Here are the comments by the Ottawa-Carleton Wildlife Centre on the revised draft Protocol.
The Greenspace Alliance sent in the following comment on the revised draft Protocol for Wildlife Protection during Construction:
The Greenspace Alliance is quite concerned that this document has been watered down to a best-practices guideline in which the word "requirement" is banned. We look forward to seeing what cogent arguments have been brought forward to justify such weakening. We see none. The advice contained in this document continues to be based on common sense, showing respect for living things as much as the City's Tree Conservation Report Guidelines impose respect for trees.
We now have an inversion of word use: The Tree Conservation Report Guidelines, like the Environmental Impact Statement Guideline, contain requirements:
EIS Guideline, 2nd edition, 2012 (underlining added)
This guide outlines the process and content required for the completion of an EIS under Section 4.7.8 of the Official Plan. The aims are to provide a consistent approach to assessing impacts, to increase efficiency in report preparation and review, and to improve communication between the agencies and individuals involved.
Tree Conservation Report Guidelines (2009) (underlining added)
· The Tree Conservation Report is required for all Plans of Subdivision, Site Plan Control Applications, Common Elements Condominium Applications, and Vacant Land Condominium Applications where there is a tree of 10 centimetres in diameter or greater on the site.
· A Tree Conservation Report is also required for the removal of trees over 10 cm in diameter on properties over 1 ha in the urban area of Ottawa when there is no development application associated with the proposed removal.
but this Protocol for Wildlife Protection during Construction has none -- it is just a guide. The relevant Merriam-Webster definition of protocol is (underlining added):
: a system of rules that explain the correct conduct and procedures to be followed in formal situations
We suggest that this document also be called a Guideline. At the next review of the Official Plan, it too, like the EIS and TCR Guidelines, could be anchored into the OP.
(The previous Protocol, issued by the Regional municipality, did not quite deserved the name either, being vague and quite brief. It seems the recommendation in the Wildlife Strategy and this document simply inherited the term.)
Nothing in law prohibits the City of Ottawa from going beyond the strict legal requirements that related to protection of species at risk. The widely professed policy, to commit to wildlife-friendly planning, implies as much. All wildlife is precious. Ottawa's high ranking as a "green" city (which may be due more to its endowment and the National Capital Commission than to the City's success in protecting our natural heritage) challenges Council to rise to the opportunity to adopt a progressive wildlife-friendly policy. We understand there are lessons to be learned from Oakville, London and other cities.
If the word "requirement" (for the proponent) is banned, then the burden of implementation falls on development review staff to use the guidelines spelled out in this document to specify requirements in the context of an EIS and/or TCR, adapting recommendations or conditions to the situation at hand.
We would begin to believe that adoption of this document is more than empty rhetoric if it is accompanied by a commitment to a) train development review staff on these recommended "protocols" and b) provide the necessary resources to work with proponents and other planning staff to ensure that these common-sense actions take place.
This might therefore be a good time to recognize that the City is in need of a Wildlife Biologist as recommended in the April 2013 Wildlife Strategy.
Recall that, in support of its recommendations on a construction protocol, the Wildlife Strategy stated (p19 - underlining added):
It has been suggested that the City should develop a ... guideline and condition of approval to protect mammals during the hibernation and birthing seasons, when their mobility becomes severely restricted. This suggestion should be considered during the development of the proposed guideline for urban wildlife.
As for the new paragraphs added to the text (section 1.3 on Expertise, in section 2.3 on timing and frequency of pre-stressing activities, in section 2.6 on young birds and mammals, and in section 2.7 on buildings and birds), they all make this a better document. So does adding the words "and planning ahead for wildlife protection" in the conclusion. The additional resource references are also welcome.
Despite the disappointment expressed, we look forward to the report's acceptance by the Standing Committees and Council.
Greenspace Alliance of Canada's Capital