The Ottawa Citizen seems to consistently avoid publishing all the relevant facts about the environmental diaster unfolding in the South March Highlands. Why?
Randall Denley’s commentary on “Wilkinson backs down in face of opposition” is off-the-mark and reflects two common misconceptions about the South March Highlands (SMH).
- The Kanata 40% Agreement was not a “generous” grant of land by developers that can be compared to a 5% allocation of open space elsewhere.
This misconception assumes that developers originally had any right to develop any of this land as they do elsewhere.
The reality is, since 1972, ALL of the SMH were protected from development. The 40% Agreement was agreed to by Campeau in 1981 so that they could obtain the opportunity to develop 60% instead of 0%.
Many people believe that this was the worst planning decision made by the Regional Municipality during the 1980s. This is hardly “one heck of a deal” as Mr. Denley asserts.
- The SMH are not the same as any other property commonly slated for development.
Studies done for Ottawa’s Greenspace Master Plan identifies these lands as having the same significance as Mer Bleu, Shirley’s Bay, and Stony Swamp. It also specifically references the Trillium Wood subsection of the South March Highlands as particularly valuable to the City.
This is confirmed by ecological surveys done by the National Capital Commission and by previous City studies.
Ontario’s Ministry of Natural Resources has rated these lands as having provincially significant Areas of Natural Scientific Interest for Life Sciences as well as provincially significant, Class 1, wetlands.
Contrary to the impression created by Denley’s commentary, Ms. Wilkinson is responding to the overwhelming demand from over 5000 residents to protect these lands from development.
This may be seen by some as a change in posture, but it is nonetheless a sign of democracy in action. It is unclear why Mr. Denley believes this to be a bad thing.
In the popular movie, V for Vendetta, the hero’s tagline is that “government should fear its people”.
Any politician that does not respect and respond to the democratic will of the people that they represent should indeed fear them.