What’s All the Fuss? Save ‘Hunt Club Forest’

Our Hunt Club community is enclosed on three sides by its own ‘greenbelt’.  At its western edge, residents in Quinterra-Woods enjoy the constructed storm water ponds, pathways and park along the Rideau River; at the north side, locals in Hunt Club Woods and Hunt Club Chase make constant use of, and vigilantly watch over the whole ‘southern corridor’ with its wooded lands; the inhabitants in Hunt Club Chase also enjoy the pathway around the Wendy Stewart Ponds, at the eastern border of our community.

What about the southern periphery of our community?  Well, for the past couple of generations, Hunt Club Estates (along with the Airbase, Windsor Park and more recently Wisteria Park) neighbours have been accessing the Red Pine wooded stand and its contiguous mixed, hardwood forest for recreational and nature activities.  It is their ‘little piece of paradise’, treasured by all.  This naturalizing forest used to extend all the way west to Billy Bishop Private until a big chunk of it was clearcut to put in the building occupied since 2005 by the Lowe-Martin Group.

One might argue that it is these urban green spaces, spread throughout the neighbourhoods mentioned above, that give Hunt Club its very flavour, its ‘brand’ – that which it is known for and continues to attract home buyers who choose it as their place to call home.  “Residents have a very strong preference for green spaces and nature in their community.” and “are concerned about the preservation of nature.” [1]

We know that the Red Pine stand was planted over sixty years ago as a monoculture ‘tree farm’.  Unfortunately, when this parcel of land was sold to the federal government, thus becoming crown land, it was totally neglected, never once thinned, as per good forestry practice.  Some would quickly point to this fact as a reason for it no longer having any value.  However, those who have been frequenting this area for the past 40 years know otherwise: they have observed nature at work, with an understory of new herbaceous plants and trees actively sprouting and growing throughout, giving it a more natural forest look.  As the saying goes, ‘one man’s garbage is another man’s treasure.’  Is it any wonder then, that community members want to keep this forest, with all its environmental benefits, and continue to access it in perpetuity to enjoy the recreational activities within it?  For a sampling of the variety of flora and fauna in this now thriving ecosystem: https://www.savehuntclubforest.ca/biodiversity/

One way to capitalize on this neglected Red Pine woodlot would be to regenerate it into a mixed, hardwood forest, transforming the entire area north of De Niverville Private, south of Hunt Club Rd and east of Billy Bishop Private into one continuous healthy forest.  Foresters know that “Red Pine dominated forests can be managed for increased habitat value and species biodiversity through greater use of ecological management techniques such as legacy retention, mixed-species and multi-age management, variable density thinning, and long rotations.” [2]      Many other advantages of an urban forest can be found here: https://www.savehuntclubforest.ca/about/

So what is the issue?  This crown land (approximately 14 hectares), currently designated as T1A in the City’s zoning framework, has been leased to the Ottawa International Airport Authority since 1997.   The Ground Lease signed between the OIAA and the Ministry of Transport includes the right to sublease these grounds for commercial development.   Indeed this is exactly what the OIAA has been planning for the strip of land now occupied by the Red Pine trees (and for other lands also zoned T1A).

It is the application made to the City of Ottawa, on behalf of Otto’s BMW car dealership, to allow for additional storage space along with a parking lot to be built at the east end of this parcel of land that brought this whole issue to light.   This  particular development would require a clear cutting of at least 4 acres of these Red Pines.  The moment the posters announcing this plan went up along the fence of the ‘Hunt Club Forest’, the community immediately mobilized to express its strong opposition to this plan.  A multi-prong campaign of daily protests along Hunt Club Rd, researching, letter writing, and phone calls quickly kicked into gear since early June.  To be clear: Although this application has been temporarily withdrawn from the City’s Planning Department, the file remains ‘active’, which means that it has not been cancelled:  https://www.savehuntclubforest.ca/2021/08/28/ottos-plans-parked/

We understand that the OIAA needs to ensure its own financial sustainability and that it seeks to increase its economic impact by generating employment and economic activity on its leased lands.  The economic gains by developing this strip, then subleasing it would be substantial, no doubt.  With the financial losses accrued by the OIAA over the last couple of years because of the whole pandemic situation, one can appreciate how this would be a welcomed strategy.

