General Meeting – March 16, 2020


Greenspace Watch

General Meeting


March 16, 2020

On-line meeting.


Members present: Paul Johanis (chair), Nicole DesRoches, Daniel Buckles, Jason Kania, Janice Seline, Judy Makin, Iola Price, David McNicol, Erwin Dreessen, Sheila Perry

The meeting commenced at 7:20 pm.

  1. Adoption of the agenda

The proposed agenda was agreed upon, moved by Nicole, seconded by Janice.

  1. Administrative items

a. Minutes of the February 17, 2020 meeting (for approval)

Moved by Janice, seconded by Daniel. Carried.

 b. Treasurer’s report

Paul introduced the reimbursement to himself for the $175 registration fee for the GA’s membership with Volunteer Ottawa, and to Jason for the $140 expense to renew our website services. Both expenses had previously been approved by the Board at the February 17 meeting.  Moved by Nicole, seconded by Sheila, carried.

c. Webmaster’s report

Paul reported that Jason had set up a new listserve on our server, in support of the Peoples Official Plan process we are leading. The initial subscriber list includes 165 participants from our February 22 workshop. It is being used to keep in touch with these participants and to coordinate our action regarding the development and adoption of the new Official Plan.

d. Association reports

Sheila gave an update on the Federation of Citizens’ Associations activities related to the new Official Plan. The FCA general meeting of March 18, at which Community Associations were to be engaged on rejecting urban expansion even if it means more intensification, the has been cancelled due to the Covid-19 situation. The issue will be taken up at the April general meeting. The FCA has been working with students of UOttawa Telfer School of Business on a 15 Minute Neighbourhood project using Barrhaven as a test case. Sheila is personally leading the project and has engaged Barrhaven Councillor Jan Harder and the local BIA. The students will present their report to Ottawa’s Planning Committee in April.

  1. Policy instruments

a, New Peoples Official Plan workshop

The workshop on February 22 was well attended, attracting 125 participants from across the City. It was a generally more inclusive gathering than our previous events, with significantly more indigenous, women’s and mobility impaired voices thanks to the co-sponsorship of the event by the City-wide All Women’s Initiative and the Healthy Transportation Coalition. Also attending was Keith Egli, in his role as Chair of the Ottawa Board of Health. The presentations and a report on the meeting can be found here  .

The main outcomes of the meeting include additional support for the Hold the Line petition, plan for participants to organize face to face meetings with councilors, a plan for engagement of CAs to communicate their objection to urban expansion to their local councilors and energized participants who plan to mount their own initiatives in support of POP objectives of no urban expansion coupled with denser, inclusive, healthy, green and connected neighbourhoods.

b. Councillor meetings

A number of in person councillor meetings occurred prior to the Covid  emergency. Paul and Roland Dorsay of the FCA met with Jeff Leiper for a detailed technical briefing on March 9, Paul met with staff in Shawn Menard’s office for the same purpose on March 10, and, accompanied by Ecology Ottawa staff and local constituents, with Keith Egli on March 11. The first two are considered supporters of our position while the latter is an undecided in our estimation. As such, this meeting provided valuable insight on the issues that cause the undecided councillors to resist our appeal as did a detailed letter received from Scott Moffatt by one of our workshop participants as a result of her outreach to him. Other workshop participants reported on subsequent meetings or encounters with Councillors Fleury, Kavanagh and McKenney, confirming our assessment that these are likely supportive of our position while a meeting with Councillor Cloutier, who we believe is a likely supporter of urban expansion, was put off as a result of the Covid emergency.

c. Joint meeting of ARAC and Planning Committee postponed

The Joint meeting of ARAC and Planning Committee which was to occur on March 30 was postponed until May 4. This decision was taken prior to the Covid emergency and we believe it reflected the City’s need to take on board the impact of the PPS 2020, which was released on February 29.  The main change in the PPS 2020 that affects the urban boundary issue is the requirement for the City to “maintain at all times the ability to accommodate residential growth for a minimum of 15 years.”  Previously, this was 10 years. This constraint has in the past been used as justification for expanding the urban on its own merits, beyond the requirement to supply housing for projected population growth. Even if there is sufficient housing planned to fully accommodate the projected growth over the 25 year period of the plan, there is the additional requirement to ensure that by, for example, year 24, the City has the ability to accommodate 15 years of residential growth. There must always be 15 years in the bank.

In the past the City demonstrated that it met this requirement by maintaining a large inventory of vacant greenfield lands in the outer suburbs. By boosting the requirement to 15 years, the existing greenfield inventory will no longer be sufficient. This could be used by the City, lobbied by landowners, to expand the urban boundary even more than they had previously planned. The PPS allows, however, in fact insists, that the 15 year requirement be met “through residential intensification and redevelopment” and, only if necessary, greenfield lands. Counting on intensification as part this required minimum supply will require the development of new methods and analysis to quantify intensification in years of supply. We will be preparing a paper putting forward a basic approach for doing so and, using the City’s own numbers, demonstrate that it can maintain a 15 year supply of residential growth while also maintaining the current urban boundary.  (The Joint meeting of ARAC and Planning Committee was subsequently pushed back to May 11.)

d. Advertising and social media in support of urban expansion

Members and contacts have reported a number of instances of advertising in newspapers and on social media by builders associations and allied parties in support of expanding the urban boundary. These have used inflammatory and inaccurate language to promote urban expansion. We, collectively with POP members, have responded to these on social media and through a number of published op-eds and letters. We will need to remain vigilant and respond to further messages in this campaign in addition to launching our own.      

  1. Threats

a. Rural Greenspace

Appeals are expected on the Zoning Bylaw and Official Plan Amendment regarding the Goulbourn PSW. We have been included by the City on the list of entities to be kept informed.

b. Major urban greenspace

Noting to report.

c. Other greenspace

i. Kanata Golf and Country Club

The Court date of February 28 and 29 for this case has been postponed. Clublink, Matamy and Minto are arguing that the 60/40 development/greenspace agreement is invalid as the former City of Kanata had no authority to enter into such an agreement. In addition, the assignments of this agreement to subsequent owners after Campeau, the original owner, are also invalid. In researching the case it was discovered that Imperial Tobacco of Canada, the last assignee in this chain of transmission of ownership prior to Clublink (Genstar, Imasco, Imperial Tobacco of Canada) had an interest and petitioned for an opportunity to assess whether or not it wished to be considered a party in these proceedings. The Court allowed a delay until this issue is resolved.

ii. Appeal of ZBA concerning Cambrian Woods

Paul provided an update on our written submission to Planning Committee on this issue and reported that the Zoning Bylaw Amendment had been approved at Planning and then by Council in spite of our concerns, (which were relayed live to Council by Coucillor Jeff Leiper through his questions to staff on their report). At issue now is whether there is sufficient reason for us to appeal the decision. Members engaged in a very useful discussion, pointed to the 2013 Cambrian Woods Management Plan as good source to buttress arguments and in general supported to idea of filing an appeal, under the caution the case should be reviewed thoroughly to ensure that a legal obligation had in fact been infringed by Council’s decision.

Action: Paul to review the case and, if a clear case can be made, to file an appeal on behalf of the GA.

The Meeting adjourned at 8:40 p.m.