GREENSPACE ALLIANCE OF CANADA’S CAPITAL
June 21, 2021
Members present: Paul Johanis (chair), Nicole DesRoches, J.P. Unger, David McNicoll, Erwin Dreessen, Janice Seline, Iola Price
Guest: Karin Lynch
The meeting commenced at 7:00 pm.
- Adoption of the agenda
The proposed agenda was agreed upon, with the addition of item 2b, Association reports, 4bii Jock River floodplain, and 4cv Embassy Row, and vi Lalande Conservation park. Moved by Nicole, seconded by Erwin. Carried.
- Administrative items
a. Minutes of the May 31, 2021 meeting (for approval)
Moved by Erwin, seconded by Iola. Carried.
b. Association reports:
The CAFES Tree Caucus will be holding an online discussion on Wednesday June 23 at noon about the multitude of threats to trees and the need to fight back through a broader lens.
- Policy instruments
a. New Official Plan
As part of the POP process, the GA contributed to a Key Issues paper, which summarizes our major positions on the draft OP, based on the detailed Technical Report submitted to the City in March and other stakeholder proposals. It was issued in a Press release and is posted on the POP website. We met with City planning staff on June 2, a meeting scheduled at our request as a follow up to our detailed submission. The discussion covered a wide range of topics guided by our key issues. The results were recorded in a follow up letter to the City outlining areas of agreement, issues that were not addressed and areas where commitments were made for further follow up.
We were invited to present to the City’s Environmental Stewardship Advisory Committee and appeared before it on June 10. Our delegation included Paul Johanis representing the People’s Official Plan (POP), Daniel Buckles representing the Greenspace Alliance (GA) and Joan Freeman representing CAFES. We informed committee members of the positions developed by CAFES, FCA, GA, Ecology Ottawa and numerous other civil society groups in a single, comprehensive response to the Draft Official Plan.
City Planning staff were also in attendance at this meeting of ESAC and used this occasion to release the much anticipated As We Heard It Report. This was the City-wide report, which was overall quite disappointing in its generality. The real response to our detailed submissions would be found later in the track changes version of the revised Draft Official Plan, a commitment made by the City reported to us at the June 2 meeting.
Additional information on the modelling work being done by City on the revised draft of the Official Plan was revealed at the Planning Advisory Committee meeting of June 15, although only available via the video recording of the meeting. Releasing this modelling information was another follow up issue from our June 2 meeting.
b. Councillor Jan Harder’s resignation
Members discussed the implications of the findings of the City’s Integrity Commissioner and the subsequent resignation of Councillor Jan Harder as Chair of Planning Committee.
a. Rural Greenspace
i. Renewable energy generation
Rural residents have reached out concerned about mentions in the draft Official Plan of wind turbine installations in the rural area. The GA has agreed to try to connect with City staff on the topic to ensure that appropriate dialogue is established on the topic.
b. Major urban greenspace
i. The Ottawa Hospital New Campus Development Project
Paul gave a presentation on the developments on this file. Following a presentation to FEDCO on May 4 and the submission by The Ottawa Hospital of the Master Site Plan Application for City approval on May 7th, events dramatically accelerated for this project. Project documents were not posted on the City website until May 21st. which was the first time the CEG, the public engagement group of which the GA is a member, saw any of the planning documentation. Over a series of meetings in May, the CEG came to the conclusion that it was necessary for it to dissolve so that individual members, while continuing to cooperate, could defend the interests of their communities in their representations to the City planning process. Despite dissolution, the City arranged a detailed briefing and Q&A for members on June 7 and TOH similarly arranged for a detailed presentation on accessibility issues on June 15. The deadline for submissions on the Site Plan application was June 18 but as usual comments are always accepted after the deadline.
GA members discussed mostly issues regarding the Environmental Impact Statement and Tree Conservation Report, topics that inevitably spilled over into surface parking and site design, and even site selection, issues. The positions arrived at can be found in the Greenspace Alliance submission to staff. (Post-meeting note: This item was slated for the August 26 meeting of Planning Committee but has been deferred to September 9.)
ii. Jock River floodplain
We learned that a recommendation to lift the floodplain overlay on a reach of the Jock River in Barrhaven was included as part of an Omnibus Zoning Bylaw amendment on the agenda of the June 24 meeting of Planning Committee. This was an issue on which we had made representations previously. It was agreed to make a submission to Planning Committee to reiterate our opposition to this development. (Post-meeting note: The recommendation was maintained by Planning Committee and approved by Council on July 7.)
c. Other greenspace
i. Kichi Sibi Trails
In early June the GA was approached to partner with Kichi Sibi Trails, a group that researches, rehabilitates and promotes ancient portage trails in Eastern Ontario and West Quebec. Their current project is a portage that would have existed to get around the Rideau Falls, between the Ottawa River in Rockcliffe and the Rideau River in New Edinburg. The reason for asking us to partner is so we can jointly apply for a federal infrastructure grant to fund the project, taking advantage of our status as a not-for-profit corporation. The deadline for the application was June 25. Given the urgency, this item was dealt with by email and approved by Board members. The application was submitted by the deadline. Decisions on the applications are expected on September 16.
ii. North Kanata Expansion Area
Paul reported that the first subdivision plan application was approved by the City for this urban expansion area in North Kanata. The GA had appealed the Official Plan Amendment for this development in 2016.
iii. Red pine plantation, Hunt Club Road
In early June, community members reached out to the GA for help in opposing a development that would cut down 1.57 ha of a red pine plantation to make way for a parking and car storage lot for a BMW dealership. Members agreed to support the request and made many useful suggestions for how to respond, which were included in our submission to the City. (Post-meeting note: This item was slated for the August 26 meeting of Planning Committee but has been deferred.)
iii. Gipsy moth infestation
Iola gave a presentation on the extent and significance of the current Gypsy moth infestation in Ottawa, the life cycle of this pest and practical instructions for how to eliminate them from our homes and property. For the moth stage, she offered to share her supply of pheromone soaked lures that can be used to build traps to capture males so as to prevent fertilization for next year’s crop.
iv. Embassy Row
The NCC has updated its development application in response to community concerns, reducing the number of structures from 6 to 5, and expanding somewhat the parkland on the east of the site. This is far short of the community’s hope to prevent any development on the site and to preserve it as useable greenspace.
v. Lalande Conservation Park
Community members have reached out to the GA to seek support in protecting a greater extent of this urban woodlot than what is being planned in a current development application. Paul provided them with background information and options for pursuing this objective. Essentially, only a political response would likely provide further protection than what has been established through the application of current policy. (Post-meeting note: This item was slated for the August 26 meeting of Planning Committee as well but has also been deferred.)
The Meeting adjourned at 9:25 p.m.