However, we are in a climate crisis and there are other ways that the OIAA can stimulate the local economy, without clear cutting these Red Pines.  The many nearby hotels could certainly market an urban forest within walking distance (or within a 5 minute drive) as an asset to prospective guests traveling here to attend conferences.  After a long day of workshops and meetings, a stroll in the woods is a great destresser.    Job opportunities could also be created for scientific research in silviculture  projects related to the forest’s regeneration and perhaps eradication of targeted invasive species.  The recognition of the community’s expressed desire to protect and preserve this urban forest is a great opportunity for the OIAA to raise its profile as a more respected ‘community partner’.

The OIAA still has access to another 580 hectares of land, roughly, (designated T1A for commercial development) to the east and west of the Airport Parkway, all potential sources of revenue, once sublet.  This includes the E Y Centre on Uplands Drive.   Would the potential development of these lands not provide the needed revenue to offset the losses sustained by the OIAA over the pandemic?  Once international travel happy Canadians start flying to their preferred destinations again, will that not quickly bring the OIAA’s revenues to the required levels?

Let us also remember the millions of dollars recently given to the OIAA by the federal government, first to support the cost of the new LRT being built to the airport, and then to help compensate for the losses caused by the Covid-19 situation.  The federal government also waived the OIAA’s rent fees for ten months in 2020 and for the whole 2021 year.  These facts are important to be aware of.

We are hoping that in this era of climate urgency, the OIAA, will honour its corporate culture of responsibility, respect of the environment, and of the local community; will work in partnership with the ministries of Transportation, Natural Resources and Environment, via our elected federal, provincial and municipal representatives; will demonstrate the kind of leadership expected from them; and will agree to amend their Ground Lease with Transport Canada, by removing the ‘Hunt Club Forest’ parcel of land from it, in order  that it be protected and preserved in perpetuity.  And that’s what all the fuss is about!

[1] Hunt Club Neighbourhood Plan – Existing Conditions Report, November 1997
[2]  http://ncrs.fs.fed.us/fmg/nggm/rp

 

Natural Beauty in Our Community

Since relocating to the Hunt Club Community a dozen years ago, what impressed me most, and continues to do so, is its natural beauty of Green Spaces (Picture #1) that are freely open to the public.

Here, there are seven parks, where you can see animals and hear birds with a repertoire of songs to defend territory, get a mate or chicks calling out to be fed. Those sounds frequently make me smile and fill my day with joy.

In one backyard in our community (ours), there have been many visits of wild creatures: 7 types of mammals; 352 different insects; 42 kinds of birds; and a frog that lives in the pond. These all came from our natural spaces.


Today, I visited the Southern Corridor in our community. The various shades of green took my breath away. As I walked along a path (Picture #2) I stopped and created mental images of what the lovely Queen Ann’s Lace closed and open blooms (Picture #3) would look in a painting or drawing, and I aim to do the latter to capture their beauty on a sunny day.


As a resident, I am extremely thankful to live where Green Space explodes with beauty and boosts our environment with: grass, trees, shrubs or edibles, in our parks, community gardens, around creeks, recreation sites, and around several public and private spaces.

I appreciate walks in Green Spaces away from the noise of traffic, as it can reduce stress and contribute to the mental and physical wellbeing of people.

Did You Know: Climate Change Newsletter

Record heat, wildfires raging. Nature is sending a not-so-subtle message that climate change is real in Canada and growing. To find out how you can be part of the solution, and how our city is working to play its part, subscribe to the climate change newsletter and other City newsletters by completing the eSubscriptions sign up form.

The latest Climate Change newsletter issue included items on:

  • Council approves the Better Homes Loan Program
  • Other home energy efficiency incentive and rebate programs
  • City secures funding to reduce emissions
  • Bring your own mug and support Ottawa Climate Action Fund
  • Your Green Bin: greener than you think

Hunt Club’s Butterflyway Project

One snowy January morning, an email arrived from the David Suzuki Foundation, calling on communities across Canada to help restore habitats for local bees, butterflies and other pollinators on the verge of extinction. On a cold wintry day there is something deeply satisfying in dreaming of butterflies, and pink, purple and yellow flowers being kissed with plump bumblebees and hummingbirds. The images of Hunt Club’s green spaces and beautiful yards and gardens from my neighbourhood walks, rushed into my mind, and before I knew it, the Butterflyway cocoon was born.

