culvert drains onto public land. See City of Ottawa 2017 aerial photo showing public land in blue adjacent to northwesterly backyards of Birchland Crescent. The public land is shown in both light and dark blue. Part of it appears light blue because of the PSW overlay also being shown. If this is the culvert in your story I doubt that water going from it would have any impact on the Morley property.

+ From the story: “To the west, the neighbour’s land has been filled so it now sits about three meters higher than the Morley farm. The water pours in from all sides, saturating the fields, Sabourin said.” Ken’s response:

The neighbour to the west is the Stephen’s Auto Wrecking property. The owners of that property have added huge amounts of fill onto their property. Evidence of this can be seen on geoOttawa aerial photos for various years. However, there is a drainage ditch that runs from Fernbank Road northerly into Poole Creek, within a City of Ottawa unopened road allowance between the two properties. Has the fill placed on the Stephen’s property caused any water from that property to go onto the Morley fields? I haven’t seen any evidence of that the many times that I’ve driven on Fernbank Road past the Morley property. To my knowledge if the fill on the Stephen’s property is causing any water to head towards the Morley fields it is intercepted by the aforementioned drainage ditch and passed downstream into Poole Creek.

+ From the story: “We were never wetlands. It’s these developments, so much higher than we are,” she said. “Water doesn’t run up.” Ken’s reply:

In response to Mrs. Sabourin stating “We were never wetlands” I refer you back to the attached soils map and its legend as proof to the contrary. As for her blaming her neighbours for the creation of PSW on their property, I disagree. The City’s consultant’s studies concluded that the PSWs are naturally occurring due to the topography of the landscape, low lying areas within a relatively flat landscape.

I request and advise that you write a follow-up story correcting the errors in your original story.