General Meeting – March 26, 2018


Greenspace Watch

General Meeting


March 26, 2018

Hintonburg Community Centre

1064 Wellington Street West

K1Y 2Y3

Members Present: Paul Johanis (chair), Erwin Dreessen, Amy Steele (director), Jason Kania (director), David McNicoll, Ben Christy, Kate Punnett (director)

Guests: Amanda Allnutt, Jake Harris

The meeting commenced at 7:15pm.

  1. Adoption of the agenda

A modified agenda was agreed upon.

  1. Administrative items

a. Minutes of February 26, 2018 meeting (for approval)

Erwin provided a few revisions. Ben moved, seconded by Erwin to accept the revised minutes as final.

b.  Membership/Board report

Andrew will no longer be able to take on the role of Membership Chair. Amanda has agreed to look after membership for the time being.

c. Treasurer’s report

Erwin moved, seconded by Amy, that we pay the $175 membership fee with Volunteer Ottawa.

d. Webmaster’s report: update, brainstorm

We have been able to obtain some assistance to update the look and function of our website. Small changes have been made to our landing page, which was presented to the members. It was agreed that the new design was more attractive and intuitive. We have the opportunity to make other changes as well and we went around the table to brainstorm ideas on how to improve the website. Ideas included adding separate panels to the home page that could show latest news, highlight our top 5 highest priorities for greenspace protection and a direct appeal to join the alliance. Other ideas included reorganizing the “Our Work” page on a thematic basis and a discussion on where and how to use our logos. In relation to the problem that Erwin had noted last meeting regarding dead links scattered throughout a number of pages on our 600 page website, Paul reported on a plug in WordPress that identifies automatically the pages on which dead links are found. Although each could then be corrected manually, it was agreed that a bulk change would be a preferable solution.  Action: Paul is to bring back some mockups for consideration.

e. Volunteer report: Volunteer Ottawa renewal

It was agreed that Volunteer Ottawa has been a very useful resource for us and that we should renew our membership.

f. Geodata report: update, April meeting

Brittney Bourdages is at the point in her research where she can begin to analyze the data she has collected. Paul recommended that we invite Brittney to the next meeting where she can present the data. Agreed.

  1. Policy instruments

a. Site Alteration Bylaw, February 27 report

Paul went to the Planning Committee to present our position.  We support the bylaw but feel it is not strong enough. In particular, we believe it should be enforced through a permit system rather than a complaints based approach as proposed. We are also concerned that it does not cover one of the most important types of vegetation removal, the pre-emptive clearing of woodlands ahead of urban expansions. The bylaw will not be going to Council until it goes to the Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee on April 5. Action: Paul will attend and give a presentation.

b. 2018 municipal election strategy update, brainstorm

Amanda has focused on researching what other nonprofit organizations have done regarding municipal elections. She suggested the possibility of using a survey as a way to communicate with candidates. Jake looked through our archives to identify strategies we’ve used during previous elections. He compiled data on how city councillors have voted in the past regarding issues GA has worked on. The data showed a tendency for City Councillors to vote en bloc with Mayor Jim Watson. Action: Paul will meet with Amanda and Jake to further discuss options for a strategy.

c. Ecology Ottawa Green Infrastructure position paper

Ecology Ottawa has hired Adam Caldwell to write a report on green infrastructure. Paul attended a meeting of an editorial board for the paper. Adam produced a good draft and Ecology Ottawa will likely mount a campaign around the report to put pressure on municipal elected officials to promote the use of green infrastructure in Ottawa.

d. Development charges bylaw

This process had room for community input in the past but now the community is being excluded and only stakeholders are able to provide input. The GA considers itself as a stakeholder as the level set for development charges plays into the developers’ calculus of the viability of development in urban expansion areas and urban expansion inevitably leads to the loss of greenspace. Action: Paul will send an email voicing our view that we should be considered stakeholders.

e. Federal EA review

Erwin reported that Bill C-69, (an Act to Enact the Impact Assessment Act and the Canadian Energy Regulator Act, to amend the Navigation Protection Act and to make consequential amendments to other Acts) has passed second reading and is now before the Parliamentary Committee on the Environment and Climate Change. They will be taking comments until April 15. Action: Kate will look into the consultation material.

f. Ecology Ottawa 2018 Park Summit

We have been invited to attend on Saturday, April 21. Ecology Ottawa is allowing room for organizations to set up booths. It will be held at All Saints on Laurier Avenue E. from 2:00 to 6:00 P.M. Action: Paul will attend with a booth and seek other members to join him.

  1. Threats

a. Rural greenspace

i. Goulbourn wetlands boundary changes update

The city is in the process of incorporating these changes into the official plan but only after giving landowners the opportunity to conduct their own studies over the summer to validate the new boundaries. We are concerned that some landowners may fill or alter the wetlands during this period. The only remaining recourse is to contest the Rideau Valley Conservation Authority’s decision not to enforce full protection to the extended boundaries until the City amends the OP.   Paul has written to Ken McRae and Brian Finch to see if they are willing to proceed with an appeal, which we would support. There has been no reply as yet.

ii. OMB appeals, OPA 150 et al.

Paul and Erwin participated in conference calls with the city to define issues that will be addressed in the appeal hearings. The issue we are mainly concerned about is the potential for urban expansion. Although the City decided in the last official plan that urban expansion was not necessary to accommodate projected population growth, two developers, Minto and Mattamy, are using their appeal to push for the urban boundary to be expanded by several hundred hectares. It was suggested that in addition to defending the City position that no expansion is required at this time, we could publicize this whole process in a kind of “name and shame” campaign.

b. Major urban greenspace

i. KNL stormwater management options (South March Highlands) update

We will bring more attention to this issue as one of the top 5 concerns on our website (see item 2d. above).

ii. Leitrim Road realignment, February 22 (Greenbelt) update

Paul contacted the Director of Public Affairs at the National Capital Commission, who will put us in touch with their planners so that we can continue to make the case for the alignment option that causes the least fragmentation of the Greenbelt.

iii. Letter re: LRT extension to Kanata (Greenbelt) update

As part of the Phase 3 extension to Kanata, the LRT will extend from the Canadian Tire Centre to Hazeldean Road. Our assessment  is that this doesn’t present a significant risk to greenspace. The only sensitive area along the path is the crossing of Poole Creek. The current plan calls for the line to be elevated in this area so as to protect the creek and its shoreline greenspace.

iv. Campus Engagement Group (CEF) report

Paul attended an information session held by the Ottawa Hospital on March 6, reporting that we have been invited to consider being involved with the Campus Engagement Group. This is part of the hospital’s stakeholder consultation process for the design of the new hospital to be built on the former site of the Sir John Carling Building, at the northeast edge of the Central Experimental Farm. We have expressed our interest but they have not yet decided who they will select in the final 20 membership of this group.

Meeting adjourned at 9:30pm.