With another challenging year behind us, it’s clear the Rideau Valley Conservation Authority not only survived 2021, but thrived. The RVCA’s 2021 Annual Report is now available online. Despite continued disruption from the global pandemic, staff embarked on many special projects in 2021 that will continue into the coming year. This included installing 11 new climate stations across the watershed to improve our flood and drought forecasting, particularly in the face of a changing climate, and completing draft hazard mapping studies for the Upper Jock River and Stevens Creek.
The RVCA kicked off an ambitious Watershed Report process to deliver a comprehensive snapshot of environmental conditions in the Rideau Valley, and drafted updates to our planning and development policies to better align with provincial legislation and local needs.
On top of this, RVCA staff continued to deliver our regular programs and services at record levels. In 2021, the RVCA welcomed 300,000 visitors to RVCA’s 11 conservation areas, up 50% over pre-pandemic numbers, and piloted a new virtual outdoor education program at Baxter Conservation Area, welcoming 1,612 students in partnership with the Ottawa Catholic School Board.
We planted 230,100 trees throughout the watershed, and completed 193 clean water projects and provided more than $478,000 in grants to rural farmers and landowners. We naturalized 61 shoreline properties with 16,412 native trees and shrubs, distributing 1,440 free disease-tolerant butternut tree seedlings to landowners. Dozens of streams, rivers and lakes were sampled and surveyed for surface water quality, thanks in part to 13 community volunteers who filled lake sampling gaps created by COVID-19 limitations.
Some statistics show that the RVCA issued 7 flood messages and 5 low water response messages, reviewed 1,874 Planning Act applications (site plan control, minor variances, severances, subdivision reviews and other development needs), processed 1,376 septic system applications and inspections, and a record 4,647 inquiries, applications, complaints and violations under the Conservation Authorities Act.
The RVCA’s General Manager, Sommer Casgrain-Robertson, also participated on the Province’s multi-stakeholder Conservation Authorities Working Group over the course of 2021 to provide input into new regulations under the Conservation Authorities Act.
“I am so proud of what the RVCA team has been able to accomplish under such challenging circumstances over the past two years,” said Casgrain-Robertson. “We have laid the groundwork for a healthy watershed, which in turn will support healthy communities, healthy economies and a healthy future. We look forward to a productive and exciting 2022.”
For your copy of the RVCA 2021 Annual Report, visit www.rvca.ca, or call 613-692-3571 or 1-800-267-3504 for a hard copy.