Today, I had the great pleasure of joining Mayor Watson, City Biologist Dr. Nick Stow, and interested Stittsville residents on-site for a special announcement regarding the acquisition and protection of the Shea Road Woods.
As it stands, the woods are a privately-owned natural area and could legally be developed without acquisition by the City.
Working on retaining this property has been a priority project of mine for quite some time and with Stitttsville growing at the rate that it is, I understand how important it is to preserve our natural environment wherever possible. As such, I have continued to push in finding potential solutions in how to ensure that this area remains protected.
On October 24th, Planning Committee will consider the first step in the long-term acquisition and protection of Shea Road Woods. The report and recommendations to Planning Committee seek approval of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the owners, CRT Developments Inc., for purchase of the woodlot through a combination of cash and parkland dedication.
As part of all subdivision agreements, Ottawa requires each developer to design and build parks on behalf of the City. As part of a subdivision adjacent to the Shea Road Woods, CRT Developments had already planned a 3.28-hectare park. In exchange for the Shea Road Woods property, the City will allow that land to instead be developed with low-density housing. The City would pay cash for the remaining 1.72 hectares, at an estimated cost of $1,577,573. Funding for that purchase would come from the Environmental Resource Area Acquisition Reserve Fund, which Council established to help acquire and protect features like Shea Road Woods.
A final purchase agreement would be conditional upon the City obtaining permission from Hydro One to relocate playing fields and other park facilities to a nearby transmission line corridor, so that the community can still enjoy a full range of recreational, health, and fitness opportunities. Such a move will require engineering studies and possible design measures to ensure the community that health and safety will never be compromised.
This is great news for residents as the Shea Woods have become a popular natural feature in Stittsville, providing our communities with beautiful scenery and nature walks. I would like to thank all staff who have contributed in bringing this project to the point it is at now for all of their hard work. I would also like to send a sincere thank you to all of the residents of the Stittsville community who have been engaged in this item throughout this process for sharing their thoughts and their commitment to preserving Stittsville’s natural features.
If Planning Committee and City Council approves the MOU, then City staff will move quickly to carry out the necessary studies and create a plan for the woodlot and park. Although challenges remain to the final protection of Shea Road Woods, the City and CRT Developments are committed to the principle of preserving it for future generations.