Ottawa

Kanata wetlands development could be halted

Ontario's Ministry of Natural Resources has declared a stretch of wetlands connected to the South March Highlands in Kanata North as "provincially significant," a move that could impact proposed residential developments in the area.
Province steps in to protect area slated for development 2:07

Ontario's Ministry of Natural Resources has declared a stretch of wetlands connected to the South March Highlands in Kanata North as "provincially significant," a move that could impact proposed residential developments in the area.

Residential developers have plans to build 3,000 homes worth a total of about $1 billion in Kanata North. But the City of Ottawa received a letter from the ministry Sept. 16 saying the nearby Kizell Drain Wetland Complex is significant and protected by provincial standards.

Environmentalist Paul Renaud has worked hard in trying to stop developers from building homes on the South March Highlands. (CBC)

The main concern originates in studies that show rain and storm water runoffs from proposed developments could threaten the marshes and its species, including Blandings turtles.

The provincial ruling is significant because KNL Developments (a joint venture of developers Urbandale and Richcraft) had planned to use the wetlands to drain run-off from their proposed residential developments.

"All that polluted water would come in and fill this entire area behind me to the height of these bull rushes," said Paul Renaud, from the Coalition to Protect March Highlands.

"Not just this point, but as far as your eye could see, and all that water has to go this way through the Beaver Pond and through Beaverbrook to the Kizell drain," added Renaud.

Wetlands part of South March Highlands

The wetlands are part of the South March Highlands and feed into Beaver Pond, where developers have been engaged in a battle with local Algonquin First Nations and other environmental groups over their proposed development.

The Kizell wetlands are part of the larger South March Highlands in Kanata, which is also site of the controversial Beaver Pond development. (CBC)

Protesters have tried to stop the development of about 26 hectares in the South March Highlands. Two Algonquin men strapped themselves to a tree in an attempt to stop the machines, but to no avail.

The province could halt development plans at the Kizell wetlands slated to start later this fall. But the city could still choose to honour existing agreements with developers.

Area Coun. Marianne Wilkinson said she is concerned about flooding, but said the city is caught in a difficult position.

"The city is caught in a legal document. We have to make sure they meet the guidelines, but we just can't say go away," she said.

While the provincial decision is a blow to developers, it is not clear what long-term impact it will have on the plans to build in the area.

City hall insiders told CBC Ottawa the plan could be set back as much as two years and cost developers millions of dollars as they attempt to find new ways of dealing with storm water runoffs.