Environment Committee Report

Report on Environmental Initiatives Meeting – January 17

The Environment Committee of the Champlain Park Community Association met with interested residents at the Field House on Thursday, January 17. There were 16 people at the meeting engaged in informative discussions and amicable debates about steps we are taking together to foster sustainable living in a healthy urban environment (the Committee mission). Follow up with project leaders if you want more detail, but in short:

  • Rehabilitation of the “Little Woods”(Patricia and Clearview Avenues, on the northeast corner attached to the NCC woods). This City-owned corner lot is an “Environmental Protection Zone”, and cannot be developed. A large Black Walnut dominates the space. For several years the Environment Committee has been rehabilitating the lot in cooperation with the immediate neighbours by removing invasive plants (mainly buckthorn) and planting about 15 trees. The goal is to naturalize the lot with native trees, shrubs and ground cover, and continue to monitor and remove invasive and non-native species. No paths will be created as residents currently have easy assess to the Champlain Woods (the NCC forest) through a small gate on Patricia Avenue. Catherine Shearer, a resident and member of the Environment Committee, has kindly agreed to lead this work, with assistance from immediate neighbours and other interested parties. To facilitate rehabilitation, the Environment Committee has secured a grant from the City and from Councillor Leiper to remove broken fence posts and a short section of fence dividing the property from the Champlain Woods, work that will happen this spring. Additional soil will be used to fill holes and create a more favourable growing environment for trees, shrubs and ground cover. Contact Catherine Shearer if you would like to volunteer in the spring and summer to do a new inventory of plant cover and plant and water new seedlings.
  • Water quality testing at Remic Beach. The Ottawa River Keeper facilitates 50 volunteer “Riverwatchers” who keep an eye on the river shoreline. Dan Wilcox, who is also the Vice Chair of the Champlain Park Community Association, is the Riverwatcher for our area, and an active waterboarder. He reported on last years’ water quality testing at the Remic Beach, which is generally very positive (no major issues). He plans to do weekly water testing this summer. Look for a post from him in the coming weeks on things to consider should you want to use Remic Beach this summer.
  • The City is planning to replace dead, damaged and missing trees on the Northwestern Avenue medianthis coming spring, and has circulated a tree planting plan to the Environment Committee. We reviewed the plan to ensure that is supports: i) native species diversity, away from what are currently the dominant species in the neighbourhood (no maple, lilac, crabapple or honey locust); ii) effective use of potential canopy space; iii) habit/food for birds. At the Thursday meeting several residents from Northwestern Avenue expressed an interest in reviewing the plan, and have offered to engage with others on the street to make it the best plan it can be. Contact Daniel Buckles if you wish to be involved in this initiative.
  • Rehabilitationof selected sections of The Champlain Woods (the NCC forest bordering our community). For a number of years the Environment Committee has taken steps to rehabilitate spaces in the forest and make the trails safe and passable. The overall goal is to foster a healthy, diverse urban forest supporting native plants and wildlife and recreational enjoyment in nature. Activities are planned under a Land Use Access permit between the NCC and the Champlain Park Community Association, managed on behalf of the association by Adrian Bradley. The work builds on a study of plant diversity in the forest by our resident Botanist John Arnason, and this year included:
    • efforts by Catherine Shearer to foster common milkweed (a plant critical to the lifecyle of the Monarch Butterfly) and control the invasive Dog Strangling Vine.
    • efforts by Adrian Bradley to smother Japanese Knotweed, listed by the World Conservation Union as one of the world’s most worrisome invasive species. Adrian has also taken the lead on maintenance of the primary and secondary trails in the forest and coordination with the SJAM winter trail into the community. He is also coordinating the installation of a Purple Martin house planned for this spring, and numerous other initiatives to make the trails safe and passable. He would also like to establish a Butterfly Garden in the woods, and would welcome a volunteer to help on this.
    • efforts by Daniel Buckles, Debra Huron and other volunteers to continue tree planting in the Champlain Woods by children of St. George Elementary School. This year it involved removing some of the poison ivy near Pontiac and the school entrance, with courageous help from Steve Cumbaa. Tree planting also included more than 200 acorns collected from local Heritage Bur Oaks (the Champlain Oaks) and planted along the secondary and main trail. Look for them in the summer.
  • Discussion on extension, straightening and wideningof the existing trail between Carleton and North western to hook up with the Remic Rapids SJAM trail was the most debated part of the meeting as there are differing views in the community on the grooming of additional ski trails. The consensus of the Environment Committee is that for the foreseeable future this secondary trail will remain where it is and as an all-purpose and all-season trail (no grooming machines in winter). Maintenance of the trail, as with other secondary trails, will be limited to light trimming of plants that protrude into the trail and create hazards for users.
  • Update on the Pontiac Avenue closure. Councillor Jeff Leiper consulted widely two years back on a proposal from community members to expand the current Park and connect it directly to the NCC lands accessing the river. The overall goal is to beautify the space and provide sight-lines and unimpeded access to the river. To accomplish this, a short section of Pontiac Avenue has been closed and this spring will be partly de-paved in cooperation with the Enviro-Centre. The project will leave in place a section of the road along the existing curb running the full length of the block, thereby providing a paved walking and bike path between Carleton and Cowley Avenue. The rest of the street will be depaved and filled with fresh soil and grass, with attention to drainage swales and traffic signs. With support from the NCC, the project will also remove the section of the fence separating the Park from the NCC lands and remove gravel on the north side of the fence. The area will then be landscaped with native species of ground cover, shrubs and trees to create a continuous green space from the park to the river.
  • Plantersplaced on Pontiac last year were tended over the summer by eight intrepid volunteers, providing colour and form to the streetscape. It is not clear yet where these planters will sit during the depaving process and whether or not they can be tended again this summer. We are also awaiting confirmation from the City to consider planting vegetables in the planters, along with flowers and herbs. Stay tuned.
  • Champlain Park continues to lose street treesdue to age and poor structure under power lines and a failure to make effective use of plantable spots on the streetscape. Daniel Buckles and Nick Xenos are working on a guideline for making use of the City’s Trees in Trust Program and private property to recover and foster street trees.

The Environment Committee meeting was convened by Daniel Buckles and Adrian Bradley (Co-Chairs of the Environment Commitee) on behalf of the Champlain Park Community Association.