General Meeting – 23 November 2015


Greenspace Watch

General Meeting

November 23, 2015

Hintonburg Community Centre

1064 Wellington Street West

K1Y 2Y3

Members present: Nicole DesRoches (chair), Erwin Dreessen (notetaker), Amy Steele, Paul Johanis, Jason Kania, Juan Pedro Unger, Sol Shuster, Iola Price, Anne-Marie Hogue and Lorne Peterson

Guest: Brian McDougall

Regrets: David McNicoll

The meeting commenced at 7:20 p.m.

1. Agenda

A modified agenda was agreed upon.

2. Administrative items

a. Minutes of October 26: Erwin moved, seconded by Paul, to approve the October 26 Minutes as amended. Agreed.

b. December 21 meeting: It was agreed to have a half-hour agenda and then proceed to The Works across the street to share a meal. Action: Nicole will reserve space.

c. Web site: Jason delivered the news that our web site was hacked starting about eight months ago — its data base is full of spam about pharmaceuticals. While it appears to function normally, visitors could be tagged and later become infected. He advised that Drupal’s cumbersome updating requirements are too much for a small group to maintain and suggested we close it down and start a new web site using WordPress. He will also investigate alternatives such as Weebly. Via email he’ll make a final proposal with an initial layout; Paul and Erwin will advise in the development of that proposal. In the mean time he’ll redirect <> to a static page with an explanation, minimum background and contact information. The existing site could remain available “privately” via another URL. He advised that transferring our voluminous information to the new site could require months of boring work. Action: Jason, Paul, Erwin.

3. Action updates

a. Volunteers: Qinxuan Chua’s op-ed based on her interview with Clarke Topp has been submitted to the Ottawa Citizen. If not accepted, other options are the Globe and Mail, the Metroland papers or any other local weeklies, or the student newspaper.

b. Video files of the June 2013 panel discussion: Paul has completed segmenting the files and has uploaded them to YouTube; they are now publicly accessible. Eventually, links will be added in to <>. Action: Paul will post the links to the List.

c. Sunset Lakes appeal: Erwin received clarification from City counsel why the coming into force of the country lot estate prohibition policy was not included in the City’s requested relief: Upon Sunset Lakes’ withdrawal of that portion of its appeal, it was not before the Board, therefore the Board could make no decision about it. Three other parties (“global appealers”) may still appeal if and when the OPA 150 process gets back on track.

d. Provincial reviews: The <comment on municipal legislation> was submitted and posted on October 28. The <comment on wetlands policy> was submitted and posted on October 30. (Post-meeting note: For the record, a <submission to the Legislature regarding Bill 73> was sent in on November 2.)

e. Road widening through Stony Swamp: Erwin received from the City planner, Steven Stoddard, a 15-page letter from the NCC (Fred Gaspar) to the City, dated 20 February 2015, setting out the performance expectations and recommended key actions. Several other files were attached as well. He forwarded the information to Elena Kreuzberg (CPAWS-OV). Action: Erwin to forward same to Board members.

f. C.E.F. encroachment: A letter to three federal Ministers, co-signed by a large number of scientists and others, and cc’d to other federal ministers, other provincial and municipal politicians and other parties, went out today. It argues for a win-win solution: Saving the Farm and enabling Hospital renewal. Action: Erwin to forward the letter to the Board.

4. New business

a. In Memoriam Mik Svilans: Belatedly, it was learned that, after a long illness, Mikelis Svilans passed away on October 22, 2014, at age 65. He spent much of these last few years in Latvia but stayed in touch with the Alliance. He was last in contact with us on September 1, 2014 when he endorsed our four propositions for the municipal election. Before that he was a key figure in some of our work in Kanata in 2007 and also served on the Board.

b. Our 20th anniversary: Erwin reminded all that in 2017 the Alliance will have been around for 20 years. See further under Item 9 b.

c. Oblate lands: A final zoning by-law amendment will be before Planning Committee tomorrow. Following some discussion of points we could make, it was agreed that Erwin would make an <intervention>.

5. Domtar lands

It was agreed that our “angle” would have to be whether there is enough greenspace. Brian pointed out that the Gréber Plan foresaw the islands returning to their natural state. In the end it was agreed, with one vote against and one abstention, to proceed drafting a letter as set out in Erwin’s discussion piece and to reach out to other environmental groups for possible co-signing. Action: Erwin to draft the letter and seek endorsements from the short list. Sol to seek endorsements from the long list.

6. Urban Forest Management Plan

Paul attended the last few meetings of the “task force” convened by Ecology Ottawa. The resulting <brief> has been posted to the List.

7. NCC governance

a. Follow-up on CEO Mark Kristmanson’s promises of a year ago: It was agreed to write that current practice falls short, in particular by not providing staff reports in advance of Board of Director meetings. Action: Erwin.

b. About city mayors on the NCC Board: It was agreed to write a letter opposing the idea of the mayors of Ottawa and Gatineau serving on the NCC’s Board of Directors. Action: Nicole.

8. Aggregate Resources Act review

One of the themes in “Blueprint for Change — A proposal to modernize and strengthen the Aggregate Resources Act policy framework” (Ontario, 21 October 2015) is Environmental Accountability. Erwin identified several points we could support and others to question and was further helped by a conference call set up by Gravel Watch Ontario. He will draft a submission and circulate it to Board members and GWO. We will finalize after December 6 when we receive GWO’s draft. Deadline is December 15. Action: Erwin.

9. Brief reports

a. FCA meeting – November 2: Main theme was the upcoming City budget.

b. Ottawa 2017: Information session for community groups – November 12: More funding would become available, but only for operations and centered around the official holidays. Action: Nicole will follow up to investigate options for organizing an event, also to celebrate our 20th.

c. Conversation with Councillors on communication: Four Board members attended a meeting with two members of Ottawa’s Environment Committee to discuss the City’s decision making process.

d. Nature Conservancy – Why Forests Matter – November 17: This was a well-attended event with a wide variety of speakers shedding light on the subject in 8-minute presentations. They included Dr. Curtis Lavoie (CHEO) and Lorna Crozier, poet and author. Dan Kraus (Nature Conservancy) pointed out that Canada has 8,000 trees per person, that forest cover has recovered from a low of 10% in 1900 to 22% currently, but that coverage is going down again. Only 7% is on protected land.

e. NCC Urbanism Lab – Perspectives on Planning in the National Capital – November 18: David Gordon read from his new book that will be out in a few weeks, <“Town and Crown – An Illustrated History of Canada’s Capital>.” Alain Miguelez offered extracts from his new book, “<Transforming Ottawa – Canada’s Capital in the Eyes of Jacques Gréber>.” In response to a question, David Gordon opined that the Chaudière Falls should be liberated, which generated applause from the audience. At the end of the meeting, an NCC official announced that the Commission would initiate an Urban Forest Plan and that there would be an Urbanism Lab on urban trees in February.

The meeting adjourned at 9:47 p.m.

The next monthly meeting will be on December 21, 2015 at 7:15 p.m. in the Hintonburg CC. It will be a short one, followed by a shared meal close by.