This effort was pulled together by a group of neighbours living in the Carlington neighbourhood who share a common appreciation for the urban forest on the east side of Fisher Ave North as a recreational area and greenspace that provides vital ecological services to our neighbourhood as a weather shelter, biodiversity refuge and buffer from storm water flooding whose intensity and frequency is increasing with intensification on the street’s west side (where there are currently houses).
We are not urban planning experts or politicians – just regular neighbours who are learning day by day and doing our best to ensure that Fisher Ave North are is spared from a ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach to intensification that does not consider the street’s unique environmental character and importance to our community.
Our detailed submission and petition to “request that Fisher Ave North not be designated as a minor corridor” was based on a careful reading and comparison of the (Nov 2020) Draft Official Plan and policy documents that shape the current zoning, usage, and environmental protection of Fisher Ave North.
Our environmental concerns align directly with risk factors that the City of Ottawa identified in its Urban Forest Management Plan (2018-2037).
No. The urban forest on the east side of Fisher Ave North is owned by the federal government, and continues to be designated as an Environmentally Protected Area in the Draft Official Plan.
We have been informed by long-time residents that there have been past instances of parcels belonging to the Experimental Farm being sold off by the federal government to the City of Ottawa for development (e.g. Central Park neighbourhood in 1987), but volunteers from our group have also received personal assurances from the city’s Manager of Planning Policy that no requests to purchase any additional such land parcels have been made or even considered during his tenure.
Our group’s ongoing appeal to the city has been that this forest cannot absorb the pressures that would accompany development being proposed in the Draft Official Plan for the west side of Fisher Ave North (re-zoning to permit six-storey buildings; street-front businesses, etc.).
As detailed in our technical submission, this development will irreparably damage the health of the forest by cutting off interconnected root systems, increasing exposure of trees to disease and altering drainage patterns in an existing compromised area, along with other risks warned about in the city’s own Urban Forest Management Plan (2018-2037).
We have inquired on this with our City Councillor and are awaiting a response. To date, we have received no indication in correspondence from the city that any environmental or hydrological risk analyses were conducted prior to the street’s proposed re-designation as a ‘minor corridor.’
Our group feels that this responsibility belongs squarely with the City of Ottawa.
You are regrettably not alone. The Federation of Community Associations (FCA) has requested for the official plan process to be delayed until 2023, so that its implications could be properly understood, debated and affirmed (or rejected) by citizens during the next municipal election. As part of its open letter to City Council, the FCA emphasized “the short timeline for voluntary associations… to engage in [its] review (mid-November to mid-March over the holiday season) and the constraints that COVID-19 has imposed on all of us.”
In response to concerns from neighbours, particularly from elderly households, our group also submitted a question to the Q&A section of the Engage Ottawa website to ask whether a city-wide postal mail initiative has been undertaken or is being planned to inform residents about the Draft Official Plan, in the context of health restrictions on door-to-door canvassing during COVID-19, which has made it difficult for community groups like ours to reach our neighbours offline. This question was not responded to, and it appears that this Q&A section of the city’s website has now been taken down.
No. Our group understands and fully appreciates the importance of Fisher Ave North as a north-south transit route that is relied upon by communities across our ward. Our request to remove the minor corridor designation for Fisher Ave North does not seek to alter that status quo. On the contrary, we are concerned that re-designating Fisher Ave North as a "minor corridor' will undermine its continued use as a north-south route by commuters, for reasons outlined in our submission. Maintaining the traffic flow of this route would become increasingly difficult with an increase of traffic from residents entering/exiting street front households with the inevitable increase in density anticipated as a result of the minor corridor designation.