On November 19, 2014, Glen Murray, Minister of the Environment and Climate Change, sent out letters to two parties who had requested a Part II Order and to the City, allowing the widening of Old Richmond Road through Stony Swamp to go ahead but setting three conditions prior to construction.
The conditions are not onerous but require the City to work extra hard to minimize impact on Stony Swamp. The letter to the Greenspace Alliance continues with eight pages of responses to concerns raised in our letter of March 2, 2014.
It is unfortunate that for the sake of saving four minutes in commuter time the powers-that-be decided against a serious consideration of expanding Fallowfield Road, thus avoiding an impact on Stony Swamp altogether. Putting the best face on it, these two points are noteworthy:
+ page 9 of the Response puts a strong burden on the NCC:
"The National Capital Commission is in the process of completing its Stony Swamp Habitat Restoration Plan which will identify the future desired ecological conditions for Stony Swamp and a prioritization of restoration actions. As part of the federal environmental effects analysis, the National Capital Commission will conduct a comprehensive environmental study of the Project's potential effects on Stony Swamp. The National Capital Commission will require the City to implement strict mitigation alternatives as part of the Federal Policy on Wetland Conservation."
+ pages 10-11 of the response again make reference to the Federal Policy on Wetland Conservation and outline what mitigation measures will be considered. Unfortunately there is still no specific mention of wildlife movement beyond endangered species and turtles.
In short, continued vigilance will be required to ensure that the best possible mitigation plan is devised and implemented. The ball is now essentially in the NCC's court to ensure adherence to standards and values as expressed in various policy statements.
Erwin - 28 November 2014
UPDATE: Media coverage: Adam Kveton in Ottawa Community News (Kanata Kourier) on December 4: "Province OKs four lane expansion through Stony Swamp -- Greenspace Alliance concerns over wetland dismissed by environment minister." Far from being dismissed, everyone quoted in the article stressed the importance of the wetland!
The November 27 "pre-trial" court event turned out to be closed to the public. On December 4, staff informed us:
"I cannot comment on the trial at this point. ... While it is in front of the courts, it will not be discussed by the City. ... we will be receiving an INTERNAL update from the City’s legal team on the pre-trial. We will not be circulating this to the public. If there are any relevant dates, we will pass them on to you. ... We will keep you in the loop."
E.D. - 9 Dec 2014
The mandate letter from Ontario Premier Wynne to her Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing included directives about reform of the OMB, Development Charges, and related land use planning matters. To assist him in his mandate, we sent the Minister selected quotes from our submission of last January to his Ministry. We copied the Attorney General, Liberal MPP Peter Milczyn (who recently tabled a private member's bill on the subject) and Minister Naqvi, who has extensively consulted with the Ottawa community about OMB reform.
Here is a pdf of our email.
Erwin - 30 November 2014
P.S.: Peter Milczyn's proposal is embedded in Bill 39, which passed Second Reading with the support of both Liberal and NDP members (34-7) and was referred to Committee on November 20. David Reevely drew attention to it in a November 27 Ottawa Citizen column, "OMB bill would return power to politicians." The web site title is more brutal: "Bill would neuter Ontario Municipal Board." Its most drastic provision is that comprehensive Official Plan Amendments could not be appealed for 5 years!
P.P.S.: The mandate letters are available here.