2004-2005 Annual Report

Annual Report 2005

State of the Alliance

The Greenspace Alliance of Canada’s Capital is the leading advocate of greenspace preservation and expansion in the National Capital region.  This year we have instituted a number of activities to help preserve significant greenspace in the capital, including several OMB appeals.  We have an active appeal to help preserve the important natural areas in the northern part of Kanata (KNL developments), an area of very high natural significance in South Gloucester (5309 Bank Street) and we are still actively involved in ensuring that the new City Official Plan prevents the wanton destruction of greenspace. We have also intervened on a number of times at Ottawa City committees to ensure greenspace is preserved as much as possible.

The Greenspace Alliance is lucky to have many active members of the Board of Directors: Amt Kempster, Janice Seline, Juan Pedro Unger Erwin Dreessen and Chris Szpak.  Amy is treasurer after Barbara Barr left, Janice is our secretary and membership director, Juan Pedro does publicity and communications, Chris has been co-chair.

Unfortunately we have also lost one of our most active advocates when Barbara Barr and her husband moved to Fort Collins, Colorado last spring.  We miss Barbara greatly and all wish her the best in her new home.  She has left a large hole in our Board and we are still trying to catch up.

Chief Activities

The Country Lot Estate (CLE) provision in the OP allows developers to subdivide rural areas into large estate lots, 0.2 ha or larger, often in Rural Natural Features.  To help settle this part of our Official Plan appeal, we are involved in a working group to revise the City’s Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) procedure to ensure that these natural features will not be impacted by any nearby development.  Erwin has done a lot of work reviewing the policy and procedures for EIS in other Ontario municipalities and has provided the City invaluable information on best practices for an EIS.

Except for the CLE part of the OP, the Greenspace Alliance has settled with the City for other parts of our appeal of the Official Plan.  This has involved modifying the OP to better protect greenspace when it is part of a holding zone, and requiring a public process before any revisions of natural area boundaries.  Amy, Chris and Erwin have negotiated with the City to gain these improvements to the plan.

The Greenspace Alliance is also supporting residents of Kanata in appealing the conversion of large natural areas in the South March Highlands to residential development.  This has reached the OMB hearing stage and the hiring of a lawyer, Paul Webber, to argue an important legal issue.  We have also hired a naturalist, David White, to prepare proposed boundaries for the natural areas and to act as an expert witness.  The lawyer’s fees are about $10,000 and members of the Kanata community have raised about $7,500 of this.  We still need to work on the full hearing costs and the ~$5,000 costs of David’s work.  Amy, Mikelis Svilans, Peter Van Boeschoten and Bill Royds have been leading this work.

Another important issue that we are appealing to the OMB has been the decision of the City of Ottawa to amend the OP and rezone  large natural area at 5309 Bank Street for limestone quarrying.  This site, formerly owned by the City until its sale to R.W. Tomlinson Inc. in July 2003, is rated as one of the most important sites in the city for biodiversity.  An Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) paid for by Tomlinson, found 16 regionally rare species on the site, 6 of them provincially rare and 2 on the national endangered list.  We are working with Sierra Legal Defence Fund lawyer Paul Boutis on this issue, which can be a precedent to ensure the federal Species at Risk Act (SARA) has real effect.  Along with other parties we have also filed objections to the quarry licence and thus this has been referred to the OMB as well.

The Greenspace Allianca has been an active member of the Friends of Leitrim group to prevent the destruction of the Leitrim Wetland.  We appeared before City Council Planning and Environment Committee (PEC) to argue against the rezoning of a large part of the wetland for residential development by Aperdev Corporation and persuaded City Council to enter into negotiations to buy the western part of this land (Urban Natural Area # 184).  We may aslo appeal this rezoning to the OMB to ensure that the provincially significant wetland is not lost.

Fund Raising and Outreach Activities

Our chief fundraising activity each year is the Run/Walk for Clean Air held in partnership with the Friends of the Farm and the Sierra Club of Canada, Ottawa Chapter.  This year our share was approximately $500.  Our representative on the organizing committee has been Janice Seline, helped by Amy Kempster in finding sponsors.

The Greenspace Alliance also maintained a booth at the Wildlife Festival in April and the Ottawa Forests and Greenspace Advisory Committee Fall Forum in October.

A concerted effort by Steven Artelle and Ryan James has pushed the Poets’ Pathway project closer to fulfillment.  Beechwood Cemetery has supported this by arranging for a portion of the cemetery to be landscaped as a “Poet’s Hill” to anchor the path at its eastern end.  We are very grateful to Beechwood for its support.  Erwin has made a formal presentation to the Board of Directors of the National Capital Commission proposing to dedicate the Southern Corridor as a Canadian Poets’ Park — the southern anchor of the pathway.  The  NCC refuses to make any commitment, however, asking instead that we create a formal commemoration proposal that could be placed anywhere in the National Capital.  We continue to work with the Councillors who also want to preserve the Southern Corridor.

In November, Erwin convened a meeting of people interested in forming an Ottawa Land Trust.  The topic is being pursued by Jackie Oblak of the Ottawa Forests and Greenspace Advisory Committee.

Erwin has also contacted faculty members of both Carleton University and the University of Ottawa to see if student projects could be integrated with work fostering the mandate of the Alliance.  This fall, the students in the Environmental Studies senior course at Carleton have taken on 5309 Bank Street.