The Carp Riverwalk is officially open! The gate by the Diefenbunker guard house and the gate below the Mess Hall are open so you can walk right from the village! Thank you to all the volunteers and a special thanks to Councillor Eli El-Chantiry, Judy Makin at the Huntley Community Association, and Julian Romeskie with Friends of the Carp River for supporting this project.
Dogs on leash. Poop & scoop. No motorized vehicles.
To download a map and to learn more about the Riverwalk, visit our Carp Riverwalk web page.
On Sunday, Councillor Eli El-Chantiry joined Friends of the Carp River and the Huntley Community Association for a short stroll on the future Carp Riverwalk. Plans are underway to begin phase one: mowing a short trail loop and a long trail loop. Soon we will be able to walk it and, in a few weeks, snowshoe and cross-country ski on it! Stay tuned for updates.
To encourage and support citizen science, we have created seven projects in iNaturalist to capture observations made in and along the river and its four main tributaries. Any observation made (except one that is obscured or private) is automatically added to one or more of our Carp River projects depending on where the observation is located.
21 March 2020 – Early morning on the third day of spring felt like winter redux with an air temperature of -10C and a wind chill of -20C due to the icy blast from the northwest. But the sun was too bright and too high on the horizon for winter. Sunlight sparkled on the open water of the Carp River’s spring freshet flowing through the restoration site in Kanata. Despite the cold and patches of snow, could signs of spring be found?
Honking. Quacking. Conk-la-ree! Early spring migrants blared a cacophony of bird calls. Canada Geese and Mallards rested in the open water of the river and its wetlands. Although some will stay through the summer, these birds are likely just passing through on their way north. However, other birds have arrived from the south to make a home here. A pair of male Red-winged Blackbirds wheeled over the marsh in a territorial battle, while another male nearby perched on a cattail and proclaimed his ownership of a plot of flattened rushes by the river.
The large flocks all looked like Canada Geese, but close examination can sometimes reveal different species that travel with them like Brant Geese and Snow Geese. Among all the black, brown, and white geese a leucistic individual was found. Leucism is a genetic condition that affects the goose’s ability to produce the dark Melanim pigment so it appears white, light brown, or grey.
Learn more about what birds have been observed at the Restoration Site here: eBird hotspot
Yellow, red, orange, chartreuse. Willow twigs retain their colour in winter, but the colour brightens as sap begins to flow and buds swell. Willows are one of the first woody plants to bloom in the spring, providing much-needed nectar for early pollinators. Thirteen native species of willows grow in Ottawa, some as trees and some as shrubs. Common shrub willows at the restoration area include native Bebb’s Willow and Sandbar Willow. The large trees that grow on the site are non-native Hybrid Crack Willows, so called because their branches easily break.
Red Osier Dogwood’s pinkish-red twigs also brighten marshes and shorelines during winter, but these shrubs bloom and leaf out much later. Its white berries (bitter and mildly nauseating to humans) are eaten by a large variety of birds and provide a valuable source of energy for fall migrants.
Both willows and dogwoods stabilize shorelines to prevent erosion and sedimentation of the river. They provide food and habitat for many species.
Don’t run away! “Scat” is a term biologists use for animal poop. Piles of scat, some quite substantial, were deposited at intervals along the pathways. Close examination revealed these were from coyotes, not dogs. Coyotes are omnivorous. Their scat looks dog-like, but it consists of seeds, hair, and bones, and it tapers to a long tail. Coyotes will use scat piles repeatedly to mark territory, hence the size of the piles. Red fox scat is similar, but smaller. Coyotes inhabit the area all year round, but these scat piles were recently deposited on the bare pathway pavement.
Pack your binoculars and camera and visit the Carp River Conservation Area to see what you can discover. Find out more about its pathways and how to access it here: Carp River Conservation Area.
Greek mythology imagined Arcadia as a vision of pastoralism and harmony with nature*. In Kanata, the new community of Arcadia lies on the doorstep of a riverine and wetland natural setting – a ribbon of life – along a two kilometer restored section of the Carp River. How fortunate Arcadia is to be part of this large and unique natural area in suburban Ottawa. What are its possibilities for realizing harmony with nature?
The Friends of the Carp River are working with the Mississippi Valley Conservation Authority, City of Ottawa, and Ottawa Stewardship Council to animate the restored river and its wetlands for education and discovery, a Living Classroom along the Carp River:
an education resource for schools,
a place for families to learn about wetlands and biodiversity,
a site for citizen science and research,
perhaps eventually an eco-tourism experience for visitors to Ottawa.
Beside the Living Classroom on the restored river lies a 6 acre parcel of land designated for a park in the Arcadia subdivision. River Chase Park will be built with recreation amenities to meet Arcadia’s needs. But it can be so much more than just another suburban park. It’s a gateway to nature, connecting the community to the pulsing vitality of riparian shorelines: wading birds, pollinators and wildflowers, basking turtles, river otters, and the seasonal rhythm of migrating birds.
iWonder – How can Arcadia’s park be:
a place for inspiration, recreation, gathering, and learning?
integrated with the river, wetlands, and wildlife?
a celebration of the ribbon of life?
an experience that is about more than just playing or watching a game?
a place for meditation, contemplation, and well-being.
The community will decide what play structures, sports, and other recreation activities go into River Chase Park. However, the community also has an opportunity to enhance their park experience by incorporating design features that integrate the park with its remarkable surroundings, within budget constraints.
