Thirty (30) participants attended the second open house to review and discuss the Existing Conditions and Constraints Analysis Report prepared by the Owner (Richcraft Homes) in support of a Comprehensive Study process requested for the property located at 820 Huntmar Drive.
The meeting was hosted by the City’s Planning and Growth Management Department in conjunction with Councillors El-Chantiry and Wilkinson. The following summary outlines comments provided as part of the Question and Answer session including the submission of written comments following the meeting.
Issue 1: Density/Community Design
Question: What is the density of the site going to be, how many units would be constructed?
Response: There are Official Plan requirements for developing communities, which outline a mix of densities (appropriate split: 70% low density, 20% medium density, 10% high density). There is currently no concept plan or development envelope proposed at this point in time as the existing conditions and constraints analysis will provide the basis for any potential development.
Comment: The developer should work from the Beaverbrook model, and look at integration of environmental features, especially the granite bedrock, and take the approach to design around and integrate the constraints. The developer should also consider building at lower densities/estate lot style of development.
Response: Richcraft noted the comment and agreed to look at the approaches taken in Beaverbrook. They will be seeking to meet the density targets as outlined in the Official Plan which would now allow for an estate lot style development as mentioned.
Issue 2: Natural Heritage and Environment
Question: Were any mammals found on site?
Response: Numerous mammals were found on site, but none are identified as at risk or endangered.
Question: Were coyotes found on site?
Response: At the time of site assessment, no coyotes were found.
Question: Why were no winter studies or surveys done for the site?
Response: There were no significant deer or track surveys.
Question: Why can’t the unevaluated wetland on the south side of the property be evaluated by the Ministry of Natural Resources?
Response:The MNR does not evaluate wetlands; it reviews wetland evaluations. In this case, the City has the ability to ask for a wetland evaluation. However, the wetland would likely be significant only on the basis of habitat for species at risk, which already conveys the same degree of protection under the Provincial Policy Statement. We haven’t asked for a wetland evaluation, because the ESA is more directly relevant.
Question: Are the existing wildlife crossings on Terry Fox Drive functioning properly, are turtles using them as intended?
Response: There are turtles crossing through the crossings. The turtles do not necessarily make use of all of the culverts, but they are certainly all used by some form of wildlife. It is correct that the crossing located adjacent to the subject site has no record of turtle use, but it is actively used by raccoons. The turtles are travelling either further south and going through the Kizell Pond or further north along the railway.
Question: Were salamanders evaluated in the spring?
Response: Yes, some salamanders were found on the north of the site and in the floodplain, mostly redback salamanders due to the soil conditions.
Question: Were Bats found or evaluated?
Response: There were no bats found during the night bird surveys. An acoustic bat survey will be required for any subsequent EIS. The MNR does not evaluate wetlands; it reviews wetland evaluations. In this case, the City has the ability to ask for a wetland evaluation. However, the wetland would likely be significant only on the basis of habitat for species at risk, which already conveys the same degree of protection under the PPS. The City hasn’t asked for a wetland evaluation, because the ESA is more directly relevant.
Question: Has consideration been given for the crossing of Terry Fox Drive by larger mammals such as deer?
Response: Larger crossing options are an expensive option that would require significant alteration to Terry Fox Drive. This is not being considered.
Question: Were any river otter found on site, a resident noted that one was found dead and reported by Hydro Ottawa along Huntmar Drive frontage of the site.
Response: A history of river otter is known but none were found at the time of site assessment.
Question: What happens to the floodplain when development occurs?
Response: The floodplain is regulated and managed by the Mississippi Valley Conservation Authority. The appropriate setbacks required will be taken and development in the floodplain will not occur.
Question: What linkages are considered in the natural heritage corridor system?
Response: The Carp River corridor is considered a substantial area for habitat and restoration occurring in the floodplain. Additionally the channelized portion of the Carp River (Richcraft’s portion) is an important part of the linkage and a future concept plan will consider such. The South March Highlands to the north would be considered important as well as the base of the escarpment heading towards the Carp River, in particular the portion referred to as “the saddle” which is the larger portion on the west side of Terry Fox Drive, there is also a valley that runs through as a low line in the ridge.
