Report to/Rapport au:


Planning and Environment Committee

Comité de l'urbanisme et de l'environnement


and Council / et au Conseil


27 March 2007 / le 27 mars 2007


Submitted by/Soumis par : Councillor Diane Holmes


Contact Person/Personne ressource : Diane Holmes, Councillor, Somerset Ward/

conseillère, quartier Somerset

 (613) 580-2484,


Somerset (14)

Ref N°: ACS2007-CCS-PEC-0008













That the Planning and Environment Committee recommend Council:


1.         Direct staff to construct pipe-rail perimeter fencing, with a height no greater than 1.20-meters, which reflects the heritage design elements of the Fleet St. Pumphouse and the historic Pooley's Bridge, and which where allowable, follows the natural contour of the east side of Fleet St. Tailrace, as depicted in documents 1 & 2


2.         Direct staff to install the appropriate warning signage throughout the area


3.         Refer the discharge channel and surrounding area to the Local Architectural Conservation Advisory Committee for review and heritage designation





Que le Comité de l’urbanisme et de l’environnement  recommande au Conseil :


1.         De charger le personnel de construire un garde-fou tubulaire de périmètre, d’une hauteur maximale de 1,20 mètre, qui rappelle les éléments patrimoniaux de la station de pompage de la rue Fleet et du pont historique Pooley, et qui, dans la mesure du possible, suive la forme du côté est du canal de fuite de la rue Fleet, tel que décrit dans les documents 1 et 2;


2.                  De charger le personnel d’installer des panneaux d’avertissement appropriés partout dans le secteur;


3.                  De soumette la question du canal de décharge et du secteur avoisinant au Comité consultatif sur la conservation de l'architecture locale, aux fins d’examen et de désignation patrimoniale.





The Fleet Street Tailrace, located to the north of Albert Street in the 65 Acre, LeBreton Flats, is the discharge channel for the Fleet Street Pumping Station. The Fleet Street Pumping station was constructed in 1874 as the centrepiece of the original City of Ottawa water supply, and uses hydraulic power to pump over fifty percent of the City’s potable water up the escarpment; it is the only one of its kind in Canada still in operation. The pump house uses the natural elevation of the land and drop of the Ottawa River to pump treated water from the Lemieux Island Water Purification Plant into the distribution system, this sustainable infrastructure saves the City of Ottawa approximately $1.2 million annually in energy costs. A direct result of this technology is the discharge of a large volume of swift water, which flows through the tailrace channel and into the Ottawa River. This discharge of water into the channel creates the conditions necessary for white water kayaking.


Since the early eighties the Ottawa River Runners White Water Club (ORR) have cared for and maintained the area, making it one of the premier white water training facilities in Canada. In order to create this training facility the ORR first had to undertake, with considerable cost and effort by their membership, a massive clean up to remove the garbage and debris from the riverbed and shoreline. The accumulation of garbage and debris at this location was a result of past snow dumping practices coupled with years of neglect by the old City of Ottawa. Consequently as a result of the ORR's cleanup the Department of Fisheries and Oceans designated the area, as defined and protected by the Fisheries Act, a Class 1 fish habitat.


Further to their cleanup of the area, and in co-operation with the City, the ORR constructed, at their own expense, a series of concrete obstacles, which replicate the natural rock formations found in the world’s wildest rivers. These obstacles help to increase the speed of the tailrace’s current, and enhance the natural drops and eddies throughout the watercourse. As a result the Fleet Street Tailrace was transformed into one of Canada's premier white-water training venues and as such has been designated as a National Training Centre and is the training base for members of Canada’s National team. Further to this location being a premier training venue, it is also a prime tourist destination, as it has played host to Canada's National Kayaking Championships.


In 2004 the tailrace channel was declared unsafe and closed to the public and the ORR by the City of Ottawa. A geotechnical investigation determined that large sections of the channel's slopes were in danger of imminent collapse, and as such posed a severe risk to the public. Moreover the instability of this area posed a serious threat to the operational integrity of the Pumphouse and half of the City's water supply. A series of slope stabilization contracts were tendered to restore the tailrace channel, accordingly the area has been under construction since that time. Currently nearly $4 million dollars has been spent on design and site remediation. The project is currently in its fourth and final phase which is the landscaping. Staff are awaiting NCC approval of the final design plan before tendering the contract for this work in the spring.


