General Meeting – April 23, 2018


Greenspace Watch

General Meeting


April 23, 2018

Hintonburg Community Centre

1064 Wellington Street West

K1Y 2Y3

Members Present: Paul Johanis (chair), Erwin Dreessen, Nicole DesRoches (vice-chair), J.P. Unger (director), Kate Punnett (director)

Guests: Amanda Allnutt, Jake Harris, Matthew Darwin, Brittney Bourdages, Denys Cooper

Regrets: Amy Steele, Jason Kania, Ben Christy, David McNicoll

The meeting commenced at 7:15pm.

  1. Adoption of the agenda

A modified agenda was agreed upon.

  1. Administrative items

2.1 Minutes of March 26, 2018 meeting (for approval)

Erwin moved, seconded by Nicole to accept the revised minutes as final.

2.2 Membership/Board report

Amanda produced a summary of the current status of renewals, which was presented by Paul. A number of past due reminders are outstanding and many renewals are coming up in May.

Action: Renewal reminders will be sent. 

2.3 Treasurer’s report

A cheque was issued to reimburse Paul for the payment of the $175 membership fee with Volunteer Ottawa approved at last month’s meeting.

2.4 Webmaster’s report: update, brainstorm

Paul reported that there are readily available WordPress plugins to implement the various features we would like to update the look and function of our website. One of these features is online sign on/renewal and payment of membership fees. While Erwin noted that this had been considered before and not actioned, it was agreed that it was worth examining again now that the website is under Word Press.

Action: Paul will look into implementing these features.

2.5 Volunteer report: Volunteer Ottawa renewal

Our membership with Volunteer Ottawa has been renewed.

 2.6 Geodata report: update

Brittney gave a presentation on the work she has completed on the greenspace inventory and mapping project. Her presentation slides are here. She provided details on the methodology she used to assemble and analyze the geodata required to answer the following questions, based on the City’s Official Plan: 1) Does Otttawa provide 4 hectares of greenspace for every 1000 population, and 2) Is every residence within 400 meters of accessible greenspace. She showed how she could provide preliminary responses to both questions. The presentation led to a many questions and good discussion. Matthew, who is active in Open Street Map Ottawa (OSM), which is the underlying GIS infrastructure used by Brittney, provided helpful comments and clarifications. It was agreed that this was a very good approach and sound methodology. What remains to be done is to provide additional classification breakdowns to further qualify the types of greenspace, including the meaning of “accessible” according to the City’s Official Plan. The next step therefore is to further “tag” the geographic data to make these distinctions.

Action: Paul and Brittney to meet on a first draft of a tagging structure, making as much use as possible of existing OSM tags.

  1. Policy instruments 

3.1 Site Alteration Bylaw, report on April 5 meeting of ARAC

Paul attended this meeting and provided written and oral comments, which gave rise to a good exchange with committee members. He also spoke in favour of a motion put forward by Councillor Eli El-Chantiry requiring that staff work on a definition of the peri-urban area, something we have been advocating as a necessary first step in dealing with pre-emptive clearing of woodlands in advance of urban expansions. The motion was adopted and the bylaw will return to committee on May 3.

3.2 Federal Impact Assessment Act and Regulations, update

We submitted written comments to the Standing Committee on the Environment and Sustainable Development regarding Bill C-69. The deadline for providing comments to the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency on the regulations concerning the project list and information requirements has been extended to June 1.

Action: Nicole will prepare comments for submission on behalf of the GA. 

3.3 Report from the April 18th meeting of the FCA on environmental issues

Paul and Erwin attended this FCA meeting. Paul gave this presentation  inviting the FCA to work with the GA on the greenspace inventory and mapping project and collaborating on the 2018 Ottawa municipal elections. There were also interesting presentations by Duncan Bury of Waste Ottawa and Angela Keller-Herzog concerning the activities of CAFES.

3.4 Tree Conservation Bylaw, report from April 19th CAFES meeting

Kate attended this meeting on behalf of the GA. The main outcome of the meeting unfortunately seems to have been the disappointment of the participants that Martha Copestake, the City Forester, did not attend although it was expected she would. This does not bode well for public consultation on this issue and a letter of concern will be drafted by CAFES in this regard.

3.5 Information session for candidates and third parties, April 19, and other electoral issues

Jake attended this meeting on our behalf. It was mostly intended for candidates and potential third party advertisers regarding new funding rules which come into effect on May 1.

