Ottawa is a “river city”: the Ottawa River, the Rideau River, the Mississippi River, and the Carp River all flow through the city at some point. Of these only the Carp River flows entirely within the City’s municipal boundaries, from Kanata at Glen Cairn through the villages of Carp, Kinburn, and Fitzroy Harbour, ending at Fitzroy Provincial Park where it empties into the Ottawa River just below Chats Falls.
There is a human dimension to the Carp River. Like our lives it can be slow in parts, meandering, sometimes dull and narrow, but also open and grand, reflecting the sky, moving purposefully and in harmony with its surroundings. It is of a size that it can be comprehended and appreciated in full by those who seek to explore it. And like our lives, we can make it better if we apply ourselves.
How lucky we are to have such a lovely little river, Ottawa’s own river, in our neighbourhood.
Our vision for the Carp River fits within a broader vision for the village of Carp, for the river’s watershed in Kanata and West Carleton, and for the City of Ottawa as a whole:
- Citizens value the river for how it enriches their community, offering pathways, natural areas for recreational enjoyment, and a healthy ecosystem just a short distance from their homes and offices. It becomes a meaningful part of their lives, a treasured resource. There is active stewardship of the river by community groups, businesses, and landowners.
- The river is supported by a healthy corridor of wetlands, ponds, meadows, trees, and riparian plantings in its journey through suburban, agricultural, and rural settings. This ecosystem captures rain and melt water, filters pollutants, reduces erosion, and alleviates flooding. Farmers see more of their land available for crops earlier in the spring and less crop loss due to summer storm floods. A healthy fish population returns due to lower water temperature, more oxygen, less silting, and cleaner habitat.
- The river contributes clean water to the Ottawa River thus benefiting all of the City’s citizens.
- The river is a destination for commuting and recreation with trails for walking and biking that are connected to the City’s broader bicycle path network. Snow shoe and cross country ski enthusiasts take advantage of the same trails in the winter. Canoes and kayaks ply its length for longer than just a few weeks in the spring due to sustained release of water through the seasonal changes.
- The City showcases the river as a model for restoration and remediation of a waterway in a growing suburban area. Informative panels on water management and sustainable practices line the pathways.
- Schools use the river for education, field trips, science projects, and study.
This vision is possible. The Carp River was once a healthy and viable waterway. People remember when they used to fish in it, canoe it, and even swim in it. It was deeper, cleaner, and cooler with forests and fields lining its banks. While population pressures make a complete return to a pristine waterway ambitious, it is possible to restore the river’s health with simple and cost effective remediation methods and to bring vitality to the community’s experience of the river.
With this vision, the Carp River truly becomes a ribbon of life and a “ribbon for life”: for people, for nature, and for the City of Ottawa.