In reviewing the available documents associated with the Ottawa Light Rail Transit Project (North-South Corridor), it has come to my attention, and by extension many other citizens of Ottawa, that the presence of federal wetlands were significantly understated in the project documents: the Provincial Environmental Assessment and all versions of the Federal Screening Report. With such significant understatements, the result was the Federal Regional Authorities (RAs) were not presented with the full and compete description of the federal lands, and this has compromised the ability of the RAs to make a balanced and reasonable decision regarding the Project, especially as it relates to the federal policy on Wetland Conservation.
As the Wetland Policy is within your portfolio it is asked that you undertake a review of the circumstances surrounding this oversight and direct that the Policy be adhered to in this Project. Your assistance in communicating such direction to your Cabinet colleagues would be appreciated.
In consultation with Transport 2000 Canada, adherence to the Policy will have no net impact on the project; viable, and cost effective, alternate solutions are available. Given such, this would allow the no-net-loss requirement of the Policy to be satisfied while allowing the project to otherwise proceed unfettered.
The wetlands in question are located south of Leitrim Road, between Bowesville and High Roads, and are under the authority of Transport Canada. The current project design includes a light rail Maintenance Yard and Storage Facility, known as Bowesville site 4C, being situated entirely on Transport Canada lands. The location of this yard would involve significant wetland destruction. Wetland loss also arises from the proposed track alignment through Transport Canada lands in this area.
Fortunately alternate and suitable locations are available, and there are benefits to be realized that are not available in the current design. For the sake of further discussion, the Maintenance Yard and Storage Facility should be located on the site of the old CPR Storage facility known as Walkley Yard, and the alignment should follow the existing Airport Parkway.
Fortunately for all parties, the federal government has already agreed to and required that the Walkley Yard location be used as part of this project. It is now just a matter of all parties being reminded of such. The agreement is in the contractual form of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), signed by all levels of Government involved in this Project. A copy is attached for your convenience.
Given that the Walkley site is known as a brownfield location, and as it is specifically identified in the Project Definition (on page 8), presumably all levels of government, in signing this agreement were reaffirming their respective policies on the reuse of brownfields prior to developing greenspace and/or wetlands. Thus, the expectation, from the federal perspective at a minimum, that arising from this contractual arrangement that federal funding would be used to redevelop the identified brownfield and not to destroy federal wetlands.
Mr. Albert Dugal, a well known Botanist and Wetland Expert has had a life-long interest in these wetlands. In order for others to understand the uniqueness of these wetlands he has produced a report documenting their existence. A copy is attached for your convenience. As you will read, he found that this area to contain undisputable wetlands, and the plant listings clearly support this perspective.
As Mr. Dugalís findings contrasted with those of the Environmental Assessment, and the Federal Screening Report, a peer review of Mr. Dugalís work and findings was conducted by Dr. Frederick Schueler. Dr. Schueler is a Research Curator and respected environmental and field researcher. Dr. Schueler's peer review is also attached, and should they be required, his field note reports are also available. Dr. Schueler's review fully supports Mr. Dugal's research findings. Unequivocally, the Transport Canada land in question can be clearly stated to include significant wetlands.
The alignment of the LRT parallel to the Airport Parkway better serves both the citizens of Ottawa as well as visitors to our Nationís Capital. Using the Airport Parkway will preserve federal wetlands and preserve biodiversity within the Greenbelt. The new alignment would better serve air travellers in their commute to and from the airport; and for those travellers that still choose to commute by road, the visibility of the trains along the Airport Parkway would serve as a positive reminder of the commitment of the Nationís Capital in promoting public transportation.
In summary, you and the Government of Canada, have a tremendous opportunity to influence the outcome of public transportation in Ottawa. From a narrow perspective, this would be the preservation of federal wetlands through the locating of the rail Maintenance Yard and Storage Facility on the already agreed to Walkley brownfield location, and by better aligning the rail right of way along the Airport Parkway. The outcome is the proverbial Win-Win situation: preservation of federal wetland and greenspace, reuse of brownfields, decreased construction costs, efficient public transportation to the airport, and the overall demonstration of good government by the Government of Canada.
I look forward to your positive response on this matter, as it would confirm the appropriate application of public policy by the Government of Canada. Please contact me at your convenience should you have any questions arising out of this letter or if there is additional background material that is required.
Cheryl Doran c/o SaveOurGreenspace