The Rideau Valley Conservation Authority (RVCA), Councillor Jan Harder, City of Ottawa

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The Rideau Valley Conservation Authority (RVCA), Councillor Jan Harder, City of Ottawa

The Rideau Valley Conservation Authority (RVCA) is a provincial authority that oversees the Rideau watershed.  The Rideau River drains an area of over 4,000 square kilometres of Eastern Ontario.  A large part of the Rideau River runs through the City of Ottawa and many of the people outside of our area draw their drinking water from it.  It is therefore understandable that it is of utmost importance that the Rideau watershed be maintained and protected.

The RVCA works closely with all levels of government, landowners and community groups to preserve a healthy ecosystem for the Rideau River.  The air we breathe, the water we drink and the communities we live in all rely on this natural wonder to live, work and play.  The RVCA’s mission is “to understand, manage, protect, restore and enhance the Rideau watershed through science, stewardship, education, policy and leadership.”  For the past 50 years, the RVCA has actively worked to make the watershed be healthier and more sustainable.

A few facts about the RVCA:

  • Manages over 3000 hectares (7000+ acres) of conservation land
  • Monitor 6 species at risk
  • Planted 1 500 trees at the Chapman Mills Conservation rea
  • Supports 200 000 visitors annually
  • 42 kilometres of trails maintained for public access
  • Developed 11 conservation areas
  • Provided outdoor education programs at Baxter and Foley Mountain Conservation Areas
  • 97 million trees have been planted since 1984

Beyond the conservation and protection of natural resources, the collection of data, monitoring and analyses performed help residents prepare for potential flooding.  In 2017, the RVCA sent out 40 flood messages for communities to be aware and take protective measures.

The RVCA also plays a major role in municipal planning. It “believes that sound land use and municipal planning is a critical part of protecting our land and water. It is also essential to preventing the loss of life and property damage due to flooding and erosion.”  They do this by regulating construction in and along environmentally sensitive areas such as floodplains, steep slopes, wetlands, shorelines and waterways.  Furthermore, it reviews and issues building permits for construction, enlargement and/or alteration of sewage disposal systems.  Ultimately, its objective is to preserve the natural sustainability of the watershed to balance human, environmental and economic needs.

In Barrhaven, it is a short walk or drive to experience all that RVCA does.  The Chapman Mills Conservation Area.  The 23 acre area is unique in the City of Ottawa. It consists mainly of natural river shoreline, wetlands and flood plain areas. Off Winding Way, it offers 1.5 kilometre scenic walkways, a picnic area and interpretive signs telling the environmental story at points along the path.  Next time you are looking for something to do on a lazy Sunday, consider spending some time in this beautiful area to observe the beauty and take in the work the RVCA is doing to keep our environment clean and healthy.