Wendy Stewart PondsDec 10, 2020 - By Sophie Reussner-Pazur and Christine Johnson
The Wendy Stewart Ponds (aka the Sawmill Creek Constructed Wetlands), have become THE outdoor activity hub for our community. Walkers, runners, in line skaters, love birds, bird watchers and photographers, berry pickers, picnickers, naturalists and babies in strollers – all have discovered the beauties of the seasonal transformations of this natural oasis alongside the Airport Parkway.
Over a dozen volunteers participated in a clean-up around the Wendy Stewart Ponds on Sunday, September 27, organized by James Mihaychuk, President of Ottawa South’s federal Green Party. Relatively little garbage was found thanks to the weekly cleanup efforts of the Reussner-Pazur family and friends who have informally adopted this area. This has given them a deeper understanding of the flora and fauna here along with the various bird species and humans present and not. I’ll let Sophie tell the story now.
Volunteers ready to start the clean up. Submitted Photo
Clean Up Crew
Since the start of the pandemic, my husband and I have been walking daily around the Wendy Stewart Ponds, just East of the Airport Parkway. For the first time – because we were confined and working from home – our neighbourhood has become our main destination for outdoor exercise and fresh air! Day in and day out, we witnessed the wonders of nature in motion: the last snow of April, the budding leaves, the pulse of summer heat and the arrival and departure of migrating birds…
Yet, we noticed that people with reduced strength/mobility were rarely, if ever, seen on this path. Indeed, one does have to be fit to walk the 40-minute loop, as there are no benches beyond the Airport Parkway’s Juno Bridge…! Thus, we were wondering: How fantastic would it be if the City of Ottawa installed benches around the Watershed? How lovely if people with reduced strength/mobility could rest at various intervals and enjoy this natural gem, like everyone else? These two questions were followed by action. My friend Christine and I went on a “scavenger hunt” to find seven desirable bench locations around the Wendy Stewart Ponds. We had fun pretending to sit on imaginary benches, as the photo shows!
So I wrote to Councillor Riley Brockington and submitted our bench location suggestions, along with GPS coordinates and photos. For the cherry on the cake, I asked Riley if the City of Ottawa would also plant a (fruit?) tree by each bench, so as to provide some nice shade on a hot summer day…!
It is our hope that this inclusive project – to benefit people of all abilities – comes to fruition once the snow melts next spring! If you think this is a good idea, please let Councillor Brockington know.
Although many of us are used to calling this area the Sawmill Creek Constructed Wetlands, we are trying to use its new ‘official’ name – ‘Wendy Stewart Ponds’, as per the plaque on the rock at the South-West end of the ponds, just North of the Juno Beach pedestrian and cycling bridge, in honour of the environmental commitment that former Councillor Stewart dedicated to our community in previous years.