General Meeting – April 19, 2021 (via Zoom)

GREENSPACE ALLIANCE OF CANADA’S CAPITAL

Greenspace Watch

General Meeting

MINUTES

April 19, 2021

On-line meeting

 

Members present: Paul Johanis (chair), Nicole DesRoches, Robb Barnes, J.P. Unger, David McNicoll, Jason Kania, Iola Price

The meeting commenced at 7:00 pm.

  1. Adoption of the agenda

The proposed agenda was agreed upon, with additional item 2d added via prior request by Daniel Buckles.  Moved by Iola, seconded by Robb.

  1. Administrative items

a) Minutes of the March 22, 2021 meeting (for approval)

Moved by Iola, seconded by David. Carried.

b) Treasurer’s report

Paul submitted a reimbursement request of $175 for the renewal of our membership with Volunteer Ottawa.  Moved by Iola, seconded by David. Carried.

c) Association reports:

Walkable Ottawa: Paul reported on first day of a two-day workshop put on by Ecology Ottawa and Walkable Ottawa on Trees and the 15 minute neighbourhood. He participated on behalf of the GA as a panel member and break out group facilitator. This was a community level workshop, set in the Overbrook neighbourhood. This April 17 introductory session was well attended, with about 30 local residents present. The second part, a half-day session, is scheduled for the morning of April 24.  Paul will also be representing the GA at a May 5 online event put on by Carleton University’s Committee on Community Engaged Pedagogy. He will be part of a panel and discussion focusing on opportunities for students, faculty, and staff to work with local communities in Ottawa on issues raised by the development of the City’s Official Plan. The event will be publicized on the GA list.

d) GA logo rendering

In a number of recent joint communications, it became apparent that the current rendering of the GA logo is not up to par. Daniel has proposed that a budget be set aside to have it vectorized so that a high resolution version can used for this purpose. All agreed.

Action: Daniel to research and find a supplier to provide this service.

  1. Policy instruments

 a) Draft Official Plan, POP submission

Since the submission of the detailed Technical report on March 12, the GA has been working with its POP partners on a summary communication piece to convey the top level messages it wants to deliver to a broader audience. This would be part of a home stretch campaign through to the fall that would include a press release in May, a response to the As We Heard It report, a survey of councillors, a summer workshop and a review of the final draft OP ahead of the Section 26 meeting currently scheduled for September 13-15. On a positive note to start, the City has confirmed a June 2 two hour meeting with POP representatives to go over our technical submission.

 b) Ontario Bill 257

Paul reported that he signed on behalf of the GA the open letter circulated by Ontario Nature and submitted the GA’s own comments through the Environmental Registry of Ontario opposing the wider use of Ministerial Zoning Orders contemplated by this Bill.

  1. Threats

a) Rural Greenspace

i. Chalk River update

J.P. gave an update on the meeting of the Environmental Protection, Water and Waste Management Committee he attended on March 30 on behalf of the GA, which resulted in a watered down version of the original Kavanagh motion, now merely questioning the nuclear waste storage plans rather than opposing them outright. This recommendation was then endorsed by full Council on April 14, putting Ottawa offside of all the major municipalities on the Ottawa River. In the our discussion of these developments, David raised a series of arguments connecting the largely abandoned and ineffective effort of a few years ago to develop a watershed plan for the Ottawa River, the City’s role in that process, the suspended EIS of the Chalk River plans, the responsibility of the Minister of Natural Resources for Atomic Energy of Canada Limited and the private consortium now managing this process, all of it situated in a broader regional ecological perspective. In the telling of the story from this angle, the inaction of the federal government on this file really stands out and maybe sets the agenda for future advocacy.

b) Major urban greenspace

i. Embassy Row

The GA and its Mechanicsville partners have continued to collaborate in opposing this proposed development on NCC land. The latest effort is a letter to the CEO of the NCC questioning the NCC’s motivation for undertaking this project.

ii. Central Experimental Farm

Major announcements are expected soon on the new Civic Campus of the Ottawa Hospital, slated to be built on the former site of the Sir John Carling Building, on the northeastern edge of the Central Experimental Farm. Paul continues to co-chair the Campus Engagement Group, a consultative body established by TOH at the outset of the project. The new plans do not encroach beyond the 50 acre site leased by the NCC to TOH for this purpose, and significant greenspace is expected to be retained/restored on the site itself. The role of the CEG is in flux after a long period of inactivity due to COVID and a major changes in TOH management and project team. Engagement has now restarted but fitfully.

iii. Alexandra Bridge

A coalition to preserve the Alexandra bridge has arisen following the announcement by the federal government that it plans to demolish it and replace it with a new structure. The Coalition has proposed to preserve the historic bridge and to repurpose it for active transportation and perhaps the tram loop between Gatineau and Ottawa proposed by the STO. The GA has been asked to sign on. Based on the proposed use for active transportation, and the preservation of major urban greenspace on both sides of the river at this location, all present agreed.

c) Other greenspace

i. Lanark Avenue infill, tree preservation

The case for preserving trees on this infill project was to return to Committee of Adjustment on April 7. However, a settlement was arrived at prior to the meeting, which was recorded by the COA. In this settlement, the builders agreed to change the plans such that two large trees in proximity to the building envelope will be preserved, in addition to two boundary trees that were already slated to be retained. This is a direct result of the City’s new process for considering tree preservation as part of the Committee of Adjustment process. It is a hopeful sign that these internal process changes at the City combined with the new Tree Protection by-law might provide effective protection for trees in the context of infill development. Even as we see this as a great step forward, note that the adjoining householder’s hopes of having all vegetation (smaller trees, hedges, shrubs) retained were dashed. This points to a need for better education and understanding of what is possible even under effective tree preservation policies.

The Meeting adjourned at 8:49 p.m.