LETTER TO THE CITY - GROWTH MANAGEMENT STRATEGY, TEEWIN PROJECT, URBAN BOUNDARY
February 8, 2021
Dear Mayor Watson and City Councillors,
The Community Associations of Greely, Manotick, Metcalfe, Osgoode and Richmond Villages are very concerned about two recent decisions by City Council Committees on amendments to the Draft Growth Management Strategy as part of the new Official Plan.
The two amendments of concern are:
1. Decision to approve prime agricultural land in the Riverside South area for development instead of the land proposed by City Staff
2. Decision to allocate 445 hectares to enable the Tewin development to proceed in the absence of clear consultation on the proposal and clear evidence of the viability of development on these lands.
Prime Agricultural Land Decision
Last May, Council voted in favour of not allowing future development on prime agricultural lands as one of the key criteria for identification of lands to be included in an expanded boundary. This decision was seen as a positive step by rural residents in maintaining a vibrant agricultural economy within the City boundaries.
The decision to approve a parcel of prime agricultural land for development in Riverside South flies in the face of Council’s decision and contravenes the Province of Ontario directive to only approve prime agricultural land for development if there are no other options.
Obviously, in this case, there was another option. The original parcel, recommended by City staff, scored high in a number of factors such as access to infrastructure, location near transit hubs, not designated prime agricultural land and others. Since the amendment was tabled after the public consultation portion of the meeting, residents had no opportunity to comment on the proposed amendment.
We also have grave concerns about the precedent this sets for future discussions of the expansion of urban boundaries. Once Council approves one project to be built on prime agricultural land, it opens the door for other exceptions in the future. This is not a precedent we support.
Tewin Land Project
It is apparent that the proponents for this project have spent many hours in the fall of 2020, lobbying Councillors to approve this development which would add close to 500 hectares to the urban area. Reference to this project has not appeared in any City document so Community Associations and Ottawa residents and community associations were unable to review, let alone provide any comment on the proposal. It is also apparent now that key Indigenous groups were also not consulted.
City Staff gave this land area a very low score based on the criteria set out in the Growth Management Strategy. And while the proponents have made commitments with regard to infrastructure costs and transit access, staff have not had the benefit of reviewing the studies used by the proponents to propose a new community in a rural ward.
In addition to concerns about the ability to develop this land, we are concerned about the impact of increased traffic on surrounding villages. The development of commercial projects on Boundary Road (Amazon, Taggart-Miller Landfill, Rosedale Group Trucking ) has already increased truck traffic through villages surrounding this area. Any additional development in this area would severely compound truck and car traffic congestion.
The recent Ward Boundary review has already substantially increased the size of Osgoode Ward. Once completed, the Tewin Development would more than double the number of suburban residents in a rural ward. This decision would continue to reduce the voice for rural residents at City Hall.
On behalf of the residents in our communities, we strongly urge Council to take the following actions:
1. Reverse the decision to allow for development of prime agricultural land adjacent to Riverside South
2. Refer the Tewin development back to City Staff for additional review before making a decision of allocation of an additional 445 hectares for urban development in this rural area
Doug Thompson, President, Greely Community Association
Grace Thrasher, President, Manotick Village and Community Association
Marc Sauve, President, Metcalfe Community Association
Emily Dozois, President, Osgoode Village Community Association
Ryan Pinet, President, Richmond Village Association