Shelley Parlow: the Community Association needs more expertise in media relations and there is a course available for $90. Anne Brandel moved we spend $90 to send Shelley on the course on media relations. Seconded by Nancy Seaby. Voted. Passed.
Regional Councillor, Wendy Stewart, to submit a report on the following:
There were over 40 people at the meeting. Most of those present are listed.
Fred McLennan: there is an All Candidates Meeting at the Riverside Drive Churches at 7:30 PM on March 23, 1999.
Andrei Grushman: there is another All Candidates Meeting at the Cognos Building at 7:30 PM on March 9, 1999.
Wendy Stewart: there is a report underway on how well the emergency access road worked when the Tudor Inn caught fire.
Fred McLennan introduced the Mayor Jim Watson.
The Mayor briefly described the state of the City of Ottawa as it applies to the Hunt Club Community: There would be no City Councillor for Hunt Club until the election on April 6, 1999. The City budget is approved, important points:
He noted that the City of Ottawa is $135 million in debt and that $30 million/year goes to reducing the debt, much of the debt is in bonds so it can be retired only according to the schedule. Despite the problem of the debt, the City was able to hire two new Property Standards Officers and added 3% to the purchase-of-service contracts. The Hunt Club /Riverside Community Centre is run through a purchase-of-service contract. Last year the City laid off 150 employees but none this year. The Mayor made the comment that this year, the budget was more stable and next year it should remain so. Compared with other municipalities in Canada, Ottawa has the second highest taxes.
Wendy Stewart gave her report of ten items: the Regional Budget was approved, important points:
Nancy Seaby has been active in the OC Transpo Review. Wendy Stewart encouraged the community to participate in the review.
Brian Gifford took over as chair, he and Kathy Ablett are co-chair of the southern corridor working group. He welcomed the Mayor to the meeting.
Anne Brandel moved that the minutes of the previous meeting be accepted. Seconded by Shelley Parlow.
Brian Gifford proposed that comments to the Mayor be centred around four main questions:
What does the deferral of the planning process mean? Is it simply a courtesy extended to the incoming Councillor, but the plan will proceed as is for Council's approval, or is there a willingness on the part of the City to allow those involved a chance to revisit the plan? In short, is this a stay of execution or a chance to meaningfully amend and improve the neighbourhood plan?
What's Council's awareness of the concerns expressed by our community? And, from the Mayor's perspective, where does Council stand on the merits of the plan or the process followed to date?
What would he suggest that we do to make Council more aware of our concerns and help them to appreciate the problems posed by the plan and the opportunities offered by alternative proposals?
What would it take for the City to allow for the revision of the plan as drafted? What parameters would the City be willing to entertain in the process to revise the plan and, what is the timeline for the finalizing of the neighbourhood plan & the reasons for this?
The Mayor said that he appreciated this chance to listen to the community.
Shelley Parlow noted that the Neighbourhood Plan was the least popular of all alternatives.
Brian Gifford outlined actions to oppose the Neighbourhood Plan: he had proposed a Site of Reconciliation. Anne Brandel had approached the Catholic School Board to enlist the aid of the children but the Board thought the project was too political, the Public Board said that Anne should approach each individual school.
Bill Royds said the meadow proposed for development had 350 species of plants and important animal species.
Andy Porowski said that the Mayor should walk through the corridor to appreciate its beauty, that the preservation of grassland was important and he asked if the Mayor would support its preservation.
Daphne Sinclair loves the open spaces, her kids play there. "I will move" if the open spaces are taken away.
Mike Novak supports the preservation of open spaces, the greenlands around Ottawa are precious.
Patrick Richter (a young boy) plays in the fields with his friends, they want to keep the fields. Commented on the impact of 40% increase in traffic that would result from the development of the corridor.
Joan Hearn wants to stop the proposed development, the open fields near Gillespie are important to the quality of life.
Anne Brandel, a member of SOGCRAT (South Ottawa Gloucester Community Resource Action Team), said that preserving the greenspace is a matter of common sense.
Liz Russell pointed out that houses on Plante Drive had suffered moderate to severe damage due to poor soil conditions and due to poor building materials used by the original builder Campeau. "Developers must know they will incur major costs".
David Biggs (Riverside Park Association): the City choose the least desirable proposal, he questions the aims of the City Council but recognizes that NCC owns the land.
