South Bear Brook Wetland Evaluation

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Project Status
Planned

Public Information Session

Date and time

Thu, Mar 3 2022, 6:00pm to 8:00pm

Meeting details

The meeting on Thursday, March 03, 2022, is to present the public with information on the upcoming South Bear Brook wetland evaluation.

To join the zoom meeting please register.

Contact information:

Nick Stow
Program Manager (A), Natural Systems and Rural Affairs
City of Ottawa
613-580-2424, ext. 13000
ottawa.ca/planning

Background

Beginning in 2021, the City of Ottawa will hire an independent consultant to carry out an evaluation of wetlands in the headwaters of South Bear Brook under the Ontario Provincial Policy Statement, 2020 (PPS) and the Ontario Wetland Evaluation System (OWES).  The need for a wetland evaluation has been triggered by the approval by Ottawa City Council of new urban lands in a portion of the area bounded by Leitrim Road, Farmers Way, 9th Line Road, and Ramsayville Road.  Provincial policy and guidance documents recommend that a wetland evaluation be conducted whenever development is proposed within or adjacent to wetlands that could qualify as provincially significant under OWES. Provincially significant wetlands are subject to PPS and Official Plan policies of “no development or site alteration” within the wetlands and “no negative impact” from adjacent development.  Typically, existing land uses and uses that do not interfere with the wetlands are permitted.

Preliminary South Bear Brook Wetland Evaluation Study Area

The Wetland Evaluation Process

A wetland evaluation consists of two parts:

  1. Mapping of the wetland[s] according to the methods in the OWES.
  2. Evaluation of the wetland significance on four criteria: biodiversity, socio-economic values, hydrology, and special features such as species at risk.

Each criterion is worth 250 points, for a theoretical total of 1000 points. A wetland that scores 200 points or more in any one criterion or 600 points or more in total qualifies as provincially significant. Size is an important factor for determining the wetland score. Species at Risk are also an important factor, with breeding habitat for any threatened or endangered wetland species automatically scoring 200 points under special features.

The Ontario Ministry of Northern Development, Mines, Natural Resources and Forestry makes the final decision on whether a wetland qualifies as provincially significant under the OWES. The City’s consultant will submit the wetland mapping and evaluation directly to the Ministry for review and confirmation of the results. To ensure the integrity of the process, the City will only review the wetland evaluation for completeness. The City will not comment upon the conclusions of the evaluation nor provide advice to the Ministry.

The Ministry requires that OWES evaluations be conducted by persons who have successfully completed its approved Ontario Wetland Evaluation System training course. The City has hired the engineering company Parsons Corporation to carry out the wetland evaluation. Parsons has confirmed that it is not conducting any related work for the proponents of the Tewin community and does not have any other conflict of interest.

What Happens After the Evaluation?

If the Ministry determines that the wetlands in the area do not qualify as provincially significant, no further action occurs.

If the Ministry determines that the wetlands in the area qualify as provincially significant, then it will notify affected property owners by mail. Affected property owners may apply to the Ministry under the Conservation Land Tax Incentive Program (CLTIP) to have their property taxes reduced on the wetland portions of their properties.

If the wetland qualifies as provincially significant, then the PPS and Ottawa’s Official Plan oblige the City’s Planning, Real Estate and Economic Development Department to bring to Council a report and recommended Official Plan Amendment to designate the wetlands as Significant. That designation would trigger the protections for wetlands in the City’s Official Plan. As discussed above, in the event of a subsequent planning or development application, the Official Plan prohibits development and site alteration within significant wetlands and any negative impact from adjacent development.

Designation of the wetlands as significant would also trigger a subsequent process by the relevant Conservation Authorities (CA) to regulate the wetlands. Under the CA regulations, alteration or interference with a provincially significant wetland requires a permit and is generally prohibited.

Next steps

Information meeting

The City will hold a virtual public information meeting on Tuesday, February 8, 2022 at 6 pm to explain the Provincial requirements, the need for the wetland evaluation, the process for conducting the evaluation, the timing and the possible implications.

The meeting will be held virtually via Zoom. You may join the meeting using the following link: register here

Permission to Enter requests

Following the public meeting, the City will mail out Permission to Enter Request Forms to property owners in the wetland evaluation study area. The City of Ottawa will request permission from landowners for its staff, biologists from Parsons, and Provincial staff to enter lands to identify and assess wetlands. Property owners will be requested to mail or e-mail their responses to the City.

Neither City staff nor the City’s consultant will enter private properties for which permission to enter has not been given.

The Ontario Wetland Evaluation System requires that wetlands and their boundaries be identified on the ground whenever possible for greatest accuracy. However, where access to property is denied or not available, wetlands and their boundaries can be identified through interpretation of aerial photography. Refusal to provide permission for entry will not prevent the identification and evaluation of wetlands on private property.

Property owners who do not provide permission to the City for entry can hire a qualified wetland evaluator at their own expense to carry wetland mapping on their properties. They can then submit the mapping directly to the Ontario Ministry of Northern Development, Mines, Natural Resources and Forestry for consideration in association with the City’s wetland evaluation. The Ministry would then determine which mapping to accept.

Site visits

Ground-based identification and evaluation of wetlands must be done during the growing season, from April to September. The City anticipates that staff from Parsons will begin fieldwork in late April 2022 and continue until mid-July.

Submission of the wetland evaluation

The City anticipates that Parsons will submit the wetland mapping and evaluation to the Ministry in autumn 2022.

Review and confirmation by the Ministry

The Ontario Ministry of Northern Development, Mines, Natural Resources and Forestry will review the wetland mapping and evaluation. This process may take several weeks to several months, depending upon the complexity of the wetland evaluation and whether Ministry staff want to verify any information through site visits.

Official Plan amendment and Zoning By-law amendment

If the Ministry determines that the wetlands qualify as provincially significant, then City staff will have six months to initiate an Official Plan Amendment (OPA) to designate them in the Official Plan. City staff would bring forward a corresponding Zoning By-law Amendment (ZBA) at the same time. Both the OPA and the ZBA would be subject to the requirements of the Planning Act and approval by Ottawa City Council. The process requires an open public meeting.

Opportunities for public review and appeal

Wetland evaluations are technical reports, carried out by qualified evaluators and reviewed by the Ontario Ministry of Northern Development, Mines, Natural Resources and Forestry according to the methods and standards of the Ontario Wetland Evaluation System (OWES). In identifying and evaluating wetlands, the evaluators and Ministry staff will apply their professional judgement. The decision of Ministry staff is not subject to direct appeal. However, wetland evaluations are always subject to revision based on more current information. Anyone disagreeing with the identification of provincially significant wetlands may commission and submit their own wetland mapping and evaluation for consideration by the Ministry.

The designation of significant wetlands by City Council through an Official Plan Amendment and Zoning By-law Amendment is a Planning Act process. It is subject to the requirements of the Planning Act, including a public meeting at which written submissions and public delegations can be made. Any person submitting comments has the right to appeal the decision of City Council to the Ontario Land Tribunal. The Ontario Land Tribunal may consider evidence on whether the wetlands really qualify as provincially significant.

Contact 

Further information is available by contacting:

Nicholas Stow, Project Manager
South Bear Brook Wetland Evaluation
City of Ottawa
110 Laurier Avenue West, 4th floor, mail code 01-14
Ottawa, ON K1P 1J1
Email: South Bear Brook Wetland Evaluation