General Meeting – February 25 2019


Greenspace Watch

General Meeting


February 25, 2019

Hintonburg Community Centre

1064 Wellington Street West

Members present: Paul Johanis (chair), Erwin Dreessen, David McNicoll, Nicole DesRoches,  Jason Kania, Iola Price, Daniel Buckles, Debra Huron

Regrets: J.P.Unger

The meeting commenced at 7:20pm.

  1. Adoption of the agenda

The proposed agenda was agreed upon. Items 3g and 4c.iii were added.

  1. Administrative items

a. Minutes of the December 17 2018 meeting (for approval)

Moved by Erwin, seconded by Nicole, carried

b. Membership report

The membership application for Sahar Seif was approved.

c. Treasurer’s report

Paul requested a reimbursement of $220.35 for the annual rental of our P.O. Box. Moved by Erwin, seconded by Nicole. Carried.

Jason requested a reimbursement of $146.90 for the annual rental of our web and mail server. Moved by Nicole, seconded by Erwin. Carried.

d. Webmaster‘s report

Annual server rental is due.

e. Volunteer report

Janice Seline will once again have a table at the Friends of the Farm for the annual plant sale, which is our main fundraiser. It will be held on May 12. Donations of plant and help on the day of the sale are welcome.

Action: Paul will post the plant sale information on the GA list.

f. Geodata report

We have unfortunately lost our latest GIS volunteer to full time employment in another city. We have a lead on a replacement, Matthew Darwin, who had been helping our volunteer.

Action: Paul to contact Matthew.

g. Association reports

Paul attended and reported on the FCA general meeting of February 20 and on the Ecology Ottawa Youth Climate Ambassador program, for which the funding grant has been approved.

  1. Policy instruments

a. City budget 2019

The budget analysis produced by Ecology Ottawa and budget input prepared by CAFES regarding environmental issues were useful and well done. There seems to be a gap in funding for acquisition of greenspace by the City as per previous years. This funding is sometimes hidden in various reserves. Alternatively, the City has been talking quite some time about a stewardship model, where it would rely on outside non-profits like land trusts and conservation organizations to acquire and protect important greenspace. We agreed that we need to clarify this.

Action: Paul to contact city staff to obtain more information on this point.

b. Launch of 2036 Official Plan Review

The 2036 Official Plan review was officially kicked off at the Planning Committee meeting of February 14 with the tabling of the report Ottawa Next: Beyond 2036. We provided written comments on the report, which Paul also delivered orally at the meeting. GA members Erwin Dreessen, David McNicoll, member organization the Federation of Citizens’ Associations and FCA Transportation Committee chair Alex Cullen also made submissions. All are posted on our website here.

c. Settlement of GA appeal of OPA 150

The City has followed through with the settlement measure that was discussed at our September 18 2018 meeting with them. They have agreed to show the greenspace linkages, established in OPA 76 as a result of an earlier settlement of a GA appeal, in a new non-binding Annex 16 to the Official Plan. This satisfies our settlement proposal and we now await formal documentation and approval.

d. Significant Woodland Policy, guidelines and appeal settlement

The final version of the Guidelines for the application the Significant Woodland Policy was published by the City on February 14, along with a staff report that included a proposed settlement agreement with the parties who had appealed the Policy (OPA179). This was to be tabled at Planning Committee on February 28. The main concession was to raise the age criterion at which urban woodlands of 0.8 ha or larger would be considered significant from 40 years old to 60 years old. We had circulated a <note> to members ahead of the meeting with an analysis of the proposal and what position we should take in response. After a lively discussion, we agreed to make these additional demands: 1) that the impact of changing the criterion from 40 years to 60 years be quantified in terms of how much potential loss of greenspace this might represent. 2) to clarify the status of peri-urban lands, which the staff report indicated would not be covered by the Policy; 3) to press for the commitment previously made to ensure that tree protection in the peri-urban area would be covered in the Tree Conservation By-law; 4) to seek an explanation for the assumption that the target should be 16% to 20% greenspace in newly developed urban expansion areas; and 5) to dispute the appropriateness under the PPS of allowing compensation measure offsets in the interpretation of “no negative impact”.

