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  • Reply to: Letter about the Memorial to the victims of communism   10 hours 7 min ago

    Update - 3 March

    + Liberal Party critic of Canadian Heritage Stéphane Dion on Feb 26 came out against the location of the memorial (Ottawa Citizen, Feb 27).  An article printed on Feb 27 also disclosed that the designers had slightly reduced the size of one part of the memorial.  Available on the web site is a pre-press conference article dated Feb 24.

    + In response to a question by MP Paul Dewar, the Parliamentary Secretary to the Heritage Minister, Rick Dykstra, denied that there had been no consultation. The article appeared only in print, on Feb 28.

    + The CBC's The National on March 1 had a story (2'14"), with clips from Shelley Glover, Toon Dreessen, Paul Dewar, Stéphane Dion and Pierre Poilièvre.

    Update - 5 March

    Canadian Institute of Planners joins chorus opposing location - Ottawa Citizen, March 5, 2015

    Update - 7 March

    A major article by Don Butler, and several (one, two) additional pieces, spread over four pages in the Ottawa Citizen of March 7.

    Joanne Chianello, in the same paper, also chimed in.

    Update - 12 March (updated again, March 26)

    In addition to four more letters to the editor (some for, some against), Andrew Cohen offered his insight in the Ottawa Citizen of March 11: "... a monumental folly conceived in cynicism."  He mentions that there is a petition.  It was launched by University of Ottawa students and has attracted almost 1500 signatures to date.  They also created a Facebook page. (Update: 3,075 signatures to date.)

    Update - 13 March (updated again, March 26)

    In an article in today's Metro that is mostly about Phase 2 of the LRT, Minister Pierre Poilièvre also comments on the memorial and is quoted as saying: " for the location, listen, I think that the alternative is yet another government building … I don’t have any of my constituents calling my office and saying that we need to put another government building on that particular spot".  He repeated this claim, apparently at an event in Sandy Hill, as quoted in an article by Jordan Press in the Ottawa Citizen of March 26.  As subscribers to the GA List know, that's a lie!  The same quote appears in an article in the Globe & Mail dated 25 March that didn't make it in print.

    Update - 18 March (updated again, March 26)

    Not to be missed: Rick Mercer's rant (video), "The Monument Men."  Says Rick: "...everything about this story is completely bizarre."

    Update - 19 March

    The Globe and Mail today devoted three articles, including its double-page Folio, to the controversy.  Bill Curry found that the Tribute to Liberty charity has declared to the CRA for each of the past five years that it has not engaged in any political activity and has passed a CRA audit "with flying colours."  Architecture critic Alex Bozokovic recaps the site selection process and reviews the design (mushed into one article on the web site; with interactive map of a walk along Wellington Street).  Chair of the Tribute to Liberty charity is quoted as saying: "It's a process. Stay tuned. We are not in the business of not listening to the voices that are being expressed."

    The Ottawa Citizen's Don Butler (March 19), via Access to Information, dug up a 2009 report from a committee of experts who opined that a memorial to the victims of communism did not really meet the requirements of the NCC's commemoration policy because it is not a central theme in Canadian history.  It recommended approval anyway. The committee was disbanded shortly thereafter. The only concession the promoters made was to add the tag line "Canada, a land of refuge."

    Update - 20 March

    An absolutely hilarious cartoon by Gable and a poignant letter to the editor (among four) by George Haeh of Lethbridge, Alberta, in today's Globe and Mail:

    "It seems a little too facile to memorialize victims of a safely far-away government when our own government seemingly turns its back on Canada’s victims.

    For example, our Plains Indians were subjected to starvation in the 19th century to open the land to European settlement. More recently, generations of Indian children suffered in the residential school system; many of their children and grandchildren remain victims today as the harm cascades through generations.

    Today, where is the government’s concern about missing or murdered aboriginal women, about ensuring that all remains are identified – a failure to care that goes all way to the top.

    Perhaps we should first memorialize the victims of our own governments."

    Update - 23 March

    The NCC's CEO replied to our letter in a letter dated March 17.  The reply notes that the Parliamentary Precinct is in the hands of Public Works and Government Services, "which is also the landowner".  The Department wrote to the NCC in March 2013, advising it that the land in question would change from building site to monument site.  A handwritten note from CEO Kristmanson adds: "Thanks for your letter.  One of our concerns with the current design of the monument is its treatment of 'greenspace,' which is being addressed through the federal design approval process."

