General Meeting – April 17, 2023


Greenspace Watch

General Meeting


April 17, 2023

On-line meeting


Members present: Paul Johanis (chair), Nicole DesRoches, Iola Price, David McNicoll, Arto Keklilkian, Erwin Dreessen

The meeting commenced at 7:00 pm.   

  1. Adoption of the agenda

The proposed agenda was agreed upon. Moved by Nicole, seconded by Erwin.

  1. Administrative items

a. Minutes of the March 20, 2023 meeting (for approval)

Moved by Erwin, seconded by David. Carried.

b. Association reports

The GA participated in Grassroots Groundswell on April 12, an event organized by Ecology Ottawa. Indigenous voices and representatives of environmental organizations from across Ontario gathered to share views and experiences on environmental matters. This could develop into an effective vehicle for province-wide organizing and advocacy.  SynapCity is organizing a Tree Canopy Workshop, to be held on May 12. Paul and Daniel have been invited to speak and lead sessions. Nature Canada has invited the GA to join its Tree Equity Committee, which we accepted.

c, Status of GA priorities

In relation to a grant to help us achieve our priority of improving the timeliness and quality of our web content, announcements on the Community Services Recovery Fund grants are expected in early May. As regards our engagement with POP, Erwin reported on GA-led activities within POP on the City budget process.

  1. Policy instruments

a. The GA participated in a workshop on the Transportation Master Plan sponsored by POP and led by the FCA. It was held on April 15 at the Jack Purcell Community Centre and was attended by about 40 people. The meeting of the Transportation Committee at which the TMP was to be considered was pushed forward to April 17 from April 20, leaving very little time to prepare submissions based on the results of the workshop. Nevertheless, several delegations were organized and presented at Committee, including one by the chair of the GA  (starts at 2:30:36) for a video of the meeting).

b. The GA participated in an external stakeholders group to provide feedback on new Low Rise Design Guidelines on March 24. These new guidelines will be released for public review and input in the near future.

c. The FCA is establishing a working group on development charges, in which the GA will participate. Attempts are being made to engage with the Councillors Sponsor group that is dealing with the issue. A meeting with the group’s chair, Shawn Menard, has been secured in early June.

d. Ontario Bill 97 has been introduced as part of the Province’s ongoing efforts to spur housing construction, to the detriment of environmental protections and municipal governance. The review of the Provincial Policy Statement announced in Bill 23 will proceed in parallel. It was agreed that the GA must intervene on the PPS review, which includes a provision for on demand urban expansion rather than as part of 5 year comprehensive reviews. It was agreed to seek out guidance on Bill 97 from expert groups such as the Canadian Environmental Law Association. The GA will work with its partners to address the changes to the PPS.

4.  Threats and opportunities

a. Rural greenspace

i. Tewin deforestation

The Tewin deforestation issue was put on the agenda of the meeting of the Environment and Climate Change Committee of March 21. The GA collaborated with partners and developed coherent and comprehensive positions that were presented by delegations to the Committee.

The deforestation prompted a detailed discussion at Committee. Many in Ottawa were shocked that the Tree Protection Bylaw did not prevent the clear cutting of 25,000 trees just outside the urban boundary in an area covered by the Tree Protection bylaw. The following directions were given to staff by the Committee and supported by full Council on April 12.

– Direct staff to investigate and report back on potential changes to Exemption 82 (7) of the City’s Tree Protection By-law to require landowners obtain a formal exemption with evidence provided and communicate with neighbours, the local city councillor and City staff prior to tree removals including where a permit is not required by By-law (e.g. where the activity is exempt from the provisions of By-law).

– That the tree cutting incident near Tewin lands be referred to the Normal Farm Practices Protection Board.

GA asked that staff look closely at how and why the Tree Protection By-law failed to prevent this deforestation. The reference to the Normal Farm Practices Board, established under the Farming and Food Production Protection Act, would explicitly address whether the City’s interpretation of the exemption for agriculture in its tree bylaw was consistent with that Act.  We also called for action on how the community will be compensated for this massive loss of greenspace. Policy in the new Official Plan specifies that the City shall take a no net loss approach with respect to evaluated wetlands deemed not provincially significant and forest cover outside the urban area and designated villages.

As regards avoiding any such deforestations in the future, GA urged the City to accelerate the work on tree protection in the periurban area (lands adjacent to the new urban boundary), which is already in staff’s approved work plan.

b. Major urban greenspace

Nothing to report

c. Other greenspace

Nothing to report


The Meeting adjourned at 8:38 p.m.