At Planning Committee on December 13, 2016 the committee will receive a memo regarding the acquisition of Urban Natural Features. This memo responds to the motion I put forward to Council on July 8, 2015 requesting staff explore funding options to advance the acquisition of urban natural features and provide a status update to Planning Committee and Council.
One of my priorities has been working with City staff and the Mayor’s office to find the means to acquire the Shea Road Woods located in the Fernbank Community Design Plan lands. This area of land is the woods that may be best known to some residents as being part of the unofficial dog park off Abbott and Shea Roads. With all the development taking place in Stittsville I feel it is very important that we retain our natural environments when possible and the Shea Road Woods have been identified as having environmental significance.
Staff have completed this review and have determined that most funding options that may be considered would have varying limitations either as a result of legislative constraints, or practical limitations with respect to the amounts of money that could be secured. Staff have also looked at other alternatives for acquisition and/or protection of urban natural features. The results of the staff investigations are highlighted in this report.
The 2016 budget approved $360,000 for rural acquisition. The 2017 draft budget includes an additional $800,000 in funding for acquisitions in the rural area and one-time funding of $200,000 for acquisition in the urban area. Future funding will be examined as part of the next Long Range Financial Plan currently planned for Q2 2017.
The status of the three urban natural areas (UNA) recommended for acquisition in the September 2013 Urban Natural Features Strategy Update is:
- UNA 193 – Shea Road Woods (Fernbank): Realty Services is currently negotiating with the property owner for an option to purchase a part of the woodlot, with cost of the option to be funded from one time funding of $200,000.
- UNA 100 – Armstrong Road South Woods (Riverside South): Realty Services has an agreement in principle with the property owner for the acquisition of 8 acres of the woodland through a land exchange.
- UNA 95 – Nantes Woods (Orleans): No change in status. No immediate development pressure.
Discussions are ongoing regarding the acquisition of the Shea Road Woods and I will continue to update the community as I have more information.
To review the memo, please visit here.