"Unable to trust the city"...
cited as main reason for the land clearing

"The city says it's going to put the designations on hold.
But it also says it will fix its drainage problems
 ...and nothing is happening!"


Metro Ottawa

August 22, 2005

Anger on 'wetlands'

Landowners to protest city's designation by clearing out land

Metro Ottawa

Some Ottawa property owners are looking to preempt a city wetland designation tonight by scraping their land clean of vegetation.

Bulldozers and high-hoes will be used tonight at 6:30 p.m. to clear vegetation at Doug Healy's farmstead at 7072 Flewellyn Rd. in Ottawa's west end, in a protest against what rural property owners call unprecedented municipal interference in their affairs.

Healy would rather bulldoze the land than allow Ottawa to designate a portion of it as wetlands, without compensation to him. The designation would render the land useless to him, Healey said.

"What would you do if someone was trying to steal your land? You would take it back," Healy said yesterday. "They said it contained vegetation that is protected as wetlands, so I will remove the vegetation."

Sixty rural landowners in Goulbourn ward have been notified that 650 acres of their properties are considered wetlands.

"What would you do if someone was trying to steal your land? You would take it back.

They said it contained vegetation that is protected as wetlands, so I will remove the vegetation."

                                                                                   - Doug Healy, Goulbourn landowner


"The city is forcing us to do it." Healy said, adding that the designations will lower property values by about 80 per cent.

Tony Walker, president of the Goulbourn Landowners Associations, said the city had provincial assessors fly over in airplanes to evaluate their properties.

"That's because no one gave them permission to do a walk through the land," Walker said. "The Ministry of Environment has a manual they go by and if more than 50 per cent of the vegetation is in this manual, they can deem it wetlands."

While the province designates significant wetlands, the city has authority to expand those designations and regulate how the land can be used.

The owners are not against protecting wetlands, Walker said, but oppose the city's unilateral move without compensation.

Glenn Brooks, a city councillor in the rural Rideau ward, said the city has agreed to a moratorium on designations until after the upcoming Rural Summit. But he understands some landowners' frustration with the policy makers.

"What's happening here is city policy people are putting owners of land in a more difficult position than they were not in before," Brooks said.

"If I had lands that were going to be designated wetlands, I think I would make them agricultural lands," Brooks said.


View Metro Ottawa story online:

  Rural Council Follow-up...

Good on his word...

Doug Healy moves to protect his land values from destructive city policy

The 'scorched earth' approach doesn't make for a pretty sight, but it worked for the Russians on more than one occasion as defense against invading armies. Now Goulbourn landowners are feeling the need to use it, again, to protect themselves from their own councillor's invasion of their land use rights.

Doug Healy, lives on Flewellyn Road, in the vicinity of most of the other sixty landowners who were subjected to clandestine aerially-assessed wetland designations, initiated two years ago by the vice-chair of the Rideau Valley Conservation Authority ---who just happens to be their very own ward councillor.


  Goulbourn resident, Doug Healy, being interviewed beside twenty acres of bulldozed vegetation. He felt he was forced to take these desperate measures to protect himself from politicians and
bureaucrats who don't protect the interests of the taxpayers who pay their salaries.


Councillor Stavinga has put herself into an interesting predicament. More wetland acreage has been lost in Goulbourn ---to development--- than in any other ward in the city, under  Stavinga's watch.

It seems the RVCA has a quota system for wetlands. According to the RVCA, Goulbourn should have around 6% of its lands as wetlands. It has dropped to around 4%.

Landowners feel that their lands are being unfairly targeted in order to fill the vice-chair's embarrassing quota shortfall. But landowners have been heard to say, "I don't feel my retirement security should be stolen, just to satisfy the ego of a politician with conflicts in her loyalties."


Landowners stand shoulder-to-shoulder against city, in their battle to protect  basic land use rights.
Notice rare species of "wetland boulders" uncovered in foreground.



"Do I have to level my bush next?," asks neighbour, Mike Westley...

Mike Westley lives a few doors west of Doug Healy, on Flewellyn. Mike is now wondering if he must destroy his pristine five-acre bush ---which he has carefully manicured for the last thirty-five years. He says, "Eight years ago, they tried to re-designate it as a 'Mineral Extraction Reserve' (gravel pit) designation. Suddenly, its a wetland!" The only 'wetness' his property experiences is seasonal flooding by overflowing city ditches that are poorly maintained.

The bottom line is, the affected landowners believe the ward councillor has a huge personal obligation to remove this "curse" she has imposed on all of their properties.

"She and her team of bureaucrats should go back to city hall and spend some quality time planning on how to properly clean and maintain ditches, instead of using deficient drainage conditions as an EXCUSE to compound their folly," says Mike Westley.

He said he was given to understand that the city's moratorium on wetland designations, until after Rural Summit discussions have taken place, "did not include a moratorium on drainage ditch maintenance, as well."

He said, "Janet promised me weeks ago that she would get onto the drainage problem right away. She even made a list of about eight problem spots to address.

So far very little, if anything, has been accomplished!"

No wonder there's so little trust.