Does Terry Fox Drive really need extending?

As I browsed through the Ottawa Citizen yesterday, I couldn’t help but notice this article, on the extension of Kanata’s Terry Fox Drive being fast-tracked despite a number of environmental concerns. I instantly knew I had to look it up and attempt to understand why it’s so important this particular project has to be pushed through and I came away baffled.

Helpfully, the extension already seems to be marked on Google Maps, so it was easy to get an idea for what the new roadway would look like. As described in the article, it will arc through forest, marsh, and farmland as it makes it’s way from the neighborhood of Kanata Lakes to Morgan’s Grant. And so far as I can tell, it will serve no useful purpose besides creating sprawl and potentially destroying a rare habitat. Not good, to say the least.

The endangered Blanding's Turtle, which can be found in marshland west of Kanata. Image from Canadian Wildlife Service, by Ryan M. Bolton.

I think what we have here is a case of the Greenbelt doing more harm than good for the environment. While I’d rather see the urban boundries of Ottawa’s suburbs frozen where they are for the time being, for growth to be concentrated inwards, it would seem to me that if Kanata has to expand, there are far more suitable areas to the east. There’s a lot of farmland out there, especially north of the 417, land that is for some reason protected, while the land to the west is not. While I hardly advocate paving over farmland for suburbia, it can’t be denied that there is a lot more of it around Ottawa compared to rare turtle habitats.

What strikes me about this is that we seem to have some very screwed-up priorities here. Is it really this important to build a shiny, four-lane monument to urban sprawl? Surely there must be some other piece of infrastructure that this stimulus money can be spent on—something that won’t harm an endangered species. That’d be something I could go for.

13 Responses to “Does Terry Fox Drive really need extending?”

  1. February 4, 2010 at 1:42 pm


    The current through-way between Terry Fox North and Terry Fox South is the Goulbourne Forced Road. The forced road is a remnant of what Terry Fox used to be, when there wasn’t a break from the Queensway overpass. Terry Fox cut through what is now Kanata Lakes, crossing what is now Kanata Avenue (that piece used to be Richardson Side Road) and then continuing on to the high tech zone. Development forced a break, leading to that piece being renamed.

    The Forced Road is an absolute cattlepath that needs to be closed. In winter, at night, it is virtually impossible to see either the center line or the shoulders. It is difficult to share the road with either joggers or cyclists. At most times of the day the volume of traffic through there is very high, and the speed carried through can also be very high. Ideally it would be permanently disconnected from Terry Fox North and turned into a recreational corridor.

    But to serve the people who live and work out here (including, I might add, those of us who do both…) there needs to be a way to move the commuter traffic from the western subdivisions into the high-tech zone in the north. And an updated Terry Fox Drive is the way to do it. Without the Forced Road or the extension, traffic would be forced down to Eagleson and March, or would noodle through Kanata Lakes and Beaverbrook.

    It isn’t enough to tut-tut the creation of subdivisions — there have to be sensible policies to encourage people to live in a denser core. Creating disincentives to living out here isn’t enough. There is more than just a little NIMBY-ism in the core when it comes to increased densification (or is that “infill”?) — right now all you’d do is increase demand for real estate in the core, which merely leads to higher prices for everyone.

    Right now my home and my job are out here. Why would I live anywhere else?

  2. February 4, 2010 at 2:46 pm

    Personal opinion: We definitely need to put paid to the NIMBY thinking on infill housing.

  3. 3 Matt Rose
    February 4, 2010 at 8:06 pm

    Both you and David Mackintosh are correct, unfortunately. I live downtown, but I work near the GFR and now take it often between my workplace (I work in the KRP) to pick up my wife, who works at Centrum (Now there’s a real suburban disaster zone). The GFR is a terrible road, and I feel bad for those who have to use it every day, but the Terry Fox Extension will cut through some beautiful old Canadian Shield landscape that is used by many people in the area for hiking, cross-country ski-ing and mountain biking. It’s a piece of heaven that’s virtually undeveloped from Kanata to Carp. Unfortunately, the satellite pics on Google Maps don’t do justice to the devastation that’s already occurring in this area, as there are already huge chunks of what the satellite pics show as green space that are now either fully developed, or ripped bare and levelled in preparation for development.

