What is the Rideau River Nature Trail?
There are about 2.5 kilometers of Rideau shoreline in Old Ottawa East (OOE). Since the spring of 2007, members of Sustainable Living Ottawa East have been working with other community residents and a range of partners and funders to establish a “nature trail” along this beautiful stretch of the River. The overall objective is to promote and protect the ecological health and beauty of the shoreline and improve the path and related amenities, while maintaining the tranquil, natural feeling of this fabulous community greenspace.
More specifically, the RRNT initiative aims to:
- Improve the pathway system to and along the river, using “soft” alternatives to paving and parallel bicycle routing where possible, to allow for a range of recreational and commuting uses and to better connect OOE with neighbouring communities;
- Restore degraded river edge ecology and support healthy and diverse terrestrial and aquatic habitats; and
- Develop ecologically appropriate amenities (e.g., shoreline sitting areas, a canoe/kayak launch dock) to encourage increased appreciation of this stretch of the Rideau River.
Our work reflects a vision developed through research and consultation, including:
- numerous “walk-throughs” along the shorline with community members and various other players and partners including City planning personal, to political representatives
- open-houses and articles in the Mainstreeter to engage with the community as a whole
- a research project on the health of the river by 4th year University of Ottawa biological conservation students
Initiatives to Date Have Included:
- The development and installation of six interpretive panels (ecology and history of the shoreline) and trail markers, with an environmental grant from the City of Ottawa
Storm sewer outfall sign
Photo by Vicki Davis
- Collaborative development of a vegetation management plan (focused on tree planting and maintenance) with the City’s Foresty Services
- Numerous community tree planting events, including several undertaken in collaboration with the City and with volunteer input from Carleton University students (Carleton Serves), and one with financial and volunteer assistance from Molson-Evergreen. Over 1000 trees and shrubs planted to date!
- Additional community work bees to remove invasive plants and populate the shorline with desirable native perennials (“assisted naturalization”), with plants purchased via a grant from the Ministry of Natural Resources
- A survey of reptiles and amphibians in 2011, involving a Lady Evelyn class, other interested community members, and a number of volunteer herptologists.
- Input to the City’s approach to the trail development and re-landscaping of the Springhurst-to-transitway section of the path (which was prompted by the need fro some major sewer repair work in that section)
- A lantern-lit performance walk along the shoreline in September 2009, featuring community storytellers, musicians and performers and attended by over 150 residents
- A canoe/kayak dock in Brantwood Park (foot of Clegg), which was installed in the Fall of 2011.
- With support from Fido-Evergreen, an initiative to develop a design concept for the future path through Brantwood Park, including a Walkabout in November 2011 to gather perspectives and ideas from residents, and a community meeting to review the resulting design proposal prepared by landscape architect Martha Lush[pdf, 1.3 Mb, best viewed in Adobe Reader] on April 12, 2012.
Beyond all these details, the evolution of community stewardship of the shoreline is really inspirational.
|Martha Lush and Barry Davis with
Proposed Design for Brantwood Park
Some Current Priorities
Ecological restoration and stewardship: Including ongoing planting and vegetation management.
Plotting the trail: Without establishing a definite idea of where the trail is going to be located, much of the rest of the work will be done in a vacuum or, worse yet, risk being wasted should the trail end up being “re-located” from where the improvement work was done.
Keys to such a design would be “pulling back” the trail from the shoreline; proposing split cycling/pedestrian routes at sensitive areas; providing viewing / vista spots; and dealing with barriers/impediments.
Designing the Trail: The next step is to figure out just what the construction details of the trail should be. The community has been strongly supportive of a “soft-surfaced” route but just what this would consist of is not clear. Also, there may be other options. For instance the City’s board walk trail in the Chapman Mills park along the Rideau River could be an appropriate route to go behind Rideau Garden Drive houses.
Designing Trail Amenities/Access: Certain amenities along the trail are seen to be a key means to enhance citizens’ appreciation and use of the trail. Again, phasing and costing would be key aspects of this work.
Acquiring the Oblate Right-of-Way: The City supports the idea of having a right-of-way. Why not try to persuade them to acquire this land from the land acquisition budget now ? It continues to erode (something that will only get worse); a developer wouldn’t be allowed to use it; and it’s key to the continuity of the trail. So why not attempt to acquire it now?
Completing the uOttawa Link: The lengthy segment on the Ottawa University property is going to be completed at some point but why not try to persuade the university to do this sooner rather than later? The new campus is in a great location but virtually nothing has yet been done to make linkage to the river. Perhaps as an incentive to the university, the City could assist financially or otherwise with the construction of an easy means to get onto the trail under the transitway bridge.
Improving Access from Brantwood to Oblate Property: The steep and often muddy slope at the end of Clegg is the biggest barrier to easy strolling along the trail. Design options and Oblate permission are required
For more information about this project read the Mainstreeter:
Davis, Barry. ”Further steps along Brantwood Park Trail” Mainstreeter Jun 2012
- Dance, John. "Brantwood Park Trail Design Underway" Mainstreeter Nov./Dec. 2011, p. 11.
- Dance, John. "Enfin : Dock Delight" Mainstreeter Nov/Dec 2011, p. 16
- Dance, John. "170 Lees - No More Messing Around" Mainstreeter Nov./Dec. 2011, p. 9
- Davis, Vicki and Ian McRae. "Successful June 25 Event on the Rideau River Nature Trail" Mainstreeter Nov./Dec. 2011, p. 23.