City to clean up some parts of Gilbey Park

Deteriorating Gilbey Park on radar screen of City staff

Two community residents have expressed recent concerns about what one calls “the slow and progressive degradation of our beloved Gilbey Park.”

He pointed out issues including: the need to remove “the many unsightly large piles of wood cuttings left by Hydro and other agencies;” the deteriorating condition of the paths around the lower and upper levels, being “extremely muddy because the mulch laid down years ago has simply disappeared;” a longstanding “graffiti war” on the huge rocks surrounding the gate on the reservoir area; and that “the natural log fences are broken and old and in need of repair and replacement.”

“I have never seen Gilbey Park look so decrepit in the 15 years I have been using it, he concluded.

A second resident who helped clean up Gilbey Park on the park clean morning said: “It is hard to believe that the City would consider Gilbey to be a forest.  In my opinion, it is an urban park, which requires a different level of care of downed trees and branches.  I wonder whether there could be an appeal for the planting of a better quality of tree in that area which might produce less trashy wood and look prettier.”

With help from Coun. Egli’s office, several members of the FHACA met with a City of Ottawa forester to have a walk-through Gilbey Park. Although some may see Gilbey as a “forest” park, the proper terminology for Gilbey Park is “woodlot,” and the City does have a management plan for woodlots (as well as for forests).

The forester is well familiar with the park as it is one of those in his geographical jurisdiction.

Overall, the forester felt the tree cover in the park and the state of trees was “pretty good.” He pointed out some burr oak trees by the stormwater pond, a sign of a healthy woodlot. One exception he noted was buckthorn trees that are starting to grow under the current tree canopy. Buckthorn trees are an invasive species and one that the City does not want to crowd out or replace the current trees.

The forester will add Gilbey Park to the list of city parks that will require some future thinning-out of buckthorns.

He said city crews will be removing the several piles of branches and logs that had been left from previous work of Ottawa Hydro and city staff. However, he said the recommended practice, that contributes to woodlot/forest health, is to allow branches and logs and trees that fall naturally to degrade in place on their own – barring specific safety issues or blocked paths.

The forester also offered to check with Park Operations staff about getting some mulch for the upper pathways. But residents would be responsible for spreading this mulch. He felt the lower gravel path around the stormwater pond was in reasonable condition and would be left as it.

We also inquired about planting a pollinator garden in the upper area of Gilbey Park between the park benches and the road. That request will be forwarded to the parks planning staff.

In the May 21 storm a good number of large trees fell in the park. One is blocking an upper pathway and one is hanging over the lower pathway. City staff have been notified and hopefully at some point these fallen trees will be removed or moved away from the path areas. In the meantime, residents should exercise caution in the park. Thanks to neighbours who used chain saws to dismantle and move some particularly large specimens.