General meeting – March 20, 2023


Greenspace Watch

General Meeting


March 20, 2023

On-line meeting


Members present: Paul Johanis (chair), Nicole DesRoches, Jason Kania, Iola Price, David McNicoll, Arto Keklilkian, J.P Unger, Erwin Dreessen, Daniel Buckles

The meeting commenced at 7:00 pm.   

  1. Adoption of the agenda

The proposed agenda was agreed upon. Moved by Iola, seconded by Jason.

  1. Administrative items

a. Minutes of the January 16, 2023 meeting (for approval)

Moved by Erwin, seconded by Nicole. Carried.

b. Association reports

The GA participated in the first meeting of la Table de concertation environnementale de l’est d’Ottawa put on by the francophone network of Sustainable Eastern Ontario on March 14. The Peoples Official Plan MOU 2023), of which the GA is a signatory, has now been approved. It was noted that JP had produced a similar governance document for city wide collaboration some years ago. It was agreed that it would be useful to compare both documents for differences and similarities.

 c. Status of GA priorities

No news yet on our grant application under the Community Services Recovery Fund. Grant awards will be announced in early summer. No progress on recruiting a member/volunteer to led the improved web content initiative. Nothing else to report on the other priorities at this point.

d. Treasurer’s report:

Paul requested a motion for Jason to be reimbursed for payment of the annual server renewal fees in the amount of $$163.89 (moved by Iola, seconded by Nicole, carried) and for Magdalene Carson, $40.00 for the production of posters for the Stop the Clear cutting rally, moved by Erwin, seconded by David.

  1. Policy instruments

a. City budget 2023

The GA participated in a press conference on the City’s 2023 budget set up by the POP Coalition on February 27. Four media representatives attended and it led to quite good coverage the next day and ahead of the release of the final budget on March 1.

b. The GA will participate in a workshop on the Transportation Master Plan, sponsored by the POP and led by the FCA, which will be held in mid-April, ahead of the Transportation Committee meeting in late April.

c. The GA has been invited to continue to participate in the external stakeholders group that was set up last year for advance consultation of the Comprehensive Zoning Bylaw review, this time to provide feedback on new Low Rise Design Guidelines. A meeting of the group will be held on March 24.

d. The discussion papers for the Comprehensive Zoning Bylaw review were published on the Engage Ottawa website on March 6.

  1. Threats and opportunities

a. Rural greenspace

i. Tewin deforestation

On February 23, the GA was alerted by a member of some tree cutting happening in or near the Tewin urban expansion area, on the southeastern edge of Ottawa’s urban area. We reported it immediately to City staff, who were already aware and investigating it.  It became apparent that a massive clear cut was ongoing, which made for front page news on March 1. We wrote to Mayor and Council on March 2 and set about to enlist the support of other organizations to fight this deforestation. Ecology Ottawa was already on board and many other POP members joined in. Paul did an interview with the CBC on March 7 and also live on Ottawa Morning on March 8.  By now, local residents had organized and joined forces with us, forming a very representative working group. Together we decided to organize a rally to protest the deforestation, to be held in the community, near Carlsbad Springs, on Sunday March 12. It was organized in the space of a few days. It was well attended, with about 80 local residents and activists present, good speakers and music coming together outdoor in a local park partially plowed by a local. <pictures>. There was a lot of media present and the event was well covered by several outlets.  We engaged with a number of City Councillors and the issue was put on the agenda of the meeting of the Environment and Climate Change Committee to be held on March 21. The working group collaborated to develop coherent and comprehensive positions that would be presented by delegations to the Committee.

ii. Access to Gatineau Park

Following our discussion at the February meeting, Nicole and her group put out a press release on the issue of pedestrian access to sites along the Gatineau Parkway. It generated some local coverage and perhaps will open the door to some dialogue with the NCC.

b. Major urban greenspace

i. Update on Greenbelt Protection: While the GA will continue to explore having the Greenbelt recognized as an Urban National Park as a means of having it better protected, we have been informed that there may be another high level initiative underway to achieve a similar result, with perhaps some indication of it in the upcoming federal budget.

ii. Protect the Farm: We are still waiting for the signal from Heritage Ottawa to make representations at a Parliamentary Committee concerning Bill C-27, a bill to better protect National Historic Sites, like the Central Experimental Farm.

iii. Embassy Row: It seems that a negotiated settlement between the NCC, the City of Ottawa and the local community has been reached, dedicating in perpetuity as greenspace a sizeable portion of the site, including unfettered access to the Ottawa River shoreline, this as a result of effective advocacy by the local community, assisted by the GA. More to come.

c. Other greenspace

Nothing to report


The Meeting adjourned at 8:59 p.m.