Update: Wesley Clover Parks Request for By-Law Amendment

This past Tuesday, the City of Ottawa Planning Committee passed a recommendation from staff for a bylaw amendment to permit various activities on their leased property, which were previously allowed under a variance from the existing bylaw. This amendment will allow for several additional activities planned by Wesley Clover Parks (WCP). Of most immediate relevance is a two-day music event next June 28-29, with up to 25,000 patrons each day. The event will be held on the western portion of the property previously used for the Shania Twain concert in 2015.

Background

Last spring, when signs were posted on Corkstown Rd. about the proposal for a bylaw amendment, two CBLCA executive members, Monica Patten and Ian McConnachie, met with the Executive Director and other WCP staff. The purpose of the meeting was to build on the association’s existing relationship with our neighbour, to discuss the proposal, and to request a public meeting with the Crystal Beach Lakeview community to better understand and voice opinions on the project. At the time, the proposal was still under revision with City staff, and CBLCA left with the mutual understanding that WCP would endeavor to give us 3 weeks’ notice before the motion came to Planning Committee. This would allow us to collaborate on a public meeting. Regrettably, when the proposal went to Planning Committee, there was insufficient time to arrange for a public meeting. An opportunity for legitimate community input and collaboration was lost.

CBLCA’s submission

In the absence of a public consultation, the CBLCA executive put together a submission regarding the proposed amendment, which was presented before the Planning Committee. The submission centered on two main points:

  1. The city planning process is flawed; for a project such as this, process MUST include a public consultation beyond the posting of signs about the bylaw amendment. Currently, process says that the Planning Committee meeting is the public consultation. We view this as insufficient and call for reform of the planning process.
  2. With respect to the music festival next summer, we requested that the City require an environmental review prior to the event to ensure procedures are in place to prevent environmental degradation of the site. No such review was called for in the proposal from City staff. Rather, the main concern was regarding traffic, with the assumption that the National Capital Commission (NCC) would take responsibility for any environmental requirements. CBLCA considers this approach inadequate with respect to the City’s responsibility.

At Committee, Jeff Leiper was the only councilor to inquire about environmental assessments (EAs) associated with the Shania Twain concert and plans for EAs going forward. WCP responded that the NCC indeed requires such EAs, and that it was WCP’s intention to fulfill these requirements. WCP representatives further explained that they undertook an environmental review prior to the 2015 concert, and put mitigation measures in place with respect to Bobolink nesting onsite. This mitigation proved to be successful at the time.

Following the meeting, CBLCA representatives had a good dialogue with WCP about their plans, as well as the benefit of ongoing communication, including the possibility of a public meeting next spring about their overall vision for the site going forward. We will continue to pursue this opportunity.

This work by the CBLCA is a part of our increasing engagement with respect to the greenbelt surrounding our neighborhood. Additional initiatives include collaboration with the Ottawa Carleton Wildlife Centre, and ongoing efforts to keep environmental protection and sustainability at the forefront of planning and development activities surrounding Bus Rapid Transit, upcoming Light Rail Transit, and work on the DND headquarters.

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