by Dr. Rouba Fattal & Pat Freel
Much of the environmental movement is fueled by youth concern over the future they are inheriting.
Economically speaking, the next generation is worried about the ‘the cost of clean up’ being dumped on them. As a mother of three children, I stand with them and their right to a livable future. There are ways to accomplish this in a cost-effective manner and communicated in a positive light.
In one of my previous blogs, the issue of the environment was prominent in the discussion around how I believe waste management can be improved. But what exactly do I mean when I hope to make Kanata-South ‘more green’? Well, I hinted at this briefly with the ‘long-term’ goal of extending the lifespan of existing landfills through improved waste collection and processing. This does not mean that we need to increase taxes.
I believe that we have to optimize the use of public funds to receive the best value of our dollar. Here is how this relates to the ideas I am hearing at the door:
As it stands today, Kanata South has exceptional but underserviced bike paths that lead on to roads with insufficient cycling infrastructure. Flow streets such as Cope, Templeton, Akerson and Kakulu do not have an indicated bike lane, and Katimavik needs maintenance so that both sides have bike lanes in good repair. Folks who prefer to bike told me that they are reluctant to take their bikes because they do not feel safe using roads in Kanata South.
As Kanata grows, roads classified as residential may be considered to have bike lanes installed since they will function more as flow streets. Such roads include Bridle Park, Castlefrank, Meadowbreeze, and Romina. As bike lanes are added to streets that lack them, I think we may need to re-examine bylaws pertaining to street parking in bike lanes in quasi-flow streets, or adjust how they are enforced beyond outer urban areas of the city.
Painting these bike lanes will also be important as the city looks ahead toward the widening of Terry Fox Road and the modernization of Eagleson Road to include dedicated bike lanes.
As the city grapples to recover from its public transit mishap, I believe that there are ways we can temporarily adjust transit and road infrastructure funding to help equip Kanata South with roads that are in good repair and safe for cyclists.
I support fiscally responsible budgeting to allow for safe and well connected cycling infrastructure that will encourage active lifestyles. This, in turn, can help reduce long-term health-care costs and improve mental health as well.
As I mentioned in my previous op-ed, businesses, grocery stores and restaurants must be included in the city’s green bin program. Right now we overproduce food to lower the price and overproduce so much of it that we throw a large amount into the garbage. Yet in doing so, there are people and children who go to bed hungry.
As your city councillor, I will try to address that bigger picture problem. I believe there are many high-density, low-income areas throughout Ottawa that could benefit from the surplus of soil generated from urgent actions that divert organic waste from landfills. As of today, Just Food Ottawa reports that there are only two community gardens in Kanata South. I believe that number has the potential to grow to at least five.
St.Paul’s Anglican Church runs an amazing program where youth participate in a summer horticulture program and help keep the area looking well groomed in the summer months. I believe this approach can also be used in areas that would benefit from having a community garden. These areas can be adjacent to school properties, community centers, high-density housing communities with small lots and even churches.
There is huge untapped potential here. I see this food grown used to benefit low-income neighborhoods, school lunch programs and even to help improve the nutrition provided in care homes and meal delivery programs. City council must work quickly with businesses, food banks, community associations and schools to find viable and cost effective solutions.
Recently, a significant portion of Hazeldean Woods Park was clear cut to remove the damage from May’s derecho storm. To me, this is completely unacceptable. We have to be doing everything we can to protect naturalized areas in the city so we may preserve ecosystem services that benefit everyone. As a consequence of this clear cut, coyotes have been displaced into the local neighborhood, and family pets have been reported missing.
Tree planting projects carried out by the city in recent years saw a significant loss of young trees because of poor planting and soil compaction surrounding the tree from road and sidewalk infrastructure. As we restore roads and sidewalks, it’s important to consider how we can design our infrastructure to allow for mature tree growth.
Increasing the tree cover in Kanata is an important goal for me and for most residents. As May’s storm revealed, there is a significant amount of aging and structurally compromised trees that we are at risk of losing. Rather than wait to lose and plant a replacement tree, the City must be proactively planting trees in poorly shaded areas and, in the event more trees are lost, there are already young trees growing nearby. Incorporating root cells into parking lots can have a huge impact in increasing shade and cooling the immediate area.
This city has indicated that intensification in all areas of our city will happen as the population grows to prevent the city from sprawling further. When intensification proceeds with projects such as McCurdy Drive and Cope Drive, resentment is created as residents prefer the current aesthetic.
The city, including development partners, need to practice better due diligence in the public participation process when it comes to all new housing developments. All parties must act in good faith to preserve the characteristics of individual neighborhoods.
Kanata is very fortunate to have an abundance of green space outside of the NCC Greenbelt but this land will be hotly contested as the city looks to develop areas to accommodate increased intensification demands.
One of the most important responsibilities city councilor has is to ensure that the concerns and needs of their constituents are heard and incorporated into development propositions. New development must incorporate green spaces in all designs.
Kanata South is unlucky since we do not have a public off-leash, fenced dog park. Owners must drive to an off-leash park. We have many underutilized fields and I believe we can work together with communities to identify an appropriate area that can be converted into a dog park for residents and their pampered pooches to enjoy.
Ultimately, greenspaces are a key component in Kanata South's vibrant community atmosphere. As your next city councillor I will be on your side when it comes to creating mixed use spaces to accommodate population growth while protecting a healthy ecosystem … that is the true sense of community that we cherish in our suburbs.