The Future of Shea Road Woods at Planning Committee

This week, I had the great pleasure of joining Mayor Watson, City Planning Staff, Tanya Hein (President of the Stittsville Village Association), Adrienne Charlton (President of the Blackstone-Fernbank Crossing Community Association), and other 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. The woods are known by many as the unofficial dog park of Stittsville and are located south of Abbott Street East and east of Shea Road near Holy Spirit Parish.

 

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.

This was one of the first items I brought forward to Mayor Watson’s attention when he resumed office and I would like to provide my sincere thanks for his support. I would also like to thank City staff and all engaged residents for their contributions in establishing this project.

 

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.

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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. The area is already frequented by many who walk their dogs and while the details of the future uses will still need to be discussed, it is my intention to maintain the area to permit off leash dogs. 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.

 

For additional background, you can view official report submitted to Planning Committee here.

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Share your voice in supporting the City’s purchase of the Shea Road Woods

This item will be voted on at the City’s Planning Committee on October 24th starting at 9:30 am.  Residents can show their support by submitting comments to the Planning Committee Coordinator, Melody Duffenais at melody.duffenais@ottawa.ca.  Melody will ensure that all comments are circulated to the members of the committee.

 

Residents are also welcome to attend the meeting and they can choose to register to speak to the item for 5 minutes as well, however, there is no immediate necessity as I will be certain to draw the committee’s attention to the written comments that have been submitted.

 

Residents will also be able to listen live to the Committee meeting too through the City’s website here.

 

I would like to thank all residents for their positive feedback this week in regards to this item. The community’s support of our natural features really goes to show that sometimes the most highly-regarded venues of our ward are also the most natural.