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OMB Decisions on the Urban Boundary

Council in June 2009 (Official Plan Amendment 76) allowed an expansion of the Urban Boundary of 230 ha.  Naturally, all the developers in town appealed.  Parties to this portion of the hearings on appeals agreed to split the hearing in two phases: First to determine whether the boundary should be expanded and if so with how much; then where the expansion should take place.


The Greenspace Alliance was a participant in this first phase of the hearing.  Amy Kempster submitted a statement.


An independent appellant, Paul Johanis, a retired Statistics Canada statistician, mounted a strong argument for no expansion.  His key expert witness was former colleague Doug Norris, a highly respected demographer.  Another of his witnesses testified about the cost of urban boundary expansion.


To no avail.  Here is the OMB's Decision, issued June 3, 2011.  In short, the Board sided with staff's original advice to Council and allowed an expansion of 850 ha.

 

On July 4, 2011, the City's Planning Committee decided to offer the same list as was compiled in 2009 for expansion, without going through another round of public consultations.  (Councillors Peter Hume and Jan Harder -- chair and vice-chair of the committee -- dissented.)  Here is a July 5 Ottawa Citizen article about it.

Council, on July 13, reverted back to staff's original recommendation, to hold further public consultations rather than simply adopt the 2009 list of new urban lands.
 
Accordingly, John Moser invited one and all to provide staff with comments by August 12, using the 2009 staff report as a base.  On September 13, Planning Committee will consider staff's new report and the matter will rise to Council on September 28.
 
The Greenbelt Coalition, on behalf of its 14 member organizations, sent in comments, complemented by a submission from the  Coalition to Protect the South March Highlands.  The submissions focus on lands south of the airport (Areas 8 and 9 in the 2009 staff report) and on the Shirley's Brook and Watts Creek subwatersheds (Areas 1 and 2) respectively.
 
The NCC also sent in a comment, drawing attention specifically to Areas 1, 8, 9 and 10 of the 2009 staff report and emphasizing that these lands, if they are to be developed, must also "fulfill a dual role with regards to natural environmental linkage."  All these areas border the Greenbelt.  The NCC seeks to have ecological linkages preserved.

All by all, staff received about three dozen submissions about the urban boundary matter by the mid-August deadline.  They received short shrift, and were even mischaracterized, in its September 1, 2011 report.  Almost nothing changed from the 2009 recommendations.  Planning Committee received more written and oral submissions on September 13 and deliberated further on September 27.  Council on September 28 endorsed staff's recommendations, with one correction.

 

The Ontario Municipal Board held a a Pre-hearing Conference on October 19 where, besides the City, 13 Parties were given standing, including Paul Johanis and the Greenspace Alliance.

 

The Board decided to split this Phase 2 hearing (the "where" of the Urban Boundary appeals) into two parts.  The first part will deal strictly with questions of methodology in the selection of candidate areas for urban expansion, including the question of whether Agricultural Resource lands should have been excluded.  (The City allowed just two exceptions -- one at Fernbank, the other in Kanata. Mattamy is forcing the issue because of 80 ha of agricultural land it owns in Orleans.)  This hearing will start on January 30.

 

A second pre-hearing conference was held on November 7, 2011.  One landowner Party dropped out.  An agreement was reached on the issues for this "Phase 2A".  The accepted Greenspace Alliance issues are:

 

1. Are the criteria and weighting employed by the City consistent with the Provincial Policy Statement policies regarding watershed planning and protection of linkages between natural areas?

2. Are the criteria and weighting employed by the City respectful of Official Plan policies regarding watershed planning and protection of linkages between natural areas?

3. Was appropriate consideration given to subwatershed studies?

4. Does the methodology to determine gross developable hectares take in account appropriate constraints under the Official Plan and Greenspace Master Plan?

 

One Party will argue flaws in the methodology that led to the exclusion of a parcel south of Leitrim Wetland.

 

Mattamy is raising the question whether agricultural lands ought to have been excluded.

 

The full OMB Decision out of the November 7 pre-hearing, including the Procedural Order, is here.

The Decision out of the October 19 Pre-hearing is here.

 

The Greenspace Alliance will have Martin Callsen (President of South March Highlands - Carp River Conservation, Inc.) as its witness, as well as Dr. Nick Stow, a senior environmental planner with the City.  Dr. Stow would have been subpoena'd but at the last minute the City decided it would call Dr. Stow itself.

 

Martin will be on the stand in the first week of the 5-week hearing, the week starting January 30.  The City will put its witnesses up probably in the fourth week, at which time the Alliance will be able to continue making its case.

 

E.D.

5 Nov / 5 Dec. 2011

3rd para. updated 28 Dec 2011

For a story about what transpired in the subsequent phases of the appeal on urban boundaries -- how it came to be that an original decision by Council to expand the urban area by 230 ha ended up as a 1,104 ha expansion -- please go to an article by Erwin Dreessen in the Jan.-Mar. 2013 issue of Trail and Landscape ("How City bungling ballooned Ottawa’s new urban area to nearly five times the original intent"), 1 MB.