GREENSPACE ALLIANCE OF CANADA’S CAPITAL
November 27, 2017
Hintonburg Community Centre
1064 Wellington Street West
Members Present: Paul Johanis (chair), Erwin Dreessen, Warren Waters, Amy Steele, David McNicoll, Donna DuBreuil, Kate MacNeil, Nicole DesRoches, Juan Pedro Unger, Jason Kania
Guest: Ben Christy (note taker)
Regrets: Bruce Lindsay, Van Nguyen
The meeting commenced at: 7:20pm.
1. Adoption of the agenda
A modified agenda was agreed upon.
2. Administrative items
a. Minutes of the October 23, 2017 meeting (for approval)
Paul and Erwin both provided revisions that were incorporated into the minutes. Erwin moved, seconded by JP, to accept the revised minutes as final. Agreed.
b. Membership report
Mary Hegan renewed her membership at our 20th anniversary celebration. Ben Christy also confirmed his application. Amy moved, seconded by Erwin, to accept Ben as a member. Agreed.
c. Treasurer’s report
Nicole moved, seconded by Amy, to reimburse Paul for the expenses ($769), which he covered for the 20th anniversary celebration. Agreed. We also collected $223 in donations at the event, partially offsetting the total cost.
d. Webmaster’s report
Jason has finished migrating our website to the new server. JP reported receiving less spam since the transition.
e. Volunteer report
Paul suggested that with Varvara Lobanova stepping down as Board member, it might be wise to fill that board member vacancy. Erwin moved, seconded by Amy, to approve a $20 expense to post an ad on GoodWork.ca, for the purpose of finding a new Board member. Agreed.
Two volunteers who gave their names at Eco-fest, an environmental studies student, and an electrical engineer who specializes in renewable energy have both expressed their interest in working on GA projects.
f. Schedule for our upcoming meetings – proposal for next meeting
Our general meetings from January to June 2018 will be held on the following dates:
These meetings will be held in the Burnside Room, on the second floor. Amy moved, seconded by Nicole, that we pay the rental fee of $84.60 to the Hintonburg Community Centre for the room. Agreed.
On November 8, Paul met with a group called Open Street Map Ottawa, GIS and mapping enthusiasts who work on a volunteer basis on mapping projects such as our greenspace inventory and mapping initiative. The main organizer of this group, John Marshall, has agreed to schedule a “meet up” for the greenspace mapping project. To take advantage of this offer, Paul proposed that instead of having a regular general meeting on December 18th, we would host the Open Street Mapping “meet up” and have this group come to work out in practical terms how they could contribute to the advancement of our project. Our volunteers on the Greenspace Inventory and Mapping Project, Serge Latino and Denys Cooper, will be invited as well. Agreed.
3. New action items
a. Ontario proposal to reduce environmental regulation
Paul reported on a news story which appeared on November 14 about a proposal developed in response to high housing prices, in particular in Toronto, by a committee of Deputy Ministers in the Government of Ontario. Their main proposal is to accelerate residential development approvals by shifting environmental approvals to a “rules based” approach. This essentially assumes that all environmental conditions are being met, unless a complaint or challenge is lodged. This represents a major weakening of the environmental approval process. The Ontario Environmental Commissioner has just issued a damning report regarding the issuance of Overall Benefit Permits, which is the “rule based” approval process for the protection of endangered species which has been found to be largely ineffective. There has been no public consultation on this. The Ottawa Field-Naturalists and Ecology Ottawa have also voiced their concerns about this development. It was agreed that we should write a co-signed letter to the Premier, copy local MPPs, the main thrust of which will be to stop/delay moving ahead with these recommendations; referencing the Environmental Commissioner’s report on how ineffective the rules based approach is in practice; and stating that we support simplification, but with strengthened protections and provision of incentives for green building projects. We would also engage all provincial party candidates on this issue as an electoral issue. We should also try to expand the range of co-signers beyond GA, Ecology Ottawa and OFNC, although time is of the essence. Action: Paul to reach out to other organizations to coordinate our response.
b. Area 2 public meeting, December 12th
There will be a public meeting on December 12th at which Richcraft will present its plans for the development of the Kanata Highlands Urban Expansion Area (Area 2). The land being considered is located West of Terry Fox Dr, following along Carp River and towards Huntmar Dr. Our view is that this area should not be considered for development. City of Ottawa staff also considers it to have zero developable area. Action: Paul will attend the public meeting.
c. South Nepean Hydro station and transmission line
Paul reported that Ecology Ottawa asked us to comment on development plans for a new hydro station and the doubling for an existing hydro corridor to better serve Barrhaven. It is not immediately clear if this project would have any impact on greenspace. Action: We will add it to our list of projects to be monitored.
d. Kanata West/Poole Creek subdivision
Paul reported on two development items from the far west end. A controversial Zoning Bylaw Amendment for a 945 unit subdivision at 1620 and 1636 Maple Grove Road was approved by Planning Committee on October 24. This marked the end of a long and messy process, having started over 10 years ago. Public comments were obtained for the initial application in 2004, but there has been no public consultation and a very opaque process since then. Poole Creek and the Carp River, with associated greenspace, pass through or abut onto this 46 hectare parcel. Further west, in old Stittsville, a townhouse project and 189 unit retirement home is planned on Wildpine Court, on greenspace adjacent to Poole Creek and the Stittsville Wetlands. We have local observers keeping an eye on both these developments, with a view to protecting and preserving greenspace.
