General Meeting – February 26, 2018


Greenspace Watch

General Meeting


February 26, 2018

Hintonburg Community Centre

1064 Wellington Street West

K1Y 2Y3

Members Present: Paul Johanis (chair), Erwin Dreessen, David McNicoll, Jason Kania (director), Ben Christy

Guests: Andrew Johnson, Kate Punnett

Regrets: Juan Pedro Unger, Nicole DesRoches, Amy Steele

The meeting commenced at 7:25pm.

  1. Adoption of the agenda

Paul put forth a new agenda to organize meetings in a more thematic way. Agreed.

  1. Administrative items

a. Minutes of the January 29, 2018 meeting (for approval)

Erwin provided a few revisions. Erwin moved, seconded by Andrew, to accept the revised minutes as final.

b. Membership/Board report

Erwin moved, seconded by David to accept Craig Beare, Kate Punnett and Andrew Johnson as new members.

Kate and Andrew agreed to become board members, with Andrew taking on the role of Membership Chair. Erwin moved, seconded by Ben to accept Kate and Andrew as board members. Action: Erwin will revise the list of directors on the website.

c. Treasurer’s report
Erwin moved, seconded by David, to reimburse Jason for the cost of the server hosting our website. ($170.70)

d. Webmaster’s report

Erwin reported that we need to address the issue of documents containing URLs that display our IP address instead of linking to our website, causing “Page not found” messages. In addition, Erwin suggested that we should design a more professional landing page, and link our website to our Facebook and Twitter feed.

Action: Paul will find someone to help with the landing page.

 e. Volunteer report

Jake Harris and Amanda Allnutt are moving forward with their project to develop a strategy for the 2018 municipal election. Jake has compiled the voting record of current sitting councillors on environmental issues. Brittney Bourdages has been making significant progress on the greenspace inventory and mapping project. We will soon be in a position to query the database to answer questions concerning the extent and distribution of greenspace in the urban area of Ottawa.

  1. Policy instruments

a. Site Alteration Bylaw, February 27

Paul met with Amy MacPherson, and emailed Councillors Nussbaum and Leiper to voice our concerns on three issues we identified in the Site Alteration Bylaw:

(1) We would have preferred that the bylaw be enforced through a permitting system, rather than a complaint procedure. Ottawa would be the only municipality in Ontario with a Site Alteration bylaw that does not include a permit system.

(2) We are pleased to see that site alterations in the proximity of sensitive environmental areas will require approval from the General Manager of Planning, Infrastructure and Economic Development. However, we question the sufficiency of the proposed distance of 30 meters considering a similar policy in the current Official Plan sets the limit at 120 meters for significant wetlands and natural areas.

(3) We are concerned that the Site Alteration Bylaw as currently drafted does not cover preemptive clearing of trees and woodlands in the periurban areas ahead of urban expansions. Many wooded areas that would not be considered significant under the rural provisions of the various applicable policies could be considered significant under the urban provisions of the Significant Woodland Policy. We feel it is good planning to try to preserve these woodlands for their value as urban woodlands in anticipation of urban expansions.

Action: Paul proposed using the text from the email as our input for the Planning Committee. Agreed.

b. 2018 municipal election strategy

Jake and Amanda will provide an update in the coming months.

c. Beyond 2036 Sounding Board (February 12)

Paul attended, reporting that attendees were asked to come up with ideas of what kind of city they can realistically see Ottawa becoming four decades out, based on specific criteria such as economic development, built form and greenspace. These ideas will be combined by city staff into scenarios, which will form the context for the next round of the Official Plan. There will be two more meetings before the results of the study are compiled and brought forward to Planning Committee near the end June.

