OTTAWA, October 26, 2017 — After years of community consultation and long-standing safety concerns, the RVCA is decommissioning the Hearts Desire Weir and beginning work on a new rocky ramp. Work will begin on the project starting October 30 — weather permitting.
Located on the lower Jock River near Prince of Wales Drive, the Hearts Desire weir was built in 1975. The goal at the time was to provide higher summer flows, improve habitat for fish, ensure water for livestock and provide community ponds for fire protection and beautification. Since that time, conventional thinking regarding the environmental benefits of weirs has changed; and moreover, the weir has been identified as a safety concern to both staff who oversee its annual maintenance and to those who canoe and kayak in the river.
The weir will be replaced with a rocky ramp. This innovative dam replacement option will help maintain upstream water levels that are important to the community and achieve several environmental improvements. The rocky ramp will help restore natural flow features and reduce erosion, allow for fish passage all year long, improve water quality and increase shoreline vegetation and habitat.
This rocky ramp is the first of its kind in Ottawa, but not the first in eastern Ontario. The Town of Perth is using a rocky ramp design to replace two dams in the middle of their community. One dam replacement was completed last fall and the second replacement is currently underway.
“These rocky ramps allow for economical solutions when dealing with aging infrastructure,” says Terry Davidson, RVCA Director and Project Manager. “Replacing existing structures or bringing them to current safety standards makes them difficult to finance. Rocky ramps are a cost-effective solution that also benefits the environment by returning the river to a more natural state with riffles and pools.
The Hearts Desire project is made possible thanks to funding from the City of Ottawa, Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Muskies Canada and the Rideau Valley Conservation Authority.
During the construction phase (over two to three weeks) there will be no access to the park adjacent to the weir. Safety fencing will be erected. Drawdown of water levels started on October 10 as per normal fall operating procedures of the existing weir. This drawdown is also timely as it helps in preparation of upcoming work.
Thank you to local landowners for their cooperation and involvement in this project and to representatives from the Hearts Desire Community Association and the Stonebridge Community Association for worked successfully to bring everyone together to move this project forward.