    Update - 26 March

    Seventeen former presidents of the Canadian Bar Association signed an open letter, "This monument puts justice under a shadow," published in the Globe & Mail of 26 March.

    Update - 29 March

    A long editorial in the Globe & Mail asks: "A monument to what, exactly?" (print version, March 30; on the web site it's entitled "The Victims of Communism Memorial: Right idea, wrong place").  The editorial concludes that it is "a well-meaning tribute to victims of communism that has been appropriated by the Conservative government as a prop in its constant effort to cast itself as tough on evil and on evildoers."

    Update - 1 April

    Minister Glover replied to our letter. No new information.

    Update - 2 May

    CEO Mark Kristmanson's reply to our letter alluded to the federal design review process.  Based on comments by the CEO at the previous day's NCC Board meeting, an article by Don Butler in the Ottawa Citizen of 23 April confirms that this process could delay construction.  The design will come to the Board in either June or September; if the latter it is unlikely that construction will begin this year.  An accompanying article on the same page by Butler reveals the specific objections the NCC's advisory committee expressed between February and August 2014.  As well, an attempt by the NCC to have the government announce the site as "intended" did not succeed.  A bonus article, again by Butler on the same page tells of an Environics survey of 1500 adults in the NCR last fall.  It reveals that many people are unaware of the change in the NCC's mandate imposed by the government in 2013.  For example, 42 percent thought that the NCC was still responsible for Winterlude.

    Andrew Seymour, in the Ottawa Citizen of May 1, quoted Pierre Poilièvre, speaking at a rally of more than 500 people on the site, as saying: "It is shameful thatthe Liberals and the NDP have come out against building this monument at this site, and it is shameful that some in the media have done the same."

    A column by Joanne Chianello in the Ottawa Citizen of May 2 highlights the two faces of MP Pierre Poilièvre, now the Minister responsible for the NCC and our region -- supportive of the city when it comes to investments in infrastructure, but stubbornly partisan about, for instance, the memorial to the victims of communism.  Says Chianello: "Maybe that sort of hyperbole is par for the course for politics. Maybe he'll grow out of it?"  Let's hope so.

  • Reply to: Letter to MMAH re the Municipal Elections Act   1 month 1 day ago

    Within 15 minutes (at 6:30 p.m., Friday), the Minister responds:

    "Thanks very much...........ted

    Sent from my BlackBerry 10 smartphone on the Rogers network."

    A formal letter followed, dated March 23.  It states: "As part of the review, the Government of Ontario is committed to introducing the option for Ontario municipalities to use ranked ballots in future elections, starting in 2018, as an alternative to first-past-the-post."

  • Reply to: Useful Links - comments and suggestions   1 month 1 week ago

    Dec. 8: Two more links added: City Repair Ottawa (=Imagine Ottawa) and Eastern Ontario Model Forest.

    Dec. 19: Kanata Environmental Network added.

    One more, Jan 2, 2007: Trees Canada Foundation.

    One more, Jan 10: The Citizen Submissions page of NAFTA's Commission for Environmental Cooperation.

    Jan. 16: The link to the consolidated version of the Ottawa Official Plan, Volume 1 has been added; the previous link now points to Volume 2.

    Jan. 23: Two more local groups: Friends of the Jock and the Botanical Garden Society.

    Feb 14: Today added the wildly successful non-profit organization, Project for Public Spaces (New York, US).  It's a bit of a stretch to call this a "voluntary" organization but it seemed other categories are worse.

    March 5: Three Québec organizations added: Aux Arbres Citoyens!, SNAP (Société pour la nature et les parcs du Canada - section Québec) and Réseau Québecois des Groupes Ecologistes (RQGE)

    March 30: a direct link to SARA's Public Registry has been added.

    April 20: "Green Ottawa" added -- thanks, Ron!

    December 19: "Development Application Review Process" for Ottawa added -- thanks, Al, for bringing this to my attention.  Also added the Friends of the Tay Watershed Association.

    Januart 18, 2008: updated the link to Ontario's e-laws and added F.U.N. (Federation of Urban Neighbourhoods of Ontario) to the list.  The Alliance is a member of the FCA; FCA is a member of F.U.N.

