Regional Councillor, Wendy Stewart, submitted a report on the following:
Andrei Grushman presented for information purposes the details on their association's opposition to the Tubman's proposal for a funeral home on the Fine's Flowers site. bjections to the site, include concerns regarding inconsistency with the day-to-da y needs of the community, parking, traffic and cultural concerns out of respect for the strongly-held religious and spiritual beliefs of 20 to 30 families living near the proposed funeral home. The families live on Crowsnest and Malhotra Court. The core concepts pertain to the relationship between the living and the dead, respect for one's ancestors and the concept of harmony with nature, which includes consideration in the location and design of one's home.
The QRCA had undertaken considerable research into cultural diversity issues related to this issue, prior OMB Hearings, and undertook an extensive survey of the community to poll families on their views on the Tubman's proposal. 70% (100 of 145) of Riverwood families, the section nearest the site, opposed the Tubman's proposal.
Andrei stated that a zoning by-law change occurred last year, prohibiting funeral homes on this site. This change was not appealed at that time.
QRCA after much discussion voted against Tubman's application (7 of 8 voting against the proposal, 1 member abstained,2 were absent). Traffic study performed by Tubman's was very limited, and the proposed introduction of another set of traffic lights could pose problems for traffic flow. Parking will also effect traffic flow. However, of key concern was that social impact study had not occurred and neighbours within the community, because of their spiritual beliefs, would experience significant loss in the enjoyment of their property and many would be seriously considering moving out of the community, if the City were to approve the Tubman's application.
The QRCA is not proposing that citizens should be able to block businesses from coming into their community initiatives, whenever it conflicts with their beliefs or sensitivities. The QRCA has proposed that social impact assessments be made as part of the planning process in order to avoid the difficulties it currently faces. Restrictions exist for a number of businesses, such as adult entertainment parlors, similar restrictions were suggested regarding the location of funeral homes within establishe d communities, with the option of rezoning subject to the results of a social impact study.
City approval is expected and Andrei suspects that an appeal will be made to the OMB. He noted that Ontario Human Rights Act has primacy over the Ontario Planning Act, implying that a human rights case could result.
Discussions after Andrei's departure included recognition of the considerable research undertaken by the QRCA and the dilemma the current planning process has posed for that community. While a quorum was not present, it was agreed that support by the HCCO for the QRCA's resolution was not likely. Consensus existed that the planning and zoning process considers only tangible issues, such as parking and traffic. The view was expressed that Tubman's or it's real estate agent should have been aware of the make-up and sensitivities of the Quinterra-Riverwood, in fairness to the Tubman's organization, cultural sensitivities of residents already living within a community are not grounds permitted under the Ontario Planning Act to dismiss a rezoning application.
It was also recognized that if the City of Ottawa is a truly an inclusive city and supportive of cultural diversity, then our planning process should reflect and be consistent with those goals. Accordingly, support for an amendment of the planning pro cess was more likely, respecting sensitivities of Canadians with a different cultural heritage. This would apply to future cases, and could include such provisions, as proposed by the QRCA, including restrictions on the location of funeral homes, especia lly within established communities, and, under certain circumstances, the requirement to undertake a social impact assessment as a condition to obtain approval for a zoning application.
Brian Gifford presented his letters of thanks, as agreed to in the December meeting. The letters were accepted as drafted. Brian indicated that he would wait for additional comments before releasing them. Fred McLennan suggested that they should go out under HCCO letterhead.
Nancy Seaby provided information on the meeting with the News' Editorial Board. Pat Hitsman is now with the Sun. Comments provided to the News included the observation that there was not enough news/too much advertising in recent paper and that the c overage of the Windmill meeting was somewhat misleading.
Nancy stated that a job offer had been made for a new Director at the Community Centre. No news on an acceptance of the offer.
Fred stated that the bill for the insurance for Owl Rink was in and that there was a bill from the News.
Meeting Adjourned 9:30
Enclosures provided by Andrei included a letter to the Chair of the City of Ottawa's Planning & Economic Development Committee from the QRCA on January 7, 2000; and related documents and maps.
Next meeting: Mon 7 Feb 2000 at 7:30pm