Comment: Concerns regarding no mention of OPA 150 and the amended Schedules 1-3. The natural linkages were not taken into account in the studies and there was no mention of Blandings turtles in the report by Dillion?
Response: City staff have noted this and have provided similar comments on the report. The City will be working with the Owner and MNR regarding Blandings Turtle habitat.
Question: Has Richcraft discussed with the MNR about the Overall Benefit Permit? Where is that process at?
Response: Richcraft is actively discussing the matter with the City and MNR.
Question: There was a bat survey conducted, but it was not included in the report, why?
Response: Richcraft’s environmental consultant indicated a survey was conducted in 2013, and more detailed bat surveys will be conducted and reported in the EIS.
Comment: Public would like to see more maps of where these species are located and wants to see more details in the report as it seems incomplete.
Response: The maps do show the fish habitat and natural heritage constraints, but the mapping of species at risk is sensitive information that can not shared with the public for the safety and protection of such species. Mr. Stow added that he has reviewed the report and that a future EIS will be required which will provide further details regarding species at risk.
Issue 3: Mapping/ Holding Zone
Comment: Request for better delineation/explanation between the full Richcraft ownership, the Study Area, the natural heritage area and the area that is zoned with a holding provision.
Response: The north parcel with the holding provision is not included in the study area but the southeast parcel with the holding provision is included. The holding provision pertains to the potential for species at risk and the provision requires an Environmental Impact Statement to determine the species at risk on site, their habitat and the required mitigation and/or compensation required prior to lifting of the holding zone.
Question: Does the comprehensive study allow for lifting of the holding provision?
Response: The results of the comprehensive study could potentially support the removal of the holding provision, but a detailed Environmental Impact Statement and subsequent application to lift the holding zone would be required.
Question: What is the area of the Study Area?
Response: 52 hectares.
Issue 4: Site Access
Comment: General consensus that due to Carp River adjacency along the entire Huntmar Drive frontage, that access to the site from Huntmar Drive should not be permitted.
Response: Potential accesses to the site from Huntmar Drive will be further analyzed in the concept plan and at the time of a formal application. With the location of the Carp River, a bridge would be required, but it should be noted that the topography along the northern portion of the site along Huntmar is quiet elevated. It should also be noted that any access from the northern portion of the site along Huntmar Drive needs to consider the site lines from the railway as it is quiet steep and blind spots exist; this will be further evaluated at the time of concept plan and an application submission.
Issue 5: Flood Plain Mapping
Comment: The floodplain mapping utilized to inform the Existing Constraint mapping is out of date. With more extreme events the floodplain is realistically larger and needs to be updated.
Response: The flood plain mapping utilized in the ECCA mapping is based on the 1983 benchmark. Updated floodplain mapping subject to Mississippi Valley Conservation Authority review and approval will be required to be prepared by the applicant in support of an OPA for the subject lands.
Recommendation: Restoration of the Carp River should take place as part of any development proposal. Concerned that habitat restoration completed by the developer may not be done to a high quality or standard than if the City were responsible for the restoration.
Response: This comment is noted. This will be discussed in greater detail in the upcoming stages of the study process.
Issue 6: Concern regarding consulting team accuracy of information
Comment: Concern regarding potential conflict of interest as Richcraft can control the results of the reports and studies?
Response: The professional role of the consulting team is to demonstrate to the City, Ministry of Natural Resources, Conservation Authority, and Community that the proposed development can be accommodated appropriately. This is why a transparent comprehensive study process is taking place as required. It is an iterative process where the City will review all the reports and studies and if City disagrees they will provide a recommendation to Council based on their professional conclusion. The system is proponent driven and peer reviewed by the City; if the public disagrees at the time of an application, they have the right to appeal to the Ontario Municipal Board.
Issue 7: Planning Process/ OPA 76/ Richcraft Commitment
Comment: General confusion and frustration related to the ability of Richcraft Homes to proceed with a Comprehensive Study Process for these lands.
Response: A memo prepared by senior engineer with City of Ottawa was presented, which listed eight (8) reasons why the rating of the Kanata Highlands property was incorrect and therefore should not be included in the urban boundary.
Recommendation: Request that City Council’s decision to be reversed.
