Once in a while we receive comments, questions and other information from local residents. The information below is not presented by the CSCA nor it’s members and it is shared only for editorial purpose.  Residents have the right their opinion and also because we live in a democratic society. We welcome comments.  Information can be sent to: info@carlsbadsprings.ca


Although subdivided and intensively farmed in the 19th century, the Mer 
Bleue was in government hands by the 1940s (when used in part as an RCAF 
bombing range) and was the second largest parcel of Crown land assigned 
to the National Capital Commission at its creation in 1959.
I suggest what concerns us more is the NCC land along Russell Road, 
acquired in 1974 by compulsory purchase. The Ontario government had at 
that period an active policy for new housing (cf. HOME = Home Ownership 
Made Easy and the Ontario Land Bank) and the federal government had 
created a Ministry of State for Urban Affairs to promote rational 
planning.  In order to guide the future development of urban Ottawa the 
Ontario Housing Corporation and MoSUA together proposed in 1973 to build 
a satellite South East City at Carlsbad Springs for 100,000 people 
(including factories and retail stores as well as housing). This would 
provide the housing the expanding population would need, besides 
controlling "urban sprawl."
 
This did not proceed for geotechnical reasons, viz. the Leda clay under 
the Carlsbad Springs town site could not support modern (high-rise) 
buildings of standard design, so that the housing/development project 
would not be economic. The MoSUA's geotechnical adviser was the Golder 
company (now retained for expertise for the Miller-Taggart dump project) 
which apparently told the OHC and MoSUA Carlsbad Springs was fine for 
building. Prompted by the Gloucester municipality (where local folklore 
always knew you could not build more than a couple of storeys) the OHC 
sought a second opinion from Toronto-based consultants, who reported 
that Leda clay made high rise building either unsafe or unaffordable. So 
the satellite city project was abandoned by 1974.
 
But before then (keen to take part in a model project in modern town 
planning?) the NCC had already acquired (by compulsory purchase) 
thousands of acres of land in order to provide the Carlsbad Springs 
satellite city with its own green belt.
 
At that date, rural municipalities required that all new house lots be 
one hectare or larger (to provide room to separate water wells from 
septic tank tile fields in a region without town water or waste sewers.) 
The NCC therefore used its powers to acquire all Gloucester land lots 
larger than one hectare north of Hwy 417. These were mostly farm fields 
but included individual houses on lots larger than 1 ha. Most 
acquisitions were contiguous to the NCC Green Belt of 1971 which then
included part but not all of the Mer Bleue. The NCC did not buy land in 
Cumberland twp. except within the Mer Bleue and no longer farmed.
 
When the South East City project was cancelled, the NCC retained all the 
extra land purchased. The NCC never made special or separate plans for 
this land, but simply added it to the Green Belt, although a legal 
difference persists. Legislation of the 1960s or earlier prohibited the 
NCC's ever selling land currently defined as Green Belt. The Carlsbad 
Springs green belt was not thus specified, since privately owned in the 
1960s, thus could be legally sold by the NCC (which in the 1990s offered 
the farm acreage for sale, but found at that date no takers. The NCC did 
not then offer its rural houses for sale, and after 2000 started 
demolishing the more dilapidated.)
 
In practice the NCC simply added its new acreage to the Green Belt; and 
generated over the years various long-term plans for agriculture or 
local residents or recreational development of the Green Belt.  These 
sometimes reversed earlier plans, such as garden allotments on NCC land, 
encouraged in the 1980s and abolished 20 years later. Most notably the 
1995 plan proposed continuation of farming and and local businesses 
within the Green Belt while the 2014 plan proposed "renaturalization" of 
all the land. (Critics say this "green" plan is simply an excuse to 
spend no money on maintenance of houses or timber plantations, or arable 
field drainage, and let the whole Green Belt revert to second-growth bush.)
 
The only published record of the government-sponsored South East City 
project seems to be that in Ottawa Boy, the memoirs of municipal 
politician Lloyd Francis (Burnstown ON, 2000, p.106) who had a personal 
interest in new subdivisions south of Ottawa. Market conditions and 
rival developers generated instead the urban developments of Orleans and 
Kanata, east and west of Ottawa. After Premier William Davis retired, 
Ontario policy shifted from private housing in subdivisions to "social 
housing" in economical high-rises and gave up town planning (except for 
the municipal amalgamations the Harris government ordered in 2000.)
 
In the mean time the NCC retains to date all the land it acquired in 
1974, but has no particular idea what to do with it. Having lost many of 
its staff, the NCC has outsourced some of its functions. Property rental 
was outsourced in the early 1990s, i.e. NCC houses (still more than 200 
units I think, 50 or more in the Green Belt) are now rented out and 
managed by a Toronto-based company whose chief business is high-rise 
apartment rentals to students. (Minto and another Ottawa property 
company each had a go, but chose not to renew their contracts.) I do not 
know how the NCC farm acreage is rented out, but the farming economy has 
so altered that demand is obviously low. Not a single dairy herd now 
grazes on NCC land (so far as I know), half the fields along Russell 
Road seem to have gone out of production and plantations are reverting 
to impenetrable jungle (e.g. the SW corner of the Russell/Halls road 
intersection, a pasture when I lived there in the 1970s, and the NW 
corner of the Boundary/Hwy. 417 intersection, cater-corner from the 
CRRRC dump site.)
 
The NCC's 2014 Green Belt policy was outsourced to a firm of PR 
consultants (although the Commissioners approved the recommendation for 
"renaturalization." This is not a term recognized by professional 
foresters, at least not those I consulted, but the NCC had at that date 
no professional foresters either on staff or among the Commissioners.) 
The only NCC staff initiative that concerned the Green Belt was the 
suggestion that private owners of land adjacent to NCC property, that 
was not currently under cultivation, should transfer its management to 
the NCC as part of the Green Belt.  When this was proposed (in three 
local public meetings, in 2014 I think) the first question asked at 
Carlsbad Springs was who would pay the property taxes on such idle land, 
the NCC manager or the landowner. The NCC staff had not considered this 
question, so had no answer, and their proposal was thereafter simply 
abandoned.
 
-- 
Don Phillipson
Carlsbad Springs
(Ottawa, Canada)