Show and Tell: Considering the Fate of Nature in a Contentious City Building Site

The After and Before.  The illustraton shows an aerial view of the site with the perimeter of the new Civic Hospital site outlined in heavy dashed lines.  The route of our walk is shown as the red line.  We will have a good look at the current state of trees and greenspace in two parts of the site of the planned mega-hospital & parking garage.  There will be several stops for discussion/observations, with a chance for questions and answers at each stop. 
First:  We will walk to the NCC parking area and observe the tree stumps left along Preston Street and both sides of the railroad trench.  We will consider the complex questions that this “largest building project in Ottawa’s history” prompts.  For example, what are the benefits gained from the urban canopy? 
How quickly can a city reverse its habits in the face of a climate emergency?  
What are the challenges in changing our ways to prevent worsening climate change? 
What creative solutions do we see?  How long will it take for young trees to replace mature ones?   What will happen when there is not enough empty land to plant replacement trees in a promised 5 to 1 ratio? 
Second:  We will walk south (up the hill) on the sidewalk on the west side of Prince of Wales and move into the grassy areas underneath large trees and through the park fields of the Farm.  
We can consider the difference in physical and emotional experience as we move from pavement to grass, from a streetscape to an open greenspace. 
Third:  We will hear from an arborist about the century-old trees planted by the first director of the Farm near the Saunders Building, and which trees are planned to be cut down, and what will replace them.  Here you can meet with some the oldest trees in the city and hear about their history, and some of their unique features. 


This is the third of three walks focused on the Experimental Farm.  Make a day of it by signing up for the walks at the Fletcher Wildlife Garden starting at 12:30 pm and A Walk in the Park starting at 2:30 pm.


We will meet at the circular driveway in front of the HMCS Carleton building at the south end of Preston St at Prince of Wales Drive. The thin red line on the illustration shows our basic route.  From there, we will walk south along Prince of Wales, veering west across the park to Birch Ave., then north on Birch Ave past the Saunders Building (Building number M49).  The walk will end north of the Saunders Building, between Birch Dr and Maple Dr. near the tennis courts.

Note:  This walk will be challenging for wheelchairs or scooters.  About half the route is uphill and about 80% is over mown grass.  We will move at a leisurely pace.   Participants are encouraged to wear study walking shoes.

Please review our covid guidelines before attending a walk.
Map showing location of public washrooms at the Experimental Farm. 


About the walk leader

I am a nature-lover, and an Ottawa resident for almost fifty years.  Throughout this time, especially in the last decade, the greenspace and old trees have been rapidly disappearing in the face of neighbourhood intensification as well as larger developments.  I became very concerned when I heard that part of the Experimental Farm had been given away for development of an extremely large hospital and related buildings.  I have been learning about this development in a focused manner over the last eleven months, through meetings, research, and hearing from experts and politicians.  I believe that our city is not responding positively to the climate emergency they have declared. 


Jane Keeler

Date:Sun May 8, 2022
Time:3:45 PM
Duration: 1 hour 15 min
Language: English
Start:HMCS Carleton building, near Dow's Lake
End:Saunders Building on Birch Drive
Area:Central Experimental Farm
Distance:1.0 km

Much of the walk is on grassy areas and about half is uphill.  It would be challenging for wheelchairs or scooters.  

The route of our walk. Stumps from tree-cutting in preparation for construction at the site of the new Civic Hospital. Building site for the new Civic Hospital development Footpath up the hill to the Experimental Farm from Dow's Lake