Politics, bureaucracy and greed obfuscates the real facts: Endangered species and Ottawa's rarest ecosystem are being sacrificed for developments that should be built elsewhere.
Tree Clearing in Trillium Woods
You promised publicly, on behalf of the City of Ottawa, that the City would not approve any tree clearing in Phases 7 & 8 until after public consultation on KNL’s revised SWM plan.
Yet 6 ha of land have been clear-cut in Trillium Woods without prior public consultation on KNL’s revised SWM plan. This includes stands of 80+ year old maple and disease-resistant butternut.
So which part of the City’s promise was untrue: that the City would not approve a revised SWM plan prior to public consultation, or that there would be no tree clearing prior to ensuring that drainage would not compromise the environmental integrity of the last 2 cool water streams left feeding the Greenbelt?
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Here is the response I received from Councillor Marianne Wilkinson. My response to her feedback, follows hers below:
You are incorrect. KNL has not yet submitted any proposal on Storm Water Management. The City undertook to do a study of the current conditions on Watts Creek and Shirley's Brook watersheds and that's what the previous meeting was about. The commitment was to make that study public when complete and I would then hold a public consultation if requested. That is still the position with one caveat.
The caveat is an urgent situation that has arisen with respect to the need for a new public school in Kanata North. The Ottawa District School Board received approval from the province for this school provided it was complete for the 2015 school year. To meet that timeline construction would need to commence in the summer of 2014. Initially the Board applied to rezone a site in the Kanata North Business Park. Due to its proximity to a business that uses nuclear matter the request was rejected. Without a site the funding would be lost and a needed school not built, resulting in large numbers of students without a place - and the number of portables at existing school are already at the maximum. Discussions took place between the School Board and the City to try to find a site that could be made available within the time line. The only site that met that condition was land within the KNL subdivision which is zoned for a school and could be developed with its own drainage system without using the overall system to be developed for the entire subdivision. Since tree cutting cannot between April 15th and July 31 and since engineering work to create and get approval of a site plan takes many months the decision to clear part of the school site for the school building location and access was approved.
You are quite wrong about Trillium Woods. it is not just the location east of the Goulbourn Forced Road but goes to the unopened road allowance for the Second Line. None of the school site is in Trillium Woods - it is adjacent to it, is in an OMB subdivision approved by Council in 2003 and by the OMB in Feb, 2006 - after a hearing in which I took part to get changes made. You were not part of the group that protested the development. We only were successful in making minor changes and the subdivision was draft approved and the zoning approved by the OMB. The Brunton report was used in the OMB hearing but only the area east of the Second line was protected.
This is a positive planning matter as the provision of schools is critical to a community, the property has been zoned for a school for more than 8 years and required approvals from the province and city on environmental issues made for this particular parcel. A detailed search failed to find any other site that could be used within the time frame which would have resulted in loss of the funding and no school at all.
Once the City's drainage plan is complete, expected within a month or two, you will be able to review it and raise questions at a public meeting - as promised.
With the City's study complete then KNL can prepare their drainage plan which will also be made public as is done with all development applications.
Once I've received a site plan for the school site I will hold a public meeting so that it can be reviewed and recommendations received from the public.
Paul this subdivision is not going away. No one has raised money to buy this privately owned land. The lands the City is obtaining (Trillium Woods as shown on the City website and the lands adjacent to the Beaver Pond and Kizell wetlands) together with the lands owned by the City north and west of Terry Fox will remain as important environmental lands to be preserved as such.
Councillor, Kanata North
City of Ottawa
The only thing that appears to be going away is the City’s ability to keep its promises.
Several hundred people attended the March 2012 meeting (the one prior to the one you reference in your letter) in which you clearly and unequivocally stated that here would be NO tree clearing anywhere in Phases 7 & 8 until the KNL revisions were reviewed with the public. The City’s study published last year was to present constraints on those revisions – in lieu of the Class C EA that the City cancelled against public outcry.
As for the City developing a SWM plan for that school site, it will be interesting to see how well they do in meeting the same compliance with the Watershed Study constraints that stalled KNL. Presumably this will require a restart of the Class C EA (that the City killed two years ago) to provide the necessary master servicing plan since KNL no longer has one and the City cannot legally piecemeal a SWM plan for the school without a master plan context.
Please register me as a person of interest when the City restart’s that Class C EA. Meanwhile it is unclear how the school can be built any time soon on that site. Perhaps the City will eventually learn that it should not cut corners when dealing with the environment.
Regarding Trillium Woods, there seems to be confusion between actual scientific study of the area in question with the City’s & OMB’s remarkable capability for ignoring them when making ill-conceived zoning decisions. It may be helpful for you to download the 1992 Brunton Kanata Lakes study from my public website library of SMH studies. That Brunton study was done for Genstar (not the City) and that Trillium Woods very clearly, pages 28-29, includes the area that was cleared for this school. You will also find a figure that quite clearly shows that the environmental characteristics of Trillium extend to the area that was cleared. The study that I think may be referencing is the other 1992 SMH study (also done by Brunton) for the area west of first line road allowance.
That the City planners should rely on a stalled approval for an ill-conceived subdivision plan as a pretext for not providing the school board with better alternatives than a choice between an environmentally sensitive woodlot and a nuclear contaminated site speaks volumes about the need to clean house in the City Planning department. It is almost laughable if the situation weren’t so sad.
As for the uncertain future, the environmental characteristics of what little will remain of Trillium Woods if the KNL subdivision proceeds to enclose it on 4 sides with urban development will be of little ecological value. This scientific conclusion has also been on the public record for 15-20 years. There is no legacy there for you or anyone else to be proud of. If we want to save that land, the City will need to prioritize its spending better. Clearly Watson’s current Council lacks the necessary skill to do this so far, perhaps there will be sufficient change with the new one.