Why You Should Care

One third of the food we eat and three quarters of world’s flowering plants depend on the tireless work of pollinators. They contribute to the biodiversity and resilience of ecosystems, to agricultural production and our nutritional security, and production in medicine, biofuels, fibres and even construction materials. The estimated economic value that pollinators create in the world’s crop production is approximately half a trillion dollars every year.

Beyond the economic impacts, global pollination experts warn that the extinction of pollinators would lead to an ecological and food production disaster of unseen proportions. While the volume of pollinator-dependant crops has grown by 300% in the last fifty years, the number and variety of pollinator species are in a consistent and staggering decline. Some 40 species of bees alone are being seriously endangered. The cumulative impacts of the extensive use of pesticides, intensive agriculture management, invasive plant species, pathogens, and pollution have led to a shrinking number of indigenous plants and a sharp decline of pollinator species and their habitats.

First Butterflyway Pollinator Patches

Thankfully in Hunt Club, Councillor Riley Brockington is championing the Butterflyway Project, and there are residents who are interested in helping to restore pollinator habitats.

As a result, the city has recently installed a pollinator patch at the Hunt Club Riverside Park Community Centre. With a bit of loving care, in two-to-three years from now, this will turn into a lush carpet of colourful wildflowers where pollinators can survive through the winter and thrive in warmer days. Similarly, volunteers on the Butterflyway Project will plant pollinator patches of varying sizes at several Hunt Club locations this summer, and at least five private properties will be hosting a Butterflyway pollinator patch. All these actions will help create habitats where pollinators can find food, water and shelter.

Councillor Riley Brockington in the first public space pollinator in Hunt Club

First Butterflyway pollinator patches in Hunt Club’s private yards and gardens  

We will be marking the locations of Butterflyway patches in Hunt Club’s public and private spaces, and adding pollinator gardens of all shapes and sizes, from a balcony’s mini patch to a garden pollinator site. Our vision is for Hunt Club to become a leading community in Ottawa in establishing pollinator patches, and we will strive to ensure that at least half are certified by the Canadian Wildlife Federation as a wild-life friendly habitat. Keep an eye on the map of local pollinator patches which will be updated periodically.

What You Can Do to Help

You can help out on the Butterflyway Project or plant a few wildflowers in planters or in your garden and ask your neighbours to do the same. Often the smallest things can make a big difference.

If you want to add your pollinator patch to Hunt Club’s pollinator patches map, or if you would like to volunteer on the Butterflyway project,  please complete the Volunteer Registration Form.   Learn more about Hunt Club’s Butterflyway Project here.

 

 

GetGrowing Hunt Club 2021

It’s all over except for the growing.  For the second year in a row, gardeners in Hunt Club were invited to sign up to receive a free seedling, package of vegetable seeds and an information pamphlet through GetGrowing Hunt Club.  This year 250 seed kit packages were delivered door to door.  The value of produce that can result from this locally grown harvest is $16,000!  That’s a lot of nutritious green beans and carrots and tomatoes!   As the growing season stretches in front of us, watch the Hunt Club Community Association Website, follow us on Facebook and Twitter , share pictures of your garden and learn of local initiatives such as opportunities to share excess produce.

GetGrowing Hunt Club is funded by the Hunt Club Community Association and City Councillor Riley Brockington.  We are grateful to our sponsors: Lee Valley Tools, Richmond Nursery, BWYL Group and Riocan.  And none of this would be possible without the many volunteers working with dedication and spirit during the COVID 19 pandemic.  All of it was done to deliver the promise of fresh locally grown produce to doorsteps in our ‘hood.  Thank you one and all!

The Butterflyway Project

If you would like to join a small team of volunteers to plant pollinator patches in dedicated spots of the Hunt Club Community, we welcome you!

By planting pollinator-friendly plants, especially those native to Eastern Ontario area, you will create precious habitats for local bees, butterflies and other beneficial insects without which our food supply would thin out.

You can help out on the Butterflyway Project by planting wild flowers, donating plants and other useful material, by looking after a newly planted pollinator patch or in other ways. Join us and be part of the action!
Please submit your completed Volunteer Registration Form (below) by May 20.

Photo by Berit Erickson. Example of a pollinator garden
Photo by Berit Erickson. Example of a pollinator garden


PLANTING LOGISTICS

Planting will be done two people at a time or, if restrictions continue, individually in 90-minute intervals, where volunteers would replace each other so that there is no direct contact. All COVID-19 protocols that are in force on the day of planting will apply.


