INTERPROVINCIAL CROSSINGS STUDY
In February 2009 the NCC decided to take the top 3 crossings identified in the phase I report to the next phase. This is a full environmental assessment and design that will take 4 years to complete. Fortunately Petrie Island was not rated highly as a possible crossing point and is now off the list.
The National Capital Commission, in partnership with the Ministries of
Transport of Ontario and Quebec, is conducting an environmental
assessment study of future interprovincial crossings in the National
Capital Region. Ten crossing sites are presently under consideration,
six of which are in the east end of Ottawa:
In September 2008, at the conclusion of Phase I of the study, the technically preferred corridor for a new crossing of the Ottawa River was identified at Kettle Island with links to the Aviation Parkway in the City of Ottawa and to Montee Paiement in the City of Gatineau. This corridor minimizes environmental impacts and provides the best transportation service. It was selected as the No. 1 alternative by the Evaluation Committee. Information about the project and the public consultations is available on the project website: http://www.ncrcrossings.ca/en/home.html
The Friends of Petrie Island had expressed serious concerns about the
impact of a bridge at or near Petrie Island, both from the standpoint of
beach and other recreational uses and, equally importantly, of potential
destruction of key natural habitats. Below are the comments submitted by
the Friends of Petrie Island in 2007 for the first round and second
rounds of public consultations.
Interprovincial Crossings -- Comments by Friends of Petrie Island, 2 March 2008
The Friends of Petrie Island have reviewed the Summary of Existing Conditions Report and the accompanying exhibits that were made available to the public as part of Public Consultation Two. We have several concerns and comments, as detailed below.
The Friends of Petrie Island have grave concerns about the fact that an interprovincial crossing site is being considered in the Petrie Island and Tenth Line - Montée Mineault corridors.
Neither of these corridors is consistent with the purpose of the undertaking, which is to develop an interprovincial transportation plan that will (amongst other objectives) enhance the quality of life of residents in the National Capital Region and minimize natural, socio-economic, and cultural impacts.
On the contrary, an interprovincial crossing in either of these sites will likely result in irremediable degradation of a unique and highly valued natural resource and recreational area. Petrie Island, along with the nearby mainland (Urban Natural Area 92), provides a unique and irreplaceable recreational and interpretive resource for the residents of Ottawa. The nature trails, picnic areas, parks, and beaches are the result of more than a decade of combined efforts by the City, its residents, and local volunteer groups.
Corridor 9 Petrie Island (Chapter 10 Existing Conditions Summary Report)
Environmental: Significant Flora and Fauna
The report acknowledges the presence of provincially rare Map Turtles (COSEWIC Status ‘Special Concern’), but notes only the ‘potential’ for the presence of Blanding’s Turtles (COSEWIC Status ‘Threatened’).
The Ottawa Stewardship Council and the Friends of Petrie Island conducted turtle nesting surveys in 2006 and 2007. Blanding’s Turtles were observed on the Island in both years and have also been reported in other studies. Further field studies are essential in order to better define and protect the population, habitat, and potential nesting sites of Blanding’s turtles on the Islands, in the wetlands, and along the Ottawa River shoreline.
The surveys also confirmed that Map Turtles are nesting on Petrie Island. In the 2006 and 2007 surveys, Map Turtles were observed nesting on the verges of the access road and parking areas to the beach (i.e. in close proximity to the proposed alignment). Further studies are essential in order to better define and protect the location of Northern Map Turtle nesting areas.
The Turtle Nesting Survey Reports are available on the Friends of Petrie Island website.
Land Use and Development
We take exception to the statement that “this corridor includes only one major land use related constraint, a church located on the Quebec side.” This appears to presume that land “used” for natural and/or recreational purposes has less value than other uses, such as, for example, a church or a rifle range. This categorization trivializes the contribution of natural and recreational areas to quality of life.
Petrie Island has evolved to become a regional destination and a major contribution to the quality of life of the residents of Ottawa. It’s cultural, recreational, and natural resources include the Grandmaitre Ecological Reserve, the William Holland Trail, the Al Tweddle Picnic Area, the Friends of Petrie Island Interpretive Centre, and Stuemer Park. Activities include nature walks and nature observation, picnics and outdoor relaxation, swimming, canoeing, kayaking and sailing, wind surfing, fishing, outdoor education, snowshoeing, boating on the Ottawa River, and low impact unstructured sports such as beach volleyball.
The City of Ottawa, in consultation with the public, has established a clear vision for Petrie Island Park:
Petrie Island Park, when completed, will be an all-season, day-use public amenity designed to provide for safe, water-oriented, pedestrian-friendly recreation opportunities for residents and visitors while maintaining and protecting the significant natural qualities of this portion of the Ottawa River and its wetland landscape.
