Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Rockcliffe Lands Redevelopment (Part 3)

How can the Rockcliffe Lands Redevelopment site become the FIRST BIOPHILIC REDEVELOPMENT in CANADA??  This is the second part in a series of how best to redevelop Rockcliffe Lands to create a ecologically sound development that considers the flora and fauna surrounding and within it.


The proposed blue landscaping sounds wonderful: small rain gardens, recharging water table through naturalized low-lying areas, storm water both on and off site, etc.  These ideas need to be kept on the proposal at all costs, no matter how tough the priority setting is.  By managing water in the most natural way and working with the landscaping this will allow savings and avert potential crisis in the future.  Imagine having bioswales between houses along some of the higher elevated lands?  A natural feature like this would be a boon to housing values.  In the Lashley + Associates example this equates to just a three metre easement between the houses. 

One possibility that hasn't been proposed is the opportunity to build Ottawa's first constructed wetland for sewage.  I was on a campus in Lindsay Ontario for two years that housed its own constructed wetland and there were none of the issues that you may associate with a sewage facility including odours, insects and/or overflows.  It could be well designed like this bioretention facility in Portland or this constructed wetland in Washington D.C..  With an internationally recognized research institute (the Centre for Alternative Wastewater Treatment) only three hours away from Ottawa, it would be a waste to lose an opportunity like this to test urban applications of these wetlands.  And a wetland like this would help ensure that this property becomes a truly biophilic development.


In the last post I discussed some opportunities in terms of wood lots on the site (and adjacent to the site) but I would like to propose more in this post.  I've mentioned before the benefits of having a 10-hectare wood lot and that Ottawa needs to protect what they have and consider more.  There is a great opportunity here to create a larger forest that combines the Montfort Woods with some of the south-west corner of the Rockcliffe Lands.  Presently Montfort Woods is only 9 acres (3.5 hectares) which could easily be expanded into the new development to create a 10 hectare plot.  This would equate to only 5% of the Rockcliffe Lands - perhaps it could be designed to accommodate this - a bit denser housing and more green space left intact?

Yes these N.C.C. woods presently are not that ecologically sound with periwinkle invading in many corners but these woods are worth saving.  The Montfort Woods was declared an environmentally sensitive area in 2004, which ensures that this property will not be developed.  The Rockcliffe Lands redevelopment project has already proposed some buffering around this woods so that there isn't an abrubpt change from woods to backyard lawns.  This type of transition zone, such as a shrub border, would help safeguard its ecological integrity.  Once the development has been built and there are local citizens who can get involved, the neighborhood could consider public education regarding these non-native forest flora invaders and "No Dumping Garden Waste" signs along the border of the woods.  Rockcliffe Lands could even partner with the N.C.C. to run a program like Edmonton's Master Naturalists to help protect the local  wood lots and the surrounding corridors.


Another great consideration that has been proposed is keeping as much of the natural elevation as possible.  This land sits above the Ottawa River with some great viewsheds and some rock outcroppings and it is a wonderful idea to recognize the landscape and terrain as a important feature to retain.  The best way to recognize and work with these natural features is to landscape them or wildscape them as naturally as possible using native plants.  Xeriscaping (designing a garden with plants that are drought-tolerant) would be an ideal way of having municipal landscaping that was low-maintenance.  Some areas could be naturalized and left unmowed to provide natural habitat for various fauna including bees and birds.  Some hedge borders in less accessible areas and around the north and western edges of the redevelopment would also provide habitat and/or food (such as berries) and wildlife corridors that would link various green spaces.

All in all, what has already been proposed is a great start and those behind the plan have a keen eye for the natural assets that the Rockcliffe Lands have to offer.  Let's hope that they continue to see the benefits and that the community backs them up!

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 Company Rockcliffe Lands website (syau@clc.ca, info@clc.ca). I did not find an email address for the Ottawa office however.

Rockcliffe Lands Redevelopment (Part 4) - October 2013

All details about this Redevelopment Project can be found here: http://www.clcrockcliffe.ca/

Posts on Rockcliffe Lands Redevelopment:

First blog post: September 2011

Rockcliffe Lands Redevelopment (Part 1): November 2012

Rockcliffe Lands Redevelopment (Part 2): April 2013

Rockcliffe Lands Redevelopment (Part 4): October 2013

Rockcliffe Lands Redevelopment (Part 5): November 2013

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