Scott Paterson: the NCC is unanswerable, preservation of greenspace is of concern to everyone not just the middle class.
Shelley Parlow: the City of Ottawa has very little park space and we use the NCC land as park space. There is very little park space at the west end of the corridor and we cannot of course walk on the Golf C ourse. We already have traffic problems, we don't have the infrastructure to support more population and we just can't cope with more traffic.
Terrance Wills: Other than the demand to keep green space, what other forces are in play?
Peter Foulger: politicians should walk in the corridor, there are diverse ecologies, there are partridges in the grass. City of Ottawa staff just took the side of the NCC.
Brian McAdam: knows what high density is: Hong Kong, air is yellow, 6.5 million people gasping for air. The existing open spaces are valuable.
David Stout(lives on Hackett): There are no official parks because the City took cash in lieu of parks.
Bill Royds: The Official Plan directs the City to purchase areas which are environmentally sensitive and important, why isn't it doing so?
Ken Donnelly: The Neighbourhood Study should be an opportunity for residents to have an influence. The change in policy at the NCC comes as an unwelcome surprise! The public meetings have shown our disappointment.
Wendy Stewart: she has fought hard to protect green space, ecology of corridor must be considered as a whole, the raptors (owls and hawks) which live in the forest depend on the field mice. 30 metre buffer is not enough for the deer.
The Mayor: The Neighbourhood Plan has been deferred because of the letters and representations that he has received. He wrote a letter to Ted Robinson, the City's Commissioner of Urban Planning and Public Works, asking that the Study be deferred because it was too important to be carried forward without adequate representation. If it takes a longer period of time then so be it, perhaps the fall of 1999 would be better. The time can be used to sit down and find out what is acceptable.
The Mayor asked those who are opposed to any development to raise their hands, the great majority of people at the meeting raised their hands.
The Mayor reported that City Council is aware of the Hunt Club Neighbourhood Plan because they approved the terms of reference in December 1996. Recently the NCC offered to sell McCarthy Woods for one dollar but it really was an offer to count McCarthy Woods as parkland against their proposed development.
The Mayor: The Draft Neighbourhood Plan is not a done deal, the Community should lobby members of Council, write individual letters not submit petitions, the Community could hold seminars at City Hall for new members of Council, invite councilors to walk through the southern corri dor and McCarthy Woods. It takes more than two or three hundred people at a meeting to get City Council on side.
The Mayor: City Planners are following a process. The Ontario Municipal Board (OMB) would rule on the Neighbourhood Plan if challenged by the NCC. There are major risks and challenges with going to the Ontario Municipal Board, the community must decide on its best strategy.
The Mayor: the NCC is frustrating to work with, secretive, it has the most direct and dramatic impact on our lives but is not accountable to the people. The community should get the Members of Parliament (MPs) on their side[Sheila Copps heads the NCC]. The City wants a win/win situation. We should evaluate our strategy : is it realistic? is it do-able? A challenge before the OMB puts the whole process outside our (the City and the community) control.
The Mayor: a tax levy to buy the land would be seen as providing an unfair advantage to a small percentage of voters, it would cause tremendous division within the community, it would present a major risk in case it were put to a vote.
The Mayor: The new councillor should be personally involved in an updated Neighbourhood Plan, he does not want to interfere with the process but he personally is not going to let the process roll out of control and waste more time and money! The City does not have the money to buy the land from the NCC. [the land is worth $7 million but the present value of the 1945 purchase price is only $.5 million.] He doubts the NCC would sell for $.5 million. He is not afraid of the NCC and could be persuaded to oppose its plans.
Patrick Richter: McCarthy Woods is beautiful!
Comments: NCC wants to build houses on 40 hectares out of a total area of 150 hectares.
Brian Gifford: the deferral of the Neighbourhood Plan allows the community to develop an alternate approach. What would happen if the City decided to support the retention of green space?
The Mayor: if City Council decides to keep the green space, it would hire outside planning staff to prepare a new plan and obviously the plan would be passed by Council. The NCC would challenge the Plan and it would go before a full OMB hearing. If you [the community] accept some development you put yourself in a stronger position, if you don't accept any you set yourself up for failure. Your goal should be to protect as much green space as possible.
Next meeting: Mon 12 Apr 1999 at 7:30pm