Letter to Ministry of Municipal Affairs + Housing re: Official Plan

Letter to Ministry of Municipal Affairs + Housing re: Official Plan
Posted on January 26, 2014 | Greenspace Alliance of Canada's Capital | Written on January 26, 2014


Greenspace Alliance of Canada's Capital

Author's Note:

Author's Note:

On Christmas Eve, reportedly literally wrapped as a Christmas present, the City delivered to the Ministry of Affairs and Housing what Council had approved on November 26 and confirmed in a by-law on December 11, 2013 - henceforth to be known as OPA 150.  The Ministry now has 180 days to give Notice of any "Ministerial Modifications" it sees fit.  It is quite likely that it will take only about half that time. A Notice was also posted on the Environmental Bill of Rights web site, inviting the public to provide the Ministry with comments on this Comprehensive Amendment -- "before February 9."  If you want to be notified of the Ministry's conclusions, you need to ask them as well.  The contact is Andrea.Gummo@ontario.ca.

Today, the Greenspace Alliance wrote to the Ministry, asking to be notified and drawing attention to two concerns:

  • the last-minute deal with Thomas Cavanagh Construction Ltd., allowing two more country lot subdivisions; and
  • the way the results of the City's natural linkages analysis have been implemented in OPA 150.

A media release was issued as well.

The letter follows...

Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing
Eastern Municipal Services Office
Rockwood House
8 Estate Lane
Kinsgston, Ontario K7M 9A8

Attention: Andrea Gummo

Re: Your file # 06-OP-131492

Dear Ms. Gummo,

Further to the City of Ottawa's Notice of Adoption of Comprehensive Amendment No. 150 to the City's Official Plan, we hereby request to be notified of the Ministry's decision regarding this matter. Please write to the E-mail address above.

As well, we wish to draw your attention to two aspects of the Comprehensive Amendment that are of concern to us.

  1. We believe that the last-minute concession to Thomas Cavanagh Construction Limited, inserted in policy 8 of section 3.7.2, is without merit. As explained by legal counsel at the November 26 meeting of Council, this concession would result in Cavanagh withdrawing its pending appeal of the 5-year Moratorium on country lot subdivisions approved by Council in June 2009.

As you may know, Cavanagh obtained Leave to Appeal the OMB decision that upheld the moratorium. Details, including the Reasons for Decision by Annis J., are available on our web site at http://www.greenspace-alliance.ca/node/541.

Should the trial proceed and the City win its case, then this last-minute deal was unnecessary. Should the City lose, then the result should be without import since the moratorium would expire in June 2014 anyway. In fact, we would expect the City to argue in court that, for all practical purposes, the case is now moot.

The Alliance has consistently advocated and supported the end of rural development in the form of country lot subdivisions. These particular concessions are especially regrettable as the lands involved contain many natural heritage features and have recreational value as well. Further details, including Natural Heritage System maps of the parcels involved, can be found on our web site at http://www.greenspace-alliance.ca/node/622.

We also note that, at Council on November 26, several Councillors dissented from this last-minute amendment to policy 8.

In conclusion, we suggest that policy 8(b) of section 3.7.2 be deleted.

2. While we commend the City for its work on natural linkages (eco-corridors; please refer to http://www.greenspace-alliance.ca/panel which includes a link to the City's study), we believe that its implementation in this Official Plan Amendment falls short of what MNR's Natural Heritage Reference Manual (2nd. edition, 2010) advises, in particular in sections 3 (Natural Heritage Systems) and 12 (How To Protect: Municipal Planning Techniques and Tools).

The City's analysis identified 1-km wide corridors, based on a sophisticated least-cost analysis for movement of plants and animals. However, these corridors were then not transposed on the natural heritage system maps (the Schedules L1, L2 and L3). Instead, the Schedules were only amended to show woodlands or floodplains that are found within those corridors. As a result, the corridors -- and the natural linkage functions they represent -- are not visible and are not as such assisting the development review process.

Given that the Natural Heritage System components on Schedules L only serve as a trigger for the requirement of an environmental impact statement if any development in or near them is proposed, we believe that the corridors themselves should be identified as such a trigger and should be so marked on the Schedules.

We would appreciate acknowledgement of receipt of this letter and will be pleased to discuss our objections with you further or otherwise look forward to your Notice.

Erwin Dreessen, Co-Chair

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The Greenspace Alliance works to preserve green spaces in the National Capital area. Concerned residents formed the Alliance in October 1997. Our primary aim is to conserve public and private green space. This... More