Development of the park has remained consistent with this vision, and in the summer of 2008, construction is planned to begin on a long-awaited beach pavilion.
The recreational facilities and the natural areas on Petrie Island are major constraints to development, and should be considered as such in the study. Traffic congestion, noise, and pollution, and the infrastructure associated with an interprovincial crossing harmonize poorly, to say the least, with the natural, recreational, and quality of life attributes of Petrie Island.
Also, the proposed alignment does not appear to take into consideration the need for a new local access road to the Island, should the existing alignment be used as part of an interprovincial crossing route. Nor is mention made of the fact that the existing causeway is below the 100-year floodline. This latter fact has been a major constraint to efforts to raise the causeway in order to minimize the risks of seasonal flooding.
Corridor 8 Montée Mineault – 10th Line (Chapter 9 Existing Conditions Summary Report)
The report acknowledges the presence of provincially rare Map Turtles (COSEWIC Status ‘Special Concern’), but states that its breeding status is unknown. As noted above, nesting surveys conducted by the Ottawa Stewardship Council and the Friends of Petrie Island have confirmed that Northern Map Turtles are nesting on the Islands.
In addition, Blanding’s Turtles (COSEWIC Status ‘Threatened’) have been observed on the Islands on several occasions, and the potential for their presence within the proposed Corridor 8 alignment should not be discounted.
Summary of Constraints (Chapter 12)
Table 12.1 Natural Environment Corridor 8 Montée Mineault – 10th Line Corridor should note the potential presence of Map and Blanding’s turtles among the SAR fauna.
Table 12.1 Natural Environment Corridor 9 Petrie Island should be amended to include Blanding’s Turtle among the SAR (Species at Risk) fauna listed.
Table 12.1 Land Use Development should include recreational use for Corridors 8 and Corridor 9 and recreational and interpretive facilities (beach, interpretive centre) for Corridor 9.
Preliminary Evaluation Criteria
The issues, in our opinion, are too subtle and complex to be addressed solely by a quantitative comparison, irrespective of the lengthy list of criteria to be used. In addition, it is difficult to comment on the criteria in the absence of an explanation as to how these criteria will be weighed one against the other. How does one “compare” the loss of a significant wetland, for example, with the need to re-align a roadway?
It is recommended that “greenhouse gas emissions” and “fossil fuel consumption” be added to the criteria for Traffic and Transportation, as these are important factors in distinguishing the relative merits of corridors with regard to their proximity to origins and destinations.
It is unfortunate that the draft Natural Environment Assessment (Natural Environmental Constraints) prepared by Brunton Consulting Services was not available to the public during this round of public consultation. Brunton’s report provides a compelling argument for the immediate elimination of the Petrie Island corridor from future consideration:
“The potential impact of development is focused on wetlands, including the East Island area of the Petrie Islands PSW in Ottawa and the similarly diverse Baie Carpentier marsh in Gatineau. Impact on significant features and ecological functions in both wetlands is unavoidable - particularly in Gatineau. Development of this Crossing alternative is expected to present substantial short-term and cumulative mitigation challenges. It is unlikely that the full range of these impacts could be successfully mitigated.”
The socio-economic and cultural constraints are equally compelling. The Existing Conditions Summary Report fails, however, to adequately describe the socio-economic and cultural import of Petrie Island. The number of visitors to the Island has increased from 35,000 in the year 2000 to more than 230,000 in 2007. Canada Day celebrations accounted for an additional 20,000 visitors in 2007. Petrie Island has become a regional destination and a major contribution to the quality of life of residents throughout the National Capital Region.
We thank you for your consideration and we remain available to assist the study team as a source of local knowledge with respect to Petrie Islands and our community.
Friends of Petrie Island
Below are the comments submitted by the Friends of Petrie Island in 2007.
ENVIRONMENTAL ASSESSMENT STUDY OF FUTURE INTERPROVINCIAL CROSSINGS IN THE NATIONAL CAPITAL REGION
PUBLIC CONSULTATION SESSION ONE: JUNE 2007
COMMENTS BY THE FRIENDS OF PETRIE ISLAND
The Friends of Petrie Island (FOPI) originated in 1997 and were incorporated in 1998. FOPI’s objectives are to participate with the City of Ottawa and relevant agencies in the planning, development and management of the Island, with particular attention to the environmentally sensitive nature of the site, respecting its biodiversity, maintaining its ecological integrity and ensuring appropriate public consultation. FOPI provides volunteers for the conduct of activities on the Island, for the support of special projects aimed at the preservation and/or enhancement of the Island, and for the development and delivery of educational programs for the general public and interested groups as the need arises.
Preliminary Crossing Alternatives
In accordance with the preliminary coarse screening analysis (p 6), “alternatives may be recommended for elimination from further consideration because they do not solve the problem statement, cannot be implemented, or exhibit significant negative impacts upon the natural and social environments in comparison to the other alternatives being considered.”