It is the City's position that once the final work is completed the area will be considered primarily an industrial site and as such will be subject to the standard requirement of a 1.8-meter high chain link perimeter fence surrounding the channel.




The City's position on the tailrace, developed in consultation with Drinking Water Services, Legal Services, Corporate Risk Management, and Real Estate Services, is that the primary function of the Tailrace is to act as an outlet to drain the water used by the pumping station. Accordingly the area is to be considered primarily an industrial site, and as such poses various on-site risks that require due diligence on behalf of the City to mitigate the risk of injury to persons or property. City staff also indicate that they will require unencumbered use of the tailrace in order to ensure the ability to vary the flow of water in order to meet operational maintenance requirements. Consequently the city has stated the need for a protective barrier/fence around the property; this 1.8 meter high chain-link fence will be installed after the completion of the landscaping.


The ORR, The National Capital Commission and the Dalhousie Community Association, each recognize the need for protective fencing, particularly on the steep western bank and above the large culvert leading to the Ottawa River (Doc. 3A). However each of these groups has indicated an objection to the City's reference to the area as an industrial site and the associated 1.8-meter high chain link fence on the eastern bank of the tailrace.


The NCC currently own the lands situated to the east and northwest of the tailrace. As part of the NCC approval process for the Grading and Slope Stabilization Works at the Fleet Street Pumping Station Tailrace, the City of Ottawa was required to have a plan for the “overall design, landscaping, access, etc.” prepared by a registered landscape architect. As the landowner the NCC has the right to final approval of the landscaping agreement. In a letter submitted to the City on January 29 2007, the NCC advised that they cannot support the proposed 1.8 metre fence around the tailrace as currently designed, specifically along their property on the eastern shore, and as such will request a revised landscape plan from staff. The NCC has advised that they do not regard this area as industrial space but rather as the centre of a public space, and a valuable part of the City’s and the Capital’s greenspace network. Furthermore the NCC commented that they are aware of numerous hazardous locations throughout the City where the public is protected by 1.2 meter high fencing.


The ORR contend that the City's plan to encircle the tailrace and surrounding property with a 1.8 meter chain link fence would deny public access to the area and eliminate the various perspectives of Pooley Bridge, the Fleet St. Pumping Station, and the newly landscaped tailrace. It is the ORR's position that a 1.2-meter high wrought iron or pipe rail fence, with self locking gates, be installed along the tailrace's eastern shore including the planned flagstone lookout (Doc. 3B); it is also the position of the ORR that the City erects appropriate signage to warn visitors of the fast moving water and steep embankments (Doc. 3C).


The Dalhousie Community Association also agree that perimeter fencing is required, however it is their position that the City should construct an attractive fence no greater than 1.2 meters in height, and that the fence be positioned within 0 - 1 meters from the edge tailrace embankment so as to not interfere with the view of the channel and bridge and pumphouse. The community association also objects to the City's position that the area is an industrial site, they contend, like the NCC, that this area is a public space and park and should be maintained as such.




With regard to the design of the fence the NCC commented on the Heritage designation of the both the pumphouse and the aqueduct. The City waterworks building, including the pumping station and the aqueduct were designated as heritage in 1982 under the Part IV of the Ontario Heritage Act, as referenced by City of Ottawa By-law 22-82 (Doc. 4). The NCC suggests that any physical interventions from Pooley's Bridge, across the lookout on the east side, and to the north edge of the bowl on the east side respect this character (Doc. 5A). Accordingly the NCC has requested that the sections of the revised fence proposal be designed to reflect the historical character of the pumphose and the aqueduct inlet, and that the design be submitted to the City's Local Architectural Conservation Advisory Committee for review and approval.




The City’s Official Plan vision is to make the Lebreton Flats a people-place for the next century…where people can live, work, socialize and play. This community will be one of mixed uses, surrounded by open space; the tailrace plays an integral role in the development of the area, as it is a key component of the open space and pathways network. The official plan states that the role of Ottawa as a National Capital will be enhanced in the future by Lebreton Flats. As one of the last pieces of waterfront real estate in the downtown, the flats will be retained in public hands as an open space, with an emphasis on public access. Schedule Q of the Official Plan, designates this area as a Greenway/Linkage land, the associated land use policies for this specific Greenway/ Linkage stipulates that:


* City Council shall encourage the National Capital Commission to develop the aqueduct area as parkland, taking into consideration its heritage and landscape/habitat values, in the context of its importance to the vitality and attractiveness of LeBreton Flats.


