General meeting – September 21 2020


Greenspace Watch

General Meeting


September 21, 2020

On-line meeting.

Members present: Paul Johanis (chair), Nicole DesRoches, Jason Kania., Daniel Buckles, David McNicoll, Erwin Dreessen, Janice Seline, Iola Price

The meeting commenced at 7:00 pm.

  1.  Adoption of the agenda

The proposed agenda was agreed upon, with the addition of item 2c Healthy Transportation Coalition endorsement, 3f Ville de Gatineau official plan and 3g, Plan directeur, Parc de la Gatineau, moved by Nicole, seconded by Jason.

  1. Administrative items

a. Minutes of the July 20, 2020 meeting (for approval)

Moved by Daniel, seconded by David. Carried.

 b. FCA membership

The GA’s membership with the FCA is up for renewal (the FCA is also a member of the GA in a cross-membership arrangement). Our interactions and collaboration with the FCA has deepened over the last year, to our mutual benefit. Paul noted that he was invited, and has accepted to join the Board of the FCA as a Director at large. The renewal fee is $35. Moved by Janice, seconded by Jason. Carried.

Paul also reported that, at its recent AGM, the FCA conferred a Lifetime Achievement Award to Erwin Dreessen, past chair and co-founder of the GA. All members present heartily approved this well-deserved honour.

c. Healthy Transportation Coalition endorsement

The Healthy Transportation Coalition, which is a member of GA, has prepared a letter to the Mayor and Council in the context of the 2021 Budget advocating for more funding for affordable housing on city owned lands in close proximity to planned LRT stations. It has secured the endorsement of many environmental and social equity groups. It is asking the GA to add its name as co-signatory.  There was broad consensus of support of this request.

Action: Paul to inform the HTC that it can add the GA as co-signatory.

3. Policy instruments

a. Paper on the preservation of greenspace in the context of 15 minute neighbourhoods

As part of the continuation of the Peoples’ Official Plan process funded by an Ottawa Community Foundation grant, POP members have committed to prepare position papers on the City’s Five Big Moves ahead of the release of the draft Official Plan expected at the end of November. These short papers are expected to deepen the analysis and sharpen the “asks” in each of the five areas taking into account what we have learned since last December when the draft Strategic Directions were published. The Greenspace Alliance has committed to write a paper on the Growth Management big move. It is anticipated that one of the City’s main strategies for achieving its intensification targets will be the regeneration of inner urban areas as 15 minute neighbourhoods. The paper will a focus on greenspace protection in the context of 15 minute neighbourhoods.

Paul asked members for ideas on what the paper should cover. Suggestions included community gardens, distinction between greenspace and trees on public and private lands; reclaiming public lands for public uses; communal or coop land tenure; reworking of roads: intersection design, roadworks, to incorporate trees and greenspace; harvesting ideas on this issue from papers produced for the November 2019 POP workshop (on A draft will be circulated in late October with a target to deliver it to the POP team by October 31.

Action: Paul to circulate a draft for comment.

b. Plans for a workshop on 15 minute neighbourhoods

Also as part of the OCF funded extension of POP, a virtual workshop is planned in late November on the theme of 15 minute neighbourhoods, with a goal of popularizing the idea as a green, climate smart approach to growth, adapting it to the unique characteristics of neighbourhoods and generating content and momentum for the public consultation on the draft OP in the new year. The GA is expected to play a role in supplying content for the workshop and helping with its organization and conduct.

c. Ambassadors meetings, July 27, September 2

Paul attended the Ambassadors virtual meeting on July 27 and both Paul and Daniel attended the one of September 2 (this is the City’s social equity and inclusion lens consultation group). Paul reported that the online format provided a better forum for all participants to speak and have their views heard distinctly in comparison to the in person meetings he previously attended. The theme of the July 27 meeting was the 15 minute neighbourhood. Alain Miguelez, the lead planner on the OP, gave a presentation on 15 minute neighbourhoods and participants were canvassed on their experience in their current neighbourhoods and what would need to be improved to achieve the goals of a 15 minute neighbourhood. This led to a good exchange with a number of useful insights that would not have surface otherwise. The theme of the September 2 meeting was the Energy Evolution plan and it followed a similar format. The project lead gave a presentation and participants each in turn asked questions and put forward views and opinions from the point of view of the communities they represented.

