GREENSPACE ALLIANCE OF CANADA’S CAPITAL
ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING OF NOVEMBER 15, 2000
The Year in Review
(October 1999 – November 2000)
In this, the second annual review of activities of the Greenspace Alliance, we can once again look back on a very long list of activities.
We have intervened – orally, in writing, or both – at all levels of government on no fewer than 17 issues. Some of the more extensive interventions have been with regard to:
* Official Plan and Zoning amendments related to the implementation of the Natural and Open Spaces Study (City of Ottawa);
* the National Capital Commission’s Core Area Plan; and
* Review of the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act (federal Minister of the Environment).
Other interventions have been with:
* the City of Ottawa: on Budget 2000; on 1454 Clementine (Sawmill Creek); on 190 Richmond Road (Loblaws); on Montfort Woods rezoning; on 3170 Conroy Road (Hunt Club Enclave, next to Greenboro Turtlehead Nature Area); and on 121 Clearview (lot division);
* the City of Gloucester: on the Orleans Quarry Forest;
* the City of Nepean: on its Greenbelt zoning review;
* Regional government: on Montfort Woods;
* the Ottawa Transition Board: on the political infrastructure as it relates to environmental management; and to its (belatedly constituted) project group on environmental decision making;
* the NCC: on dogs in Environmentally Sensitive Areas;
* Carleton University: on destruction of part of the Carleton University Woods;
* the Ontario Municipal Board: we had participant status for Zoning Bylaw 1998 appeals related to the Montfort Woods, Ontario Hydro, and 1454 Clementine; and intervened informally in the Westridge Wetlands – Phase 3B appeal.
In many of these cases, we have worked intensively with the local citizens championing the issue, lending the Alliance’s growing credibility to the cause.
We have continued to be actively represented in the Region’s Land Trust Working Group.
One of our members has monitored most meetings of the Ottawa Environmental Advisory Committee. (Another of our members is a member of the Goulbourn EAC.)
Some of our members have actively participated in the development of the national capital’s Greenmap – a project that, now under the aegis of Friends of the Earth – is expected to come to fruition at the end of this year.
We joined the Friends of Leitrim Wetland group (led by the Sierra Club-Ottawa) and are an active supporter of its activities: we wrote a letter to The Citizen – unpublished – which was copied to Regional Council; we sent a bump-up request to the provincial Minister of the Environment; we worked on an op-ed piece based on findings of three experts; and two of our members attended a first workshop on how to start a campaign against urban sprawl.
We were the lead organizer of a Mayoralty Candidates Debate on the Environment. We extracted from the two major candidates significant commitments on environmental matters that otherwise would not have come about.
Some of our members were actively involved in “3100 Conroy” placement of a water tower in exchange for preservation of 22 ha of greenspace (owned by RMOC and now called Turtlehead Trails) that is in the watershed of the Greenboro Turtlehead Nature Area.
One of our members was featured in a CBC Newsday story on preserving green spaces; another member was on-air on the local Radio-Canada television news for a story on the Carleton Woods issue.
Several of our members had letters to the editor published in The Citizen.
Shelley Parlow received the City of Ottawa Environmental Achievement Award (individual category).
In addition to the issues on which we acted in some fashion, our e-mail saw postings on no fewer than 28 other issues or events, signifying that <email@example.com> is an important forum for greenspace activists.
At our AGM of October 20, 1999 we finalized the Alliance’s Bylaws, including the determination of membership categories. At present we have received $10.00 from each of 19 individual and 9 group members. Our e-mail distribution list is considerably larger, comprising some 50 individuals.
The Alliance and the Federation of Citizens’ Associations (FCA) took out reciprocal memberships.
Our brochure was finalized and produced in September.
We started up a Vicinities (internal) web site, but it proved not practical. Our Flora web site at present contains little more than the bylaws (since July) and the brochure. We are continuing to explore the best way to make our web site useful; our October 2000 general meeting was attended by three persons who, hopefully, will soon redesign and update the site for external consumption.
We held 10 general meetings, of which 2 featured a speaker.
In September, Shelley announced she was stepping back from the Chair position for health reasons.
The Leitrim Wetland issue is certain to loom large in the coming year. The provincial Ministry’s response to the bump-up request is imminent. At the federal level, there will be an opportunity to comment on an environmental screening report. Depending on its conclusions, a full environmental review may take place.
Plans to turn part of Hull’s Leamy Lake Ecological Park into a golf course are the subject of another federal environmental screening. We are anxious to intervene here but intervenors are denied access to the key documents on the public registry, so we are now preparing access to information requests at both the federal and provincial level.
Last June, Minister Manley encouraged us to come forward with a proposal for a Pathway that would at the same time celebrate some of the Confederation Poets and preserve important green corridors from Beechwood Cemetery, via the Southern Corridor, to Brittania Park. We have formulated a Concept and a preliminary Workplan. This is a major project that will involve obtaining the support of a large number of communities as well as of the new City. The matter is pressing, not only because of our commitment to Mr. Manley, but also because the destruction of greenspace continues: One important link (the Heron/Walkley/Kitchener lands) is about to be sold again; another (“Southern Corridor-West”) has just fallen victim to yet another zone trading deal by the NCC.
Some of the ideas that were formulated at the very birth of the Alliance (in the fall of 1997) are still worth considering, to wit:
* our defence of greenspace would be bolstered if we had a set of indicators that track the state of affairs in the region;
* the largest single enemy of greenspace protection in this region remains the NCC. We need to tackle the NCC problem at its root, namely the mandate it received from Treasury Board in 1988 to sell “surplus” land to the highest bidder (and keep the proceeds).
Environmentally speaking, the new City of Ottawa starts on a very weak footing, under the plans laid by the Transition Board. We can be certain to feel compelled to lobby for:
* an upgrade in the weight of bureaucratic environmental management; and
* establishment of an Environmental Advisory Committee with teeth and resources.
As well, we will have to be extremely vigilant as the new City:
* determines its public consultation strategy (promised within the next 6 months);
* begins to formulate a new Official Plan (a 3-year project); and
* begins to consolidate the former cities’ zoning bylaws (another 3-year project).
Time and again this year, as in the year before, we have found concerned citizens? contacting us in face of the imminent loss of a piece of greenspace that is near and dear to them. Developing a brochure or how-to guide on greenspace preservation (the law, the process, options) could be a valuable contribution for the Alliance to make. A complementary idea which has been raised several times but has not been acted upon, is the formation of a group of experts (a “flying squad”) who could go and assist local communities, strengthening their resources and resolve to protect threatened greenspaces.
In light of the dismal state of reporting on issues of land use in general and preservation of greenspace in particular, creation of a community news service that would feed the neighbourhood, alternative and even mainstream media would do wonders for public awareness.
Just this week, the Board has decided to co-sponsor a “Walk/Run for Greenspace” on June 10, 2001. Now we need to find two volunteers to help in the organizing!
Clearly, in order to even accomplish some of the objectives set out here, the Alliance will require more resources. We need to at least double our membership. We need to have more than the current handful of people actively engaged. We need to avoid burnout. We must set priorities and stick to them.
The challenge continues.
Respectfully submitted by the outgoing 1999-2000 Board of Directors,
Shelley Parlow, Chair
Amy Kempster, Secretary
Erwin Dreessen, Vice-Chair
Bill Royds, Member
Barbara Barr, Treasurer
Bryan Hawley, Member