Goulbourn Wetlands Complex

(Conveyed by Ken McRae, December 15, 2006)

A rural landowner in the former Township of Goulbourn, now part of the City of Ottawa, is pressuring the City of Ottawa to proceed with long delayed consideration of his application for a country estate lots subdivision. The property involved is on Flewellyn Road. It is obvious wetland. This property, and a number of surrounding properties, had not been evaluated for wetlands at the time of the developer’s application being submitted. A few years ago, due to the development application and my bugging the City and other agencies, the City hired a professional wetland evaluator, Ron Huizer, to carry out a wetlands evaluation of this and surrounding properties.

The property on the proposed development site, and on parts of a number of other properties affecting some 60 landowners, were determined to be parts of the Provincially Significant Goulbourn Wetlands Complex. This finding was confirmed by MNR staff. As a result of that, in 2005, the City began an Official Plan Amendment (OPA) process to recognize these additional wetlands as being “Significant” wetlands within its OP. Due to much landowner opposition and lobbying of City politicians, the City inappropriately withdrew and cancelled that OPA process. The City is therefore not in compliance with the Provincial Policy Statement (PPS).

The City not only inappropriately withdrew their OPA, but has also approved an Engineer’s Report, under the Drainage Act, to be carried out for a number of the above lands, for the purpose of carrying out drainage on those lands. The City has taken the position that it will only have a new wetlands evaluation carried out for the above lands five years after drainage works are completed. If implemented this will result in the destruction of Provincially Significant Wetlands, and the City knows this.

I raised the above issues with MNR and Municipal Affairs and Housing (MMA). MMA and MNR staff have had discussions with City staff. MMA has told the City that it is in non-compliance with the PPS. The City has refused to comply. The MMA has failed to take any further action on this to date. MNR still considers the wetlands involved to be Provincially Significant.

City staff have told me that the above mentioned developer has submitted the additional studies to the City that were previously identified as being additionally required to support his applications. I’ve also been told that the applications may go before the City’s Agriculture & Rural Affairs Committee in late Feb. 2007.

Before the City earlier this year decided to withdraw it’s OPA to recognize the wetlands, it had taken the position on the above mentioned development that it would be bad planning and that the City would oppose it, if need be, before the Ontario Municipal Board (OMB). Given the City’s present position regarding the wetlands, I’ve been told that the City’s position regarding this proposed development has become uncertain. The City might approve it, but with numerous conditions. One condition would be a requirement for huge amounts of “engineered fill”, which would significantly drive up the cost of the development for the developer, and for any subsequent purchaser of a lot within the proposed subdivision.

I’ve also been told, not by MMA or MNR staff, that if this development application is taken to the OMB that they will not get involved. This needs to be confirmed with the MMA and MNR directly.
The above indicates the sad state of wetlands protection in Ontario.


Goulbourn Wetland Complex
(conveyed by Ken McRae, December 17, 2006)

 

I’ll keep you informed of further developments I become aware of regarding the wetland development issue in the Goulbourn Wetlands Complex. I’m planning on sending an email to the MMA Minister Gerretsen, pointing out that he has the authority under the Planning Act to amend municipalities Official Plans when appropriate, when a municipality refuses to do so. I will request that he amend the City’s OP to recognize additional parts of the Goulbourn Wetlands Complex as “Significant” wetlands, as per the Provincial Policy Statement. I’ll do so in a way to make it difficult for him to refuse. No guarantee of success, but it may force the provincial government to address the issue of wetlands protection more seriously.

At this point in time I don’t know if this Flewellyn Road development issue will go to the OMB or not, but it appears likely to. I suspect the City, given it’s present position of refusing to recognize the wetland on that property and surrounding lands as being PS, will try to avoid the issue of that land being PSW, but at the same time try to put so many conditions (related to soils and stormwater management) on any approvals it gives, to cause any development there to be economically unsound. I expect the developer would appeal such conditions to the OMB.

If this matter does go to the OMB, I don’t have the time and finances to be a “Party” to it. I would be a “Participant”, but not a “Party”. If the Greenspace Alliance (GA), and or others, would be a “Party” I would be willing to collaborate with the GA, and or others, on the case.


