The National Trust for Canada is following with concern the federal government’s decision to transfer 60 acres of the Central Experimental Farm, National Historic Site of Canada to The Ottawa Hospital for the development of a new hospital campus.
A rare example of a farm within a city, the Central Experimental Farm was established in 1886 as an agricultural and scientific research centre on land selected for its rich variety of soil types. In recognition of its historical, cultural and scientific significance—and the need to protect it from encroachment and inappropriate development—the Farm was designated a National Historic Site in 1998. The Central Experimental Farm National Historic Site Management Plan was created shortly afterwards “to sustain a cultural landscape of national historic significance through a reinvigorated and ongoing agricultural research program.”
The Management Plan recognizes that the national heritage value of the Farm resides in its history and contributions to Canadian science and farming, its overall design, its rural qualities in an urban setting, its heritage buildings, its experimental fields, and its historic landscape elements.
The decision to sever Farm land for hospital development represents a significant departure from this important Management Plan, and one made without consulting the Central Experimental Farm Advisory Council, a body created to engage the public more fully in the future management of the Farm. The Council is made up of representatives from Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) as well as community and heritage organizations—including the National Trust.
As the steward of this nationally important site on behalf of the people of Canada, it is incumbent upon the federal government to protect the future integrity of this heritage treasure.