I was surprised to read that a national developer – Mattamy Homes was charged and found guilty of violating the Ontario Conservation Authorities Act for arbitrarily deciding to build a berm on the Jock River flood plain without permission from the appropriate authorities. The Jock River is a smaller Ottawa waterway but an important one that provides a natural compliment to the southern parts of suburban Ottawa.
All too often it seems like urban waterways place a distant second to the never ending demands for residential growth. Here in the Ottawa area we get regular reports of sewage systems unable to handle the load after a major rainfall with the result that raw sewage is pumped directly into the Ottawa River. Since no laws are being broken, the motivation to fix the problems seems to be low. At smaller scales lesser streams are steadily encroached upon by residential development and the general consensus seems to be that the need for more housing takes priority over the need to maintain natural ecosystems within the urban environment.
The Jock River is a case in point. Last summer several of us who like to fish for the river’s smallmouth bass commented on what seemed to be lower fish populations and higher sediment levels in the water downstream of a Mattamy development. Probably the berm charge against Mattamy is not related but regardless it is encouraging to see that the Rideau Valley Conservation Authority is keeping tabs on the impact urban development is having on local water bodies.
It is interesting that Mattamy is or has been a sustaining member of Friends of the Jock River and in 2005 made a $15,000 donation to the RVCA so perhaps this incident is an oversight – let’s hope so.