General Meeting – September 25, 2017


Greenspace Watch

General Meeting


September 25, 2017

Hintonburg Community Centre

1064 Wellington Street West

K1Y 2Y3

Members Present: Paul Johanis (chair), Erwin Dreessen, Amy Steele, Bruce Lindsay, Nicole DesRoches,

Guests: Ben Christy (note taker), Van Nguyen, Andrew Calder

Regrets: Jason Kania, Juan Pedro Unger

The meeting commenced at 7:20 pm

1. Adoption of the agenda

A modified agenda was agreed upon.

2. Administrative items

a. Minutes of the August 28, 2017 meeting: Erwin provided revisions that had not been included in the minutes distributed prior to the meeting. Action: Paul agreed to incorporate these revisions and recirculate the minutes for approval before publishing them as final.

b. Membership report: Bruce reported that he had updated the membership status for Healthy Transportation Coalition. There were several other membership renewals during the month. Erwin, seconded by Bruce, moved to accept the membership of Van Nguyen. Agreed. Bruce, seconded by Nicole, moved to accept the membership of Andrew Calder.  Agreed.

c. Treasurer’s report: A donation was sent to Poet’s Pathway as approved at the last meeting. Membership fees from last month were deposited.

d. Webmaster’s report: Jason gave Paul moderator privileges for the listserver. Erwin commented on some tasks for the website that have been outstanding for a while and expressed the hope that these would be attended to soon.

e. Volunteer report: Erwin commented on the phenomenal work that Van, Claudia and Jenifer have done on the content transfer from our old site; reporting that it is nearly complete. Paul presented Van with the book “Blooms” along with a certificate as a way of thanking her. Paul will arrange for Claudia and Jennifer to obtain their copies.

3. New Action Items

a. Overall Benefit Permit, Regional Group, Kanata Highlands: Regional Group was issued a Overall Benefit Permit by the Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change regarding species at risk for a 9.5-hectare piece of land in Kanata Highlands. Regional Group will be required to undertake a number of actions to mitigate the mortality of the Blanding’s Turtle and Butternut Tree populations found there. Action: Paul to follow up with the developer to get additional information.

b. Goulbourn wetlands boundary updates: Paul reported that the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry (MNRF) provided the results from the Flewellyn Special Study Area to the City on July 31, 2017 and has started to notify landowners. The study required the remapping of boundaries for the Goulbourn Wetland Complex, a provincially significant wetland southwest of Stittsville. Rather than immediately confirming the new boundaries via an Official Plan Amendment, the City of Ottawa has decided to allow property owners to conduct, at their own expense, a re-evaluation of the boundaries during the next growing season in 2018. There are reports that landowners are starting to fill in parts of the wetlands on their properties to physically alter boundaries before that time. Ken McCrae will be attending the Rideau Valley Conservation Authority meeting on September 28 to ask them to take action to prevent this while Paul has requested a meeting with City Councillor, Shad Quadri to propose that an interim control bylaw be passed during this period. Action: Paul to follow up on meeting with Shad Qadri.

c. Invitation to speak at Ottawa Biosphere Eco-City (OBEC) workshop, October 28th: Paul will accept the invitation and offer to give a presentation on the work of the Greenspace Alliance.

d. Kanata LRT extension Public Consultation Group, September 21: Paul was unable to attend; however, he spoke with an organizer who will send Paul the minutes of the proceedings and the presentation slides used.

e. Signing on to letter to the PM re: Chalk River nuclear waste disposal site: As agreed through email exchanges during the month, we, along with 35 other co-signatories, have signed on to a letter to the Prime Minister sent by Gordon Edwards, President of the Canadian Coalition for Nuclear Responsibility. It calls upon the federal government to suspend the work on the nuclear waste disposal site at Chalk River and to develop a policy on the storage of non-fuel nuclear waste, which is a gap in the current policy framework. We posted the letter to our Facebook page. It has generated over 1700 views regarding this topic. It is also posted to the web site.

f. FCA General Meeting, September 20th: Bruce attended, reporting that some issues were discussed which are relevant to GA including GA-FCA working group report on the site alteration by-law, which was generally supported, and the Chalk River nuclear waste disposal facility issue, on which no position was taken at the meeting.

g. Heritage Tree Event, Champlain Oaks, September 27th: Forests Ontario has selected four Bur Oak Trees in the Champlain Park neighbourhood, along the Ottawa River Parkway, for recognition as heritage trees. We were invited to say a few words at the event. Action: Paul and Erwin will attend.

h. 2018 Municipal Election: Amy commented two groups who are advocating in favor of changes to the municipal electoral system, as now permitted by the Ontario government and asked whether the GA should take a position on it. After discussion, it was concluded that it was not clear whether proportional or ranked choice approaches would necessarily result in a more environmentally aware city council and, that in any event, the election date was too close for the City of Ottawa to make changes on voting procedure for this round. However, it was agreed that we should still prepare for the upcoming election in November 2018. It was suggested that we draw from our past experiences and reports documented in the Archives section of our website and that this might be an interesting project for political science students. Action: Paul will look for students through our volunteer network.