(Conveyed by Ken McRae, December 16, 2006)

The address for the proposed development is 6851 Flewellyn Road, in the former Township of Goulbourn. A 23 lots country estate lots subdivision has been proposed. The developer is listed as “Flewellyn Land Holdings Inc.” (Mario Staltari). The original proposal was submitted back in 2003. The City Planner handling this matter is Steve Belan. I spoke with him on the phone yesterday. I consider him to be a good public servant.

The original application was found to require additional information. The original applications for rezoning and draft subdivision approval had only a draft plan of subdivision, a hydrogeological and terrain analysis report, and a Bernie Muncaster EIS for supporting documentation. A detailed stormwater management plan and soils study were indicated as also being needed. Only a flawed conceptual stormwater management plan was additionally submitted before the developer’s applications went to PEC. Belan provided me with copies of the developers supporting documentation before that PEC meeting. I submitted comments to PEC, for its Sept. 28, 2004 meeting, copied to others.

The City staff report recommended against approval of the applications. A copy of that report can be viewed by clicking on http://city.ottawa.on.ca/calendar/ottawa/citycouncil/pec/2004/09-28/ACS2004-DEV-APR-0189.htm [Report no longer online]

The PEC minutes and decision on this matter are copied below.

“Chair Hume acknowledged a request to defer this item to allow for proper wetland mapping to take place. Councillor J. Stavinga, Ward Councillor, indicated she has been discussing the application with staff and was prepared to support the staff recommendation to refuse. Subsequently, there was discussion with the applicant, who asked that the matter be referred back for further study, which staff had consistently requested. Councillor Stavinga iterated she spoke to Planning and Growth Management (PGM) and Legal Services staff relative to the implications of referral. The Motion before Committee has been drafted in concert with Tim Marc, Manager, Planning and Development Law, and PGM staff. She encouraged the Committee to hear from delegations, but only in relation to referral.

The Committee heard from the following delegation:

Douglas Kelly, Soloway Wright, on behalf of the applicant, posited the application was filed under the former OP, which does not designate the subject land as Provincially Significant Wetland. In reviewing Ministry files, the last wetland evaluation took place in 1994, with a Ministry memorandum to the owner stating there is no wetland on Lot 17. The Goulbourn area was mapped by the Ministry of Natural Resources (MNR) in 1994 and the wetland placed into the Goulbourn OP and approved by the Region in 1996; and, into the ROP in 1997. Their position is quite clearly that they are entitled to be judged by the OP policies at that time and the new OP does not designate the land Provincially Significant Wetland. The nearest Provincially Significant Wetland is 1km away. The Environmental Impact Study (EIS) indicated there was no wetland on the land. The landowner is in no way waiving their right to be judged by the policies in place at the time, which is that there is no wetland on the land. MNR has indicated the land may be an area for complexing. The owner asked to have their environmentalist on site when the study is conducted. As well, there may need to be permission from the landowner between the subject land and the Provincially Significant Wetland. The subject property does not abut and is not within 120m of the Provincially Significant Wetland. For the record, there is no objection to have the study undertaken, but in doing so the owner is not waiving any rights or withdrawing the application.

Iola Price, Ottawa Forests and Greenspace Advisory Committee (OFGAC), and Barbara Barr, Greenspace Alliance of Canada Capital (GACC), were present and in support of the referral.
The following correspondence was circulated and is held on file with the City Clerk:

  • Dated 28 September 2004, from Barbara Barr, GACC, in support of the staff recommendation to refuse the zoning application.
  • Dated 28 September 2004, from Goulourn Wetlands Group in support of the staff recommendation.
  • Detailed submission from Ken McRae, dated 27 September 2004, strongly in support of the staff recommendation.

Moved by Councillor P. Feltmate:

BE IT RESOLVED THAT Item 9 be referred back to staff for further study, such study to include a wetland evaluation on the property by representatives of the City, the Conservation Authority and the Ministry of Natural Resources.

REFERRAL CARRIED

I was informed by Steve Belan on Nov. 28, 2005 that the applicant had appealed to the OMB “on the grounds that the City has not made a decision…within 90 days of the application.” I later contacted Jennifer Kelly, OMB, indicating my interest in participating in this appeal and she indicated that it was on hold at the applicants request.

The latest is that the developer has submitted additional studies and is now trying to push the City to have the matter go before ARAC for consideration. I’ve asked Steve for a copy of the additional studies. He has just gone on two weeks vacation and will address my request when he gets back.