The Tewin project has stirred a lot of attention again this week. The big issue was the Quebec Chief Algonquin's comments about being excluded in the process for the Tewin urban expansion.
There were several news reports, including some in the CBC website and also in the Ottawa Citizen citing the controversy. First Nations leaders in Quebec this week say they are furious they were not consulted about the land, which they say falls in their territory. They are also upset that under the proposed deal, a group they oppose, the Algonquins of Ontario, stands to be allowed to urbanize 445 hectares in an expansion of Ottawa's urban areas.
This is an internal feud between two Algonquin groups and clearly it should not involve the City of Ottawa. Even though the Quebec Algonquin believe they have a right to be part of this agreement the land was sold to the Algonquins of Ontario in a legitimate deal with the Ontario government.
The area made headlines nearly 50 years ago in a different debate over how the region would grow, before hundreds of thousands of people lived beyond the Greenbelt. In the 1970s, the former Ontario Housing Corporation along with the National Capital Commission had pieced together land parcels and dreamed of building a "model city" near Carlsbad Springs. Instead, a place designated on a map as "South Rideau" became Barrhaven.
Below is a news report from May 11, 1976 about the propose "Carlsbad City":
The Carlsbad Springs lands sat publicly owned but undeveloped for years. In January 2020, land registry records show the Algonquins of Ontario Realty Corporation purchased three dozen properties from the Ontario government outright for $16.9 million. The Algonquins of Ontario (AOO), an organization that is negotiating a large land claim, in recent months met with city councillors to pitch its own, modern vision.
Below is an article about the former plans to build a development in Carlsbad Springs in the '70's from a news report by Bert Hill, Ottawa Citizen staff writer on 13 February 1974.
Fear about clay 'is only a myth'
"The chief planner of the Ontario Housing Corp. Tuesday thoroughly squelched fears of regional politicians about the impact of sliding leda clay and high water tables in the Carlsbad Springs landbank. Sid Clarke told the regional planning committee: "There is absolutely no trouble in developing this property for standard housing at no extra cost." In a forceful performance free of the equivocation that usually accompanies planners' presentations, Mr. Clarke said he was going to destroy myths by producing evidence from the work of "a high-powered team of soil engineers." Based on the examination of more than 40 test holes and trenches in the 5,000 acre public landbank, he said there was no evidence of bottom heaving or wall sliding a situation that will save development costs $6, 000 an acre. He added that the site has a thick covering of sand and a cushion of bedrock that is only 20 to 40 feet below the surface. Furthermore, he said, the rock runs through the middle of the landbank and will support heavy development. Mr. Clarke said there was no evidence of leda clay slides in the area. On the other hand, he produced a map showing that three other potential growth areas in Gloucester and Nepean townships have extensive underpaddings of the dangerous clay. Gloucester Reeve Bob MacQuarrie, a frequent critic of the landbank, said following the presentation that a lot of questions had been cleared up. He quizzed Mr. Clarke on whether any ground water had worked its way into the test holes a reference to the high water tables in the area. Mr. Clarke replied that the water had come from winter weather conditions, not from the clay. He added that the water tables would lower naturally through development and that the flow could be regulated.
He said early fears about low bearing capacity of land a factor that would severely limit the scale of development had been resolved. Medium and high density development is possible with no more than the usual precautions. Mr. Clarke added that test structures will be constructed in the landbank this year to measure bearing capacity. Following the presentation, Reeve MacQuarrie's skepticism resurfaced. He said he wanted to see the engineer's reports and an analysis of long term maintenance costs before all the questions in his mind were put to rest."
And it is not the first time that there has been debates on developing the south-east rural area in Carlsbad Springs. We found another article below that has a lot of interesting history and facts about the original plans for a new satellite city and how it actually became a political game. Does this sound similar? The more we compare the more it does.
Carlsbad Springs City - An idea mired in conflict
By Bert Hill, Citizen writer Ottawa Citizen 11 February 1974 (page 25)
With great fanfare the Carlsbad Springs land bank was announced as the first of a series of model exemplar satellite cities; across Canada, a showcase for the building technology and comprehensive planning and the answer to soaring housing costs that have made this region one of the most expensive in North America.
But today, after spending more than $7 million to acquire 5.000 acres of farmland, little progress has been made toward to the big goals
This week "The Partnership" - the group including Central Mortgage and Housing Corporation, Ontario Housing Corporation and the National Capital Commission will present a brief to the regional planning committee on the land bank.
The brief will urge the committee preparing the regional official plan to maintain the eventual population goal of 100,000 people and offer the usual defenses for major public land holdings.
But the brief will not answer many crucial questions that have gone unanswered for almost two years:
When will development start and at what rate.
Who will pay the cost of extending services across the Greenbelt.
What is the latest information on soil tests and water tables.
What commitment is the federal government prepared to make on future employment centres at Carlsbad.
What planning concepts are under consideration and when will the public be allowed a look.
Probably it is already too late for this information to have an impact for the battle for immediate development of the federal-provincial land bank appears to have been lost without so much as a skirmish.