Action : Paul to prepare comments for submission at the February 28 Planning Committee.            

e. Review of Ontario Endangered Species Act, March 4 deadline

We agreed that we would support the submissions made the Ottawa Field Naturalists’ Club and Nature Ontario, which were both very well made. However, we will also make our submission on the specific subject of the Overall Benefit Permit, with which we have had some experience, and which we believe to be totally ineffective.

Action: Paul to prepare a comment on this and submit it before the deadline.

f. Development charges review, update

Erwin and other members of the FCA Governance Committee met with City staff on February 14.  Some clarifications on the status of the Development Charges Background report were obtained.

g. Local Planning Appeal Support Centre closure

We discussed the recent announcement by the provincial government that the newly established Local Planning Appeal Support Centre would stop accepting new cases immediately and be closed definitively by June 2019. We agreed that this was a very retrograde step that we ought to resist in any away possible. After some discussion, we agreed on issuing a news release decrying the abolition of the LPASC and initiating an online letter writing campaign directed at the Attorney General of Ontario, Caroline Mulroney.

Action: Erwin, Paul and Debra to work together to launch a letter writing and media campaign.

  1. Threats

a. Rural greenspace

i. Paul reported on Ken McRae’s update on the Goulbourn PSW designation in the Official Plan, which would be further delayed into spring to allow time for MNRF staff to revisit wetland boundaries disputed by some landowners.

b. Major urban greenspace

i. Centenary Elm on Parliament Hill

Paul reported on the media coverage and responses obtained from the NCC and PSPC concerning the plans to remove the centenary elm on Parliament Hill. He indicated that he would be meeting the Director General responsible for the Centre Block Rehabilitation project, accompanied by Leslie Maitland from Heritage Ottawa, on February 26. The expectation however was that we had exhausted bureaucratic channels to deal with this issue and that we would have to take it to the political level. We held a discussion on whether we should take that step and what means we might employ. In the end it was agreed, with one abstention, that we should proceed with a campaign at the political level, starting with enlisting allies and launching a petition. See full details on our website here.

Action: Paul, Daniel and Debra to work together to launch a political campaign to save the elm.

ii. Kanata Golf and Country Club development

Paul reported that the City had written a letter to ClubLinks and developers Richcraft and Minto advising the notices and announcements that they had made to date were to no effect and that a formal development application would trigger the operation of the 60/40 agreement, whereby the ownership of the golf course would be transferred to the City.

iii. Old Richmond Road widening through Stony Swamp

Paul reported on a notice issued to local residents on the commencement of construction work on this project. The GA has had a longstanding involvement in the controversy around expanding the footprint of this road through sensitive wetlands in the Greenbelt. See history here. A number of mitigation, design and compensation measures had been demanded by the NCC and agreed to by the City. These measures are described in this presentation. We would need observers to ensure that they are actually being implemented in the field.

Action: Paul to contact NCC to see what, if any, inspection measures they plan to take.

c. Other greenspace

i. The Hunt Club-Riverside development

Erwin reported on the latest updates from Councillor Brockington on this project.

ii. Brigil Petrie’s Landing development

J.P. had reported on this development proposal to add new residential towers to this complex, raising legitimate threats for migratory birds.

Action: J.P. to monitor this file for further developments.

iii. Development application KNUEA (Area 1)

Paul reported that a Plan of Subdivision and Zoning Bylaw Amendment had been submitted for this property, with a deadline for comments of February 23. As a local resident with a longstanding involvement in the OP, the appeal, the CDP and the appeal of the CDP, he submitted these comments, in his own name and on behalf of the GA.

The Meeting adjourned at 9:30 p.m.