Jake and Amanda also provided an update on the GA election strategy, which is focused on ensuring that all candidates are well aware of the greenspace issues they will confront during the next term of council, many of which are already known as they are ongoing and will not be resolved during the election. This will done through a candidate survey in June and regular messaging to candidates through various means throughout the election period. Their brief reports can be found here.

3.6 Park Summit, April 21st , report

Paul attended the Park Summit organized by Parks People and Ecology Ottawa. It was held at the All Saints event space on Laurier Avenue East and the GA had a table along with a dozen other environmental groups. The event was not as well attended as last year’s and the traffic at our table lighter. Nevertheless, some useful contacts were made.

3.7 Urban Climate Alliance survey, update

Earlier this year we participated in a survey of environmental organizations with a local focus organized by the Toronto Environmental Alliance. They have sent us a copy of the <results>, in which they find some common ground. They will be proposing some form of cross-province collaboration in the months to come.

3.8 Workshop on Sustainable Development Strategy 2018-20123, NCC, May 1

Amy participated in the initial workshop which kicked off this round of the NCC’s own internal environmental planning. We are seeking to have someone attend this session, where the results of their planning deliberations will be presented.

3.9 Bill 139

 Erwin provided an update on the responses to series of questions he posed regarding the various aspects of the new appeals regime under the Planning Act. He received substantial responses to one subset of questions but was redirected to two bodies newly formed under the Act to address the others. Updates to the GA website regarding these questions and responses can be found here.

  1. Threats

1. Rural greenspace  

i. Chalk River update, April 23 event

We signed on to a  letter to the International Atomic Energy Association asking that it investigate whether the planned storage of nuclear waste at Chalk River would meet international standards. Paul and JP participated in a rally and march on Parliament Hill on April 23. It was quickly organized by the Concerned Citizens of Renfrew County and saw around 30 participants. It received very good news coverage, owing partly to the fact that it was coupled with the presentation by a delegation of concerned indigenous groups at the General Assembly of the United Nations in New York City at the same time. Momentum against the nuclear waste storage plans at Chalk River seems to be gaining momentum.

ii.  Transitway extension to Cumberland, May 10th

We are seeking members from the east end who might be interested in attending this public information session.

iii. Forum on Gatineau Park Masterplan, April 25

Action: Nicole and Erwin will attend this forum on behalf of the GA.

2. Major urban greenspace

i. New zoning application, Sir John Carling site (CEF)

To allay concerns that any type of structure or facility other than a hospital will be built on the Sir John Carling site, a zoning amendment has been proposed to change the Mixed Use zoning of the parcels fronting on Carling Avenue, a legacy of the Preston/Carling Secondary Plan, to Institutional.

Action: Paul will write to support this rezoning.

ii. Campus Engagement Group (CEF), update

Paul has been asked, and has accepted, to sit on the Campus Engagement Group, representing the greenspace interest in the planning and design of the new hospital. This group of 20 community representatives will report directly to the hospital’s Board of Governors and be engaged throughout the planning phase, which is expected to stretch over the next three years.

iii. Wesley Clover park

A Zoning Bylaw Amendment, which has been under the radar for more than a year, will be coming forward for consideration at Planning Committee. It seeks to add specific uses to the general rural  (RU) and Environmental Protection (EP) zoning which covers these properties, which are the former municipal equestrian park and campgrounds on Corkstown Road, west of Moodie Drive.  Since 2014, these facilities have been operated by the Wesley Clover Foundation. The specific additional uses in the RU zone, likely as exceptions specific to this location, would be theatre, recreational and athletic facility and park. For the EP zone, which already has an exception for the campground, the additional uses would be theatre, school and daycare.  While some members expressed concern over any changes to the current zoning, others saw advantages to improved programming, in particular the nature school. The overriding question is one of scale. All of these activities are currently present on the site, but at a small scale. It was agreed to continue researching the issue.

Action: Paul will draft representations to the NCC and the City on the subject.  

3. Other greenspace:

i. Immaculata High School conversion of natural grass field to artificial turf

This issue was reported to us by a concerned resident and volunteer in Ottawa East. We agreed to oppose this conversion from natural grass to artificial turf. Action: Paul will draft representations in this regard.

Meeting adjourned at 9:30pm.