GREENSPACE ALLIANCE OF CANADA’S CAPITAL
March 28, 2022
Members present: Paul Johanis (chair), Nicole DesRoches, Daniel Buckles, Iola Price, David McNicoll, J.P. Unger, Erwin Dreessen, Jason Kania
The meeting commenced at 7:00 pm.
- Adoption of the agenda
The proposed agenda was agreed upon, with the addition of a reimbursement request from Jason under agenda item 2b. Moved by Erwin, seconded by Nicole. Carried.
- Administrative items
a. Minutes of the February 21, 2022 meeting (for approval)
Moved by Erwin, seconded by David. Carried.
b. Treasurer’s report: Paul requested reimbursement for payment of the GA’s membership with Volunteer Ottawa, annual fee of $175. Moved by Jason, seconded by Iola. Carried. Jason requested reimbursement for payment of the GA’s invoice for annual server rental, $146.90. Moved by Jason, seconded by Nicole. Carried.
Paul presented the budget for the Pinesi Portage trail project, which is being financed by a Canada Healthy Communities Initiative grant. The purpose was to establish a financial control process for upcoming disbursements under this grant so that invoices could be paid for this purpose without individual board motions at a general meeting. With two signatories for each disbursement by e-transfer, post verification by JP as the GA email moderator, and a monthly report to the general meeting, this was deemed a sufficient measure of financial control for this purpose over the next few months. The grant runs out in July 2022.
Finally, it was confirmed that the Friends of the Farm plant sale would be held on May 15 2002 and that the GA would have a table at the sale.
c. Association reports: Paul reported on the use of our updated logo on a flyer being distributed by the Ottawa Carleton Wildlife Centre. Iola asked if it could be shared with members. Paul reported on a public engagement he had with a class of adult students at Algonquin College and an interview he gave for the Decarbonize Ottawa podcast. Iola and Erwin reported on the CAFES AGM held March 21 and Daniel gave a report on the ReImagine Ottawa rally to protect greenspace held at Dow’s Lake on March 19. Both these events were well attended and attest greater mobilization around climate, greenspace and environmental issues.
d. Volunteer report: Paul reported that two volunteers had approached the GA over the last month and that both had responded positively to proposed assignments. Connor Lalande will take on communications tasks, preparing texts for dissemination through the GA list and social media regarding threats to greenspace while Michelle Christy will monitor the Engage Ottawa website and report regularly on public engagement opportunities with greenspace implications.
- Policy instruments
a. Municipal Election Strategy
Members discussed the GA’s approach to the municipal election in October 2022. With the mayoral office open and many councillors announcing they will not be running again, there is an opportunity to shift the composition of the next Council towards more friendly climate, greenspace and environmental concerns than the current council, which we adjudge to be primarily development oriented. Nicole stressed the importance of acting early to seek out and encourage promising candidates to run in those wards without an incumbent. Daniel reflected on using our existing, and expanding network of contacts in the community for this purpose and also to endorse and support specific candidates. All members present exchanged freely on these and related themes. Erwin pointed out that in the past the GA had in fact gone beyond developing and promoting a greenspace friendly platform and had endorsed specific candidates. The outcome of the discussion is that the GA will adopt a more direct role in upcoming election, using its relative institutional and funding independence to seek out, endorse and support specific candidates and to do so in collaboration with other institutional actors in the political sphere.
Action: Paul and Daniel will make approaches to ReImagine Ottawa on this subject and a first attempt at drawing up a slate of candidates will be made for discussion at our next general meeting.
b. High Performance Development Standards – Trees and Greenspace
Daniel gave an update on the work he has been doing on behalf of the GA, in conjunction with CAFES, to provide input to City staff and making submissions to Planning Committee regarding the trees and greenspace aspect of the new High Performance Development Standards for new builds, in accordance with the new Official Plan (approval pending). Of particular concern are the very low proposed targets for plantings of native species for projects covered by the HPDS. We are advocating for targets similar to the parallel standards used by the City of Toronto.
c. Parkland Dedication By-law Review
Paul reported that he will be attending a first information session provided by the City on this topic on March 31. This by-law specifies how much parkland must be set aside for new residential and commercial developments and is an essential tool towards meeting the improved access to greenspace standards set out in the new Official Plan (approval pending).
a. Rural greenspace
i. Chalk River Near Surface Disposal Facility for nuclear waste:
JP had circulated a draft of the points he wished to cover in the submission to the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission that he is preparing on behalf of the GA. Members discussed and offered suggestions. Erwin and David expanded on the points they would cover in submissions they will be making in their own name. In the end, everyone was satisfied that the GA and members thereof would give a good account of themselves in writing and oral interventions at the May 31 hearings.
