A topic of conversation for Wellesley village residents for many years, the Wellesley Pond will finally see the beginning of improvements this year.
Coun. Peter van der Maas reported to council on Tuesday night that he and mayor Joe Nowak had met with Grand River Conservation Authority’s supervisor of natural heritage, Crystal Allan, last month for a walkabout around the pond and discussed the idea of doing some restoration and naturalization to the pond.
“She has sent a proposal that the pond be enhanced in two phases. The one would be a naturalization of just one corner of the pond, filling in with a few native plants and the introduction of water cleaning, and a couple of shrubs to maybe keep the geese away from that area of the pond. Phase two will include a proposal to dredge the pond and to make it deeper, although that would probably make it a little bit narrower. Those are things that are going to be discussed,” van der Maas said.
She suggests they identify what the riparian areas are for naturalization in the first phase. Riparian areas, otherwise known as shorelines, that have a variety of vegetation provide spawning, nursery, and food areas for fish and wildlife.
“Much of the existing park’s shoreline is mowed and minimally productive from an ecological perspective – areas could be identified where a buffer of more natural vegetation (i.e. native grasses, wildflowers, shrubs, trees) could become established,” Allan says in the proposal.
The GRCA is looking into similar projects where they’ve dredged a body of water, such as Victoria Park Lake in Kitchener and Clair Lake in Waterloo to see if there are any design points they could apply to Wellesley’s pond.
Pond sediment will also need to be collected and tested this summer.
Now they’re looking into forming a committee of five to 10 residents, a Pond Enhancement Advisory Committee, to give council some resident input. The GRCA will also be staffing a booth at Art Round the Pond, on the third Saturday in June to hopefully solicit a little interest.
“It was one of the more frequently requested enhancements to the village that was listed in the community forum in Wellesley. Several people mentioned enhancing the pond, both young and old,” van der Maas said.
He added now that the GRCA seems to be enthusiastic about it, it may be a good time for them to work with the GRCA and hopefully get some grants to help fund the enhancements.
Nowak says this will more than likely be a multi-year project and it won’t happen overnight. Although, they’d like to get started on the northwest side of the pond this year to naturalize it. They’ve already spoken to someone who knows indigenous plants about that.
The timeline suggested by Allan includes assessing the pond’s condition and considering conceptual designs this summer. That would be followed by the draft design in the fall and possibly dredging the pond in 2017, if funding and permits allow.
“So we’re moving forward with that idea. We may run a little bit of a walkway down in through there and have a natural area and a learning area where people can identify these plants and enjoy them. It’s something that we’d like to do this year,” Nowak said.