MARK YOUR CALENDARS

  • Zoom meeting with volunteers: May 26, 7:00 – 8:00pm
  • Planting: June 4-5 (morning)
  • Alternate date: June 11-12 (morning)

*Please note that these dates may change in response to COVID-19 measures.


 

VOLUNTEER REGISTRATION FORM

    Contact Information



    Tell us how you would like to help out on the Butterflyway Project – select all that apply:

    Hunt Club is Green

    Do you look forward to this time of year? Fresh green is the colour of the season, With McCarthy Woods, the adjacent Southern Nature Corridor, the Hunt and Golf Club, and various parks, there’s more than 50% green in this satellite image of our communities.

    Travel anywhere in Hunt Club and you’ll see tree-lined streets and pathways.

    Measurements show a seasonal drop in carbon dioxide in the air, green is the signal mother nature is incorporating it into grass and leaves, helping to limit climate change. The greener the better.

    Mother nature could do with your help to limit climate change in Hunt Club. Here are five things you can do.

    • Cycle, walk, use public transit
    • Make your next vehicle electric
    • Plant or adopt and maintain a tree
    • Improve the insulation in your home
    • Consider a heat pump when replacing your furnace or air conditioner

    Hunt Club Traffic 2020

    Our community has three solar-powered radar-enabled signs that flash the speed as a vehicle approaches. The purpose is to make drivers aware when they are driving at speeds above the posted limits.

    In Hunt Club, they are on northbound Paul Anka Drive approaching Uplands Drive, northbound McCarthy Road north of the Plante intersection, and eastbound Uplands Drive across from Uplands Park. All are two-lane roads. Two others, just north of our community, cover both directions on Riverside Drive, a four-lane road with higher speeds.

    I was unaware that they also record each event for statistical purposes. No camera is involved so vehicles cannot be identified. Thanks to a request to Councillor Riley Brockington’s office, I was able to get statistics from the Uplands Drive sign for each day in 2020.

    Total counts for each week show the remarkable reduction in traffic in the Spring owing to the COVID-19 lockdown. Vehicle counts typically over 10,000 per week fell to less than half. Perhaps like me when you had to get out you found driving an absolute joy!

    Throughout the year Friday is the busiest day on the roads; Sunday is quietist. Friday 21 August was the busiest day of the year.

    The radar-enabled sign record isn’t perfect, likely due to equipment malfunctions as shown by lower traffic volumes for Week 3 and twice toward the end of the year.

    Three-quarters of all vehicles approaching the sign were adhering to the 50 Km/hr speed limit. All but 15 percent were travelling at less than 53 Km/hr. You save fuel and reduce emissions by driving smoothly and avoiding hard acceleration. Overall, the data shows a large majority of drivers on Uplands Drive observing the speed limit. But there are others.

     

    Coming soon, an article on speeding and driving in hazardous weather on Uplands Drive.

    Hunt Club Co-ops

    In these times of COVID perhaps you’ve done more walking than usual and noticed things you previously overlooked. For me, as I struggled along unplowed Gillespie Crescent, the relatively clear roads of the nearby Co-op were remarkable.

    Coady Co-op, built in 1978, is one of five housing co-ops in our area. It consists of 74 units of two, three or four bedrooms including five single-story units for those living with handicaps. In common with other co-ops, to keep rents low, residents contribute hands-on to the upkeep with tasks such as gardening and maintaining a rink which keeps costs down while enhancing the sense of community.

    Our friend Google found a document showing that by the end of this year Coady residents should be enjoying updated and more energy-efficient homes—siding and stucco replaced, many new windows and doors, kitchen and bathroom upgrades. That is the result of a multi-year refinancing and negotiation process, taking advantage of current low mortgage interest rates, that also saw the co-op acquire the land it had previously rented from the city.

    The area’s other housing co-ops are clustered around the Hunt Club Riverside Park Community Centre and adjacent shopping.

    The oldest, largest and best known is Quarry Co-op located across McCarthy Road from the community centre. Built in 1976 on a 10-acre lot it consists of 244 townhouses ranging in size from one to four bedrooms. Being older it’s a step ahead of Coady Co-op in renovating, adding better insulation and windows as seen in this photo from February. Congratulations to both co-ops for doing their part to fight climate change while saving on energy costs.

