GREENSPACE ALLIANCE OF CANADA’S CAPITAL
January 29, 2018
Hintonburg Community Centre
1064 Wellington Street West
Members Present: Paul Johanis (chair), Nicole DesRoches (vice-chair), Juan Pedro Unger (director), Amy Steele (director), Erwin Dreessen, David McNicoll, Donna DuBreuil, Kate MacNeil
Guests: Craig Beare (note taker), Kate Punnett, Andrew Johnson, Jake Harris
Regrets: Jason Kania (director), Ben Christy
The meeting commenced at: 7:20pm.
- Adoption of the agenda
A modified agenda was agreed upon.
- Administrative items
a. Minutes of the November 27, 2017 meeting (for approval)
Paul distributed a revised version with the meeting agenda and Erwin provided a few corrections. Erwin moved, seconded by Nicole, to accept the revised minutes as final. Agreed.
b. Membership report
Craig, Kate and Andrew attended as potential new board members, having responded to the ad we posted in GoodWork.ca and been interviewed by Paul prior to the meeting. It was agreed that they will continue to attend general meetings and will signal their intention to be confirmed as board members as they felt ready to do so.
c. Treasurer’s report
Erwin moved, seconded by Nicole, to reimburse Paul for expenses incurred since last meeting ($271.70), for the GoodWork.ca ad ($22.60), the Annual Return under the Canada Not-For-Profit Corporations Act ($20), the annual renewal of our Post Office Box rental ($214.70) and the emergency rental of the meeting room for this general meeting, rescheduled from January 22 ($14.60). Agreed. We also received a $50 donation this month.
d. Webmaster’s report
Nothing to report.
e. Volunteer report
A posting in Volunteer Ottawa for assistance with developing GA’s strategy for the 2018 municipal election elicited a lot of interest, with nine applications received. Two volunteers were selected, Amanda Allnutt and Jake Harris. They have started working on this project, as reported in item 4 below. A new volunteer, Brittney Bourdages, has started working on the greenspace inventory and mapping project as a result of the special meeting/workshop we held in lieu of a general meeting on December 18, as reported in item 3 below.
- New action items
a. Quebec wetlands protection regime/GA activity on the Quebec side
Nicole gave an update on Bill 132, which updated the wetlands protections in the Loi sur la qualité de l’environnement. See summary here.
b. Report on Open Street Map Ottawa/greenspace inventory and mapping project
Paul reported on the meeting/workshop that was held on December 18 2017 in lieu of a regular general meeting. The Greenspace Alliance hosted a gathering of the Ottawa chapter of Open Street Map Canada, an international collective that is creating detailed area maps serving a wide range of local interests using an open source GIS software. Paul presented the greenspace inventory and mapping project to the twelve or so mapping and geography enthusiasts who attended (Also in attendance were Erwin Dreessen and Denys Cooper, one of our volunteers on the project). He also described the detailed geographic files for city parks and urban natural areas that we had requested, and obtained, from the City in preparation for the meeting. In the discussion that ensued, a work process and plan was agreed for importing this detailed geographic information into the Ottawa OSM. Paul reported that the collective had worked very diligently over the holiday period and that all of the data had now been uploaded into OSM. He gave a live demonstration of the OSM, showing on the map all the parks and greenspaces around the Hintonburg Community Centre. The next step is to now analyze the data so as to answer the questions which prompted this project in the first place: is Ottawa meeting its Official Plan target of having 4 hectares of greenspace per 1000 population, and do all Ottawa residents live within 400 metres of accessible greenspace? Brittney Bourdages was one of the attendees at the workshop and she has volunteered to take the lead on the analysis phase of the project.
c. OMB appeals, OPA 150 et al
On January 3, Paul and Erwin attended the pre-hearing conference for these appeals. See Erwin’s report here. The preliminary sorting of the issues under appeal into various groups was agreed. In addition, one group of appellants (Mattamy and Taggart) made submissions to compel the City to respond to a consultant’s report that they had commissioned regarding the need to expand the urban boundary. The City made counter arguments and the production will likely be denied. However, we have learned through this that there will be arguments for expanding the urban boundary at the hearings and that we must be prepared to defend the City’s decision to hold the line in both OPA 150 and OPA 180. We will also continue to seek a settlement on our own appeal of OPA 150, while preparing to argue the case should it come to be heard.
