GREENSPACE ALLIANCE OF CANADA’S CAPITAL
July 25, 2016
Hintonburg Community Centre
1064 Wellington Street West
Members present: Nicole DesRoches (chair), Erwin Dreessen (notetaker), Amy Steele, Bruce Lindsay, Paul Johanis, Jason Kania, David McNicoll, Iola Price, Lorne Peterson, Ian Whyte
Guests: John McDonnell, Fenja Brodo, Kat Kavanagh, Jordon Ross
Regrets: Juan Pedro Unger, Elise Saint-Martin
The meeting commenced at 7:15 p.m.
1. Adoption of the Agenda
A modified agenda was agreed upon.
2. Administrative items
a. CPAWS’ letter of May 9 v. our letter of Jan 26 re Chaudière Islands: John apologized to the Alliance and the OFNC for letting the May 9 letter be sent out before briefing us. He asserted that signing the letter was discussed with the OV Board but that later it was felt that CPAWS had little to contribute to this ‘urban’ issue because its focus is on wilderness areas. Several members commented for the OV Board’s consideration that issues cannot be so compartmentalized.
Iola moved, seconded by Paul, that CPAWS-OV’s apology be accepted and both groups move forward in a productive way. A request to split the motion was not pursued. A vote was held, with 5 in favour, 3 against, and 2 abstentions.
b. Draft Minutes of the AGM of May 30, 2016: Erwin moved, seconded by Bruce, that the draft Minutes be accepted for distribution. Agreed.
c. Translation of the 2015-16 Annual Report: Action: Nicole will undertake to do this.
d. Minutes of the General Meeting of May 30, 2016: Erwin moved, seconded by Iola, to approve these Minutes. Agreed.
e. Membership report: Bruce reported that most of last year’s members have now renewed.
f. Treasurer’s report: Erwin moved, seconded by Bruce, that he be compensated for payment of the room rental through May 2017 ($151.80), Corporate filing with Industry Canada ($20.00) and various printing and supplies bills ($41.60), for a total of $213.40. Agreed.
g. Meeting dates: The next monthly meeting dates are 22 August, 26 September, 24 October, 28 November, 19 December, 23 January 2017, 27 February, 27 March, 24 April, and 29 May (AGM).
3. Demo of Water Rangers app
Kat is Executive Director of a small not-for-profit corporation, Water Rangers, that grew out of Ottawa Riverkeeper’s Aqua Hacking conference in 2015; her team won the competition. The site was officially launched in June 2016. A grant from the Trillium Foundation is specifically geared towards the Ottawa Valley.
The software allows entering observations from specific locations, including Ph, clarity, hardness and alkalinity. Phosphorus, nitrogen, Ecoli, salinity are add-ons — they require lab analysis. Wildlife observations and photos can be uploaded as well. Data from Ottawa Riverkeeper, Rideau Valley and Mississippi Valley Conservation Authorities, and the City of Ottawa have been uploaded.
The key intent is to keep it simple, otherwise it discourages the average user. Deeper layers, including science-based ‘safe’ limits, can be built in. An option is to report on Issues, which can then be tracked until resolution. Groups can have their own profile, under which its members file their observations.
Software development costs for any add-ons would be minimal but test kits could be a significant budget item in a grant application.
4. Celebrating 2017
We discussed the Shoreline Neighbours option. The City’s 2017 grants are geared towards “events.” One such event could be the launch of a project in a particular part of the Ottawa River shoreline, supported by the local community association and Councillor, in partnership with Ottawa Riverkeeper and possibly Ottawa Field-Naturalists Club. Focus could be water quality, restoration or access. This would be step one in a project that eventually could encompass the 100 km shoreline; an application under the Community Environmental Project Grant Program (CEPGP) for further steps in the project could be made for a January 2017 deadline.
Actions: Amy will check with the Champlain Park CA about restoring the former beach there. Nicole will confer with John Almstedt on other suitable options for an “event” and prepare a “non-specific 2017 event” grant application for the City’s Civic Events Fund (September 15 deadline).
5. Kanata North
Erwin explained that of the three grounds we raised in our submission, two could serve as grounds of appeal of the OPA passed by Council on July 13: prematurity of the Amendment and the removal of woodlot S20 from Schedule L3 (Natural Heritage System). An additional potential ground for appeal is that the consultation report and the summary of submissions fall short of what new section 17(23.1) of the Planning Act (part of Bill 73, now in force) requires. The location of Stormwater Pond #3 in the rural area is not dealt with in the Amendment.
Erwin, seconded by Jason, moved that we prepare for the eventuality of an appeal of the Official Plan Amendment. Agreed. We now await receipt of the official Notice before determining next steps.
