Sunday, April 21, 2013

Rockcliffe Lands Redevelopment (Part 2)

Rockcliffe Lands (future name to be determined) is a very unique urban property situated along some major green corridors and hopefully CLC and the developers can see this opportunity and will want to take advantage of it.  At one point during the mid-2000's redevelopment, the thought was to make this the MOST sustainable development in the country.  Fast forward to 2013, many developments are LEED Gold or Platinum - sustainability is much more reachable and not such a NEW story.

So how about biodiversity? How about the first Canadian neighborhood that is not only sustainable but that is also truly biophilic.  Why not consider how to design this neighborhood to not only blend into its surroundings and benefit from its environment but to also PROVIDE for the flora and fauna and let it flourish beside it?  This could truly be an amazing opportunity to determine the best innovative, forward-thinking ways of redeveloping a site that would have MINIMAL impact on the native flora and fauna and perhaps even help it to become more resilient.

Think about it!  This could be great!

As mentioned in the previous post the consultant has done a great initial review of the environment and landscape and how to work with what is there.  They would just have to expand on this, determining the best foot forward to create the FIRST BIOPHILIC REDEVELOPMENT in CANADA!  Some of the things that they could consider:


It was wonderful that the old growth (160 + years) Bur Oak was highlighted in their initial public consultations.  This is a great opportunity, not only to protect this piece of history but to also benefit from its genetic legacy.  Efforts needs to be made to protect and save this tree and other Bur Oaks found on the property - this includes care during construction (protecting each tree to the drip line) and proper grounds keeping and maintenance after.  Some seedlings from this specimen could also be planted to continue the genetic line.  At one point during the initial discussions (in the mid 2000's) there was even consideration of a  tree nursery.  A local native tree nursery would ensure that local hardy trees (for Ottawa's climate) would be planted on the site.  This also begs the question are there any other heritage trees that could be protected on the site that are 50 plus years or over? As mentioned in the previous post Landmark Trees of Ontario commented on their Facebook page that there are multiple large Bitternut Hickories, Sugar Maples, Basswood, Rock Elm and Slippery Elm spread throughout the site. It would be great if as many of these trees could be protected as possible along with the Bur Oaks. And perhaps this could be a new site to plant some direct descendants of the Ottawa Champlain Oaks?


Some assessment of the composition of trees in groupings (as noted) that will be saved should be done to consider the issue of the emerald ash borer and how lost trees will be replaced.  The City/N.C.C. should assess the health of Montfort Woods and the other NE corner woods that backs onto N.C.C. lands and determine how to strengthen the health of these wood lots.  The health of trees would also benefit from being linked through green corridors to other wood lots.  These would act as buffers so that genetic diversity could be encouraged.  The tree groupings that have already been noted on the initial ClC maps could help with linking these two forests.  You can see that CLC has sketched essentially this in their display below.   Just imagine a line of street trees (local and native) linking all the green sites!  A native tree nursery (that is commenced in 2014) would again help provide a source of local trees for this site. 

What a benefit and great local feature to have a green link from the Montfort woods to the proposed central park and then to the N.C.C. forest (which is part of the Rockcliffe Parkway)!


One thing that this proposal is missing is the consideration of the larger landscape.  In all ecological restoration projects you have to consider what is around the site since over the long term this will influence your restoration.  Perhaps it was done but not shared at the public consultation meetings?  What is the species composition of the forests found outside the development area?  This development needs to consider the Montfort Woods and the old quarry in Fairhaven Way as it is a heavily treed neighborhood.  What about the NRC government campus to the east?  Will there be some forested area there to buffer between the two, such as there is right now for Rothwell Heights?  CLC could enter into discussions with them to partner to create some buffer, add some natives, help with the genetic diversity. 

The NE corner woods link to some open lands along the parkway where there are bird houses and have been bobolink sightings.  And the NW corner along the Aviation Parkway where it meets the Rockcliffe parkway is an urban biodiverse hot spot (according to OBBC) for birds.  This area is a very green corridor (deer have been found in Manor Park this winter) and it includes Manor Park creek and marsh which links to Macoun Marsh in the Beechwood Cemetery.  All of this needs to be considered as redevelopment occurs. Also if the storm water ponds offsite to the north of the development are built this will increase movement of fauna both to and away from the water feature and safe wildlife passages along both parkways should be considered for this area.

It would be great to see the N.C.C. up their game here along the Aviation Parkway and consider how the parkway acts as a divide between the green space on both sides and determine ways to help encourage genetic diversity on both sides and strengthen the integrity of this lovely green corridor. 

NEXT UP: OTTAWA's NEWEST 10 HECTARE WOODS AND NATIVE PLANTS AND WILDSCAPING!  Rockcliffe Lands Redevelopment (Part 3): September 2013

All details about this Redevelopment Project can be found here:

If you still want to send your thoughts and comments to Canada Lands Company it is not too late. You can find their contact information on the Canada Lands Corporation Rockcliffe Lands website (, I did not find an email address for the Ottawa office however.


Posts on Rockcliffe Lands Redevelopment:

First blog post: September 2011

Rockcliffe Lands Redevelopment (Part 1): November 2012

Rockcliffe Lands Redevelopment (Part 3): September 2013

Rockcliffe Lands Redevelopment (Part 4): October 2013

Rockcliffe Lands Redevelopment (Part 5): November 2013

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