Action: Paul will circulate the scenario that was developed at his table as an example.

d. Significant Woodlands Policy

The meeting scheduled for this week was postponed. The latest version of the policy is more concrete and allowed us to identify the gap in the Site Alteration Bylaw.

e. Letter to Prime Minister re: conservation funding in Budget 2018

We wrote a letter supporting the nature conservation budget initiative spearheaded by MP Will Amos and nearly 100 other Parliamentarians. (Post-meeting note: The February 27 federal budget included $1.3 billion for conservation measures).

f. Letter re: Ottawa River Watershed Study

We wrote indicating our interest and seeing if there was anything we could do to contribute. There will be an open house held this Thursday from 4:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.

g. Urban Climate Alliance survey

We completed a survey put out by a group of five municipally based environmental organizations in Ontario (including Ecology Ottawa), which are reaching out to see how they could collaborate and share ideas with other like-minded organizations.

h. FCA General Meeting (February 21)

Erwin attended, reporting that there was a presentation on detailed standards for recreational facilities. An organization called Safe Wings Ottawa also gave a presentation on the issue of bird mortality from flying into windows.

  1. Threats

a. Rural greenspace

 i. Goulbourn wetlands boundary changes

We wrote to the Chairman of the Environment and Climate Protection Committee explaining what has been happening and requesting that he look into enacting an interim control bylaw to prevent further wetland loss. Response from staff indicate that this mechanism is not applicable in this case and that enforcement of wetland protection rests with the Rideau Valley Conservation Authority. The only real option seems to be appealing the RCVA board decision not to extend protection, which we will look into.

Action: Paul to contact Ken McCrae and Brian Finch about a possible appeal.

ii. Chalk River Letter

We signed on, with eight other local organizations, to a letter to MP Greg Fergus providing additional information on the nuclear waste being stored at Chalk River and proposing a meeting to fully brief him on the dangers of the current decommissioning plan.

 iii. OMB appeals, OPA 150 et al.

We view urban expansion as the biggest threat here as we learned through the pre-hearing conference in January that some developers will be presenting new evidence arguing for a large expansion. We now need to provide our issues list and witness list prior to the next pre-hearing conference on May 4.

Action: Paul and Erwin to prepare this material.

 b. Major urban greenspace

 i. KNL stormwater management options (South March Highlands)

No progress on this item, which will be deferred to the March meeting.

 ii. Leitrim Road realignment, February 22 (Greenbelt)

Paul attended, reporting that a final draft was presented by the consultants retained by the City for this Environmental Impact Study. The draft incorporates a number of proposals and suggestions that were made at previous consultations but still proposes an alignment that runs through the Greenbelt lengthwise through its narrowest reach, causing significant habitat   fragmentation compared to the more southerly route proposed by the NCC. This is in spite of arguments based on Ottawa Airport planning (the need for a third runway, the development of a new business park) having been refuted in the recently published Ottawa Airport Masterplan. According to the consultants, the NCC is supposedly satisfied with this result. Our next step will be to take up our concerns with NCC senior management.

Action: Paul to contact NCC Greenbelt manager.

iii. Letter re: LRT extension to Kanata (Greenbelt)

No progress on this item, which will be deferred to the March meeting.

iv. Campus Engagement Group, March 6 (CEF)

The Federal Government has signed a 99-year lease with the Ottawa Hospital for the use of the Sir John Carling site for the new hospital campus. We have been asked to be part of the Campus Engagement Group, which is part of their strategy for engaging the community in the design of the new Ottawa Hospital Civic campus. Paul with attend a meeting of this group on March 6.

v. Rochester Field (NCC corridors and pathways)

City Council has approved the Official Plan and Zoning Bylaw that will allow commercial development on part of Rochester Field fronting on Richmond Rd. As was agreed with the NCC, 80% of the field will be preserved as greenspace.

vi. Baseline-Woodroffe SWM pond approval (NCC corridors and pathways)

We participated in this consultation and supported the city design for this green infrastructure project. The Minister of the Environment and Climate Change has now approved a Part II Order to proceed with the project, with conditions.

c. Other greenspace

i. 21 Withrow update

There is a development plan to build several single detached residences on the 2 acre historic property at 21 Withrow Avenue. It is currently the site of a heritage residence known as Kilmorie, which once belonged to the renowned Confederation poet William Wilfred Campbell. It is heavily treed, with many mature specimens. We previously wrote a letter to Planning staff to try and preserve this greenspace as the surrounding community has little accessible greenspace in its midst. Erwin attended a public meeting on February 15. There will be other opportunities to intervene as the planning file proceeds.

The meeting adjourned at 8:45pm.