General Meeting – February 17, 2020


Greenspace Watch

General Meeting


February 17, 2020

On-line meeting.

Members present: Paul Johanis (chair), Daniel Buckles, Jason Kania, J.P. Unger, Janice Seline

The meeting commenced at 7:00 pm.

  1. Adoption of the agenda

Paul requested that item 4ai be added regarding the protection of the Goulbourn Provincially Significant Wetlands. Jason requested that an item be added to 2b concerning the annual renewal of our website service and Paul proposed adding an item to 2b concerning renewing our membership with Volunteer Ottawa. With these additions, the proposed agenda was agreed upon, moved by Daniel, seconded by Jason.

  1. Administrative items

a. Minutes of the January 20 2020 meeting (for approval)

Moved by Jason, seconded by Daniel. Carried.

b. Treasurer’s report

Paul introduced the reimbursement to Daniel of the $150 registration fee for Nature Canada’s conference on Natural Climate Solutions, which he attended on our behalf. Moved by Janice, seconded by Jason.  Jason sought approval for proceeding with a $140 expense to renew our website services. Moved by Jason, seconded by Daniel, carried, as was the proposed $175 expense for renewing our membership with Volunteer Ottawa.

c. Membership report

Paul reported that 2019 membership renewals went well with many taking advantage of e-transfer to pay their dues. There was only one outstanding renewal at year end. Overall the membership numbers remained stable with a few departures and new members. The number of subscribers to the GA list has grown steadily, reaching 150 subscribers. It was agreed that the membership list should be circulated to all members.

Action: Paul to circulate the membership list to all members.

d. Association reports

i. The ONS greenspace project held Zoom meeting #5 on January 30. Paul had the opportunity to have an in depth discussion with the project leader and principal analyst and reported that considerable progress had been made. We are very close to having a fully functioning comprehensive spatial database of greenspace for Ottawa.

ii. Paul participated on a panel on Climate Action in Urban Spaces on February 8 as part of International Development week organized by University of Ottawa students. It was well attended and provided an opportunity to talk to students about greenspace protection issues in Ottawa, such as the expansion of the urban boundary.

iii. The GA is being included as a partner in a grant application to the Ottawa Community Foundation that is being prepared by Ecology Ottawa. Funding is requested to support People’s Official Plan activities throughout 2020 and into 2021. The GA would get funding similar to last year’s Youth Climate Ambassador program to continue the thought leadership and convening activities it has assumed in the POP process.

  1. Policy instruments

a. New People’s Official Plan workshop

The date was moved up to February 22 to take into account the availability of key organizers and to avoid conflicting with the annual women’s march scheduled for March 7 now that Citywide All Women’s Initiative is an organizing partner for the workshop. It will be held at the Nepean Sportsplex from 10:00 A.M. to 4:00 P.M., with a vegan low waste catered lunch provided. The program has been finalized, a slate of excellent speakers has been assembled and registration has been very successful with about 150 participants registered. The objective remains to organize a series of actions in support of denser, just and healthy neighbourhoods, and against urban expansion, ahead of the March 30 joint meeting of the Planning and ARA Committees where this issue will be considered and a recommendation made for Council approval.  (Note: This meeting was subsequently postponed until May 4.)

b. Tree Conservation Bylaw

City Council approved the new Tree Conservation Bylaw on January 29. We have participated extensively in the review of this bylaw and some good came of it. However, it will really only be fully implemented in 2021 and we are concerned that it will come down to a tree by tree fight again, as per the old bylaw, because there is no overarching target for canopy cover. We have proposed that tree removals be assessed against reaching or maintaining mandatory canopy cover targets at the neighbourhood scale, a proposal that the Environment Committee has directed staff to examine and to report back on it. We will continue our advocacy on this file.

c. Development Charges Working Group

Erwin has continued his work on the ad hoc FCA, Ecology Ottawa, Healthy Transportation Coalition working group that is trying to open up the process for setting these changes to input from civil society groups. Some headway has been made in this respect. However, the impact of recent changes announced by the provincial government is not fully understood and has slowed down the progress of the working group somewhat. Erwin supplied a written report.              

