“Freedom makes a huge requirement of every human being. With freedom comes responsibility. For the person who is unwilling to grow up, the person who does not want to carry his own weight, this is a frightening prospect.” Eleanor Roosevelt
Carp, Ontario is a village in the Township of Huntley lying in the western-most ward of Ottawa. As of 2012, the human population was estimated to be approximately 2000. The village sits on the edge of a geological fault running through the Carp River Valley know as the Carp Escarpment or Carp Ridge. Carp has been an Eastern Ontario centre for agricultural activities since the 1800s, perhaps best featured in contemporary events as the annual Carp Agricultural Fair. Close by the Diefenbunker, another well known local museum attraction, huddles underground – a persistent reminder of postwar fears of nuclear war. It is a bunker the politicians had planned to retreat to in the event of a devastating nuclear attack.
A group of Carp residents are concerned about a different kind of devastation – a devastation that is entirely local and entirely preventable. They are appealing the city’s decision to allow a Concrete Batching Plant at 2596 Carp Road. The group objects to the rezoning because they believe that the city has ignored a number of municipal and provincial planning regulations as well as the welfare of its citizens. The group’s main concerns regarding the placement of a concrete batching plant at this location are: significant increases in heavy truck traffic; significant air pollution and increase in hazardous airborne substances; contamination of groundwater; contamination of Huntley Creek and degradation of the surrounding area; detrimental impacts to homeowners who live adjacent to this site; detrimental impacts to the heritage cemetery that sits directly across the street and has done so for 160 years (well actually, long before there even was a street to be named).
“Freddie Redfin the Story of Huntley Creek” is the result of a few of the local residents in Carp to take responsibility to try to prevent the devastation of a precious local eco-system. It is a children’s book written by local Carp, Ontario resident and author Dan Mayo and illustrated by local artist Jana Rothwell to highlight this struggle.
In Huntley Creek, every spring, a spectacle of nature is seen as hundreds of redfins migrate back to their spawning ground. This creek has born witness to the redfins annual migratory spawning for millennia, long before Canada existed! The carcinogenic dust from the plant will settle into these clean waters and contaminate it with heavy metals and silica. This pollution will necessarily flow downstream and poison the redfins, their offspring and an enormous diversity of wildlife, including many threatened and endangered species that live in or rely on the creek and spring waters.
These waters are the spawning grounds for the River Redhorse, known locally as redfins due to their red-colored fins. The redfins come to Huntley Creek because of Bradley Falls, a large spring-fed waterfall that cascades into the creek creating a pool of clean, cool oxygenated water and riffle rapids. These specific conditions are essential for the redfins’ to spawn!
The redfins are a heritage fish in Carp, Ontario and have lived in Huntley Creek long before Canada or the City of Ottawa existed as legal entities. In fact, the Town of Carp owes its name to the redfin fish. When early French settlers first discovered the river that was to be named the Carp River, they marveled at the thousands upon thousands of redhorses and related suckers to be seen during their annual migration. These fish were called “carpes à cochon” by the French, though the fish they were witnessing weren’t carp at all, but redfins. In the end the name stuck, and the town of Carp was named for the river it was built next to. None of this would have happened without Huntley Creek, however, because this creek is the only reason these fish make the migration up the Carp River.
Canadian governments and officials, at all levels, ought to respond to the demands and concerns of local residents who know and love their communities and Eco-systems. Placement of a polluting industry next to a pristine creek and natural springs will result in devastation of that local system. The City of Ottawa’s decision to allow heavy industry has failed to respect and act on the wealth of local knowledge and heritage. The local residents – whether counted as 2000 humans or the far greater number of non-human residents – will be the ones whose habitat is devastated. Perhaps, like with the building of the Diefenbunker, the politicians think the best way to contemplate devastation is to hide from it.
To help protect Huntley Creek, consider a donation: