Three environmental groups in Ottawa decide to “speak for the land, the water and the trees”

January 27, 2016

At a public meeting hosted by Ecology Ottawa in 2015, Windmill Development Group partner Jeff Westeinde said the city of Ottawa “does not need more parks.” This was in response to a question about rezoning of Chaudière and Albert Island by the City of Ottawa from parkland to commercial/residential—a municipal decision that remains before the courts in Ontario.

In a move that they say celebrates the land, water and trees on Chaudière and Albert Islands, three environmental groups—but not Ecology Ottawa—have decided to formally call for what Mr. Westeinde thinks the city doesn’t need: parkland and the possibility of a green future that includes trees, land not paved over with condos, and an Ottawa River experience truly open to the public because the islands are designated as parkland.

On Jan. 26, the Greenspace Alliance released a passionate letter to Prime Minister Trudeau and Cabinet officials urging them to act now on a “once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to reclaim this most symbolic and significant greenspace in the heart of the national capital.”

The gem at the heart of this greenspace is what the letter describes as “the most significant natural feature in the National Capital Region, the Chaudière Falls.”

Also significant is the groups’ plea for Canada’s “Sunny Ways” government to act on its promises of reconciliation with Indigenous people.

“The Chaudière and Albert Islands are in the core of the national capital. Their re-dedication as a natural area, in recognition of Indigenous claims, would be a powerful act of reconciliation. This special area could become a central gathering place in the capital of Canada, for sharing the diverse natural and cultural stories of the land and its peoples. All of this would symbolize and embody the unfolding idea that is Canada…

“We note that, in reality, actual development on these islands may be held up for years because of ongoing litigation. There is clear evidence from several First Nations that consultation to date has been insufficient.”

The Greenspace Alliance of Canada’s Capital, Ottawa Field Naturalists, and the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society–Ottawa Valley Branch, are signatories to the letter. Full PDF available here.  

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