General Meeting – November 22 2021


Greenspace Watch

General Meeting


November 22, 2021

On-line meeting

Members present: Paul Johanis (chair), Nicole DesRoches, Iola Price, David McNicol, J.P. Unger, Janice Seline,  Jason Kania

The meeting commenced at 7:00 pm.

  1. Adoption of the agenda

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

  1. Administrative items

a. Minutes of the October 25, 2021 meeting (for approval)

Moved by Nicole, seconded by Iola. Carried, with request for page numbering.

b. Treasurer’s report: Paul submitted re-imbursement requests for the annual Corporations Branch filing ($12) and the donation approved at the last meeting for the Ottawa Carleton Wildlife Centre ($50). Moved by Janice, seconded by David, carried. Janice reported that she and Albert Dugal expect to participate in the Friends of the Farm plant sale in 2022, providing a fundraiser for the GA as per past practice pre-pandemic, a welcome news for everyone.

c. Association reports: Paul reported on a renewed contact with CPAWS, with a Zoom call arranged on November 15 with John McDonnell, Executive director, and Chair Paul Lemoine. CAPWS expressed a new interest in major urban greenspaces, like the Experimental Farm, the Greenbelt and Mer Bleue. We discussed ways in which we could collaborate to bring greater protection to these greenspaces in light of continued development pressure on each of these. The newly announced commitment by the federal government to introduce legislation to protect the Central Experimental Farm was seen as good starting point for expanded advocacy by local and national organizations. We agreed to keep in touch to further develop a strategy in this regard. Members suggested looking at the Rouge River Urban Park as a model of Parks Canada land within an urban area.

Paul also reported on an interview he had with The Fulcrum, the University of Ottawa student newspaper on greenspace issues in Ottawa:

He also updated members on the new grant application being prepared by the Peoples Official Plan to the Ottawa Community Foundation to continue supporting POP’s work over the next few years regarding the implementation of Official Plan commitments through the Zoning Bylaw review and the key Master Plans being developed.

  1. Policy instruments

a. New Official Plan

Council approved the City’s new Official Plan at its October 27 meeting, including a number of amendments brought forward from the Joint Planning and ARAC meeting based on POP inspired motions. All of these were passed. The POP group had sent a letter to Mayor and Council on the eve of the meeting urging them to act now on climate change.  This followed a Press Conference held on October 25, which was well attended and led to significant media coverage leading up to the Council meeting.

In the end, the entire campaign was quite successful in engaging City staff and elected officials and putting forward effective, actionable proposals that were on the whole adopted. However, the resulting Official Plan still suffered from major deficiencies due to the lack of commitment and foresight of a majority of councilors in the Mayor’s camp regarding climate change and greenspace issues.

b. Ministerial letter

These shortcomings were addressed in a last ditch effort to effect changes in the Official Plan by calling on the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing to exercise his authority in the review and approval of the Official Plan. Members reviewed and commented on a draft of a joint  letter from POP to the Minister and passed a motion in support.

(Post-meeting note: The letter was sent on November 26.)

  1. Threats

a. Rural greenspace

b. Major urban greenspace 

i. Sir George Etienne Cartier Public Advisory Committee: Paul accepted an invitation from the NCC to sit on the PAC for the SGEC Park Plan. The NCC is looking to provide more amenities along the parkway and perhaps more access to the shore. Members expressed concern for preservation of the natural beauty of the park and increase in vehicular traffic. They also counseled engaging with the Manor Park and Rockcliffe Park community associations on the subject.

(Post meeting note: The first meeting of the PAC was held on November 30.)

ii. Parkways for People: Paul reported that the GA’s agreement to be listed as a founding member of this new group was well received by the organizers.

iii. Site plan application, TOH parking garage: The Ottawa Hospital wasted no time in putting forward a site plan application for the parking garage at the new campus location on the former Sir John Carling site. A public meeting will be held on November 24.

c. Other greenspace

i. Proposed tower development, Ambleside: A resident contacted the GA to seek our support against the construction of a new tower next to the SJAM parkway in the Ambleside area, an area with several 1970s era apartment towers. The application proposal calls for the new tower to be built on the location of an existing surface parking lot, does not threaten or remove any on site greenspace, proposes additional local greenspace amenities and fulfills intensification objectives within 600 meters of a Phase 2 LRT station now under construction. The only danger is potentially tree loss on NCC land due to the construction activities, which we will want to monitor once a development application is made. The resident was so advised.

The Meeting adjourned at 8:45 p.m.