Thursday, February 1, 2024.
Stittsville, ON – “Protect, restore, regenerate, and rewild Stittsville’s Wetlands for future generations.” The mission of the Friends of Stittsville Wetlands (FoSW) is building momentum as the new volunteer, community-based organization receives its first grant from another local environmental non-profit.
FoSW are thrilled to announce that they have received a major grant of $3500 from the Ottawa Stewardship Council (OSC). This funding will help the newly created not-for-profit organization build its capacity to protect a provincially significant wetland that is on the doorstep of Stittsville and threatened by continuing development pressures as well as policy changes by the Province of Ontario in late 2022.
This unique ecological treasure is less than one kilometre from Stittsville’s Village Square Park. It is accessible by the TransCanada Trail – Canada’s national trail and the longest network of multi-use recreational trails in the world.
This wetland, known as the Goulbourn Wetland Complex, covers over 906 hectares, and provides a home to Species at Risk including Blanding Turtles, Snapping Turtles, and over 150 species of birds (eBird), including four Species at Risk. This wetland also serves as a habitat for a variety of species, including Northern Spring Peeper, bullfrog, muskrat, raccoon, beaver, mink, red fox, coyote, white-tailed deer, and red squirrel.
The portion of the wetland of particular interest to the Friends of Stittsville Wetlands is located immediately west of the urban boundary of Stittsville and north and south of the TransCanada Trail.
This portion also includes the headwaters of Poole Creek, which runs through the heart of Stittsville. The upper portion of Poole Creek, west of Stittsville Main Street, is considered a cold or cool water stream – and one of only two in Ottawa. It is recognized as a crucial and rare aquatic habitat. The long-term health of Poole Creek is dependent on the overall health of its headwaters, found within the Goulbourn Wetland Complex.
Stavinga, President of FoSW, former Mayor of Goulbourn, and former Ottawa City Councillor stated, “This funding from the Ottawa Stewardship Council will help the Friends of Stittsville Wetlands increase public awareness and build community action to protect our wetlands and reverse the impact of the changes made by the Province of Ontario in 2022. These policy changes rolled back decades of progressive environmental protection measures and we are already seeing adverse impacts on the health of our wetlands.”
“The OSC shares FoSW’s mission of protecting these wetlands, which provide ecosystem services like carbon sequestration, water storage and release during drought and flooding, and improving water quality,” said OSC Chair Janet Mason.
“This funding from the Ottawa Stewardship Council is a great step in supporting this new organization dedicated to advocating for the protection of our wetlands,” said Stittsville Councillor Glen Gower. “It is also recognition of all the hard work that Janet Stavinga, Steve Klein, and the community have put into establishing the Friends of Stittsville Wetlands since last Spring. Congratulations!”
Funds for FoSW came from a reserve held by OSC that it received in 2014 from Waste Management as part of its community compensation for the landfill on Carp Road. “OSC is glad that the compensation funds continue to be used for environmental stewardship in Stittsville that benefits all residents and wildlife,” stated Mason.
About Friends of Stittsville Wetlands.
Building on the momentum of the Protecting Our Wetlands meeting hosted by City Councillor Gower on June 8, 2023, Stittsville residents Steve Klein and Janet Stavinga hosted a special follow-up meeting to discuss the formation of a community group dedicated to the protection and enhancement of the fragile and ecologically significant wetlands in Stittsville. This community meeting, held on June 26, 2023, was a great success with many participants committing to be part of the newly formed community group, Friends of Stittsville Wetlands.
The health of our wetlands continues to be threatened by land conversion for development, invasive species, pollution, artificial modification of water levels, and climate change. These threats have been further exacerbated by policy changes by the Province of Ontario in late 2022. Specifically, the quiet abandonment of the now archived A Wetland Conservation Strategy for Ontario 2017–2030 as noted by the Office of the Auditor General of Ontario in the May 2023 State of the Environment Report, and the overhaul of the Ontario Wetland Evaluation System by the Province of Ontario triggered by Bill 23, More Homes Built Faster Act, 2022.
The mission of the Friends of Stittsville Wetlands is to protect, restore, regenerate, and rewild the wetlands west of Stittsville for future generations. The Friends of Stittsville Wetlands became incorporated on January 1, 2024.
About the Ottawa Stewardship Council
The Ottawa Stewardship Council is a volunteer, non-profit organization that promotes and supports environmental stewardship projects in Ottawa. The OSC uses a P-4 model – public, private, plural partnerships – to work with the City of Ottawa, businesses, schools, communities, and other environmental organizations. OSC has used over $16,000 of the compensation fund for projects in Stittsville, mainly in partnership with Sacred Heart High School for environmental education and stewardship in Kemp Woodlands.
The Friends of Stittsville Wetlands and the Ottawa Stewardship Council are members of the Nature Network, a federated member group of about 155 member groups across Ontario under the auspices of Ontario Nature.