OTTAWA – A legal action has been launched against the City of Ottawa by South March Highlands – Carp River Conservation Inc. (SMHCRC) aimed at halting the construction of a $48-million, 4-km road in one of Ottawa’s most important environmental areas: the South March Highlands (SMH).
A Notice of Application for Judicial Review was filed Thursday, June 17, 2010, in Ontario Divisional Court that argues the City of Ottawa is not in compliance with its obligations under the provincial Environmental Assessment Act with respect to the construction of Terry Fox Drive Extension (TFDE). The City is using an outdated environmental assessment in their review of the project, according to SMHCRC, which is calling for an updated assessment that fully takes into account the project’s impacts on endangered and threatened species in the area, and new changes to the project that impact provincially significant wetlands.
“Projects like this need to begin within five years of their environmental assessment, but that time has come and gone,” said Paul Renaud of SMHCRC. “The City needs to take a closer look at the negative impacts this extension will have on endangered species and a vital wetland that could be lost.”
The SMHCRC is the corporate arm of the Coalition to Protect the South March Highlands, a group of concerned citizens formed earlier this year to oppose the construction of this road and other development in the SMH, particularly the urban part of the SMH known as the Beaverpond Lands, north of Kanata Lakes. The overall aim of the Coalition is to preserve as wilderness parkland the spectacular Canadian Shield uplands of the SMH, which are unique in the City of Ottawa.
“It appears clear to many people that the City is proceeding without complying with numerous legal requirements.” said Eric Gillespie, a Toronto lawyer representing the SMHCRC. ‘‘Based on expert evidence filed by the applicant, it also appears there is a significant increase of flooding risks for upstream areas such as Glen Cairn. Our client wants the court to intervene and halt this project.”
The non-profit environmental law organization Ecojustice has been assisting legal counsel on the case. Lawyer William Amos is Director of the uOttawa-Ecojustice Environmental Law Clinic: “The Citizens of Ottawa have a right to ensure that endangered species and provincially significant wetlands are not paved over for the sake of commuter traffic,” said Amos.
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