Option 7 and the Mer Bleue Bog

Updated: Jul 17

Click here for facts about Option 7, which does not run through the Mer Bleue Bog.

A letter from the South Ridge Community Group:

A very detailed, provincially mandated, environmental analysis of the options has been completed.

The proposed routing is for the most part not on a new road, but mainly on the vastly overcapacity Renaud Rd which presently has a load of about 18,000 vehicles a day. It is designed for 300 vehicles an hour and carries about 750 at peak times. It currently cuts through the Mer Bleue RAMSAR boundary.

The proposed road and transitway would take most of this traffic off the RAMSAR area, eliminates 2 crossings of Mud Creek and increases the buffer area to Mer Bleue. The option promoted by some groups does not take traffic off the Mer Bleue RAMSAR boundary or increase the buffer to Mer Bleue and ever-increasing amounts of traffic will use this unsafe roadway (1 cycling and 1 pedestrian death in the last 2 years) as a gateway to the south of the city. This increased traffic will also to a great extent still use Anderson Road, travelling directly through Mer Bleue to get to the south of the, generally using Ridge Road, which is also a very dangerous intersection.

Presently the above-mentioned traffic slowly travels through the Bradley Estates residential area causing a great deal of congestion (roads at 150% capacity at peak times), idling vehicles and safety issues for residents. These roads are not designed for that amount of traffic. The proposed option will reduce much of that traffic unlike the other options, which will see ever increasing amounts of traffic travel through this area. The proposed option, when linked with the planned Innes-Walkley connector, will reduce the number of vehicles travelling down Anderson Road and directly through Mer Bleue, by more than 4,200 vehicles per day (approximately 45% of Anderson Road use measured in 2017) and make travel for southbound commuters much more efficient. This is estimated to reduce CO2 emissions by some 660 to 750 tons annually. The other options would not reduce traffic on Anderson through Mer Bleue.

The alternative option mentioned by some groups would expand the Blackburn Bypass to 8 lanes through a Core Natural Area (CNA) of the Greenbelt, the area just south of Blackburn Hamlet and remove a large swath of the mature tree canopy in that area. The NCC classifies a CNA as including: “irreplaceable ecological features and reservoirs of native biodiversity, of the Greenbelt”. The proposed road/transitway in Option 7 does not impact any Core Natural Areas.

Harm to wildlife crossing the roadway has been mentioned as an argument against Option 7. There is presently somewhere around 18,000 vehicles per day using Renaud with no wildlife mitigation measures in place. With the proposed routing, extensive measures will be undertaken (fences, wildlife tunnels) to better protect wildlife.

If the alternative suggested by some groups is chosen, there will be no mitigation measures put in place and an ever-increasing impact on wildlife along Renaud Rd. There will also be no road safety upgrades to make active transportation viable in the area or adjustments to the two right angle turns on Renaud that cause frequent accidents for vehicles.

Both the proposed routing and the one suggested by some groups sever some agricultural land. We have not had access to final study details but by rough measurement the proposed routing runs through less farmland. The alternative suggested by some groups would significantly impact the Budd Gardens lands.

The recommended route significantly reduces the effect on Greenbelt Views and Vistas compared to the alternative, an important component of the NCC’s Greenbelt Master Plan.

The proposed routing of the transitway will provide much more efficient service for east-end commuters, to the Blair LRT station.

According to the initial findings, the cost of the proposed routing was defined as a value of 1, with the alternative routing scoring at a factor of 1.6 (much more expensive). With a project costing several hundred million $ this is very significant in tight economic times, when a solution to the transportation issues is long overdue. Some of the cost savings can be used to further mitigate environmental effects.

The final Environment Assessment report has not been made available, but the initial report suggested that the 2 routings were quite close when analyzing only the Natural Environment factors. As mentioned above, leaving Renaud as is as an unsafe, over-capacity roadway, will have additional negative environmental impacts.

The proposed routing will solve much of the ever-increasing transportation issues in the east end and reduces the impact on Mer Bleue and the environment, as described above when compared to the other alternatives. It is supported by the Friends of Mer Bleue organization for the reasons described.

The vision of the NCC is described in the Greenbelt Master Plan, “A key feature of this far-reaching vision is captured in the inspiration to Canadians and the contribution to the Capital’s sustainability and quality of life that the Greenbelt will provide.” Only the recommended routing will contribute positively to the quality of life for east end residents, while retaining environmental integrity.