Wednesday, October 23, 2002

The Road Less Traveled No More

A Guest Rant by Larry McCloskey, Ottawa Runner

For 20 years I have run and walked and trained in the Arboretum on a daily
basis. I have often marveled at Ottawa's best kept secret--150 acres of
trees, greenspace and gravel paths nestled along the canal and Dow's Lake,
within a stone's throw of all things central in Ottawa. During all my
years of ritual I have had opportunity to observe other people enjoying
the Arboretum. So I feel that I can speak with some authority about what
people like about the Arboretum. And never in all these years have I ever
heard anyone utter a word in support of having the wonderful, natural
paths of the Arboretum paved. That's right, regular users will be shocked,
as I was today, to learn that the main path through the Arboretum,
connecting the Dow's Lake Pavilion to the Hartwell Locks is now being
prepared to be paved! The NCC have very recently placed a sign in the
Arboretum indicating that some construction is scheduled to take place,
but no one I have talked to had any idea what was being planned. So my
questions to those responsible within the NCC are, what in the world makes
you think that anyone wants this unnecessary expenditure of tax payers
money? Who among regular users of the Arboretum did you consult with
before making this decision? Can you produce any surveys, questionnaires,
documentation of any kind to show that paving the Arboretum is something
that people, any people, anywhere actual want?

A paved path through the Arboretum will result in bicycles riding much
too fast for safety through what is now a pristine, urban oasis. Suffice
to say, pavement in the Arboretum goes against everything that the
Arboretum now stands for. The only justification for paving the Arboretum
might be to make it accessible for persons with disabilities. But if this
is the reason, then the NCC had better figure out a way to make the
Hartwell Locks accessible in order for this to have any meaning. There are
many of us in Ottawa who would like some answers about the disgrace that
is about to be forced upon the Arboretum.

Larry McCloskey

Ottawa, ON