UNESCO WORLD HERITAGE; the Rideau Canal

Boating on the Rideau offers a unique perspective of the beautiful undisturbed shoreline harbouring much wildlife among the varied natural shoreline: Blue Herons, Osprey, even Bald Eagles, and the ever graceful white Mute Swans floating serenely on the water. This is a shy wading bird the Green Heron, one of the smallest of herons. Photo: Henk Wevers.

bl green or least bittern heron draper bay june 19 2016 a

That is one of the reasons the historic waterway between Kingston and Ottawa received its world heritage designation in 2007. Here is what the UNESCO website calls it: The Rideau Canal, a monumental early 19th-century construction covering 202 km of the Rideau and Cataraqui rivers from Ottawa south to Kingston Harbour on Lake Ontario…

But there is a lot of pressure from developers to sell estate lots along the same waterway, see the latest a twelve lot subdivision bordering on the canal between the River Styx and Colonel By Lake.

isl of man real estate lots cropped

Waterfront is attractive but with restrictions written into the approval document make access to the water impossible. The Council of the City of Kingston approved the development reluctantly after the developers had taken their 2012 plan to the Municipal Board of Ontario, and won. The latest planning report dated 2016 includes minimal setbacks from the high water level of 40 metres, with no disturbance to soil or vegetation. Prospective purchasers to be advised that these are not water access lots. We can only hope that the purchasers of these lots will follow these guidelines and that there is no creeping deterioration of the natural environment at the fringes of this development.

Bobolinks are nesting here and are impacted by lots 2 and 3 and the developer has to take measures to mitigate this.  Will that prevent the disappearance of habitat for this protected bird? Will there be follow-up by field naturalists or biologists?
bobo_jimmccree

Bobolink male with his characteristic white back, “a tuxedo worn backwards”. By clicking the photo you will be taken to the source of this photo where you can read more about birding.

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This is the aerial view from Google Earth.

isl of man july 2016 google earth

The parcel of land, sixteen hectare will have thirteen estate lots. It is just opposite the Allen Point development, seen on the left bottom.. The new development is bordered on three sides by the Rideau, with sensitive wetland just below the middle of the photo. The shoreline is protected by existing vegetation such as trees and shrubs. But will the City be vigilant to check that the forty meter setback from the shore will remain as is? Or will the owners of houses bordering the canal be tempted to cut “here and there”, so that over time the natural shoreline gets denuded?

There is a tree inventory of the site with 180 trees located along the shore line and in clusters on the property.  A tree conservation plan will be required as a draft plan condition which includes the 40 meter setback from the high water mark as said before.

isl of man july 2016 list re conditions

This is a copy of the most salient issues and conditions. (Page 117 of Report PC-16-017). Note point 3 where it states that the shoreline will be stabilised. How will that be done? Currently it is a natural clay embankment that resulted from the digging by hand to enlarge the Cataraqui Creek in 1830-s. It also shows the thick layer of clay that overlays the limestone in the fields north of the Aragon Road that have been declared Prime Agricultural land because of that fertile clay based soil.

By the way: The development will have a publicly owned park.

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isle of man Bobolink,_Mer_Bleue

 

 

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THREE AREAS IN OUR NEIGHBOURHOOD TO BE STUDIED

The City of Kingston has hired RFA Planning Consultant Inc. to undertake the Estate Residential Review. A draft report, after being received by the Rural Advisory Committee, has just been approved by Council. I assume that the actual study by the consultants will soon start. The information and results of the study will be used to update the Official Plan of the city.

The study will examine background information that the City has compiled over time. This includes vacant land inventory, rural severance activity, building permit activity and new estate lot development.

The review will identify trends in lot creation and residential development in the rural area, research current approaches to estate residential development in other Ontario municipalities, and recommend changes to the Official Plan policy on residential development and estate lot creation in the rural area.

The report currently in circulation presents the draft of the Estate Residential Review for public review and comment.[i]

It was presented to the Rural Advisory Committee at their March public meeting and approved by Council on April 14. That means the studies will go ahead.

The three areas that affect us along the Aragon Road and around Colonel By Lake are shown in maps that accompany the report, the most important for us is shown below. The other areas are along the River Styx and along the St. Lawrence River.

estate planning map

The area at the west end of Colonel By Lake includes Edenwood Estates and the pasture land at the corner of Battersea Road and Aragon Road. Part of this, along Maple Lawn Drive, is already approved for five estate lots and houses are currently being constructed.

The remainder of the pasture land abuts environmental areas and wetlands that continue into Colonel By Lake. It is hard to visualise more estate lots shoehorned in to this remaining land. The lots would not have waterfront as the criteria spell out as being “desirable” to be characterised as “estate lot”.

The most sensitive study area is at the end or our road on both sides of the Canal, and including the River Styx and Colonel By Lake. The part to the south-east of that area is Alan Point Drive and that is fully developed. The area to the north-west is transversed by three pipelines; to superimpose estate lots in between is possibly not the best idea?

The proposed study area south-east on Colonel By Lake is already partly developed with the houses facing us across the lake.

There will be open houses, I assume, and the Rural Advisory Committee will have input, therefore we might think about all this and form an opinion that you can bring to the table at these study forums organised by the consultants.

If you wish to give me some feedback please feel free to send it to: weversh@queensu.ca

[i] The full report can be found at this Internet address: https://www.cityofkingston.ca/documents/10180/8681053/RAC_A0215-15004.pdf/6e7c8953-8027-4bd8-866b-cccae64f8b13

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