General Meeting – 28 September 2015


Greenspace Watch

General Meeting

September 28, 2015

Hintonburg Community Centre

1064 Wellington Street West

K1Y 2Y3

Members present: Erwin Dreessen (chair and notetaker), Amy Steele, Nicole DesRoches, Paul Johanis, Jason Kania, Juan Pedro Unger, David McNicoll and Lorne Peterson

Regrets: Iola Price and Sol Shuster

The meeting commenced at 7:25 p.m.

1. Agenda

A modified agenda was agreed upon.

2. Administrative items

a. Minutes of August 24, 2015: Amy moved, seconded by Nicole, to approve the Minutes of August 24 as distributed. Agreed.

b. Membership report: Nicole moved, seconded by Amy, to approve the membership application of the Poets’ Pathway, represented by chair Jane Moore. Agreed.

c. Hosting the FCA meeting on October 6: Action: Paul, Nicole and Erwin will be there at 6:45 to help set up. Erwin will arrange coffee and tea. Nicole will bring cookies.

3. Action updates

a. New volunteers: Erwin met with Adrian Larose on September 22. He has agreed to propose categorization of the 80+ items in the web site’s “General Discussion” forum. Erwin will meet with Michael Taylor on October 7. Erwin noted that Ottawa U’s Centre for Global and Community Engagement provides opportunities to attract students to perform short term tasks. (Its main program, Community Service Learning, is not open to us because it would require us to have liability insurance.) Action: Erwin will register us as a Community Partner. He invited members to draft up tasks that would be posted on the Centre’s Facebook page.

b. FCA-GA accord: There was agreement with the Expectations regarding the FCA-GA relationship proposed by FCA President Gary Sealy (attached). Noted in particular was that FCA will resume the reciprocal membership in the Alliance and that we are able to make use of FCA’s subscription to Survey Monkey. Designing a survey of our List subscribers could be one task proposed to Ottawa U students.

c. CAFES letter to Transportation Committee: It was agreed to endorse the letter that came out of the August 29 CAFES meeting and to add these priorities from our perspective:

+ Opposed to Airport Parkway/Lester Road expansion but if it proceeds, ensure at least “no net loss” (preferably improvement) of wildlife habitat — ensure connectivity. Ditto for widening of Old Richmond Road and March Road.

+ Ensure that trees thrive in Complete Streets. The City’s record on tree survival in redesigned streets is not encouraging.

d. City consultation on “significant woodlands” (August 26): This meeting was called by Nick Stow in preparation for a consultation with the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry regarding the new requirement to define Significant Woodlands in line with the Natural Heritage Reference Manual. Owen Clarkin and Erwin attended on behalf of the Alliance. Other attendees were Ecology Ottawa, two Conservation Authorities and the NCC. Minutes will be distributed when they become available.

e. Sunset Lakes appeal (October 19-23 hearing): Erwin will meet with Andrew Cowan on October 5 and work with him on a witness statement, in part based on a report prepared by Brianna Aird. Post-meeting note: On September 29, Sunset announced that it is withdrawing its appeal of OPA 150’s policies on country lot estates. We will therefore not participate in the hearing.

f. Bill 73: This Bill, introduced last March, remains in Second Reading; Yasir Naqvi spoke to it for 20 minutes in the Legislature on September 14, indicating some amendments are under consideration. Attempts to obtain clarity on the consultation process have remained fruitless so far.

4. Google Analytics

Jason guided us through the various statistics that can be gleaned from Google Analytics since our web site was hooked up to it since early August. They include the number of sessions, the average length of sessions, the number of new vs. returning visitors, visitors’ geographic origin, whether the visitor goes to another page on the site or not, the number of visits to particular pages, and much, much more.

How our web site compares with other “niche” sites is difficult to say because Google does not provide such comparables. Also, while definitions etc. are very well documented, exactly how Google derives its statistics is not revealed — that is its “secret sauce.” Over time, however, we will be able to discern trends and we’ll also be able to measure the impact of specific new content.

5. Draft presentation for the October 6 FCA meeting

Erwin rehearsed the presentation he will make at the next FCA meeting which is hosted by the Alliance and received various suggestions for improvement.

6. Provincial reviews

a. Wetlands policies: Nicole suggested that three comments are key: 1- Wetlands protection should be law, not just a policy; 2- all wetlands should be protected, not just “significant” wetlands; and 3- the role of municipalities should be spelled out — they are not even mentioned in the discussion paper!

b. Municipal legislation: Erwin had suggested a number of points in his posting to the List on August 16: 1- Ottawa should have some of the same powers as Toronto has, namely the ability to levy taxes other than property taxes (a Land Transfer Tax could be dedicated to the acquisition of environmental lands) and the ability to require green roofs; 2- the Municipal Conflict of Interest Act should also cover non-elected officials; 3- the deteriorating access to Council proceedings and unavailability of basic planning documents in printed form should be exposed; 4- “infrastructure” should include green infrastructure; and 5- the abolishment of most advisory committees should be decried.

c. Conservation Authorities Act: Iola’s proposed comments are expected soon.

7. Brief reports

a. CAFES meeting – August 29: Amy noted that Complete Streets need trees.

b. FCA meeting – September 9: no-one from the GA could attend but it was learned that senior City officials were present and that in a 3-dot exercise on the Term of Council Priorities improved public consultation on planning matters scored well above any others.

c. Urban Forestry Management launch – September 23: several members attended. It was agreed to send in a comment endorsing Daniel Buckles Open Letter and add three other “alarm bells” circulated by Erwin to board members and others on September 27. Action: Paul will draft.

d. Meeting with Ontario Environmental Network executives – September 24: Erwin met with with co-chair Leslie Adams and steering committee member John Coombs and undertook to assist them in finding a venue in Ottawa of the OEN’s AGM to be held here on November 20-22.

The meeting adjourned at 9:37 p.m.

The next monthly meeting will be on October 26, 2015 at 7:15 p.m. in the Hintonburg CC.