C:\documents and settings\sandy garland\local settings\temporary internet files\content.ie5\ih3w9sre\letter re-5309 bank-apr05.
Mr. Taavi SiitamCity of Ottawa,Planning and Growth Management Department110 Laurier Avenue West, 4th floorOttawa, ON K1J 1P1580-2424 ext.27788Facsimile: 580-2576Taavi.Siitam@ottawa.ca
RE: REZONING APPLICATION FOR 5309 BANK STREET FILE: D02-02-04-007
In 2003 and subsequently, the Ottawa Field Naturalists presented reasons to CorporateServices Committee why the subject lands should remain as City property, and be recognized asan important natural area. In response, Committee declared that its natural features would beprotected by stringent requirements pertaining to any application for rezoning. In addition,Committee approved a resolution that a new owner be legally constrained as a condition of salenot to make any environmental alterations to the site until and unless a rezoning application hadbeen approved, following due environmental evaluation. This constraint has been flagrantlyviolated, yet we are not aware of any action taken by the City in regard to violation of the saleagreement.
If the City moves to allow the rezoning application, a unique and prestigious opportunity toprotect a nationally-endangered species within the boundaries of the City of Ottawa will be lost.
FAILURE TO RECOGNIZE PREVIOUS MUNICIPAL DESIGNATIONS
In 1997 the Regional Municipality of Ottawa-Carleton listed this site as a Highly SignificantNatural Environmental Area. This information was provided for the Shields Creek SubwatershedStudy open house in 2002, showing that City planning staff were well aware of the designation.
Yet, this was not mentioned when the land was declared by the City to be surplus less than oneyear later, nor has it been publicly acknowledged since then. The City appears to have adopted adeliberate policy of minimizing the environmental importance of this site.
There were several errors in the Environmental Impact Statement prepared by GolderAssociates, which resulted in the site being considered to be of lower significance with respect tonatural features and functions. Critical errors included :
(1) An implication that there are no distinct watercourses on the site, based on there being noneobserved by the environmental surveyor. The fact that illegal bulldozer activity virtuallyobliterated a previously-distinct watercourse was not mentioned.
(2) The statement that "the forests are generally young (40-60 years)" does not account for thefact that old-growth trees are present.
(3) Healthy butternut trees do occur on the site, although some have been recently destroyed bybulldozing.
(4) The report states that the 120 metre buffer "no longer provides habitat suitable for Ginseng";however, suitable habitat continues to exist there, although the actual Ginseng colony wasrecently destroyed by bulldozing.
(7) There is substantial evidence countering the assertion that many of the significant plantspecies are merely garden or homestead escapes. Local activity in planting of wildflowerscommenced only recently in the Ottawa region, and the distribution of existing species on theland indicates that they have not spread from the two old homestead sites. For example, sawtoothsunflower has been spreading towards, not away from, the homesteads.
PROVINCIALLY RARE PLANTS AND A NATIONALLY ENDANGERED SPECIES
The OTTAWA OFFICIAL PLAN adopted in May 2003, Section 2.4 Maintainingenvironmental integrity, Subsection 2.4.2 Natural Features and functions, states, in part:
1. The City will protect natural features and functions in the urban and rural area bydesignating in this Plan forests, wetlands and other natural features which perform significantnatural functions. The City will:a. Determine how these lands should best be protected or managed to ensure theirenvironmental health;b. Protect endangered, threatened, and municipally or provincially rare species and naturalcommunities;c. Maintain a full range of natural communities in good condition;.
Under the policies, the City accepted a responsibility to protect nationally and provinciallyrare species and the natural communities of which they are part. 5309 Bank Street provides asubstantial area of actual and suitable habitat for American ginseng, which is almost non-existentelsewhere in the Ottawa region. In addition, numerous provincially rare plant species have beendocumented as present on the site.
The City should deny the rezoning application and related amendments to the Official Plan. Inaddition, the City should inform the present owner of his legal obligation to correctenvironmental damage to the greatest extent possible, insist that such work be done, and warnhim to protect the site from further damage in the future.
Conservation Committee, Ottawa Field-Naturalists' Club
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