This is an open letter sent from SAVE MOONEY’S BAY, a Coalition of Concerned Citizens on June 20, 2016.
Dear Mayor Watson and City Councillors,
Renaturalize this piece of land and relocate the giant playground to a more appropriate site. We ask you to preserve Mooney’s Bay Park as a nature experience for the children of the future.
This site plays an important role in the life of this city. It hosts the Dragon Boat Festival every year and the National Canoe and Kayak Championships every five years, events that contribute substantially to the social and economic life of the city. It is used year round by athletes and citizens as a fitness and training area. The proposed playground inhibits all these and other uses of this 5.5 acres of unique parkland, part of the Rideau Canal Waterway, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The speed with which this giant playground project has been implemented, about 15 weeks from proposal to signed contract and site destruction, has not allowed time for public consultation or a full assessment of the environmental impact of the project on this unique area. The sequence of events that has led to this situation has shown complete disregard for the city’s own processes.
The contract with Sinking Ships Entertainment Inc., which came into effect April 15, was signed before environmental assessments had been received. The contract contained no contingencies should the environmental assessments indicate that the site was not suitable for the proposed playground.
We find this completely dismissive of the importance of such assessments. Actually, more than 16 trees were removed from the site prior to the city informing the public about the project and prior to the receipt of environmental studies. The soil study, which was not received by the city until June 2, six weeks after the contract was signed, indicates that the City should complete a preliminary human health and ecological risk assessment (HHERA) for due diligence purposes.
How does the city intend to address this recommendation? The Species at Risk study indicates the presence of one threatened species, the Blanding’s Turtle, and two species of special concern, the Snapping Turtle and the Milksnake. In addition, the report notes that all migratory bird species must be protected from harm under the Migratory Birds Act, 1994, and screening by a qualified avian biologist must be in place when vegetation is to be removed between April 15 and August 30. There have been no assurances that mitigation measures were, are, and will continue to be undertaken to address these issues.
In short, the city is moving ahead with this project without respect for the concerns of Ottawa citizens nor regard for the nature and historical use of this park, or a plan to address the issues identified in the environment assessments.
Renaturalize this piece of land and relocate the giant playground to a more appropriate site.
Elisabeth Arnold, Sustainable Community Development Consultant, Ottawa City Councillor (19942003), and member of the Canadian National Canoe Team (19771984).
Maude Barlow, National Chairperson of the Council of Canadians, recipient of the 2005 Right Livelihood Award (Alternative Nobel) and the 2011 Earth Care Award (Sierra Club, U.S.)
Laryssa Biesenthal, women’s rowing bronze medalist (1996, 2000); Olympic women’s rowing coach (2004, 2012), Chartered Professional Rowing Coach, Fast and Female, Ontario Program Manager and mother of 2 young girls who LOVE TO CLIMB TREES!
Nancy Biggs, Member of the Environmental Stewardship Advisory Committee, Active Transportation Subcommittee
Iain Brambell, Three time Olympian; 2008 Olympic Bronze Medalist, Men’s Rowing; Own The Podium High Performance Advisor Page | 2
Wayne Dustin, Two time Olympian, Cross Country Skiing (Calgary 1988, Albertville 1992)
Mariann Domonkos, 10 time Canadian table tennis Champion, Olympian and former National Coach
Wade Farquharson, Head Coach, Rideau Canoe Club
Perianne Jones, Vancouver 2010 Olympian; Member of Canadian National Cross Country ski team (2001-2015)
Tom Hall, 2008 Beijing Olympics, bronze medalist (Sprint canoeing).
Sue Holloway, Four time Olympian (Cross Country skiing and Sprint kayak) 1984 Silver and Bronze medalist
Mike Scott, Rideau Commodore for over 25 years, Member of the Ottawa Sports Hall of Fame
Ottawa Athletic Club Racing Team, road racing club founded in 1981, trains out of Mooney’s Bay in the Summer and Fall http://www.runnersweb.com/running/oac_racingteam.html
XC Ottawa, local cross country ski team and xc ski news resource http://www.xcottawa.ca/
Carolyn Waldo, 1988 Olympic double gold medalist & former CTV Sports broadcaster
Kristin Gauthier, 2008 Beijing Olympic Canoe Kayak team member, finalist in kayak doubles (K2).
Rhys Hill, 2008 Beijing Olympic Canoe Kayak team member.