6. New issues
a. OMB reform: Action: Erwin will prepare a response for this round, based on our earlier submissions and possible additional points such as deadlines for response to Motions that are a challenge for volunteer groups or citizens. The points will be framed as responses to the six questions the Ministry has asked in this round.
b. EBR review: The discussion guide for this review poses eight questions. There is also a report from the Environmental Commissioner of Ontario (“EBR Performance Checkup”). The deadline is November 8. Ian and Ken Buchan are preparing comments which they will share. Action was deferred.
c. NCC’s Plan for Canada’s Capital: The draft plan is now available and the NCC invites comments. Action: Nicole will look over the draft and advise if comments are warranted.
d. Letter to Steve Kanellakos: Ecology Ottawa’s suggestion to write to the new City manager to ensure that environmental priorities are not forgotten was positively received, with the suggestion that the objective of the letter should be to ask for a meeting. It was suggested that besides Ecology Ottawa and the Alliance, FCA and OFNC should be asked to co-sign. Action: Erwin will follow up.
e. New media: Erwin encountered Thierry Harris who has launched a new web-based news site, CRDO (Citizens for Responsible Development Ottawa) and expects to arrange a meeting with him. Bruce and Iola expressed interest in attending this meeting. Action: Erwin to follow up.
7. Action updates
a. Riverside South woodlots and land acquisition policy project: The imminent loss of almost all of two woodlots in Riverside South (UNA 99 and 100) is a direct result of Legal Services’ insistence that the post-OPA76 policy on natural heritage lands cannot be applied retroactively. In the newer urban expansion areas confirmed natural heritage land must be conveyed to the City. Whether the City can at any time and anywhere freeze natural heritage land (as a Superior Court decision confirmed on Appeal seems to imply) is the question put to law school students recently. However, the project fell through. The question will be re-posted for the Fall semester, hopefully as a Student Internship under the supervision of a faculty member.
b. Site alteration by-law: The City has distributed a thin discussion paper. An Appendix provided links to site alteration by-laws in 20 other Ontario municipalities. The GA-FCA committee is examining these to answer at least two questions: Are there any municipalities that do not use a permit system? And how many include removal of vegetation among regulated or prohibited activities? Action: Erwin to write to Amy McPherson by the August 5 deadline.
c. Conservation Authorities Act review: In a second round, the Ministry asks for feedback on five priorities. Based on our submission of last October, responses are relatively straightforward. Action: Erwin to respond by the September 9 deadline.
d. Eastern Ontario land use plan: Following the discussion that took place on June 10 at the West End Well, a follow-up meeting was attended by Bruce, Erwin, Judy Makin, Gary Sealy (FCA) and Brian Roadhouse (CPAWS-OV). A further meeting will take place on August 29 to which a few other people will be invited. Leslie Adams (co-chair, Ontario Environmental Network) is making inquiries at the Ministry. Further discussion on this topic was deferred to our August or September meeting.
e. Central Experimental Farm: The NCC has promised to consult stakeholders on the criteria for selecting a new hospital site over the Summer. Based on the work Paul did in preparation for the meeting convened by the Agricultural Institute of Canada in April, the Coalition to Protect the Farm is well prepared.
f. Sunset Lakes OMB decision: Councillor Moffatt responded to our call for this Decision to be appealed — ref. GA List posts of June 30 and July 1. His justification for not appealing was illogical. Erwin replied.
g. OPA 150 — the City’s work program: The City distributed a memo on June 20 (tabled at Planning Committee on June 28) outlining how it would comply with the OMB’s February 23 Decision on the Walton-Taggart Motion. The Employment Lands study will come to Planning Committee in September. The LEAR review is expected to come to ARAC and Planning Committee in October and November respectively. Results of extending the planning horizon to 2036 are expected to become available by year-end. The outcomes of these three activities will be rolled into a new Official Plan Amendment that, as per OMB direction, will be considered as part of the 2013 Comprehensive OP review and come to Committees and Council in December 2016 or January 2017. That new OPA will have to be approved by the Ministry and will itself be appealable. The memo implies that the next round of Comprehensive Review, which normally would be completed by 2018 or 2019, will be pushed back.
h. Subscriber survey project: Esther Briner has provided a further draft of a survey of GA List subscribers. After a final review, Esther will put this in Survey Monkey format. Action: Erwin will distribute this draft to members of the Board for their final review.
i. OMB decisions project: Three students have been working diligently on analyzing a number of OMB decisions that have involved natural areas in Ottawa. Their report is due soon.
j. Student projects for the Fall semester: So far we have three potential projects: the land acquisition policy issue; public engagement best practices (co-sponsored by FCA); and OMB case law on prematurity.
8. Brief reports
It was agreed to capture brief reports in an Annex to these Minutes.
The meeting adjourned at 9:50 p.m.
The next meeting will be on August 22, 2016 at 7:15 p.m. at the Hintonburg CC.
