By John Dance
It’s fenced-off until October but then the new 30-metre wide parkland along the river in front of Greystone Village will be well on the way to completion. All the work is scheduled to be finalized next year.
Key features of the new half-kilometre long parkland are a soft-surfaced walking path winding through trees, two river lookouts and various habitat protection areas, including at least one for snapping turtles.
“The informal path will become a favorite asset over the next few years,” says Ian McRae of Sustainable Living Ottawa East (SLOE). “The naturalization areas, open spaces and lookouts will be destinations for the immediate neighbours as well as visitors using the pathways. The plan will eventually result in an appealing and more ecologically diverse and robust shoreline.”
The 30-metre linear park will be just east of the City’s asphalt Rideau River Western Pathway which also will be under construction this summer. The linear park’s meandering walking path is essentially the missing link of the Rideau River Nature Trail that SLOE has developed along the rest of OOE’s river corridor. The pathway likely be topped with stone dust or woodchips.
The Regional Group, developers of Greystone Village, or what the community knows as the Oblates lands, has already transplanted large trees from where homes are being constructed to the new parkland area.
This summer the linear corridor will be “capped” with a foot of clean soil, reducing any risk there may have been to exposure of contaminated material, says Erin O’Connor, Regional’s manager of land development.
While Regional proposes to have many trees along the western side of the walking path, SLOE has recommended that Regional’s plan include additional trees near the walking path. In addition to creating shade, additional trees would mitigate the impact of the existing Manitoba maples and would shade out invasives like dog-strangling vine and buckthorn.
Regional has proposed that with the large limestone blocks salvaged from the demolished Main Street row houses a gateway-like structure could be constructed at the north end of the new pathway. SLOE has suggested that the blocks might alternatively be used for seating and demarcation all along the walking path.
“The City of Ottawa has provided little comment on the work proposed within the 30-metre corridor as they will not be taking ownership of the lands,” says Jessica Palacios, Regional’s landscape architect. The Old Ottawa East Community Association has criticized the City for refusing Regional’s free offer on the land but to no avail.
“The Rideau Valley Conservation Authority has indicated a comfort with the planned approach for the lands but may have some comments for the work scheduled for 2018 as those areas are still evolving,” says Palacios.
Regional’s current schedule is to have the entire corridor graded and seeded with the informal pathway constructed before the area re-opens in October. Planting between Deschatelets Avenue and Clegg Street. will be also completed this summer, excepting a small area of planting directly adjacent to the last lot on Clegg Street.