General Meeting – July 25, 2022


Greenspace Watch

General Meeting


July 25, 2022

On-line meeting

Members present: Paul Johanis (chair), Nicole DesRoches, Jason Kania, Erwin Dreessen, Janice Seline, David McNicoll, John Almstedt

The meeting commenced at 7:00 pm.

  1. Adoption of the agenda

The proposed agenda was agreed upon, with the addition of item 4b.iii, proposal for the designation of the NCR as a UNESCO Biosphere.  Moved by Nicole, seconded by Jason

  1. Administrative items

a. Minutes of the April 18 and June 27, 2022 meetings (for approval)

Moved by Jason, seconded by Erwin

  1. Policy instruments

a. POP 2 launch and initial planning

Paul provided an update on the launch of the Peoples Official Plan phase 2 project, which is focused on keeping civil society pressure on the development of the master plans and other policy instruments that will give effect and implement the new Official Plan, with the  aim of keeping climate and greenspace front and centre. He provided details on the Ottawa Community Foundation grant that was approved in support of the project, a multi-year grant running through to 2025. He also shared the draft three year work plan that is under development for the project, in the form of a GANTT chart showing broad sub-projects and tasks over time. The GA continues to be an active member of POP.

Action: Paul to share the GANTT chart with members. 

b. Parkland Dedication By-law review

Paul reported on the approval by Planning Committee of the updated Parkland Dedication bylaw, which will now be considered by Council on August 31. Having this bylaw in place prior to the provincial deadline of September 18 enables the City to use the “alternative method” of computing the amount of parkland required to be provided for new residential developments. The alternative method is based on number of units rather than total site area, which is desirable. In addition, Planning Committee has approved improvements to the by-law: 1) raising the 10% cap for all apartments to 15% for mid-rise and 25% for high rise buildings, meaning allowing builders to cap the dedication of parkland to these limits rather than providing 100% of what the base calculation would require and 2) extending the application of the bylaw to all new residential projects, not only those under site plan control. These are significant improvements and will be hotly contested by the development industry. Even with these improvements, the Bylaw will not provide sufficient parkland to meet the targets set in the new Parks and Recreational Facilities Master Plan. For this reason, Planning Committee has mandated a review of the operation of the Bylaw in 2023.

Action: Write to Mayor and council ahead of the August 31 council meeting to support Planning Committee’s recommendation.

  1. Threats and opportunities

a. Rural greenspace

Nothing to report.

b. Major urban greenspace

i. Pinesi portage project:

Paul reported on the successful trail inauguration event which was held on July 1 at New Edinburg Park. It was well attended and garnered very good media coverage, with the Chief and Council members from Pikewakanagan, and elected officials from the three levels of government taking part in the proceedings. Not all elements of the project have yet been finalized however, in particular the commemorative mural has yet to be completed and installed on the New Edinburg Park field house.

Regarding the Canada Healthy Communities Initiative grant, Paul sought the direction of members on whether to take the off ramp offered by the grant administrator, Community Foundations of Canada, to curtail the project to the City of Ottawa only trail loop, funded with the first slice of funding provided, or hold out for the full funding pending the NCC’s eventual approval of an extended loop over NCC lands. It was agreed that the uncertainty around the timing and intentions of the NCC on the matter represented too great a financial risk to the GA and that it was preferable to take the off ramp and bring the project to a close pending the completion of all activities related to the City of Ottawa only loop, ensuring it is fully financed by the grant.

ii. Designation of the Greenbelt as an Urban National Park

Paul reported on recent contacts with the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society and the Ottawa Carleton Wildlife Centre regarding a campaign to promote the designation of the Greenbelt as an Urban National Park. The federal government has recently made available significant funding towards the establishment of such national parks. The example of the Rouge urban national park in Toronto was given and members asked about any other cases. It was suggest that other groups such as the 8 80 Group Ottawa and Parkways for People might be good allies in such a campaign. The role of the NCC in such a scenario was raised. What would be in it for them and how would they react to such a proposal? What would be the advantages in terms of protection of the Greenbelt under Parks Canada administration over NCC administration?  With these questions and issues in mind, it was agreed to continue exploring this idea with the interested parties.

iii. Designation of the NCR as a UNESCO Biosphere

GA member John Almstedt brought to the attention of members work he and a group of retired educators have been doing in regard to the recognition of the National Capital Region as a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve. All agree in principle that this would be a desirable outcome but little is known about the process and practicalities of it. The Frontenac Arch UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, Quebec plans for a biodiversity reserve along the Noir and Coulonge rivers, and the Charlevoix UNESCO Biosphere Reserve were cited as examples to follow, and also work undertaken by John Birtch and the Ottawa Biosphere Eco-City Initiative. Ideally, a citizen led, youth oriented grassroots movement, with buy in from municipal authorities in Ottawa and Gatineau was seen as the way to go.

c. Other greenspace          

i. Development proposal in Orleans Mer Bleue area, with significant tree loss

A Zoning By-law Amendment application to rezone this site from Development Reserve (DR) to residential is under consideration. The planned development consists of four buildings, two 2-storey townhouse dwellings (eight units) and two 2 ½ storey stacked townhouse dwellings (16 units). Vehicular access will be via Renaud Road to the north, there will be surface parking and a common amenity space on the southeast portion of the lands. This could cause the removal of a large section of remnant forest on this 5 acre property. The GA will further investigate and make representations to the City on this development application.

The Meeting adjourned at 9:02 p.m.