Tuesday, December 14, 2010

The South March Highlands

The South March Highlands from Gord Stephen on Vimeo.

I just sent the following letter to my mayor and city councillors. You can read more about the issue here. And here is another video.

This matter will be brought before council and voted on tomorrow.

If you feel so inclined please copy and send this letter along. Here are the email addresses you need:
Stephen.Blais@ottawa.ca; Rainer.Bloess@ottawa.ca; David.Chernushenko@ottawa.ca; Rick.Chiarelli@ottawa.ca; Peter.Clark@ottawa.ca; Diane.Deans@ottawa.ca; Steve.Desroches@ottawa.ca; Keith.Egli@ottawa.ca; Eli.El-Chantiry@ottawa.ca; Mathieu.Fleury@ottawa.ca; Jan.Harder@ottawa.ca; Kitchissippi@ottawa.ca; Diane.Holmes@ottawa.ca; Allan.Hubley@ottawa.ca; Peter.Hume@ottawa.ca; Maria.Mcrae@ottawa.ca; Scott.Moffatt@ottawa.ca; Bob.Monette@ottawa.ca; Shad.Qadri@ottawa.ca; Mark.Taylor@ottawa.ca; Tim.Tierney@ottawa.ca; Doug.Thompson@ottawa.ca; Marianne.Wilkinson@ottawa.ca

Dear Mayor Watson,

As a resident of Ottawa, I want you to know that I view the preservation of the South March Highlands to be of the highest priority for this new city council.

I believe that your leadership as mayor and that of our new-elected council can play a critical role in ensuring that every avenue is pursued to protect this unique area.

The fact that the Beaver Pond Forest lands are under such imminent threat of being developed for housing reflects a major failure in planning on the part of this city.

However, it also presents a watershed opportunity for this new council, under your direction, to rally the forces needed to protect this remarkable natural area.

It is unquestionably Ottawa’s most significant natural area and, as such, a substantial but untapped asset to the city of Ottawa. Three times the size of Stanley Park, the South March Highlands is considered by experts to be among the most bio-diverse not just in Ontario but in Canada. And, considering that it lies within the boundaries of the City of Ottawa, the nation’s capital, might just make it unique in the world.

How can we possibly allow it to be lost when other cities across Canada, such as Montreal, are developing international reputations for protecting their biodiversity?

It is imperative that the city find a legitimate way to prevent the impending clearing of the land, and continue to examine every possibility, and explore every avenue to preserve this land, either as city land, or as land held in collaboration with other governmental and non-governmental agencies, for example, as part of an expanded National Capital Greenbelt and/or a land trust arrangement of some kind. Creativity also needs to be applied to raising the necessary funds for the acquisition so that it will not put additional and undue stress on Ottawa taxpayers. Ottawa is a city gifted with multi-talented, educated, and highly motivated residents who should be enlisted to help find a solution to this challenge. This is a unique opportunity to respond to community support to create a new model for Public-to-Public partnership with the community.

This is the eleventh hour for the South March Highlands and once it is gone, it is gone for good. This is this city’s opportunity to act decisively to save this precious, natural gem. Many thousands of residents from across Ottawa have already expressed their concern and desire to see this area saved from development. I now add my voice.

Preserving the South March Highlands might just be the most important natural legacy that you, as mayor, and this city council could leave for future generations of Ottawa residents.

We need your leadership. It’s never too late to do the right thing.

c.c. City Councillors

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