The City’s plans for an $18-million stormwater management pond are being slammed by Transport Canada as a potential danger to aviation safety. The answer to this problem seems obvious doesn’t it? If the pond poses a danger for aircraft, then cancel the project planned for green space northeast of Baseline Road and Woodroffe Avenue,
Pretty simple isn’t it?
Apparently not. It’s rarely easy at the City.
Here’s the rub. According to City staff, construction of the pond is absolutely necessary for the LRT Baseline Station at Algonquin College. Without the pond, the station can’t be commissioned because the pond is needed to handle the runoff from the station.
Do you ever get the feeling that the City sometimes rushes in and makes grandiose plans without having the big picture? How could the City not have known that having a such a pond in a big hazard zone puts lives at risk? The only alternative to the pond would be to build huge underground chambers at Baseline station, politicians have been told.
The land is within what is called the Bird Hazard Zone of the Ottawa McDonald Cartier International Airport (OMCIA) Zoning Regulation. The land for the pond is located in College Ward where some residents of ward councillor Rick Chiarelli have lobbied hard against the idea.
The zone encloses air space for aircraft in critical phases of flight at or below altitudes of 1,500 feet above ground level. “These are the altitudes most populated by hazardous birds and at which collisions with birds have the potential to result in the greatest damages,” reads the letter obtained by the blog In the City, From the Burbs.
The letter was sent from Transport Canada to the NCC.
“For these reasons, Transport Canada strongly recommends than an alternative location be found for the pond, outside of the Bird Hazard Zone,” the letter continues, with that one paragraph in bold black typing.
Chiarelli is in full support of his residents’ opposition to the pond. And there are several reasons for his angst.”It appears to be a waste of money. Secondly, the community is concerned with the problems of smell. And some have concerns about little kids jumping into the water,” Chiarelli said.
The College Ward councillor is also worried that the letter from Transport Canada, written back in July, was only recently revealed to him. He has reason to worry. Seems to be a lot of that going on, with ward councillors not being informed of things going on directly in their ward.
“That’s the way things are going now,” Chiarelli said. “It’s become so much about spin and perception.” He also has concerns, and there’s certainly reason for his worries that the $18 million price tag might be inflated to help absorb extra costs for the LRT.
The NCC has also requested that the City ensure the pond has landscaping improvements to create a natural looking space. That’s also a no-go for Transport Canada. “In general, pond design should not represent natural landscapes, as they increase the probability that the area will become an attraction for birds,” the letter reads. Shouldn’t the City have known that?
The City needs to get its act together. Pushing forward on a pond that puts aviation safety at risk just shouldn’t be considered. End of story.
Yet here we are building on the second phase of the LRT of which one of its stations is contingent of the pond. In the City, From the Burbs reached out late in the day to both the Airport and the City for comment, but wasn’t able to get any comment.