The 2007 reports of the City of Ottawa’s Auditor General were tabled at the 11 June 2008 meeting of Council. At its July meeting, the Alliance decided to send in comments on three of the reports:
on AUDIT OF THE DEVELOPMENT REVIEW PROCESS (Chapter 1)
on AUDIT OF THE ENVIRONMENTAL COMMITMENTS IN THE OTTAWA 20/20 GROWTH MANAGEMENT STRATEGY (Chapter 3)
on AUDIT OF THE POPULATION GROWTH PROJECTIONS (Chapter 10)
The 2007 Audit Reports can be accessed on the City web site from here.
18 July 2008
UPDATE – 23 AUGUST 2008
Greenspace Alliance interviewed about the AG Report
Bill Royds posted the following to the GA List on August 18, 2008:
August 7th, 2008 — Community Garden
Greenspace Alliance vs. Auditor-General’s Bill by Sara Falconer
It’s not exactly an exciting title: The Office of the Auditor-General 2007 Annual Report. Indeed, it was released with barely a blip on the public radar. But for those who took the time to read it, it painted a detailed picture of a city with processes that are deeply flawed – a city, says Bill Royds, “with no consistent vision of the future.”
“We tend to support the auditor-general because one of the things he keeps on pointing out is the disarray in the city government processes,” says Royds, director of the Greenspace Alliance.
Alain Lalonde has been Ottawa’s auditor-general since 2004. It’s great to have an outside watchdog, Royds points out, but only if people are listening.
“It’s not a soundbite,” he explains. “Part of the problem is that city politics, like national politics, is not something that you can take 50 words and summarize. It’s nuanced.” The main report is a staggering 304 pages long, with subreports on different areas adding hundreds more. The city officially published the report but did little to promote it – unsurprisingly, as it’s extremely critical of the status quo.
The Greenspace Alliance submitted a response to the report, particularly pertaining to the Audit of the Development Review Process.
“We were the organization, along with a couple of others, that said to review it in the first place,” he explains. The group has also actively campaigned against the unchecked development of Kanata West along the Carp River.
“Under various policies we’re supposed to have commitments for retaining green space and trees, but there are no actual policies in place… all development is done piecemeal,” he says. “We’re trying to preserve green spaces and the city is trying to make it easier to develop green spaces than brown spaces like rail yards and parking lots. Of course, fields are cheaper to build on because they don’t have to rehabilitate the land.”
Developers in green fields should be paying more for development costs to build infrastructure like sewers, he argues. Lalonde’s report revealed that by not doing so, Ottawa taxpayers are subsidizing developers to the tune of $4.3-million. The city charges less for these development fees than other Ontario municipalities.
“Saving the environment would actually save us money,” Royds says.
Moving forward, city managers will be hampered by a major problem with the 20/20 Growth Management Strategy – inflated population growth estimates that were calculated in 2003, which the Greenspace Alliance objected to at the time.
“They took the fastest growth period that Ottawa ever had, and assumed that the population would grow at that rate for the next 20 years. That’s just silly.”
The 2007 review offers numbers that are more realistic, Royds says. “But that basically throws all of their plans for 2020 out of whack, so they have to start all over again.”
23 August 2008