Action: Paul and Erwin to prepare the cases and line up expert witnesses in time for the next pre-hearing conference, which will be held on May 4, 2018.
d. Significant Woodlands Policy
Paul reported that the Significant Woodland Policy Working Group is quickly approaching the completion of its work, with a deadline of March 31 now in sight. The many meetings last year spent reviewing criteria for identifying the ecological, social and economic benefits provided by woodlands has enabled the group to now progress quickly in the development of an evaluation framework that would be used for environmental impact studies of proposed developments in or around significant woodlands in the urban area, including urban expansion areas. The thorny issue of how to prevent the pre-emptive clearing of woodlands in rural areas that are adjacent to the urban boundary remains to be addressed although some ideas were discussed at the last meeting of the working group on January 29. This included dealing with them through the new site alteration bylaw.
e. Will Amos letter to the Minister of Finance on conservation funding
The Liberal MP for Pontiac, Will Amos, has sent a letter, co-signed by over 100 MPs and senators, to the Minister of Finance asking for increased conservation funding in the 2018 federal budget. The Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society (CPAWS) has drafted its own letter in support and has asked other environmental organizations to join in. It was agreed that we would write our own letter to the Minister of Finance, cc: all National Capital Region MPs, in support of the budget request.
Action: Paul to write a letter on behalf of the Greenspace Alliance.
f. Nature Needs Half
Erwin reported on this new global initiative which calls for 50% of the terrestrial planet to be protected by 2050. It has divided the entire planet into ecoregions and assessed them on the extent of their current protection. For example, Ottawa is considered to be on the northern boundary of the Eastern Great Lakes Lowland Forests ecoregion, its biome is described as temperate broadleaf and mixed forests, while its protected status is assessed as Nature Imperiled (meaning the amount of protected and unprotected natural habitat remaining is less than or equal to 20%. Achieving half protected is not possible in the short term and efforts should focus on conserving remaining, native habitat fragments). It was agreed that this is a very interesting initiative, of which we should keep abreast, but that the GA should not become a signatory at this time.
g. Ottawa River Watershed Study
As the result of a Private Member’s Motion sponsored by local MP David McGuinty, the federal government is launching a study of the Ottawa River Watershed. It was agreed that we participate in any way we can and promote participation though our networks.
Action: Paul to signal our willingness to participate to study leaders at Environment and Climate Change Canada.
h. Ottawa Airport Masterplan review
Erwin attended and reported on the last open house for this review of the Ottawa Airport Master Plan. We submitted written comments to the airport authority (Letter to the Ottawa Airport Authority). Note the implications for the Leitrim Road Realignment and Widening project being undertaken by the City of Ottawa in item 5(c) below.
- Report on previous action items
a. Goulbourn wetlands boundary changes
The new boundaries of the Provincially Significant Goulbourn Wetlands are still not officially afforded protection, with the City of Ottawa refusing to update its Official Plan to recognize them until next fall, purportedly to give landowners a chance to challenge the new boundaries, and the Rideau Valley Conservation Authority refusing the enforce the protective status until the City acts on the Official Plan. There are reports that this delay is being exploited by some landowners to illegally fill in parts of the newly designated wetlands. Having failed to get the attention of the local city councilors to have them sponsor a temporary control bylaw forbidding such alterations, our attention has shifted to an internal battle within the Rideau Valley Conservation Authority to enact the required protection ahead of an Official Plan update. This came to a head in January with a showdown at a Board meeting of the RCVA, where landowners and sympathetic current and former city politicians argued forcefully to maintain the suspension of enforcement the Board had approved late last year. They lost by a very narrow margin with the Board voting 11-10 to enforce protection of the Goulbourn wetlands, as delineated in 2008. While better than no action at all, this leaves the newly designated areas unprotected and open to alteration. It was agreed that we should continue to seek a councillor to sponsor an interim control bylaw, perhaps the Chair of the Environment and Climate Change Committee. It was also suggested that conservation organizations such as Ducks Unlimited or Nature Conservancy of Canada could be approached as intervenors.
Action: Paul to write to Councillor Chernuschenko.
b. 2018 municipal election strategy
Two volunteers, Jake Harris and Amanda Allnutt, have started to work on this project. The terms of reference are here. Jake gave a brief overview of the time frames and current avenues of investigation, for example the voting record of current sitting councilors on environmental issues. It was suggested that the Term of Council priorities be included in the analysis. Recommendations on the strategy are expected by the end of May.
c. Ontario proposal to reduce environmental regulation
A quick review of the documentation here regarding this announcement indicates that this is more bureaucratic bafflegab than any kind of immediate action. There seems to be no need to mobilize around this at this time.
d. Area 2 public meeting, December 12
Paul attended this open house. See report here. The sad conclusion is that there could well be some development eventually in this location.
e. Bowesville LRT station location
Our local observer in the area, Albert Dugal, confirms that the new location for this LRT station is a better choice from a greenspace protection perspective.
f. NCC Workshop on Sustainable Development Strategy, November 30th
Donna and Kate attended on our behalf. Their report is here.
g. Moodie Drive LRT extension and future extension to Kanata
We sent a letter to the Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change concerning the completion of the Environmental Impact Study for the extension of the LRT to Moodie Drive, reiterating our concern for the protection of Stillwater Creek and the wildlife corridor and crossings that follow it.