Annex: Brief reports
a. FCA AGM – June 7: Keynote speaker was new City manager Steve Kanellakos. In his opening remarks he said that “we’re not talking enough about social infrastructure” and “we lost sight of who we’re serving.” In response to a question, he said that “staff have forgotten how energizing it is to engage.” He outlined his three priorities: 1- ensure financial sustainability; 2- break down the silos in City Hall; 3- You can’t have 64 priorities.
Heather Pearl, Don Schultz (our nominee) and Liz Bernstein received FCA, Ottawa Builders and Lifetime Achievement Awards respectively. Paid-up membership was reported to be 43, a record. The Executive will remain largely the same but Bruce has joined its ranks.
b. Meeting with Nick Stow – June 8: Nick updated Erwin about data work by the City. The watercourse layer of geoOttawa is being updated. Unevaluated wetland mapping is expected to be completed by year-end. LIDAR data could generate tree canopy information but this work is not funded. The 2011 and 2014 aerial photographs are being converted to land cover mapping; the work is 3/4 done and will be completed by year-end; faulty Provincial data on unevaluated wetlands caused the delay in processing the 2011 photos. The 2011 Characterization of Ottawa’s Watersheds report is not being updated for now; its data should generally be considered to relate to 2008.
On another note, Nick reminded Erwin of the budget allocations for environmentally sensitive land acquisition: $300,000 in 2016, and $500,000 in 2017. Nick’s frame of reference remains an “Ottawa Conservation and Stewardship Plan” (working title, first presented at an Mississippi Madawaska Land Trust [MMLT] meeting in Carp and later at the October 2015 FCA meeting hosted by the Alliance as well as, in some version, at Planning Committee). This framework is being developed in cooperation with the NCC, the Nature Conservancy, the three Conservation Authorities, the MMLT and Ducks Unlimited.
c. Environment Day on Sparks Street – June 9: Attendance was not great though the weather was good. For next year organizers have been advised to spend much more effort on promotion.
d. Ontario Environmental Network AGM – June 11: A report is available here.
e. Flewellyn Cumulative Effects Study – information meeting, June 20: For an excellent report of this meeting on Stittsville.ca, including Nick Stow’s powerpoint presentation, go here.
f. Peace and Environment Resource Centre AGM – June 21: Several people showed up and volunteered to join the PERC Board, countering dire signals that continuing operation of this venerable group was in peril. New chair is Kristina Inrig, Secretary remains GA List subscriber Adrian Larose and Holly Jones remains its employee.
g. NCENN / Ottawa Insights – June 24: Erwin posted a report to the GA List on July 19. The monthly NCENN meeting (final of the season), which was supposed to be a round-up of activities by various groups, did not happen.
h. NCC Annual Public Meeting – June 27: All but one NCC Board Members attended, including the mayors of Ottawa and Gatineau. Board Chair Russell Mills framed this meeting as part of the Commission’s planning cycle, leading up to a strategic planning retreat in September. CEO Mark Kristmanson provided highlights of the year that was. Next year’s agenda will include a review of the Master Plan for Gatineau Park and a renewed Plan for Canada’s Capital; its call of “17 Big Ideas” resulted in 1200 suggestions which the draft Plan distills into 17 projects; the Plan was to be released on July 7. Six people had signed up to ask a broad range of questions and a seventh was added on the evening; they received perfunctory responses. At each of seven tables, with one or two Board members at each, three top priorities were identified; they again covered a wide range. Amy and I sat at one table and pleaded for 1- unified governance across the Region, starting with public transit; 2- implementing the Greenbelt Master Plan; and 3- building popular support at the neighbourhood level. From her table, Councillor Marianne Wilkinson argued for abandoning the Greenbelt.
i. FCA Governance Committee – June 29: at our third meeting with staff of the City Manager’s office, General Manager Dan Chenier agreed that mistakes were made on the Mooney’s Bay file and that a better process is needed for design/build projects. He also noted that work has begun on the next 10-year Parks plan, with standards developed by year-end and projects identified by the end of 2017. Next, Lee Ann Snedden (Chief, Development Review) explained three initiatives: 1- Client Relationship Leaders — 25 development firms have been matched with a dedicated staff member; this will now be expanded to other firms; 2- 12 staff members have volunteered to serve as community association liaison; the soft launch of this initiative was by way of a meeting with 25 CAs in the Fall; 3- an Employee Engagement Team has been formed to channel feedback from these initiatives, this in response to needs expressed by staff.
In other news, the web tool that will integrate public consultations and development information will be launched in the Fall, in advance of IT’s update of Drupal which has held up implementation to date. At a previous meeting the Governance Committee had given some feedback on the tool; it will most definitely improve information flow about planning matters. At a future meeting we will discuss how the DevApp site could be made more user-friendly and how the files can remain accessible after completion of the development review process.
j. OFNC Conservation Committee meeting – July 21: The Committee identified the three prongs of its work: data collection, action to protect land, and creation of how-to articles and fact sheets for Trail & Landscape and the Club’s blog. Various projects in pursuit of these objectives were discussed.