* City council shall encourage the retention of the kayak training course in the tailrace.


* The City shall undertake a recreational and cultural needs study for Planning District 3, which      will identify the those requirements that should be included in the development of the LeBreton Flats community.


Furthermore the current City Zoning By-law refers to this area as a L2B - Leisure/Linkage Zone, and the Draft Comprehensive Zoning By-law designates the area as O1 - Parks and Open Space Area. The Greenspace Master Plan, Map 1 - Natural Lands, refers to the tailrace area as primary land which are lands and watercourses that maintain natural features and functions in an urban context. The Greenspace Master Plan, Map 2 - Open Spaces and Leisure Lands, also refers to the area as a primary, or a fundamental open space that is intended and designated for public use, leisure and enjoyment. The Greenspace Master Plan, Map 4 - Multi-use Pathways on the Greenspace Network, further identifies this area as a Greenspace Destination.


Understandably, as it is important for the City to implement appropriate safety measures, it is equally important that staff do so in a manner which respects: the public interest, the land use policies of the Official Plan, and the natural and historical character of the area.




Valleyfield, Quebec - Centre d'excellence d'eau vive de Valleyfield

The whitewater course is located in the downtown of Valleyfield adjacent to a senior citizens retirement home and a local shopping mall. The City of Valleyfield recently constructed a lookout and an access stairway above the two large discharge pipes. There is no protective fencing on either shoreline at this site. (See Doc. 6A - D)


South Bend, Indiana USA -  East Race Watercourse

The whitewater course is located in the downtown of South Bend, it draws its water from the nearby St. Joseph River. This 650 metre long artificial whitewater course is operated by the South Bend Parks and Recreation Department. Redeveloped by the City at a cost of $4.5 million dollars. Attracts some 16, 000 people per year (See Doc. 7A -C)


Wausua Wisconsin - Wausua Whitewater Course

The whitewater course is located on the edge of the downtown and is close to both municipal and private buildings. Minimal perimeter fencing. (See Doc. 8A - B)




National Capital Commission; Ottawa River Runners Whitewater Club; Dalhousie Community Association


Public Works and Services - Infrastructure Services Branch - Construction Services West:


Replacement of the fence has been subject of ongoing consultation between Councillor Holmes Office and the Department


Community and Protective Services  - Parks and Recreation Branch


Location and height of the proposed fence is related to the terms of the proposed access agreement between the City of Ottawa and the Ottawa River Runners Whitewater Club.



As noted in the report, the rehabilitation of the banks of the Tailrace has been ongoing for the past few years.  During that period of time there have been a number of discussions between various City Departments, the Community and the NCC on how best to reinstate a channel that serves an industrial function by balancing the unique recreational usage and heritage characteristic of the surrounding area.  The decision to recommend a 1.8 m chain link fence along the east bank, similar to that proposed on the west bank, is based upon a desire to restrict access to a public health/safety risk.


A number of risks have been identified at this site.  Prior to the major landscaping being constructed, access to the site was completely screened by natural foliage that acted as a natural barrier.  With the recent works, this screening and barrier has been removed.  As well, with re-development of this area, it is certain to become well traveled and visited.  It is staff's position that for these reasons and to limit the City's liability, the removal of the natural barrier must be replaced with a fence.


It is recognized that the fence recommendation has not garnered support from the Community, the Ottawa River Runners White Water Club or the NCC.  One of the key issues for staff is the lack of a shared and clear vision for this site, in particular the recreational component.  Another key consideration is defining who is responsible to manage and monitor access to the site.  With the chain link fence, access to the Tailrace would be controlled by restricting access to the locked gate.  With a post and rail system, that degree of restriction would be reduced and the need for monitoring access would be increased.


Staff will be available at Committee when this report is discussed and can provide additional information as required before Committee members take a position on the recommendations of this report.




Construction of pipe rail fencing to be considered as part of Capital Works project funding.





To be issued separately.




Corporate Services staff, City Clerk’s Office will advise the appropriate staff and other agencies of the disposition of this item by Committee and Council.


The Tailrace channel and surrounding area will be referred to the Heritage Services Unit of the Planning, Infrastructure and Approvals Branch for consideration of heritage designation and submission to the Local Architectural Conservation Advisory Committee (LACAC).