General Meeting – 25 August 2005

Greenspace Alliance of Canada’s Capital
Monthly meeting of the Greenspace Alliance
25 August 2005, 7:30 p.m.

Champlain Park Field House, 160 Cowley Ave., Ottawa

In attendance:
Amy Kempster (meeting chair), Chris Szpak, Bill Royds, Erwin Dreessen, Juan Pedro Unger, Ron Tolmie, Shahrbano Hazara, Mikelis Svilans, Pieter Prins, and Rod Taylor.

1. After calling the meeting to order, the agenda was reviewed for adoption.

2. Two changes were made to the agenda: under point 3 a sub-item was added: business arising from previous minutes; under point 8 (New business), two points were added: city wetlands’ issue, and heating system update.

3. Approval of minutes from June meeting: Erwin Moved, Bill seconded, carried.

a. Business arising from previous minutes:

– Run/Walk for Clean Air: the annual event is expected to continue, but organizing groups may now be only the GA and Friends of the Farm.
– KNL Appeal: Bill will write letter.
– Guest speaker/October AGM: Amy will seek a speaker, has reserved the 3rd Thursday (Sept. 15, Oct. 20) at this community centre. Action: Erwin will look for alternative location for the AGM.
– Letter for community association’s room: Action: Amy will write it.

4. Membership: no new memberships to report.

5. Treasurer’s report:

Mid-year switch of treasurer has complicated production of an update, a better report will be presented later on. -General situation is as follows:
a. KNL Appeals fund: approx. $3,000 (GA exclusively channelling donations to that purpose, not for the GA itself)
b. Run/Walk for Clean Air: new cheque received for $500
c. GA’s GIC: $1,500 (temporarily locked-in money)
d. GA’s chequing account: $1,635.95 (this is the GA’s actual available money)
e. -Action: Reimbursement requested for Erwin’s expenses ($14.95) to send by registered mail the 5309 Bank St. documents; J.P. moved, Chris seconded, carried; paid to Erwin on site.

6. Brief announcements

a. Official Plan appeals: -Big area between Barrhaven and Stittsville, with some of the best farmland in Ottawa, has been declared urban. Comments: Baffling decision by the OMB, absurd for OMB to accept Official Plan 2003 demographic projections without looking at new policies that would apply, and ignoring current surplus of land. The OMB member interpreted the Provincial Policy Statement’s “10 year supply of housing” recommendation as applying to each and all types of housing, thus preventing intensification where justified; the City will not appeal. Conclusion: the City lost rural land and hamstrung itself.

– No word on where other appeals currently are. Action: to request the City/City Counsel Tim Mark for status of appeals; Amy will ask the FCA to ask for it.
– Possible additional action: ask FCA about provincial study on Ottawa “Places to Grow”.
– Suggestion made to have GA’s appeals not dropped, but “held in abeyance”, which would allow their later activation.

b. Kanata/KNL appeal:

– Mik (Mikelis) reported that to date, including contributions received; great support, but work still remaining; target: $50,000. Amy noted that the OMB hearing date of 15-16 September is for a very legal question that requires a lawyer. It was discussed that the City appears to be hiding/not sharing relevant information and wants to exclude evidence related to the 40% land agreement; the City is supposed to provide an inventory of land 10 days before hearing.

– Action: Amy suggested a GA contribution of $500 to the KNL appeal fund; JP moved, Bill seconded, carried.

– A motion was passed: “That Kanata sub-committee be authorized to hire a lawyer and/or experts to the extent available monies of the designated account allow, for the 15-16 September hearing.” Chris moved, Bill seconded, carried.

c. Poets’ Pathway:

– The Beechwood Cemetery component is going well. Design by Ryan James was shown. Cemetery will place poets’ plaques, other features were explained; area in Cemetery to be known as Poets’ Hill. Public unveiling coming up.

– No update on the Southern Corridor.

– October 3: NCC appeal on Southern Corridor coming up. Action: Bill and Erwin to ask NCC to “hold in abeyance” appeal while something is worked out.

– Rochester Field question: Erwin to pursue this. Possible action: Approach NCC with commemoration proposal (to be confirmed).

d. 5309 Bank Street appeals:

– Letters submitted by GA, the OFNC, the Sierra Club, and Albert Dugal.