Though housing prices have steadily soared and control by a handful of developers on vacant land strengthened, senior levels of government have been strangely silent as regional politicians steadily built the case against Carlsbad. Senior officials of the provincial and federal governments suggest they are not very concerned about the current public participation phase on the Ottawa-Carleton plan. A couple of factors appear to support this attitude. The provincial government has ultimate control over the regional plan through its power of final review and presumably can decide the priority it wants for development of Carlsbad. The National Capital Commission is preparing a guide plan for the vast federal holdings that could ultimately turn the whole direction of regional growth around regardless of what Ottawa-Carleton says. For whatever reason, the vacuum left by The Partnership has given ample opportunity for the case against Carlsbad to develop with little or no opposition. Though it now seems hard to believe, it was the regional planning committee that first identified the need for public land assembly in Ottawa-Carleton. Rockcliffe Reeve Alan Gibbon is generally given credit for pointing to the quiet south-east corner of Gloucester Township as the direction to go. It is the one area of Ottawa-Carleton where developers and speculators, who control anywhere from 15,000 to 30,000 acres outside the Greenbelt, had not made major assemblies and driven up prices.
The land is of marginal agriculture value, it is bordered on the north by the new Highway 417, it is close to major trunk water and sewer mains and an abandoned railway right-of-way the possible corridor for rapid transit runs through the area. For all these reasons, regional planners gave the land assembly a top priority rating. But the planning committee quickly changed all that.
At the time the landbank was officially announced 13 months ago it was obvious that the people who had given birth to the idea didn't like what was developing. The original proposal of a few thousand acres of landbanking "to keep the developers honest" in the words of Gloucester Reeve Bob MacQuarrie had been parlayed into 5,000 acres and a 100,000 population satellite city by the time Urban Affairs Minister Ron Basford made the announcement. Another 4, 000 acres of surrounding greenbelt is being added by the National Capital Commission. Then there was the question of the leda clay and high water tables in the area.
It was the soil conditions that discouraged private developers, led Gloucester to downgrade the area in its own planning and almost stop the landbanking before the government exercised its first option to purchase. However, the tests showed the area is not susceptible to slides, that leda clay can support residential development and that the water tables can be lowered to keep basements dry without endangering the nearby Mer Bleu wetlands. Subsequent soil tests showed that platforms of bed rock are much closer to the surface than originally thought and that high density residential and office building developments are economically feasible. The tests also eased fears that a major lowering of the water table was necessary. But the politicians of regional government deepened their opposition.
At the regional level they had already committed millions of dollars to reservoirs, trunk sewers and water mains to serve the major developments to the east in Orleans and to the west in Kanata.
They resented senior level governments stepping in to the local situation and effectively taking control. In February 1972 they angrily told the senior levels to keep their hands off the preparation of the official plan. At the municipal level, each of the politicians had his own idea where the development should go. And Gloucester Reeve Bob MacQuarrie wanted future township growth just about anywhere else but Carlsbad. The result was that Carlsbad had few friends and many enemies when the regional planning committee got down to the serious business of dividing up the growth pie last summer.
The landbank was dropped to second priority of development anywhere from seven to 10 years behind Kanata, Orleans and Barrhaven. But probably the strongest local move against the scheme came late in January when Mayor Pierre Benoit spoke out against it. During the debates of the planning committee he missed most meetings, as had most Ottawa representatives. As a result the city had no position on Carlsbad and future growth in general. But acting on the advice of the city planning director and following a quiet discussion with the Gloucester and Nepean leaders, he called for greater concentration of future development within the Greenbelt to promote rapid transit.
The mayor said he was skeptical that any community of any size would ever develop in Carlsbad Springs because of the technical problems of construction. The opposition of the city plus the long standing position of the major suburban townships probably means that Carlsbad will lose out in the battle for future development.
Political partnership being strained at seams
Behind a chorus of no comments indications are that all is not well in the political partnership guiding the Carlsbad Springs land bank or satellite city. A federal urban affairs official blamed the lack of action in the last year on the time the province has taken to first study the housing crisis and then set up a separate department. On the other side of the fence, an OHC official expressed exasperation with Urban Affairs Minister Basford for recently revealing the purchase price of the 5,000 acres $7 million and expressing his determination to proceed.
"We are concerned about these unilateral statements by the federal government. Our policy is to respond to local requests and if local people want the land left vacant then that's all right with us." "We've always considered this property a land-bank, not a satellite city."
The time is now - The Algonquin's of Ontario and Taggart are hoping for a positive vote at Council on February 10.
And now, 50 years later we are back with similar controversies and even added debates with the Algonquin's from two provinces feuding each other about their land rights for the area and why one group should have been consulted before it reach this step. This latest debate will conclude on February 10 during the monthly Council meeting voting to add the Tewin lands in the proposed urban expansion in the modern City of Ottawa. The 2021 Council needs to learn about this history so they don't repeat it. I guest we certainly have not heard the last of this project - unless Council votes to remove the Tewin lands as an option for urban expansion this would possibly be a mistake, a second time. It seems that more than ever Carlsbad Springs will become urbanized in the near future. I doubt the City can wait another 50 years.