FCA: Environmental Focus

On October 6, 2015, the Greenspace Alliance hosted the monthly meeting of the Federation of Citizens’ Associations (FCA – since its founding the Alliance has been a member of FCA). Preceding the meeting a renewed understanding had been reached between the Alliance and the FCA Executive that resulted in a resumption of reciprocal membership and the expectation that the Alliance will be the first go-to organization when it comes to environmental — especially land use — issues brought up by FCA members; as well, the Alliance undertakes to keep FCA and its Executive abreast of land use issues affecting the environment.

Co-chair Erwin Dreessen made a presentation highlighting the range of environmental groups in Ottawa, the status of appeals of the December 2013 Comprehensive Official Plan Amendment (OPA 150), and what the future of land use planning could bring. He explained that the sorry state of public engagement practiced out of City Hall is an obstacle to a positive outcome. He concluded with an overview of files that are on the Alliance’s radar.

This was followed by a presentation by Nick Stow (4.4 MB), senior environmental planner in the City of Ottawa, entitled “Natural, Liveable Ottawa.” He discussed the mandate and personnel of the Natural Systems Unit in the Planning and Development Department, highlighted the 29 Natural Areas and 12 Core Areas in the city, and the Natural Heritage System designations that are available in the Official Plan (Schedules A and L). He identified Urban Natural Areas that are at risk. The City is moving from “feature” based to “system” based natural area planning, in collaboration with the Nature Conservancy (Ottawa Valley Conservation Plan – 4.75 MB) and the National Capital Commission (Greenbelt Master Plan), this within the context of the greater Algonquin-to-Adirondacks (AtoA) landscape. The City’s contribution to this work is its Natural Landscape Linkage Analysis — the result of an undertaking in the Greenspace Alliance’s settlement of an OMB appeal following the 2009 Official Plan Review. Nick concluded with an overview of current challenges and initiatives, including the creation of a map that represents a consensus among the three agencies of what are the priority conservation lands in Ottawa.