October 1999 Annual Report


Oct. 20, 1999

Chair’s Report

Ours is a small group of hard-working volunteers. It has become abundantly clear since we first formed the Greenspace Alliance of Canada’s Capital in the fall of 1997 that there is a real and pressing NEED for a group like ours, one that focuses on greenspace issues only. We have not, as a group, spent much time reflecting on our accomplishments and we rarely pat ourselves on the back for all that we have accomplished. At this, our first AGM, perhaps we can take a few moments to do so.

Since we formed, the Greenspace Alliance of Canada’s Capital has accomplished a great deal. Although we have progressed on most of the things we had initially listed in our Vision Statement, I suspect that our most important achievement has been to earn the respect of all the major players in the capital region, including elected officials and bureaucrats at all three levels of government, as well as the media. Credibility is a must, and it must be earned the hard way!

Along the way, we have gained in sophistication about political processes involved in greenspace issues, and discovered that there are limitations in our own levels of energy and influence. For most of us, it has been hard to accept that our battle is going to be long and slow. It is vital that we recognize the real dangers of burnout and use our meager resources wisely so that we can remain a presence into the next millennium. Here is a brief listing of some of our accomplishments, with examples to illustrate:

1. We have read and submitted detailed comments on greenspace aspects of five major policy documents.
* City of Ottawa’s Natural and Open Spaces Study (NOSS) and more recently the policy to preserve ES candidate areas identified in NOSS
* National Capital Commission’s Plan for Canada’s Capital (two separate documents)
* Central Experimental Farm
2. Made oral presentations in public forums, regarding
* Municipal restructuring (Mayor of Ottawa’s People’s Forum)
* Opposing a waterpark in the Greenbelt (City of Nepean)
* Preserving greenspace in Ottawa (City of Ottawa Planning and Development Committee
3. Submitted many letters. Here are some examples:
* In support of two Millennium projects (Greenmap and Urban Forests book)
* Advising Mr. Shortliffe on regional greenspace issues relevant to municipal restructuring
* In support of communities and citizens trying to preserve greenspace (including Balena Park, Southern and Heron/Walkley corridors, Leitrim Wetlands)
4. We are participating actively in the RMOC Landtrust Working Group.
5. We have successfully overseen one practical project which involved bringing together a City Councilor, the fire department, the Boy Scouts of Sandy Hill, a local Sandy Hill resident, and CBC media coverage (mounting squirrel boxes after the Ice Storm).
6. We have a website, see http://www.flora.org/greenspace/ [Archivist’s note: This was our first web site; from this we went to Drupal, then to the current WordPress site]
7. We have shared information and provided a forum for networking to include various groups or associations, experts and citizens.
8. We had a speaker series, with invited speakers from Nortel, the Ottawa-Carleton Wild Life Centre, and a lawyer talking about Landtrusts, among others.
9. Our members have written letters to the editor, placed articles in community papers and the Ottawa Citizen, and given interviews to print and television press.
10. Several of our members have won awards for community service, including a Mayor’s Award given to Amy Kempster this year.

Four Things to think about for the future:

1. We lack a data base with objective indicators. When people say, “What is the problem? There is lots of greenspace in Ottawa-Carleton”, we need to have PROOF that there is a real problem here.
2. We need a brochure that can be made available to prospective members and used for advertising.
3. We need to temper our expectations with a recognition of the reality, that a small number of people are trying to accomplish a great deal in very little time, on a voluntary basis.
4. We need to think more strategically, and consider becoming more proactive.

Shelley Parlow, Chair