e. City of Ottawa Renewable Energy Strategy
Funding for the city’s renewable energy strategy, called Energy Evolution, is included in the 2018 budget. We have been asked by local activists to support their representations for increased funding for this item as the City has only achieved about 50% of what was intended to be achieved by now. We agreed that this is a file that we would not lead on but that we could support positions taken by other organizations more directly engaged in energy and climate change work.
f. Bowesvillle LRT station location
We have learned that the location of the planned Bowesville LRT station has been shifted in such a way as to preserve more greenspace. Action: We will ask our local observers in the area to validate this.
g. NCC Workshop Nov 30th 9-12
The workshop will be on The NCC’s sustainable development strategy. Action: Donna and Kate will attend and report.
4. Report on previous action items
a. Goulbourn wetlands boundary
The consultants’ report re-delineating the wetland boundary has been made available to us. Paul reached out again to Shad Quadri but there has been no response. (Post-meeting note: A response has since been received, essentially passing the file off to Scott Moffatt, in whose ward the Goulbourn wetlands are mostly found. Councillor Moffatt has indicated that he had nothing to add beyond what we already know from City staff.)
b. Moodie Drive LRT Phase 2 extension
We exchanged information with Donna and Kate on the topic of the location of the Moodie Drive station. Donna reported that the OCWC has submitted a detailed response to the city planner, Chris Swail, outlining areas that should be left untouched and requested the GA’s support for their position. She also updated us on plans for restoring wetlands south of the old Nortel building on Moodie Drive. Action: Paul to prepare a GA submission in support of the OCWC’s position.
c. KNL stormwater management options
As discussed during last month’s meeting, we will produce an open letter stating our position that any storm water management solution adopted must preserve the remaining woodlands on the property. It was agreed that it would be desirable to have other groups co-sign this letter to improve our chances of making an impact. It was also agreed that we should try to find out what the proponent’s timeframes are for moving ahead on this issue. Erwin suggested that we get in touch directly with their point man, Jack Stirling, with whom we established some communication last spring. It was also suggested that the NCC might have an idea of what the timeframes are. Action: Paul to contact Jack Stirling and the NCC to gather information on timeframes, finalize the letter and seek out co-signers.
d. Gatineau Park Master Plan renewal public consultation, November 1st
Nicole attended, reporting that people in this focus group were mostly in agreement with the conservationist view of the Park’s future, restricting tourism and activity to the southern section and protecting the vast northern reaches of the Park. .
e. Shirley’s Brook and Watts Creek floodplain mapping, October 25th
Paul and Erwin attended the open house. The KNL move is timely since the floodplain maps are now finalized.
f. City of Ottawa Budget Consultation
g. Shea Woods acquisition
We sent a letter of support to the Planning Committee.
h. Beyond 2036 Sounding Board
Paul attended the first meeting on October 26th. The idea behind the sounding board is to provide the context and set-up for the next planning round. They would like to move away from a forecasting planning approach, and instead build scenarios. The next meeting is on January 10th. Action: Paul will circulate the link from the city.
i. 2018 municipal election
We have put out a call for volunteers to conduct research in our own archives regarding the approaches taken in the last four municipal elections and developing ideas for a strategy for the 2018 election.
j. Meeting with City officials, November 21st
Paul reported that Stephen Willis was not able to attend the meeting as he was held up in the budget meeting of the Environment and Climate Change Committee, which ran many hours over its scheduled time. Paul and Erwin instead had a 30 minute meeting with John Smit, Director of Economic Development and Long Range Planning and Charmaine Forgie, Manager, Business Support Services. Mr. Willis’s office indicated they would rebook the meeting.
a. Invitation to speak at Synapcity event, November 29th
Synapcity will be organizing a civics boot camp, the aim of which is to educate people on civics by allowing them to work together on issues and to see things from a different point of view. Paul has been invited to sit on a panel. Action: Paul will attend.
6. Information items
a. CNL revisions to class of nuclear waste to be stored at Chalk River
CNL has revised its plan, stating that only lower level waste will be stored at Chalk River. They seem to have reacted to the public pressure.
b. OFNC report on Whitefish Lake acquisition
The OFNC is considering contributing to a land acquisition by the Nature Conservancy of Canada on Whitefish Lake.
c. Storm water facility tour, October 28th
Van attended, reporting that it was an interesting tour. She has sent a written report.
d. OBEC Workshop, October 28th
Erwin attended, reporting on some information that was presented, including a report about herbicides being linked to a collapse in certain insect populations, with devastating effects up the food chain. Action: Erwin will publish & post a link to OBEC when the material is posted there.
e. Nicole’s report on protection of wetlands under Quebec jurisdiction
This item was deferred to a future meeting.
The meeting adjourned at 9:40pm.