The Friends of Petrie Island are of the opinion that Corridor E5 (Tenth Line Road – Montée Mineault) and Corridor E 6 (Petrie Island) should be eliminated from further consideration because of the potential for significant negative impacts on the natural and social environments in these corridors. Both of these corridors pass through or in close proximity to urban natural area (UNA) 92, described in the City of Ottawa Urban Natural Areas Environmental Evaluation Study as “ Petrie Islands and mainland.”
Impact on the natural environment
a) Petrie Islands have long been known for their natural and recreational values. The uniqueness of the Petrie Islands environment and adjacent mainland has been recognized by a number of official designations, including being classified as a Provincially Significant Wetland and as a candidate provincially significant Area of Natural and Scientific Interest (ANSI).
b) Petrie Islands and the adjacent mainland (UNA 92) were evaluated in 2005 as part of the City of Ottawa Urban Natural Areas Environmental Evaluation Study (UNAEES) and were rated “High” overall. The evaluation described Petrie Islands as “a natural creation of the Ottawa River in a critical wildlife corridor position, with exceptionally diverse plant and animal life, vegetation of provincial interest and good recreational access. ...” The adjacent St. Louis Woods and Petrie West natural areas (UNA 188) are described as “excellent examples of native Ottawa River riparian swamp forest with exceptional special feature values and high potential for additional special features. Together the three natural areas form the largest riparian complex in the study area.”
c) The terms of reference and the preliminary screening analysis do not give adequate consideration to the significant environmental attributes of the Petrie Islands. Irrespective of the alignment or the technology selected, it is difficult to envisage a solution that does not have the potential for significant adverse environmental impact on the Petrie Islands and adjacent mainland.
Impact on the social environment
a) Petrie Island is the only significant waterfront recreational area and beach open to the public in the eastern urban community. The current and planned facilities are the results of many years of planning and public consultation. They provide invaluable and irreplaceable opportunities for passive daytime recreation and for interpretive programs based on the natural attributes of the area. Irrespective of the alignment or technology, the infrastructure and traffic associated with a new corridor on or near the Petrie Islands will almost certainly have a negative impact on existing and planned recreational facilities, nature trails, and interpretive opportunities along the Ottawa River shoreline.
b) The preliminary screening analysis is inconsistent in its identification of cultural facilities that may be impacted by corridors. Contrary to the analysis, which states that there are “no major cultural facilities in the area” of the Tenth Line and Petrie Island corridors, existing cultural facilities within these corridors include the Grandmaitre Ecological Reserve, the Al Tweddle Picnic Area, and Stuemer Park, plus a privately-owned marina. These facilities, along with the nature trails in the Queenswood forest, will be affected.
Province of Ontario Land Use Planning Policy Statement (2005)
The Tenth Line and Petrie Island crossing corridors are also perceived to be inconsistent with the spirit of the Province of Ontario Land Use Planning Policy Statement (2005), which imposes restrictions and conditions on development and site alteration in significant habitat of endangered and threatened species, significant wetlands, significant areas of natural and scientific interest (ANSI), and lands adjacent to natural heritage features and areas, in order to ensure that there be no negative impacts on the natural features or their ecological functions. This statement states that healthy, active communities should be promoted by:
a) providing for a full range and equitable distribution of publicly-accessible built and natural settings for recreation, including facilities, parklands, open space areas, trails and, where practical, water-based resources;
b) providing opportunities for public access to shorelines; and
c) considering the impacts of planning decisions on provincial parks, conservation reserves and conservation areas.
The policy also states that:
a) Natural features and areas shall be protected for the long term.
b) The diversity and connectivity of natural features in an area, and the long-term ecological function and biodiversity of natural heritage systems, should be maintained, restored or, where possible, improved, recognizing linkages between and among natural heritage features and areas, surface water features and ground water features.
In summary, the Friends of Petrie Island are of the opinion that the Tenth Line (E5) and Petrie Island (E6) corridors:
a) have a high potential for significant adverse impact on a area that is classified as a Provincially Significant Wetland and as a candidate provincially significant Area of Natural and Scientific Interest (ANSI)
b) will effect the only significant waterfront recreation area in the eastern study area
c) will effect several cultural features, including the Grandmaitre Ecological Reserve, the Al Tweddle Picnic Area, and Stuemer Park.
It is therefore recommended that the Tenth Line and Petrie Island corridors not be carried forward.
If, notwithstanding these concerns, either or both of these corridors are carried forward, FOPI seeks assurance that these issues will be fully considered and addressed in the Terms of Reference and in subsequent phases of the study process.
We thank you for your consideration and we remain available to assist the study team as a source of local knowledge with respect to Petrie Islands and our community.