General Meeting – October 19, 2020


Greenspace Watch

General Meeting


October 19, 2020

On-line meeting.

Members present: Paul Johanis (chair), Nicole DesRoches, Robb Barnes, David McNicoll, Erwin Dreessen, Iola Price, J.P Unger

The meeting commenced at 7:00 pm.

  1. Adoption of the agenda

The proposed agenda was agreed upon, with the addition of item 4a) iii, Small Modular Reactors, moved by Iola, seconded by Nicole.

  1. Administrative items

a. Minutes of the September 21, 2020 meeting (for approval)

Moved by Nicole, seconded by Iola. Carried.

b. Annual filing, Corporations Canada

The GA’s annual filing with Industry Canada is now due. This action maintains our status as an active not for profit corporation. Corporate information, such as Board membership must also be updated. The online fee is $20. Moved by Erwin, seconded by Paul. Carried.

Action: Paul to register and pay online now and subsequently seek reimbursement from the GA.

 c. Association updates

FCA: Paul reported on newly initiated discussions to raise the profile of environmental issues in the FCA’s routine operations, and reported on the FCA’s Planning and Zoning Committee of October 14. This included a very interesting presentation on 15 Minute Neighbourhoods by Walkable Ottawa, an initiative of architect Rosaline Hill; Paul reported participating on a panel on environmental issues organized by Randy Boswell at Carleton University’s School of Journalism on October 13. This provides exposure to journalism students and an avenue for having stories published in Capital Currents, the School’s online publication; Ecology Ottawa: Robb gave an update on the Youth Climate Ambassador 2.0 program, in which the GA will again participate.          

  1. Policy instruments

a. City OP Ambassadors meeting, September 22

The City’s Public Engagement team organized another session to sound out the equity and inclusion groups on aspects of the new OP, this time the Transportation Master Plan.  The engagement website for the TMP will be launched on October 23. Robert Grimwood, the project lead, gave the presentation  and took many questions. This topic was close to the concerns of participants and they raised many thoughtful issues and suggestions. The impact of the pandemic on transportation patterns is of particular concern. An immediate impact has been the postponement of the Origin and Destination Survey by one year, now scheduled for fall 2021. This will delay the TMP by another year, likely to 2023. Concerns we brought up include the lack of a common definition for a neighbourhood, the exclusive focus on commuting for employment purposes to the exclusion of destinations like shopping and other activities of daily living and distance and ease of travel to greenspace as a TMP issue. These issues fall out from a seeming lack of recognition in the TMP of the changes on transportation patterns that would be brought about by the successful implementation of the 15 minute neighbourhood as a growth management strategy.

b. Official Plan update. FCA/GOHBA stakeholders group, September 24

The City organized another briefing session for this group on September 24, in which the GA participated. A lot of new information was shared in a presentation regarding the structure and concepts of the new Official Plan. A significant new concept is the “transect”, which was called “context” in earlier documents. These represent large areas of the city that share similar characteristics: downtown, inner urban, outer urban, Greenbelt and suburban. Policies would be adapted to the characteristics of each of these transects. Paul led a discussion with members on this issue and a number of points were raised by members. An interesting one as yet unanswered is how heritage districts and other heritage designations are represented in this new structure. A suggestion was made that some kind of illustrated mapping, showing the boundaries of the transects and the built forms that could be expected in each, would be a useful communication tool.

c. Tree Action Now report

The GA has contributed to a report prepared by CAFES on the current priorities regarding tree protection and conservation in Ottawa. It outlines positions and actions to be taken in regard to the many City policies and processes involved. The report has been widely distributed among stakeholders and should guide our advocacy.

d. POP update, timelines

The Peoples’ Official Plan process carries on in a slightly altered configuration, with Ecology Ottawa now playing more of a coordinating role than before. Policy papers are being drafted in relation to the five Big Moves in anticipation of the draft OP. The GA has prepared a paper on the Growth Management Big Move. A virtual workshop is now planned for Saturday, December 12 with a focus on the draft OP and the 15 minute neighbourhood.

e. Energy Evolution report, October 20

The final Energy Evolution report, which outlines the steps and costs for reducing greenhouse gas emissions for Ottawa by 100% by 2050 will be presented to the Environmental Protection, Water and Waste Management Committee on October 20. The culmination of many years work and broad stakeholder participation, this is a key City response to the Climate Emergency it has declared.

f. Algonquins of Ontario/Taggart new southeast suburb proposal

A new <proposal> for a new 35,000 resident suburb in the southeastern part of the City has been announced. Located on 1100 ha near the intersection of Boundary Road and Highway 417, on the urban boundary, it offers a whole new way of accommodating residential growth forecast in the new Official Plan that had not been previously considered. This will surely complicate the City’s decision on which properties to include in the urban expansion it announced in May 2020. This decision is not expected until late 2021.

g. Development Charges Working Group, October 27

The DC Working Group has reconvened under the leadership of John Verbaas of the FCA.

  1. Threats

a. Rural Greenspace

i. Hazeldean Road Municipal Drain maintenance

Reports have been received regarding tree clearing in the vicinity of the Goulbourn PSW along the Trans Canada Trail. Local Stittsville activists are investigating.

ii. Case management conference, Goulbourn PSW appeals, October 27

The Case Management conference regarding the appeals to LPAT in relation to the City’s designation in the OP of the Goulbourn PSW has been scheduled. The GA has standing because of its submissions to Committee and Council on the matter. Paul will participate on behalf of the GA.

iii. Small Modular Reactor development, Chalk River

J.P gave a brief update on the federal government plans to develop SMR’s, with the Chalk River labs being one of the development sites. Members discussed whether our advocacy against the proposed nuclear waste storage facility at the site would carry over to these developments as well. There was broad agreement to continue to stand with local residents against activities that could result in seepage and nuclear contamination of the upper Ottawa watershed.

 b. Major urban greenspace

i. Blair Road Transit Priority Environmental Assessment report

The EA has been completed for the LRT line out to Blair Rd and new planned station. Report <here>.

c. Other greenspace

i. Petrie Island Development application

J.P. briefed members on a development application for two high rise towers in the floodplain of the Ottawa River adjacent to the Petrie Island PSW. All agreed that the GA should submit comments to City staff against this application.

Action: JP to draft comments and circulate. Paul to submit on behalf of the GA.

ii. Distinctive Tree threat, Stittsville

The GA has received an enquiry from a Stittsville resident regarding available protection for distinctive trees under the Tree Protection bylaw. This is another case where a tree on or near a property line is damaged by an adjacent owner who claims a right to cut roots or branches that extend onto their properties. It seems City bylaw officers will not act unless and until the damage is already done. This continues to be a gap in the City’s tree protection regime.

iii. Stonebridge Golf Course City purchase

Recent news reports indicate that residents of Stonebridge in Barrhaven have agreed to a local levy which the City will use to purchase the Stonebridge Golf Course, Mattamy, the current owner, had been planning to close down parts of it for residential development.  This is a win for the residents, who organized and resisted these development plans and wished to preserve the greenspace that the golf course provides for the community.

The Meeting adjourned at 8:50 p.m.