General Meeting – August 26 2019


Greenspace Watch

General Meeting


August 26, 2019

Hintonburg Community Centre

1064 Wellington Street West

K1Y 2Y3

Members present: Paul Johanis (chair), Erwin Dreessen, David McNicoll, Daniel Buckles, JP Unger, Iola Price, Anthony Keith

Regrets: Jason Kania

Guests: Heather Dunlop, Alexandria Gruca-Macaulay, Gillian Koh, Barbara Haines, Aaron Thornell, Feliks Welfeld

Special guest speakers: Andrea Flowers, Jennifer Brown (City of Ottawa)

The meeting commenced at 7:15 pm.

Ahead of regular business, Andrea Flowers and Jen Brown, of the Climate Change and Resiliency Unit at the City of Ottawa, gave a presentation on the Climate Change and Resiliency team’s work, including overviews of the updated Air Quality and Climate Change Management Plan, the proposed vision, targets, and priorities, the Energy Evolution model and the magnitude of change required to meet proposed targets. Presentation slides can be found here.

Regular business was resumed at 8:15

  1. Adoption of the agenda

The proposed agenda was agreed upon. An item was added under 2a, the approval of the Minutes of the 2018 AGM, which was carried forward from the 2019 AGM.

  1. Administrative items

a.i Minutes of the May 27 2019 meeting (for approval)

Moved by Erwin, seconded by David. Carried.

 a.ii. Minutes of the 2018 AGM (for approval) and draft minutes of the 2019 AGM (for publication)

Moved by Erwin, seconded by David. Carried.

b. Membership report

The GA’s membership in the Ontario Environmental Network is coming to an end. Paul recommended that we renew (fee of $40). Moved by Iola, seconded by JP. Carried.

c. Treasurer’s report

Paul reported on the current bank balance and noted that major expenses were about to be incurred under the MOU with Ecology Ottawa for the Youth Climate Ambassador program. 

d. Geodata report

Paul attended an online meeting of the Ottawa Neighbourhood Study’s greenspace mapping project on June 17. Participants were asked to disseminate a link to a website which asks viewers to rank pairs of images of greenspace in order of preference. The results are intended to be used to train an AI application to rank large numbers of images of greenspace by quality of greenspace. The next online meeting will be held on September 19. Paul sought a volunteer to replace him for this meeting as he is not available. Iola agreed to stand in for the GA.

e. Association reports

Paul and Erwin reported on the Carbon Capture Day event they attended at Mooney’s Bay on August 25. Very few people came by to see the exhibits even though there were quite a few people at the beach. It was organized by a small group of well-meaning activists but was not well publicized. Erwin also reported on the FCA Annual General Meeting held on June 18 2019. The executive of the FCA will remain largely the same in 2019.

3. Policy instruments

a. Official Plan update

Paul gave an update on what has been a very busy summer of organizing and animating a broad coalition of environmental and other organizations to ensure that effective climate action is taken in the City’s new Official Plan. This culminated in a very effective, coordinated set of interventions and submissions to the Joint Meeting of the Planning and Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committees on August 22, at which the draft strategic directions were approved for public consultation over the period of September to December 2019. A full accounting of these activities and resulting notes and papers can be found here.

On July 22, Erwin circulated a draft op-ed on the City’s stated intention to consolidate all extant secondary plans, underlining the immense technical difficulties, but in particular the lack of public consultation that would be needed to avoid further erosion of the public’s trust in the value and adherence to these plans. The op-ed was published in the August 12 edition of the Ottawa Citizen and made quite a splash, being cited by the City’s lead planner on the Official Plan at a workshop the day following its publication.

b. Tree Conservation By-law

Paul and Daniel attended a City meeting on May 29 on approaches to infill and trees in the Tree Conservation By-law. This was a joint stakeholder meeting, with representatives from developers and the community in attendance. We sent this joint response (CAFES, Ecology Ottawa, FCA, GA) to the City on June 3. This was followed by a formal stakeholder meeting on June 24, at which time a discussion paper containing proposed directions for all aspects of the new By-law was tabled. A ten minute discussion for each proposal ensued. City staff took note of comments at the meeting and indicated that written submissions would be accepted until September 9. A joint submission, by way of a public petition with 376 signatures, was sent to the City on August 29. There will be a final push for signatures in September, including during national tree week, and the petition will be formally delivered to Mayor and Council at that time.

c. OPA150/180 Appeals

The last remaining set of appeals of OPA 150/180, dealing with Urban Expansion, were to be heard over a two week period starting on August 12. We are a recognized party in this appeal process. We retained the services of an expert witness and he prepared a first draft of his witness statement. However, the appellants requested that the hearings be suspended pending the outcome of the new Official Plan process that has now been launched. This was in effect the rationale in the motion for dismissal that we served, then withdrew, earlier on. So we can stand down for a while as the target date for approval of the new OP is the first quarter of 2021.

d. Consultation of other policy instruments

Erwin noted three new policy processes in which we might take action: the Minister’s latest letter to Conservation Authorities asking them to discontinue their “non-core” activities; the Small Modular Reactor application being made to Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission, deadline September 14; and the review of the Provincial Policy Statement, deadline October 21.

  1. Threats

a. Rural greenspace

Ken McRae has informed us that the MNR has completed the final mapping of the Goulbourn Provincially Significant Wetlands. He is verifying the changes according to his field knowledge. The way should now be clear for the City to formalize the new delineation of this PSW in the Official Plan.

b. Major urban greenspace

 c. Other greenspace

i. 10 Oblates Avenue

We made an intervention at Planning Committee on June 27 2019 concerning the proposed change to the secondary plan for the Oblate Lands development to allow for greater height. This plan had been painstakingly developed and agreed by the Regional Group, which was the project developer, and the community. Allowing this change is a breach of trust and puts in doubt the worth and purpose of community involvement in the development of secondary plans. Erwin expressed our concerns in this respect in a letter to Stephen Willis, General Manager of Planning, Infrastructure and Economic Development for the City of Ottawa.

The Meeting adjourned at 9:30 p.m.