    January 20: added know-uranium, a web site serving three local groups, Ottawa Coalition Against Mining Uranium (OCAMU), the Community Coalition Against Mining Uranium (CCAMU) and the West Quebec Coalition Against Mining Uranium (WQ-CAMU).  Update, 30 Nov 2010: Only two of these orgs appear to have survived.  The links list has been updated.

    January 25: added the Petitions process in the Office of the Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development (Auditor General of Canada).

    January 28: added Pesticide Free Ontario.

    February 5: added Ottawa Community Garden Network.

    March 4: added Wildlands League (a CPAWS chapter, hq'd in Toronto)

    May 20: added the NCC's page on the Urban Lands Master Plan -- the 100th link!

    June 9: recently discovered that Council meetings, going back to December 2003,  can now be viewed on the City's web site!  Rogers' hold on these tapes has been broken.  A step forward in transparent government.

    July 6: how could I have overlooked until now The Bishops Mills Natural History Centre, maintained by Frederick Schueler and Aleta Karstad!

    September 21: Jane's Walk added -- for the first time, walks in Ottawa are organized in 2008.

    October 10: The NCC's page on the Greenbelt added -- thanks, Sol!

    November 1: The Ontario government issued revised Statements of Environmental Values for many of its Ministries.  A link to it has been added.  Thanks, Ken!

    January 16, 2009: Added Prof. David Gordon's web site on Planning the Capital (Queen's University; includes access to documents).  Thanks, Sol!

    February 28: Added the Greenbelt Coalition of Canada's Capital Region.

    March 28: Met Howard Clifford at the Wildlife Festival today.  Lanark is a bit out of our area but, hey, if the Alba Wilderness School bothered to come to Billings Bridge, we may as well reciprocate and welcome it to the family of Links here!  Their web site is delightful and the School surely meets the criterion of "helpful in the preservation of greenspace."

    May 9: Added "Choosing Our Future" -- a joint project of the NCC and the Cities of Ottawa and Gatineau.

    May 21: Added "Save Our Boreal Birds", locally sponsored by the Ottawa Field-Naturalists' Club.  (Listed under National voluntary organizations.)

    August 25: Added a link to the City of Ottawa's "OPA#76" - from there you can access the OPA itself as well as an annotated Official Plan text.  This is "OP 2009" as passed by City Council on June 24, 2009.

    August 29: Added the Ontario Environmental Review Tribunal.

    November 22: Added Gravel Watch Ontario.

    December 11: Added the new City of Ottawa web site with a long reference list for studies and plans to support development applications.

    January 16, 2010: Added the Ottawa-Carleton Wildlife Centre and the Ontario chapter of the Sierra Club.

    April 21: Added the Ottawa Pilot project for a Biosphere Eco-City (part of UNESCO's MAB program). 

    October 5: Added the NCC's page to access the archive of the public meetings of its Board of Directors.

    November 11: Added "Ottawa's Great Forest," the web site created to promote the Stewardship Plan for the Beaver Pond Forest in Kanata.

    March 5, 2011: Added GuideGatineau, a volunteer group enthused about Gatineau Park, including its history.

    March 13: Added PERC - how could I have forgotten it for so long!  PERC recently spiffed up its web site.

    March 25: Added Champlain Oaks, the web site of the Champlain Park community celebrating its ancient bur oaks.

    March 27: The Wildlife Festival is always such a good place to meet or get re-acquainted with other activists!  As a result of this year's Festival at Billings Bridge, I've added Friends of Gatineau Park / Les Amis du parc de la Gatineau, the Rideau Trail Association, and the Rideau Valley Wildlife Sanctuary, even though the first two are more recreation-oriented and so perhaps somewhat at the margin of the mandate of this list (and the Greenspace Alliance), being a list that aims to assist in the preservation of greenspace.  We have so much in common!

    March 27: Also added today, TEEB4me's effort to convey its message about valuing nature to citizens.  TEEB stands for The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity.

    September 10: Added the NCC's "Horizon 2067" page.

    October 20: Added the City of Ottawa's Trees in Trust program -- free to homeowners!

    December 16: Added the Can/US (Washington State/B.C.) ForestEthics organization.

    17 February 2012: Added the web site of the Wakefield group trying to stop the current plans for an extension of Highway 5 at Gatineau Park.  And added "Green Communities Canada" - thanks, Bryan!

