Cutting begins on Beaver Pond development

Developers told construction crews to move their clearcutting equipment into the Beaver Pond Forest area Monday.

The sound of chainsaws droned as developers told construction crews to move their clearcutting equipment into the Beaver Pond Forest area Monday, while about 12 protestors demonstrated near the controversial development.

KNL, a consortium of developers, is set to clear a 29-hectare section of Kanata’s South March Highlands — which includes two square kilometres of Beaver Pond Forest — to make way for a housing subdivision.

Around 12 p.m. the Coalition to Protect the South March Highlands said it sent an emergency email to its 14,000 members.

"I think it's absolutely horrendous," said coalition member Kurtis Benedetti.

"It's a real shame to humanity that they will be cutting down an area with so many endangered species, sacred land to the Algonquins … it's just land that means so much to a lot of us."

Urbandale Construction, one part of the development consortium, bought the land seven years ago from Genstar with a plan to build about 3,200 houses, but has promised not to touch the pond itself and eight hectares of forest lining it.

Ottawa's city council approved the development of a new subdivision on the site at that time.

Calls to KNL companies were not returned Monday. Mayor Jim Watson met with the companies, but was not available to comment on what was discussed.

Several groups critical of development

But the development has faced criticism from Algonquin groups who said they believe it has archeological significance and environmentalists who say developing the site will destroy an important wetland.

"On this file everything has been just a complete disaster," said Steve Hulaj, President of the Kanata Lakes Community Association.

"The worst now is the cultural disaster that this city is going to allow to happen … and right in the capital of our country."

Protestor Julie Comber said the companies' actions will be remembered when the finished subdivision goes on sale.

"You can vote with your dollars," Comber said.