General meeting – December 19 2022


Greenspace Watch

General Meeting


December 19, 2022

On-line meeting

Members present: Paul Johanis (chair), Nicole DesRoches, J.P. Unger, Jason Kania, Daniel Buckles, Erwin Dreessen, David McNicoll, Arto Kiklilkian, John Almstedt    

The meeting commenced at 7:00 pm.  

1. Adoption of the agenda

The proposed agenda was agreed upon, with the addition of item 3(c), Ontario Law Commission EBR review, and 4(a) incentives for rural greenspace stewardship, moved by Nicole, seconded by Erwin.     

2. Administrative items

a. Minutes of the October 17, 2022 meetings (for approval)

Moved by Erwin, seconded by Nicole. Carried.

b. Association reports

Paul reported on session #2 of the Common Ground workshop sponsored by the OCAP on measures to promote and facilitate intensification. It has not led to any direct outcomes but has opened some good channels for ongoing exchange.

Action: Paul will circulate the list of participants.  

Paul also reported on contacts with the Réseau des organisations environnementales de la Capitale Nationale, a francophone network affiliated with Sustainable Eastern Ontario. Ongoing GA engagement with this group could help develop untapped grassroots contacts in the eastern urban and rural parts of Ottawa. 

3. Policy instruments

a. Ontario Bill 23, Building More Homes Faster

The GA has submitted comments on elements of Bill 23 in accordance with the consultation schedule and participated in a rally organized by Acorn Ottawa along with many of its POP partners. Two remaining parts of the Bill that are of concern to us are open for comment, with a deadline of December 30. One deals with the introduction of offsets in relation to destruction of Natural Heritage System features and the other with the merging of the PPS and the Place to Grow growth plan for southern Ontario. It was agreed that we would respond to both.

Action: Paul to circulate draft comments for review and finalization before December 30. 

b. New City Committee membership

A list members of the newly reformed City Committees was circulated in advance. Of particular interest for the GA are the Planning and Housing Committee and the Environment and Climate Change Committee.  It was agreed that as a result of the election results, the membership on these committees seems much more favorable to environmental and greenspace issues than in the previous term of Council. On both these committees 7 of the 12 members were endorsed by the GA, including their respective Chairs. On full Council, 12 of the 24 members were endorsed by the GA and 2 more were our second choice as they also held favorable views on the issues we prioritize.     

c. Ontario Law Commission review of the Environmental Bill of Rights

Erwin reported that the Law Commission of Ontario is engaged in a review of the Environmental Bill of Rights and is seeking comments on how to improve it. The consultation format is a set of questions on various improvement options. He identified several where the GA might have useful input to provide. All agreed that this was a worthwhile exercise in which to engage and volunteers were sought. Arto stepped up and offered to review the questions and prepare draft responses for consideration.

Action: Erwin to supply Arto with background information and Arto to draft proposed responses for review and submission on behalf of the GA. Deadline for input is January 13.  

4. Threats and opportunities 

a. Rural greenspace

i. Incentives for rural greenspace stewardship

John brought up the topic of what measures could be taken to incentivize stewardship of greenspace by rural landowners. He offered as an example conservation tax credits. This led to a good discussion covering topics such as how much private land was under some kind of stewardship arrangement currently (land trusts, conservation agency ownership, etc.), what other encouragements could be offered such as outright payment for ecological services, and also what stakeholders could be involved, including groups such as the Ottawa Stewardship Council and Just Food, green developers and rural councillors.

Action: Paul to locate a map prepared by the City of Ottawa of lands under stewardship arrangements.          

b. Major urban greenspace

i. George Etienne Cartier PAC meeting #2

Paul reported on the second meeting of this PAC. Options for improving access to and use of the lands adjacent to the Parkway and along the riverfront are taking shape and the NCC remains open to written comments.

Paul will circulate the presentation slides. This topic also gave rise to a discussion on the upcoming review of the Greenbelt Master Plan and Arto indicated that he could take the lead on GA input on both of these files given his extensive experience with the NCC.

c. Other greenspace

i. Development application, 2504 White Street, Orleans

Paul provided a brief presentation on a development application to build a 24 townhouse complex on a treed 2 acre residential lot on the edge of suburban Orleans. The treed area is part of an ancient forest remnant. Members discussed different options for massing and street access of the site in such a way as to preserve as much of the woodland as possible.

Action: Paul to draft comments on the development application for review and submission to City planning.        

The Meeting adjourned at 8:50 p.m.