– The Applicant (Tomlinson) has until April 2006 to come up with a final proposal, the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources has 30 days to grant licence or send the matter to the OMB. The ball is currently in Tomlinson’s court, to address objections presented in letters; we are awaiting the response from Tomlinson.

– Notice from City on the Zoning change was not received; city planner said zoning amendment was passed by City Council the same day as the OPA. City planner (T. Siitam) to look at what happened with notice. Action: Erwin will follow up on this.

7. Previous business:

a. Environmental Impact Statement reform working group
– Meeting held: Amy dismayed at emphasis on “mitigation”.
– August 29 will be the first meeting on terms of reference. Erwin noted that the closing piece, a review of the Official Plan, is missing in the draft, and suggested that this must be an outcome. -A key issue is the quality of an EIS. -This process of reform of an EIS has the potential for making a real difference and set strong rules for EISs.
– Action: Erwin will be the GA representative at the next meeting.

b. Membership in Ontario Nature Network:
– For $75 a year, membership provides access to a network of organizations and liability insurance.
– Action: Bill moved to have GA join for a year, JP seconded, carried.
Bill will register our membership. -Possible additional action: Mik suggested mention of our membership and link to the ONN on our website.

c. Action on Greenspace Alliance organization:
– Discussion on possible steps and on succession.
– Action: Erwin and Bill to form a nominations committee, for next Chair and directors to be chosen at AGM.

d. Greenspace Master Plan comments:
– The e-copy received is unreadable.
– Deadline for comments is tomorrow.
– GA presented comments at our May 2005
meeting presentation.
– Action: Bill will submit comments tomorrow. Individuals can submit comments, too.

8. New business:

a. Membership in GravelWatch Ontario

i. GravelWatch membership
– Discussion on the province-wide problem faced by aggregate industry’s general disregard for biological resources and greenspace, giving rise to this association.
– Links with this group, including the Bruce Trail Association, mentioned as important.
Action: motion was introduced, “That the Greenspace Alliance join GravelWatch Ontario.” Bill moved, Mik seconded, carried.

ii. Aggregates Manual
– GravelWatch to protest to provincial government for its having given only two months for citizen groups to comment on an 800-page manual for which the aggregate industry had much time to contribute.

b. Density incentives
– A letter was received from FCA on this.
– A recent OMB decision may affect this initiative.
– JP attended City-convened meeting on this issue, which gathered some community associations. Brief summary of meeting by JP: this City initiative seemed to have nothing to do with its purported goal of advancing affordable housing, and seems all about providing loopholes for developers to exceed allowable height and density limits; a number of solid arguments, objections and suggestions were aired during the meeting; looking forward to City’s follow-up. City committed at the meeting to report back to participants, and JP will relay any news received.

c. City wetlands issue
– JP suggested that controversy over City’s protected designation of some wetlands and landowners’ response should be addressed publicly by GA;
wetland protection being an ongoing GA concern, it would seem strange to remain silent in this unusually visible appearance of the issue in the media.
-Others commented on the complexity of the issue, indicating that the problem is quite different from what the media have been portraying:
some landowners opposing the designation may be more concerned about land speculation for development than actual farming, since the wetlands could not be used for farming to begin with and their protection does not affect a farm’s productivity value; on the other hand, unlike other Ontario municipalities, the City has dragged its feet since the province passed a regulation in 2001, and has not moved to have a topsoil removal by-law in place. Destructive reaction by alleged farmers was predictable, knowing the economic/development interests at play in rural areas of the city, and not having proper topsoil removal legislation in place.
– Possible action: JP to research the issue, possible press release to be considered.

d. Heat Network System
– Ron Tolmie presented an update on this initiative, the idea is based on heat storage in the bedrock and using weather to save the use of fossil fuels.
– The idea has been proven; it has been presented to various bodies in the city; moving into the political phase.
– Ottawa Hydro is now working on a prototype of this for 4,000 homes; if successful, it could help eliminate or greatly reduce their demand for gas and electricity.
– Suggestion made, that the GA write to the City in support of such a system.
– Information on the system can be found at

The meeting was adjourned at 10:35 p.m.