General Meeting – February 21 2022


Greenspace Watch

General Meeting


February 21, 2022

On-line meeting

Members present: Paul Johanis (chair), Nicole DesRoches, Daniel Buckles, Iola Price, David McNicoll, J.P. Unger, Erwin Dreessen

Regrets: Jason Kania

The meeting commenced at 7:00 pm.

  1. Adoption of the agenda

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

  1. Administrative items

a. Minutes of the January 17, 2022 meeting (for approval)

Moved by Erwin, seconded by David. Carried.

b. Treasurer’s report: Paul requested board approval for renewing the GA’s membership with Volunteer Ottawa, annual fee of $175. Following a brief discussion and the value and merits of membership. Iola moved and Nicole seconded that we should renew. Carried.

c. Association reports: Paul reported on a keynote address he provided at the request of the Manor Park Community Association for their Annual General Meeting. Members commented on positive reviews received through various channels. Paul also reported on a presentation he made about the Peoples Official Plan at the request of the Federation of Citizens’ Associations as the main topic of the February general meeting. Daniel also reported on a talk he gave on neighbourhood tree initiatives at the request of Friends of Riverview Park Green Spaces.

  1. Policy instruments

 a. POP 2

Paul provided information on the final report being prepared for the Ottawa Community Foundation regarding the Peoples Official Plan, as required under the grant agreement between Ecology Ottawa, as POP contact point, and the OCF. Given the achievements of POP and the strength of the network of organizations working together under its umbrella, it was agreed that it would continue operating post Official Plan approval to ensure that the community principles and perspectives it developed on climate and climate equity issues continue to be pressed through the implementation vehicles of the new OP. These instruments include the Review of the Comprehensive Zoning Bylaw, the Urban Forest and Greenspace Master Plan, the Transportation Master Plan, the Infrastructure Master Plan and other measures triggered or informed by new Official Plan policies that have a bearing on the climate and housing and homelessness emergencies. To support this work, a new grant application to the Ottawa Community Foundation has been prepared. The Greenspace Alliance will be maintaining its active participation in the POP process.

  1. Threats

a. Rural Greenspace

i. Chalk River Near Surface Disposal Facility for nuclear waste:

With the April 11 2022 deadline for submissions fast approaching, an open discussion was held on topics and approaches to be taken by the GA and/or any of its members individually ahead of the final hearing by the Nuclear Safety Commission. David spoke of taking an overall watershed management perspective, based on good science. There is no watershed management plan for the Ottawa River, despite its huge draining area, which contains 38 dams, 8 mines and now this proposed nuclear waste facility, all upstream of the drinking water source for millions of residents in Quebec and Ontario. Erwin has reviewed and analyzed some of the Commission material and proposes to address specific issues regarding Cobalt60, treatment of effluents and waste classification. JP is leading the file for the GA and will draft general positions that may touch on compliance with international standards and missed opportunities for developing a forward thinking, exportable nuclear waste storage solution rather than the plastic lined open air landfill being proposed. It is recognized that post hearing, which will be strictly dealing with technical matters, the issue needs to rise to the political level and that giving it greater visibility is key. In this respect, it was suggested that the City of Ottawa should be pressed to take an official position on it. Also, candidates in the upcoming municipal elections should be confronted with taking a stand on the issue ahead. At the federal level, the Crown corporation Atomic Energy of Canada is still the official responsible agency, albeit with much reduced means, reporting to Parliament via the Minister of Natural Resources. Measures could also be taken to engage with these agencies and federal elected officials. The issue will be addressed again at the March general meeting to finalize the GA position.

b. Major urban greenspace

i. Pinesi portage project:

One aspect of this project is the creation and installation of an outdoor public art mural on the wall of the fieldhouse at Stanley Park, commemorating this historical portage. We have learned from the City that one of the implications for the GA, as the formal sponsor for the project, is that it must carry general liability insurance in case of damage or injury as the result of any mishap caused by this mural. Many not for profits carry this kind of insurance but the GA does not. As this is a fairly critical part of the project (30% of the grant allocation), we need to find a solution. It was agreed that Paul would seek estimates for the required amount of insurance and report back at the next meeting.

ii. Stillwater Station development, Bells Corners: Paul provided a brief update on a development proposal that would involve building a short access road through a stranded narrow sliver of Greenbelt Bells Corners and potential stream alterations for a section of Stillwater Creek that runs through the property. While there seemed to be no substantial greenspace loss resulting from the development, it is nevertheless and encroachment on the Greenbelt, which we would not support. At a minimum, compensating greenspace should be sought by the NCC by a ratio greater than 1 to 1.

Action: Paul to seek additional information and maps and circulate to members.

iii. Embassy Row:

The NCC proposal to build a suite of five embassies on vacant greenspace in Mechanicsville adjacent to the Sir John A Macdonald Parkway was approved by Planning Committee and but, unusually, rejected by Council as the result of the votes against of several eastern ward councilors, ostensibly unhappy with the NCC’s position on the City’s Brian Coburn extension project. An unexpected win for the local community association and the GA which actively supported their opposition.

Post meeting note: The NCC has appealed this decision to the Ontario Land Tribunal.

iv. Brian Coburn extension:

The Environmental Impact Study for the extension of the Brian Coburn Boulevard, with associated Bus Rapid Transit lanes, through Greenbelt lands from Orleans to Blair Road will be tabled at Transportation Committee on March 2 2022. The GA has taken a clear and unwavering position on the file since the inception of the study in 2019, favouring what is called Option 1, a path that follows the existing corridor of the Blackburn Hamlet Bypass, rather than any other option that opens a new corridor through the Greenbelt on lands just north of the Mer Bleue area. The GA will be making a submission at this meeting.

v. New Civic campus approval: The Planning Committee approved the site plan for Phase 1 of the new Civic Campus, the four story parking garage on the north east section of the site, on February 10. As it conforms to the Master Site Plan approved previously be Council, this is the final approval required for this phase and construction can start immediately.

c. Other greenspace

Nothing to report


The Meeting adjourned at 9:00 p.m.