4. Report on previous action items

a. Leitrim Road Realignment and Widening Environmental Assessment Public Consultation: Paul attended the meeting on September 13th. Paul reported that this environmental assessment is being undertaken now even though no work is likely to start until after 2031. The widening is proposed in response to projected population growth in the south-east suburbs while the realignment takes into account the Ottawa Airport’s long-term plan, which includes building a new runway at the southern end of the airport land. Eleven alternative routes were evaluated through a number of criteria. In the end, four options were retained. Options 1, 7 and 9, which all had the road crossing the Greenbelt twice, with minor variations, and option 11, which the NCC asked to be included in the assessment. This latter option crosses the Greenbelt once only and follows its southern edge. The consultants opted for option 7. After discussion, the GA favoured option 11 and feels that its lower ranking by the consultants is weakly supported. Leitrim Rd goes through the narrowest stretch of the Greenbelt and the realignment should be seen as an opportunity to reduce fragmentation and improve the vitality of this weak spot in the Greenbelt. Action: Paul to follow up with the City to indicate our preference and seek to establish dialogue with the NCC and the Airport Authority on the issue.

b. New application for Permit to take water, Leitrim Pond: Paul wrote directly to the officer responsible for permits to take water for the eastern region of the Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change to request that this permit not be given and that instead the request be combined with a permit previously granted in the area and be subject to the same reporting conditions. We have not received any acknowledgement.

c. OP amendment and zoning bylaw change re: Central Experimental Farm: The Greenspace Alliance submitted comments to the City on this proposal jointly with its partners in the Coalition to Protect the Farm. We generally support the rezoning, with some adjustments to the boundaries where 30m building height will be permitted and attention paid to the transitional areas to greenspace on the Farm beyond. We don’t want any obstacles to derail the choice of this site for the new hospital as we believe that proponents of the earlier selected site, right in the heart of the Farm, are still interested and active in reversing this decision. We will continue to work to protect the farm.

d. Widening of Old Richmond Road: Paul showed a presentation which explained some of the plans proposed for this project. In general, the City has been responsive to the requirements laid down by the NCC for building this widened road through the Greenbelt. The design minimizes wetland loss. What loss there is will be compensated for through wetland enlargement/improvement elsewhere in the Greenbelt. Measures to mitigate loss and preserve habitat for Species at Risk seem appropriate, although field work continues. The next steps are NCC approval and then the obtaining of the appropriate permits. There will likely be public information and review of the project through these processes.

e. Reactivation of Rochester Field appeal: In the 2003 Official Plan, the City of Ottawa designated Rochester Field, part of the meadow west of McCarthy Woods and the Merivale-Woodroffe corridor as Open Space. These designations were appealed by the NCC, which owns these lands, so as to preserve their potential for development. At the time, the Greenspace Alliance sought and obtained party status in the appeal, favouring the City’s position. Mediation was conducted and then suspended indefinitely in 2008. Now, with the agreement between the City and the NCC for the western extension of the LRT to run along the parkway to the north of Rochester Field and the NCC’s plans to develop a linear park all along the shore of the Ottawa River, conditions are in place to deal with the zoning of Rochester Field and resolve that part of the appeal. The City is therefore putting forth an Official Plan and zoning bylaw amendment, in agreement with the NCC, that would see two thirds of Rochester Field kept as greenspace, and one third to be zoned for development. The NCC plans to develop and maintain ownership of the property, and operate it as a source of revenue. Since the NCC and the City of Ottawa have a deal regarding these lands, we have little leverage. However, we would support it if the appeal for McCarthy Woods meadow is dropped and if the greenspace loss at Rochester Field is compensated elsewhere on NCC land.

f. FCA governance committee: Erwin gave a brief report on the FCA Governance Committee meeting with the City on September 22nd. The various efforts to improve the measures used by the City to engage the public have not been followed up or led to much improvement. However, it was confirmed that all planning staff is now expected to prepare an As We Heard It report for every public consultation. An event planned for October 17 might be a new beginning under the new General Manager for Planning, Stephen Willis. (See Upcoming below for more details.)

g. Site alteration bylaw: Erwin has submitted the comments of the joint GA-FCA working group on the site alteration bylaw. It was agreed that when this issue is taken up by committee and council, the GA and FCA would each make representations on their own behalf.

5. Upcoming 

a. Eco-fest, October 12th: We confirmed with Ecology Ottawa that there will be an opportunity for GA to have a table at the event. Action: Paul will attend.

b. Shirley’s Brook and Watts Creek floodplain mapping, October 25th: This has relevance to the KNL storm water issue.

c. Building Better Connections, October 17th: The City of Ottawa will be hosting a Building Better Connections panel at the NAC. The guest speakers will include Benjamin Gianni, former Director of the School of Architecture at Carleton University, Planning Committee chair Jan Harder, Synapcity, and Stephen Willis, General Manager of the City of Ottawa’s Planning, Infrastructure and Economic Development Department. Mr. Willis is also planning to do five road shows this fall, where he will discuss planning and public engagement.

The meeting adjourned at 9:30 pm.

The next meeting will be on October 23, at 7:15