Letter to the editor – Merrickville Estates

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Dear Editor

I read your article with reference to the parkland in Merrickville estates. I find it concerning that a candidate for council would actually mislead a resident about the park matter. The issue did make it to the Council table, twice.

In 2016, the Recreation Advisory Committee, at the direction of Council, undertook a survey of the Merrickville Estate Residents. This survey was well received and many residents expressed excitement at the prospect of the area being utilized. The majority of the survey results indicated an organic approach to developing the property by maintaining the integrity of the land and mature trees with open spaces, rather than a sports specific area.

The committee’s discussion included such topics as:

  • Minimize development by maintaining or keeping as much “nature” as possible;
  • Work within the lay of the land to determine exactly what the land is comprised of – a layman’s view is treed, the majority being cedars and scrub – but, as the dead wood is removed, a better picture could be presented;
  • Understand that the area may be entirely on bedrock because of the fill needed when the current houses were built – work will have to be done in order to determine exactly what the base is before development starts;
  • Understand that this area may be a habitat for a specific turtle – if so, need to determine if: a) the turtle is indeed living there; and b) an environmental assessment is needed. Once cleared from any environmental impact and understanding, the property then a formal plan could be created.

The initial conceptual plan presented to Council was:

  • Start by cutting out dead trees;
  • Use of a bush hog/chipper to chip removed branches etc. (suggestion that the Village purchase a chipper which can later be used for chipping brush rather than depositing at the dump and used in various areas – therefore a good asset for all the Village);
  • Concentrate on using whatever is on the land back on the land – the chipped wood could be put down to create paths;
  • Retrieved stones/boulders perhaps could be used for stone walls, borders around marshy areas, flat stones for stepping stones, benches along with wood planks;
  • Once the dead trees are down, and the area is open to air and sun, the land should change a bit – allow this to happen and let the area naturally develop as well, rather than just added a lot of fill;
  • Use the topography of the land to the benefit of the outcome;
  • The paths could lead to fitness stations and areas to sit and reflect, or just to walk;
  • Keep the area multifunctional;
  • Creation of boardwalks over any marshy, bog areas;
  • Phase the plan in over time, so resources (time and labour) are kept at a reasonable and accountable level;
  • Use as much local knowledge as possible.

Discussion also took place with regard to making use of the expertise of students to develop a plan as part of their course of study. Initial contact was made and there was interest expressed in such a project. The committee considered potential partnerships with local schools: students from Algonquin – Perth (masonry, carpentry); Algonquin – Ottawa (recreation); from Ottawa U, Carleton (urban planning, development).

The Recreation Advisory Committee submitted their initial report to Council and expressed a willingness as a whole to continue work on this project with Council’s approval. A Developmental Plan with potential costing was not presented, because the scope of the work had yet to be determined, due to the number of variables. The committee of the day was dedicated to helping this parkland get developed.

The hold-up was not Council. Council discussed the initial committee report and forwarded it to the department manager for a response. Despite repeated requests from councillor Steve Ireland and myself, that response did not come back to Council.

Chuck MacInnis

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