Our Vision for the Carp River

Ottawa is a “river city”:  the Ottawa River, the Rideau River, the Mississippi River, and the Carp River all flow through the city at some point.  Of these only the Carp River flows entirely within the City’s municipal boundaries, from Kanata at Glen Cairn through the villages of Carp, Kinburn, and Fitzroy Harbour, ending at Fitzroy Provincial Park where it empties into the Ottawa River just below Chats Falls.

Carp River at Fitzroy Provincial Park.

There is a human dimension to the Carp River.  Like our lives it can be slow in parts, meandering, sometimes dull and narrow, but also open and grand, reflecting the sky, moving purposefully and in harmony with its surroundings.   It is of a size that it can be comprehended and appreciated in full by those who seek to explore it.  And like our lives, we can make it better if we apply ourselves.

How lucky we are to have such a lovely little river, Ottawa’s own river, in our neighbourhood.

Ribbon of Life, Ribbon for Life

Our vision for the Carp River fits within a broader vision for the village of Carp, for the river’s watershed in Kanata and West Carleton, and for the City of Ottawa as a whole:

  • Citizens value the river for how it enriches their community, offering pathways, natural areas for recreational enjoyment, and a healthy ecosystem just a short distance from their homes and offices.   It becomes a meaningful part of their lives, a treasured resource. There is active stewardship of the river by community groups, businesses, and landowners.
  • The river is supported by a healthy corridor of wetlands, ponds, meadows, trees, and riparian plantings in its journey through suburban, agricultural, and rural settings.  This ecosystem captures rain and melt water, filters pollutants, reduces erosion, and alleviates flooding.  Farmers see more of their land available for crops earlier in the spring and less crop loss due to summer storm floods.  A healthy fish population returns due to lower water temperature, more oxygen, less silting, and cleaner habitat.
  • The river contributes clean water to the Ottawa River thus benefiting all of the City’s citizens.
  • The river is a destination for commuting and recreation with trails for walking and biking that are connected to the City’s broader bicycle path network.    Snow shoe and cross country ski enthusiasts take advantage of the same trails in the winter.  Canoes and kayaks ply its length for longer than just a few weeks in the spring due to sustained release of water through the seasonal changes.
  • The City showcases the river as a model for restoration and remediation in a growing suburban area.  Informative panels on water management and sustainable practices line the pathways.
  • Schools use the river for education, field trips, science projects, and study.

This vision is possible.   The Carp River was once a healthy and viable waterway.  People remember when they used to fish in it, canoe it, and even swim in it.  It was deeper, cleaner, and cooler with forests and fields lining its banks.  While population pressures make a complete return to a pristine waterway ambitious, it is possible to restore the river’s health with simple and cost effective remediation methods and to bring vitality to the community’s experience of the river.  

 With this vision, the Carp River truly becomes a ribbon of life and a “ribbon for life”:  for people, for nature, and for the City of Ottawa.

View from Galetta Side Road looking south.

How the Carp River Can Support the City’s Vision

The City of Ottawa has made knowledge workers and the businesses that employ them the main target of its economic development program, Invest Ottawa.

Many studies by futurists, urban planners, and academics have examined the complex mix of characteristics that attract and retain talented people.  The concepts of choice – professional and personal – and community vibrancy form a recurring theme that defines what “quality of life” means not only to knowledge workers, but to all citizens.

Outdoor recreation, defined by the variety offered and the ease of accessing it, is always cited as a key element of a city’s brand and desirability.

The City has made commuting by bicycle a high priority with emphasis on its urban/suburban core within the Greenbelt.  However, there are other workplace destinations than downtown.  In the west end high tech cycling commuters currently make heavy use of the pathways that run through the Kanata Lakes, Beaver Pond, Trillium Woods area to access the March Road technology corridor.  With the relocation of the Department of National Defence from various locations in the downtown core to the former Nortel Carling campus, there will be increased demand for pathways from Kanata, Carp, and Stittsville.

Trails along the City’s suburban waterways outside the Greenbelt offer ideal multi-season, multi-use solutions for recreation and safe commuting:  bicycling, walking, jogging, cross-country skiing.  With the construction of the Arcadia and Ridge developments and the Terry Fox Drive extension, the City has the ideal opportunity to locate paths along or near the Carp River, Poole Creek and Feedmill Creek as part of its remediation and preservation plans.  These trails will be quickly and easily accessible by a large population of workers and families in the growing Stittsville/Kanata West/Kanata North communities.

In support of this broader vision, the Friends of the Carp River has relaunched its leadership of a Carp River-Village Remediation Project at the village of Carp from March Road through to the Defienbunker.  In addition to improving the riparian quality of the river, a pathway along this section with benches and interpretative panels is planned.


What attracts and retains knowledge workers/students: The quality of place or career opportunities? The cases of Montreal and Ottawa“, by Sebastien Darchen and Diane-Gabrielle Tremblay, Cities, Volume 27, Issue 4, August 2010.

Where are the Next Cities?“, by Marty Honisch, Margaret Leaf, Research Analysts, Next Generation Consulting, 2009.

A Whole New Mind“, Daniel Pink, Riverhead Trade, 2006.

The Flight of the Creative Class:  The New Global Competition for Talent“, Richard Florida, Harper Business, 2005.