    10 April: Added the Ontario Rivers Alliance, "a Not-for-Profit grassroots movement of individuals, groups and organizations who have come together to protect, conserve and restore healthy river ecosystems."

    10 April: Immediately after the Choosing Our Future reports were tabled, the Ottawa staff group was disbanded and the web site was deleted.  The link is now to the staff report (City Council meeting of 22 February 2012), from where the project's reports can be accessed.

    22 April: The Alliance has been working with the South March Highlands group for some time but their web site hadn't made it on the Links section!  We never claimed to be perfect...

    23 May: Added ParkScore, a new initiative from the US Trust for Public Land. Using a straightforward methodology (not much to do with biodiversity), 40 US cities are compared.

    2 June: Added Globaïa, a wonderful source of educational material on the environment in a global perspective.

    8 August: Added "The Caen" - a new news aggregator and blog tracker about the Canadian Environment.

    2 September: Added NatureServe Canada, the network of government-sponsored natural heritage information centres.

    10 December: deleted the Ottawa group of the Sierra Club.

    12 January 2013: Added 3 in 1: The "Sustainable Eastern Ontario" website includes the "National Capital Environmental Nonprofit Network (NCENN)" and the Green Pages Directory.  (It also houses the Community Energy Network and the Green Map.)  The Alliance is registered with NCENN and in the Green Pages Directory.

    6 March: Added Hidden Harvest, Ottawa Chapter.

    19 September: added "geoOttawa" -- about time! -- and also redirected the NCC's Urban Lands reference to its new page.

    22 October: added Boisés Est, a voluntary organization of woodlot owners, centered around Plantagenet.  I met Jean-Claude Havard, the secretary, at the November meeting of NCENN.

    16 December: added, with thanks to Donna DuBreuil, OREG, the Ontario Road Ecology Group, on the Toronto Zoo's web site.  Locally, Drs. Fred Schueler (Bishop Mills) and Lenore Fahrig (Carleton U) are advisors.  OREG was founded in 2009. Its web site suggests that its volunteers are supported by government, so that's where you'll find it.

    19 December: with thanks to John Almstedt, added the Ottawa-Gatineau Geoheritage Project, initiated earlier this year.

    23 January 2014: with thanks again to John Almstedt, added the Bonnechere River Watershed Project and two other related Renfrew County web sites, the Renfrew County BiotaBase and Nature Notebook.  The Biotabase is a public participation (citizen science) project.  Nature Notebook was created by the Ottawa River Institute. And Heather Hamilton spreads the news that Bumble Bee Watch, another citizen science project, is now operational!

    6 February: and again via John Almstedt, added Asinabka Blue Water Trail, a dream to add a paddle route around the island of Hull, and do so in conjunction with the development of the former Domtar lands.

    28 February: added a reference to MOE's information about the Municipal Class Environmental Assessment process.

    2 March: with thanks to Owen Clarkin's post to Facebook, added Global Forest Watch, an extremely powerful visualization of forest cover, gain and loss.  "Global Forest Watch (GFW) is a dynamic online forest monitoring and alert system that empowers people everywhere to better manage forests. For the first time, Global Forest Watch unites satellite technology, open data, and crowdsourcing to guarantee access to timely and reliable information about forests. GFW is free and follows an open data approach in putting decision-relevant information in the hands of governments, companies, NGOs, and the public."

    3 April: added a link to Ottawa's Urban Tree Conservation By-law.

    27 April: added the new Huntley Highlands group - "To preserve the Carp Hills for the benefit of nature and the community in perpetuity."

    27 May: via Windmill Developments' proposal for the Domtar lands, became aware of the "One Planet" principles, promoted by BioRegional -- head office in North America is here in Ottawa.

    26 June: added the Ontario Urban Forest Council (OUFC) which just celebrated 50 years as a not-for-profit volunteer organization dedicated to the health of the urban forests in the province.

    23 December: added the Boreal Songbird Initiative's new web site to the list of national/international voluntary organizations.

    20 March 2015: added the ABV des 7, the government-supported "Agence de bassin versant des 7" that aims to improve the water quality of the watersheds of the seven rivers in its territory -- the Blanche Ouest, Coulogne, Dumoine, Gatineau, Noir, Quyon and the Ottawa. Nicole DesRoches is its current president.