    I agree whole heartedly that the farmlands to the East of March/Eagleson/Herzberg should be developed long before this little natural wonder does.

  4. 4 Peter
    February 5, 2010 at 10:47 am

    Hi David, here’s a report that gives some background on the subdivisions. The land was originally approved for development almost 20 years ago.

    There are also plans to realign/moderinze Goulbourn Forced Road

  5. 5 Ben
    March 3, 2010 at 11:14 am

    I must disagree. This road is not necessary. Goulbourn Forced Road is scheduled to receive $18.2 million in upgrades. In addition, the purpose of this road is not to improve transportation, but to build more sub-developments.

    This piece of land is unique to Ottawa. It contains wetlands and forests and is home to several Species at Risk. The process the city has taken to get this road built is deeply flawed and it is only an attempt to get federal and provincial stimulus money.

    Sierra Club Canada has now launched a campaign to stop this road and more information can be found here:

  6. 6 Manny
    March 24, 2010 at 8:32 am

    I’m a resident of Morgan’s Grant and feel that the Terry Fox extension is a colossal mistake!
    The google map doesn’t justify what is being done here! I took many pictures of the wetlands, landscape and wild life in that area and it blows my mind that the city is willing to wipe it all out instead of preserving it! For this reason, I plan on selling my house and moving to the Gatineaus! It seems that this is the only land nearby that is protected from developers!

    I just wish I could find a group of dedicated protesters to help raise awareness of this area and how urgent it is to preserve it!!!

  7. 7 Chris
    March 25, 2010 at 11:28 am

    Paving over great farmland and destroying wildlife is what we do (as humans). It’s sad (we are the worst predators in the world!), but it’s also a sign of civilization and growth. We can build up and densify our cities, but this also creates problems (pollution, traffic, noise, crime etc.). How far do you think Ottawa’s boundaries will be in the year 2100? 2500? 3000? No one will remember (or care) about the destruction of wildlife in a relatively small plot of land in Kanata.

    ps. moving to Quebec will cost you dearly in income taxes (approximately $4000/yr extra on a $60,000 salary!), but at least you know you’ll live out your life surrounded by wildlife!

  8. 8 Peder
    April 8, 2010 at 7:53 am

    My question is why Goulborn Forced Road cannot be upgraded to handle traffic safely? Anybody have an answer?

    • 9 Bob
      April 13, 2010 at 9:53 pm

      Of course, you don’t care that traffic goes through our houses , you don’t want to hear about the hell that’s going on at Stikine/Kanata Ave intersection due to traffic volume just in front of our houses.
      Terry Fox extension is the only way to save hundreds of people from terrible noise the current traffic flow causing.
      You are talking bout turtles and I am talking about people ,like my kids that can’t sleep because of noise.

      We’ll do all possible not to stop Terry Fox extension, and finish it as planned. We were working hard to start building it and not going to give up now

  9. April 8, 2010 at 11:48 am


    If you look at the planning links above, you’ll see that there’s a huge subdivision planned for west of the forced road, and the segment of the forced road through Monk Park is to be closed — all of which was news to me.

    Practically it probably can’t be done because of the amount of blasting and grading that would be required, which would also involve closing the forced road for a period of time. Since you effectively have to build a new road anyways, why not keep the old one open while you build out the new one.

  10. 11 Shawn Millar
    September 25, 2010 at 9:09 am

    This road is an absolute necessity…the south march area is slated for development for years to come. Time to get on board the infastructure train now while the money is there…

  11. 12 Zoltan
    November 7, 2010 at 3:20 pm

    I am also a resident of Morgan’s Grant, and I am absolutely for the extension of Terry Fox Road.
    I remember, a few months after we moved in in 2001 people came canvassing to our door so that we sign a petition to restrict further development in the area. I sent them away telling them what hypocrites they were. They did not get it.
    The same here. The connection of Morgan’s Grant to the core is abysmal, it must be improved. If I want to see nature I am willing to travel a bit.
    Good riddance.

  12. November 24, 2010 at 2:42 pm

    For people who posted here but do not know this issue and what were now doing about it, head on over to http://www.ottawasgreatforest.com

    While the road will soon open, anything we can do to stop development within the South March Highlands would be good.

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