  1. Threats

a. Rural Greenspace

i. Goulbourn Provincially Significant Wetland

On the agenda of the Council meeting of February 12, there was an item for a report from ARAC on the Goulbourn Provincially Significant Wetlands. It contained a recommendation to Council to reject staff recommendations regarding an Official Plan amendment and Zoning Bylaw amendment to protect the entirety of the Goulbourn PSW as delineated by the OMNRF in 2019 and to substitute instead its own recommendation to protect only that part which is covered by the Flewellyn Special Study Area (see map). The only rationale provided was that there was “an interest” to do so.

Paul wrote a letter to the mayor, the Chair of ARAC and the local Councillor on behalf of the GA calling on them to designate in the Official Plan the entirety of the GSW, as delineated by the OMNRF, and not just the portion covered by the FSSA.  Other local activists did likewise, but to no avail. Council approved the ARAC recommendation and limited the significant wetland designation in the Official Plan to the FSSA area. It leaves these lands in a state of limbo from a planning perspective. The RVCA has confirmed that it will apply its protection to the entire PSW as delineated in 2019 by the OMNRF so, on the ground, no development, site alteration or vegetation removal will be permitted despite the City’s exclusion of part of the PSW in the OP designation for wetlands. It was basically an empty gesture for purely political purposes.

b. Major urban greenspace

i. Submission on Jock River cut and fill plans in Barrhaven

Paul wrote on behalf of the GA to Jan Harder, local councillor and chair of Planning Committee, to register our concern and to seek more information about this site alteration. Councillor Harder provided a response clarifying what this plan was about but not lifting doubts about the appropriateness of the extensive alterations being made in this part of the floodplain. It was agreed to follow up directly with the Rideau Valley Conservation Authority on this matter.

Action: Paul to write to the Executive Director of the RVCA.

ii. Position on tree clearing for LRT Phase 2

Many residents and members have reported their anguish at seeing so many trees taken down along the path LRT Phase 2. A resident along the existing path of the Trillium line wrote a particularly eloquent note to the GA questioning whether all of the removals were in fact necessary. Are trees being removed beyond the actual corridors, especially in the case, like the Trillium line, where the rails are sunken below grade? It was agreed that the GA should engage with the City to ensure that tree removals are kept to the strict minimum, that impact on canopy cover of the removal of mature trees be given special consideration and that the City protocol on wildlife protection during construction is adhered to.

Action: Paul to identify the appropriate contact point within the city/RTG construction organization to make representations in these matters.

c. Other greenspace

i. Kanata Save our Greenspace Gala, January 30

In the end we did not attend this event as the entry fee was $150 rather the $75 requested and approved by the Board. Our absence was hardly missed as upwards of 400 attended and $130,000 was raised for the defense of greenspace on the Kanata Golf and Country Club.

ii. Submission to Planning Committee concerning Cambrian Woods

In the preparation of the correspondence referred to in item 4bi above, new information surfaced regarding a development application nearby in Barrhaven in which residential subdivisions are proposed in existing/soon to be closed sand and gravel quarries. With these areas already having been excavated to a certain depth, further excavation for storm water management ponds can be expected to further lower groundwater, with deleterious effects for deeply rooted vegetation upgrade from the development. This could cause irreparable damage to the Cambrian Woods – a protected urban natural feature owned by the City – that is located just north of one of these areas, the Drummond Pit, where a storm water management pond is expected to be located. Paul included the GA’s concerns about this development in the letter referred to in 4bi above. This letter had an immediate effect, causing the plan to be changed to exclude the SWM pond and the release of a whole range of detailed documentation about the project that had not been posted previously on DevApp, the City’s public development application database. Review of these documents has established that there has been no environmental impact assessment of the potential damage to Cambrian Woods and further intervention may be required on our part to protect this greenspace, which is the only large woodland in an otherwise barren landscape in this part of South Barrhaven.

The Meeting adjourned at 8:10 p.m.