Friday, September 26, 2008

Montfort Woods

The People vs. Phoenix Development

The Montfort Woods is a 9-acre wooded area located between the Montfort Hospital and the former Rockcliffe air base in east-end Ottawa. Originally owned by the Sisters of Wisdom, it was acquired in the 1990's to DRC Phoenix, a real estate developer. An application for re-zoning of the land was filed and granted by the City of Ottawa in 2002, allowing DRC Phoenix to build 258 townhouses on the land.

Local citizens and community organizations mobilized; the fate of the woods remained uncertain for the next two years. The National Capital Commission got involved by proposing a land swap with DRC Phoenix, whereby Phoenix would get Moffat Farm along the Rideau River in exchange for the Montfort Woods. The Moffat Farm project was ultimately rejected by the City, but the Montfort Woods remains the property of the National Capital Commission. The land was declared an environmentally sensitive area in September 2004, which rules out any future applications for re-zoning.

So, in essence, the trees are safe from outright bulldozing. What remains to be seen is the impact from the Rockcliffe air base redevelopment, on the one hand, and the possibility of a new bridge to Gatineau being built in the area, on the other.

The story continues...

A few relevant links:

1996: an article from the Peace and Environment Network, about the re-zoning application filed with the City of Ottawa. Includes a description of the terrain, flora and fauna.

March 2002: a CBC report on the proposed land swap between the National Capital Commission and DRC Phoenix.

September 8, 2004: the Montfort Woods is declared environmentally sensitive. The link I found to the press release from the office of the Hon. Mauril Bélanger is no longer valid.

2006: an Ottawa Citizen article on the proposed redevelopment of Rockcliffe Base, which would protect the Montfort Woods and surrounding green areas.

This is a Canada Lands Company Ltd. paper discussing the redevelopment of the Rockcliffe air base. There's no date anywhere, so it may not be the latest information.
: discusses the impact a new bridge on Kettle Island would have on the Montfort Woods.

Capital Woodlands: a field guide to Ottawa wooded areas, including the Montfort Woods.

More photos of the woods: