Another vision for Hunt Club Forest: dedicate each red pine tree to a veteran
After already engaging in a disruptive expansion in recent years to expand their service department and showroom, Otto's BMW has now gone beyond improving utilities to destroying a forest carbon sink in the middle of an officially declared municipal and federal Climate Emergency, enabled by the landlord, the Ottawa International Airport Authority. Under cover of the pandemic distraction, Otto's BMW is trying to sneak through a planning change to allow them to raze 4 hectares of mature forest to build a parking lot and storage.
Not surprisingly, everyone in the Hunt Club community who becomes aware of the project is referring to the famous Joni Mitchell song "Big Yellow Taxi", which has the lyrics "Don't it always seem to go, you don't know what you got 'til it's gone? They paved paradise and put up a parking lot".
I want to propose a path forward that can help to reset relationships between the Hunt Club Community, our neighbours at CFB Uplands, and the Airport Authority. My proposal could help to build more and stronger bridges between residents, local businesses, military & government personnel, and our local flying club.
Let's dedicate every red pine tree in Hunt Club Forest to the memory of a member of the Canadian Armed Forces that is no longer with us. This seems fitting given that the trees were planted in the post-war era by a family that fled Germany for a better, more peaceful life in Canada.
Personally, I would be very honoured to see a tree dedicated to my late uncle, Charlie Becker, a proud Canadian of German descent who served in the Battle of the Atlantic as the navigator of a Canso on the hunt for U-boats. The Consolidated Canso is type of military seaplane known as a Catalina in most parts of the world. If you ever saw the movie Commando, and you remember the plane Arnold Schwarzenegger used to rescue his daughter, played by Alyssa Milano, then you know already what this iconic aircraft looks like.
Of course, the reality of the Battle of the Atlantic was a far cry from the world of Hollywood. Many Canadians know that losses were heavy in Allied navies and the merchant marine as Allied convoys worked desperately to supply Great Britain in the face of relentless attacks by Nazi Germany's U-boats (the German term for a submarine is "das Unterseeboot" or "U-boot" for short).
If you visit the Canada Aviation & Space Museum and look carefully, you can also learn a bit about the squadron of Cansos that provided U-boat surveillance and air cover to Allied supply convoys. In particular, the commanding officer of the squadron based in Nova Scotia saved the lives of his crew by setting down in a storm and spending a night at sea, only to himself die of exposure after returning to base the next day.
The Hunt Club community has made it clear that it does not want fallen trees. We have many fallen heroes who we can choose to commemorate instead, starting with our RCAF veterans. A newly designated Veterans Memorial Hunt Club Forest would be a great way to do that.
Disclaimer: the arms of the RCAF Association are shown here in tribute. Usage does not imply an endorsement of this letter by the RCAF-A.