This opportunity comes about through the partnership of organizations who are developing the Living Classroom. We are talking with Councillor Jenna Sudds and the Arcadia Community Association to explore the possibilities for the park.
The Living Classroom is a multi-year project that will be launched later in 2020 along with a fundraising campaign. Part of the Living Classroom vision requires a River House – a gathering and education place.
This is Arcadia’s opportunity to create a unique park experience in Ottawa. We will continue to explore the possibilities with the community to live in harmony with and celebrate the ribbon of life in its backyard.
Councillor Sudds will be hosting a community session in Spring 2020 and a consultation website will be launched to gather community input.
Saturday, February 29 dawned cold, but clear with a fresh layer of snow on the field below the Diefenbunker. Volunteers had groomed a snowshoe track and ski tracks on Friday, plowed the ball diamond parking lot, and picked up rented snowshoes at MEC to loan for free to those without them. We were ready for HCA’s Winter Carnival!
Bright, sunny weather and the chili contest brought a crowd of people to the Mess Hall around noon. Many people enjoyed the trail throughout the day using their own equipment. In the afternoon 36 people signed out snowshoes, 19 adults, 17 children. A number of people had never snowshoed, so we were glad they had the opportunity to try it out.
Friends of the Carp River supported the event to raise awareness of the Carp Riverwalk, a project in the exploration phase about creating a one kilometer loop on the City-owned land below the Diefenbunker. It would have all-season use for people to enjoy walking, jogging, snowshoeing, and cross-country skiing along the Carp River.
The Friends of the Carp River are helping the Huntley Community Association (HCA) with a snowshoe and cross-country ski event on Saturday, 29 February between 10am and 4pm. The event takes place on land below the Diefenbunker, where a snowshoe trail and a ski trail will be marked for participants. This is a great family activity for all ages to enjoy nature and celebrate the beauty of winter.
For those without equipment, HCA will have a limited number of snowshoes (6 adult, 6 children) to borrow that you can sign out at the Mess Hall at 2240 Craig’s Side Road registration desk. You will then be directed to the site and its trails.
The event is being held to raise awareness of an exciting new project in our community, the Carp Riverwalk – Our River, Our Heritage, Our Well-being. The Friends of the Carp River are exploring the development of a pedestrian trail along the river below the Diefenbunker for pedestrian recreation and appreciation of Carp’s own little river.
Find out more about the Carp Winter Carnival. At the Mess Hall, there will be a fire pit, chili contest, and more!
Many people don’t know that more houses will be built between the south side of the Carp River and the existing houses in Arcadia on what used to be the floodplain of the river. At the public meeting on 12 July we learned:
There are two storm water management ponds. The larger one to the north is 8 ha and it must be built first in 2019/2020 to establish elevation.
In Stages 3 and 4, 455 residential units will be built, a mix of singles and townhomes. Stage 3 planned occupancy is 2021; Stage 4 is 2024.
There are currently no plans to build Stage 5 (although this may change). It lies in the floodplain and there are “soil challenges”.
Feedmill Creek with be “restored” (with developer funds) and pathways created on either side. The work will be done by the City in 2020.
The park is 6 ha. Half of the park will be built in 2020/2021; the other half near river will need to be pre-loaded and allowed to settle. The land will need to be raised by 3 to 4 meters.
The future LRT corridor is at the south end, between Campeau and the Queensway. It will cross the Carp River and run parallel to Feedmill Creek.
Stage 2 is commercial development south of Campeau Drive: 2 hotels, 2 restaurants, and a hotel in 2018/2019.
Huntley Creek may be threatened by a Concrete Batch Processing Plant proposed for 2596 Carp Road. Huntley Creek is one of the City’s few cold water creeks and a tributary of the Carp River. Despite setbacks from the floodplain and vegetative buffers, discharge from the plant – planned or unplanned – could affect the creek’s temperature and introduce pollutants. There are also risks to groundwater and nearby wells.
The development proposed in the Site Plan application includes a concrete batching plant, site parking, truck parking, outdoor aggregate storage, and an outdoor wash rack. The plant will increase heavy truck traffic on an already congested section of Carp Road.
The subject property is currently zoned Rural General Industrial which permits a variety of industrial uses, but does not permit a concrete batching plant. The Zoning By-law Amendment application requests that a concrete batching plant be included as an additional permitted use to the subject property in order to accommodate the development on the property.
The target date the application will be considered by the City’s Agricultural and Rural Affaires Committee, is February 7, 2019. Residents are encouraged to voice their concerns to Councillor El-Chantiry and to the City’s planner, who can be contacted via the Site Plan application web site.
Richcraft Homes held a public information meeting on 12 December to share three preliminary concept plans for the envelope of land – about 27 hectares – available for development out of a total of 77 hectares on the south side of Terry Fox Drive. Information about this project, including past comments from the public, is available at the City of Ottawa’s Urban Expansion Study for the Kanata Highlands. The three concepts can be downloaded here.
There are two main issues with this development:
management of flood and surface water, and
addressing the species at risk on the site, especially the Blanding’s Turtle population.
The site borders the stretch of the Carp River between Richardson Side Road and the railroad crossing at Huntmar Road. Flood plain mapping was last done in 1983, but significant development has occurred upstream since that time. Blanding’s Turtles cross the site from the adjacent South March Highlands to reach the river. We sent our comments to the City and you can download them here.