Action: JP to circulate final draft for review and send the final GA submission before the April 11 deadline.
ii. Quarry expansion, Burnt Lands ANSI:
Paul provided a brief summary of this development proposal, of which we were alerted by a few rural correspondents. It was agreed that information on this threat would be communicated widely through our network. Iola indicated that the Ottawa Field-Naturalists Club should be advised. A defense will be mounted according to what we learn about the situation.
b. Major urban greenspace
i, Pinesi portage project:
Paul reported on the quotes he obtained for general liability insurance, which is a City of Ottawa requirement for the outdoor art installation we are sponsoring through this project at Stanley Park. A commercial insurance broker provided a quote of $1200 per year for $2 million general liability coverage. The same level of coverage is available through Volunteer Canada for $803, although we would need to become members, which requires a $200 membership fee to be paid. It was agreed that the latter would be preferable, as it comes with associated membership benefits, but that before proceeding we should check with the New Edinburgh Community Alliance to see if this outdoor art installation could be covered under liability insurance they already have.
Action: Paul to follow up with the NECA.
ii. Brian Coburn extension:
Paul reported on the submission he made on behalf of the GA to Transportation Committee on March 2 regarding the path of this new proposed corridor through the Greenbelt from Orleans South to Blair Road. Committee deferred its decision on the matter, launching instead a 100-day period of intense negotiation to achieve a compromise between Option 1 (use existing Blackburn Hamlet bypass corridor, favoured by NCC, and supported by the GA) and Option 7, a new corridor through the Greenbelt, supported by the City. The issue is complex, with strong arguments advanced for Option 7, in particular by local community associations on behalf of their residents, who are extremely poorly served by transit. Erwin suggested that rather than just stand on Option 1, we should also work to understand and refute the arguments put forward by residents for Option 7.
Action: Paul to contact Rachelle Lecours, the leading voice on the residents’ side, to open a dialogue on the matter.
iii. Embassy Row:
The NCC has appealed Council’s decision to deny their development application for building a suite of embassies on greenspace along the Sir John A MacDonald Parkway to the Ontario Land Tribunal. The potential loss of this greenspace is therefore still in play.
iv. Tree removal – Kichi Sibi LRT station
Daniel reported on the loss of approximately 60 mature trees where the now closed Transitway joins the SJAM parkway. This loss of trees was due to a slight change to the south of the path of the new LRT line decided without notice and against what local residents believed had been agreed in previous consultations. After learning of the imminent threat, the GA supported local residents in a flurry of contacts with the LRT authorities, and was present on the morning of the planned removal, managing to convince staff to spare a few mature specimens. Unfortunately, the team returned the next day and removed even these few spared trees. These operations were conducted by contractors hired by the construction consortium operating under the P3 umbrella, which represents essentially a state within a state, which can act with impunity and without any public accountability even to City Hall, let alone residents and citizens associations. The lesson is you can fight City Hall, but you can’t fight the LRT administration.
c. Other greenspace
i. Tree removal – Westwind Public School, Stittsville
We were alerted to the imminent removal of about 60 to 100 trees on a school property in Stittsville to make way for expanding a school playground. Upon investigation, it was found that all of the trees had already been cut and chipped. School Boards represent another opaque institutional structure, barely accountable to the community.
ii. ATIP – Old Ottawa East Tree Removal
Paul reported that he submitted an ATIP request to the City of Ottawa regarding the removal of a distinctive tree in old Ottawa East, on a file that we have been following for some time now.
iii. Manor Park Estates redevelopment
Planning Committee has approved a master site plan for the redevelopment of Manor Park Estates, a large single owner rental community in that neighbourhood. Iola provided a report on what was approved and opined that there could be lessons drawn from a number of perspectives: community involvement; the avoidance of “demoviction” for current tenants; the preservation of greenspace; livable density and the provision of local amenities. There are several large single owner redevelopment projects foreseen in Ottawa over the next many years and it was suggested that it would be a good exercise to document the Manor Park experience as a template for these. This could be a good research project for a volunteer.
Action: Paul to seek out a volunteer for such a research project.
The Meeting adjourned at 9:30 p.m.