    In September 2018 Quarry made news when homes at the north end of the lot suffered tornado damage—see the video at https://youtu.be/7bArU3Ri4CY

    It’s quite possible to live in Hunt Club for years without knowing about the other three housing co-ops, all built in the late 1980s. They are on Twyford Street, east of the shopping centre.

    Sequoia Co-op Homes at 101 Twyford has 60 three-level townhouses with two, three and four bedrooms.

    Tannenhof Housing Co-op at 131 Twyford is a six-story retirement residence with 74 suites. It is designed for wheelchair accessible independent living, with organized leisure activities.

    Cardinus Housing Co-op at 141 Twyford is also a six-story building. Its 78 mixed family and single apartments include 18 that are wheelchair accessible.

    Find out more about co-op housing in Ottawa from the Co-operative Housing Association of Eastern Ontario including a map of co-op locations.

    Snow Days

    The sun is rising earlier, setting later and rising higher in the sky. Climate records tell that we are past the coldest days of the winter. 14 February is the day when the snow on the ground is, on average, at its deepest, 31 cm.  The snowpack diminishes only slowly until the third week of March.

    Weather does not adhere to climate averages. Take the period after the hanging of Patrick Whalen for the assassination of Thomas D’Arcy McGee on 11 February 1869.  It attracted an estimated quarter of the population who had to return home in a snowstorm.

    It continued. There was terrible snow in the days and weeks following. There are no official weather records for the period, but reports are it hardly stopped snowing until St Patrick’s Day. The snow accumulated to an estimated depth of seven feet. Roads were not plowed – the snow was compacted and built up to two feet thick on downtown streets. The railway to Prescott saw drifts to 20 feet and the government called out the militia.

    At the site of the Hunt Club golf course William Upton’s farm was buried. His diary records cows being stuck in snow drifts, some had to be left protected with blankets overnight. Next morning, they dug a trench so the cattle could get back to the barn. Rain came on 19 April, and then the floods. By the 22nd newspaper reports were that no trains could get in or out of the city owing to a flooded roadbed.

    Let’s hope we avoid a repeat—the pandemic is enough to deal with thank you!

    Little Libraries in Hunt Club

    Hunt Clubbites are readers!  As a way to share their reading materials, skilled and creative residents have built and erected ‘Free Little Libraries’ throughout our Hunt Club community. These are basically large boxes with a door that shuts tightly, mounted on a post. People place books that they have already read in the box. Others come and take one of the books, often replacing it with one or more of their own which they have already enjoyed reading. The idea is to promote and nurture a reading community.

    Here are the three ‘Free Little Libraries’ that I have spotted in our Hunt Club community: 3 photos attached.

    Can you locate all three of them? (Hint: two are in ‘Hunt Club Woods’; one is in the ‘Owl Park Neighbourhood’ east of McCarthy Rd.)

    Where would YOU like to see another ‘Free Little Library’ installed in our community?

     

    More Tornadoes?

    Friday, 22 September 2018. Early evening. I thought I was safe at home. Then suddenly out my front window, the howling wind tried to blow one end of my street to the other. In a few seconds, it was over. I’d have been terrified to see out of the back window the tornado which tore up trees in McCarthy Woods. Hunt Club was lucky, barely escaping the disasters in Craig Henry and Dunrobin.

    An expert report to the City advises climate change will bring a heightened risk of extreme weather, including tornadoes, and cause Ottawa’s seasons to shift with shorter winters.

    Climate change is real for us; it shows in local weather records.

    Since the 1920s our average temperatures increased by 1.22 C. The rate is accelerating.
    With our winters, warming doesn’t sound bad. We have fewer deep freezes. In the 1920s every year had “deep freeze” (<-30 C) temperatures, in the 2010s only one year.

    But in the summer hot nights bring misery. Typically one hot night (>20 C) each year in the 1920s has increased to seven in the 2010s.

    Even warmer winters have their downsides. Freeze-thaw cycles, causing potholes, have increased during the winter months, from five in a typical January in the 1920s to nine in the 2010s. The skating season will be shortened meaning challenges for Winterlude and the tourist business it brings to the City.

    Climate models tell us more of this type of change is inevitable. While preparation can’t protect from the terror of a tornado it can mitigate some impacts. We can slow the rate of change by doing our part to burn less fossil fuel.


    Photo Credit, CBC Canada