We had previously sent a letter of support to the City regarding the preferred path for the extension of the LRT to Kanata (along the 417 corridor right to Canadian Tire Centre). At the December opens house, however, a new element was introduced, and extension beyond the CTC south to Hazeldean Rd, to provide better connectivity to Stittsville. Although we have not examined this extension closely, the only sensitive area along its path is a crossing of Poole Creek.
Action: Paul to review and submit comments on the proposed extension to Hazeldean Rd.
h. KNL stormwater management options
Paul reported on a meeting he had with Marianne Wilkinson and separate discussions with city staff regarding the current status of this project. All of the current storm water management activity concerns Phase 9 only. It seems that an agreement has been reached on increasing the culvert size under March Road at the Nordion property. So Phase 9 will definitely be drained via the Beaver Pond and the Kizzell to Watts Creek. It seems that an agreement has also been reached to implement measures that will ensure that the water level of the Beaver Pond will not rise as result. Retained greenspace along the northern shore of the pond will therefore be preserved. There is no expectation for things to move on Phase 7 and 8 storm water solutions for several months yet. However, Goulbourn Forced Road will be closed to car traffic from the Rockeries to Innovation Drive from February 12 to August 28 while it is being realigned to end on Terry Fox Drive with a water main and sanitary sewers being built below its surface. This will require considerable blasting, a cause for concern regarding the water table. Depending on how deep and extensive the blasting is, it could lower the water table sufficiently to create water stress for the trees in Trillium Woods.
Regarding the preservation of Trillium Woods, city staff have confirmed that all of the Trillium Woods and Monk Environmental Forest currently in private hands would be ceded to the City under the decades old 60/40 development vs greenspace agreement that governs this area. None of this land is part of Phase 8. Only a small triangle of forested land situated along the northern edge of Phase 8 might be exposed to clearing if it is required to achieve the final balance of the 60/40 agreement. Even though the potential further loss of greenspace is smaller than we first thought, we should nevertheless put forward our position that storm water management solutions for Phases 7 and 8 should be designed so that there is no further loss of forest cover.
Action: Paul to update the position paper taking into account this new information, including the blasting concerns and seek partners to publish and promote it.
i. Beyond 2036 Sounding Board
The Sounding Board met on January 10 and will meet again on February 12. At this point some consensus is emerging around the likely drivers and disrupters that should be taken into account in the scenarios that will guide the next Official Plan. An interesting idea is to focus on healthy living, with good health as an outcome of the plan, considering economic growth, adequate income and housing and access to greenspace as determinants.
j. Rochester Field update
Planning Committee approved an Official Plan and Zoning Bylaw amendment which would allow commercial development on part of Rochester Field fronting on Richmond Rd, while preserving the balance (80%) as Open Space. This is part of an agreement with the NCC, which owns the property, allowing the City to build the LRT below grade along the northern edge of the field. This would settle a long standing appeal by the NCC of the 2003 Official Plan. The Greenspace Alliance is also a party to this appeal and we are hopeful that it will lead to a favorable outcome for another parcel of greenspace under appeal adjacent to McCarthy Woods, and perhaps even for the Merivale-Woodroffe greenspace corridor. The amendment still has to be approved by Council. (Post-meeting note: This was to be considered at the March 31 Council meeting but has been pushed back to February 14 at the request of the local councillor.)
k. FCA Planning Workshop, January 27
Paul and Erwin were part to close to 100 attendees. Materials and discussion outcomes will soon be available on the FCA web site.
a. CEF TOH information session, January 31
b. Leitrim Road Realignment and Widening, February 22
c. Park Summit, April 2018
- Information items
a. Chalk River update
JP provided an update on the CNSC hearings in Pembroke on the renewal of the operating permit for the nuclear facility at Chalk River.
b. Planning Advisory Committee
The City has advertised for residents to apply as members of the new Public Advisory Committee.
c. 21 Withrow update
We wrote a last ditch letter to Planning staff to try and preserve greenspace at Kilmorie, a well treed 2 acre heritage property at 21 Withrow Avenue in City View. There will be a meeting with staff and the local councillor on February 15.
d. Invitation to sit on advisory committee for Ecology Ottawa report on green infrastructure
Paul has been invited by Ecology Ottawa to sit on an advisory committee for a report they have commissioned on green infrastructure in Ottawa.
e. Invitation to sit on the Ottawa Hospital Campus Engagement Group
We have been invited by the Ottawa Hospital to sit on the Campus Engagement Group, one of the outreach measures being contemplated by the hospital to ensure good public engagement in the design of the new campus on the Sir John Carling site, including greenspace.
The meeting adjourned at 9:40pm.