Response: In the 2009 Comprehensive Official Plan Review (OPA 76), Council voted not to expand the urban boundary. That decision was challenged to the OMB, which directed Council to designate additional lands as Urban Expansion Study Area in Schedule B of the Official Plan. The subject lands were included as part of this additional designation. This decision is in full force and effect. The intent of the decision was to allow for some development to occur on the subject lands provided Richcraft could demonstrate that this is possible; hence, the current process.
City staff and Council do not have the ability to deny Richcraft the opportunity to undertake a comprehensive study and submit a subsequent planning application. The City has agreed to guide this process to ensure that it is transparent and fair. If and when an OPA is received, a decision will need to be made by Council based on the merits of the information provided.
This decision making process will be transparent and members of the public will be given a chance to agree or object to the proposal and the subsequent decision made by Council.
Question: Which portion of the site is the commitment area for species at risk?
Response: 850 hectares were added as Urban Expansion Study Area via the OMB Decision in 2010. These lands were not needed or included in the 850 hectares, but Richcraft met the same property score as similar properties that were considered for the urban expansion study area and argued that they should be included. City staff did not support Council bringing these lands into the urban boundary due to the existing natural heritage features and potential for species at risk. Richcraft did not agree with the staff assessment for their property. Council’s decision to include these lands as urban expansion study area was contingent on the condition that Richcraft convey any lands required for species at risk habitat.
The Ministry of Natural Resources has determined that category 3 habitat for Blanding’s turtles covers essentially the entire site. The comprehensive study process will assist in informing an Official Plan Amendment to determine the limits of potential development and the extent of land to be conveyed as species at risk habitat. The decision regarding the extent of the commitment to dedicate species at risk habitat will be made by City Council.
Question: Under Section 3.11.2 and 3.11.3 of the Official Plan it outlines the need for residential lands as urban expansion study areas and the need to maintain a 10 year supply of lands designated for development. Why has a process leading to an Official Plan Amendment to convert Area 2 to Urban Land been initiated, given the considerations set out in Section 3.11, Policy 2 have not been met? Does the City not have more than a 10 year supply of land so why are these lands being considered to be added to the urban boundary?
Response: The two policies (3.11.2 and 3.11.3) referenced above were added to the original text of Section 3.11 by the Ontario Municipal Board in 2012 at the request of the appellants to OPA 76.
The appellants had two reasons for requiring a trigger to start the planning for the expansion areas:
- Concern that the City would do nothing to promote the achievement of intensification as promised in the Plan, and the intensification targets would not be achieved; and
- the City would not have the resources to undertake the community design plans to bring the Expansion Areas into the Urban Area before the residential land supply dropped below the 10-year minimum required by the Provincial Policy Statement.
It should be noted that Policy 3.11.2 states that the City give consideration to the three items noted within the policy prior to undertaking an Official Plan amendment to designate lands for urban uses. It is not a requirement for an Official Plan amendment to be initiated.
The City continues to monitor land supply and intensification on a yearly basis. Policy 3.11.3 is intended to require the City to initiate the planning for these areas and to re-designate them for development should land supply drop below 10 years or the intensification targets not be achieved. The policy does not preclude the City initiating or agreeing to these processes commencing earlier as noted above. Staff recommended that these policies be removed through OPA150.
The City agreed to the community design plan for Area 11 (Cardinal Creek Village) and approved the Official Plan Amendment in 2013. The policies of Section 3.11 were addressed in the staff report for the Official Plan amendment as follows:
…staff are of the opinion that given the length of time generally required to prepare the requisite plans, and the time it takes to implement the resultant plans of subdivision and zoning of the lands, that the work should proceed to have these lands pre-planned to come on stream over the term of the Official Plan.
The community design plan process for Area 10, north of Notre-Dame-des-Champs, has commenced and the City re-designated part of that area in 2014. The City is also involved in the community design plans for Expansion Area 1 in Kanata and Expansion Area 7 in Barrhaven, as well as a development plan for Area 9 in Leitrim.
In considering a comprehensive study for Area 2, the City is being consistent in its treatment of the landowners in each of these areas.
Issue 8: Archaeological Assessment
Question: Were any telephone phones found on the property? It is believed that the historic original poles were previously documented on site and that two original poles were found on the other side of Terry Fox Drive.
Response: Noted, archeological consultant to discuss the potential of historic telephone poles.