 d. Planning staff update, September 9

The Planning, Infrastructure and Economic Development department (PIED) held an information session on the status of its work on September 9 organized by the FCA for the benefit of Community Associations. It covered the full scope of PIED’s work, including its role in responding to the COVID 19 emergency. Stephen Willis, GM of PIED hosted the meeting and gave an introductory presentation. Alain Miguelez gave an extensive presentation on the new OP, and in particular on the new concept of Transects (labelled contexts in early 2019 discussion papers). High level zones called transects will divide the city in concentric areas starting from the downtown, though to inner urban, outer urban, greenbelt, suburban and rural transects. These will be the highest level geography of the OP and policies in subordinate levels will be tailored to the characteristics of each, including a new Zoning Bylaw. Although not unanticipated – the concept was included in early discussion papers – this is a major departure from the structure of the current OP and will require extensive consultation and development. The full public engagement resources of the City will focus on transects in the November-December timeframe, and further consultation and refinement will occur in Q1 2021.

 e. Supreme Court decision on Ontario’s anti-SLAPP legislation

Erwin requested that for the record we note a recent Supreme Court of Canada decision regarding the application of Ontario’s anti-SLAPP legislation (Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation). The Supreme Court described SLAPPs as follows: “lawsuits initiated against individuals or organizations that speak out or take a position on an issue of public interest. SLAPPs are generally initiated by plaintiffs who engage the court process and use litigation not as a direct tool to vindicate a bona fide claim, but as an indirect tool to limit the expression of others. In a SLAPP, the claim is merely a façade for the plaintiff, who is in fact manipulating the judicial system in order to limit the effectiveness of the opposing party’s speech and deter that party, or other potential interested parties, from participating in public affairs.” In our context, this could apply to a situation in which a developer might sue the Greenspace Alliance for defamation because of negative statements made regarding a development application. The legislation provides for a quick and simplified means of having such lawsuits dismissed if they are found to be “strategic” ie. meant to delay or supress legitimate expression in the public interest. The ruling upholds this part of the legislation and provides guidance on how to apply this provision on practice.

f. Ville de Gatineau, plan d’urbanisme

Nicole gave a brief update on the current consultations and process for reviewing the Plan d’urbanisme de la Ville de Gatineau. This plan is reviewed periodically to ensure concordance with the Schema d’aménagement (2015), which is the long term equivalent to the Official Plan, running out to 2051. More information here.

g. Parc de la Gatineau, plan directeur

Nicole reported on the end of the public consultations, the last phase ending on September 20,  on the review of Gatineau Park Master Plan. A final version of the plan, last revised in 2005, will be submitted to the NCC Board in January 2021.  More information here.          

  1. Threats

a. Rural Greenspace

b. Major urban greenspace

i. Chaudiere Islands development application

Zibi development have submitted a planning application to increase the height of one of the residential structures planned for the new complex on the Chaudière Islands. The overall site plan continues to evolve. The GA submitted comments on the application.      

c. Other greenspace

i. Old Ottawa East tree removal lawsuit

In accordance with our discussion at the July meeting, the GA provided some assistance to a resident who is suing a developer for damages as a result of the destruction of a distinctive tree on their property. The defendants have deployed more delaying tactics.

ii. Manor Park redevelopment plan

Janice alerted us to a proposal by the owner of the large rowhouse residential complex in Manor Park for a major redevelopment that could have far reaching impact on greenspace and affordability. The proposal is being described as moving towards the 15 minute neighbourhood concept. To be followed closely.


The Meeting adjourned at 8:45 p.m.