COMMENT: Sorry’s not enough to fix Johnwoods

A 350 metre portion of Johnwoods Street between Rosehill and Maple Grove will be converted into a linear park.

Councillor Shad Qadri says City staff provided him with “misleading information” about the plan to convert Johnwoods Street into a park, and that he won’t be asking the Planning Committee to stop it.

“I share your frustration as I too was provided misleading information from the City,” he wrote in his weekly newsletter today. “Over the past few years when residents and I have inquired about a public meeting to discuss this road conversion, we were told that no final decision would be made until there was a public consultation.”

“As your elected municipal representative, I apologize on behalf of the City of Ottawa for the misinformation that was provided to residents. I want to assure you that I do not take this situation lightly and find the situation very unsettling,” he wrote.

His explanation comes after the planning department also issued an apology to residents in an unsigned letter back in May.

Sorry isn’t enough. Are staff being held accountable for failing to serve the public?  Qadri should be demanding that the City’s integrity officer and city manager to do a full review of what happened, and make the results fully transparent to residents.

At a public meeting on May 4, Qadri agreed to put forward a motion at Planning Committee to put a halt to converting the north part of Johnwoods to a linear park.  Now he says that won’t happen.

“Upon further review of the suggested amendment it has become clear that taking such an action would not result in any changes to the plan and therefore I will not be pursuing this course of action. I have consulted with Senior Planning Staff, the City Solicitor and Planning Committee Chair Jan Harder on this potential amendment. When the development came forward for approval I was required to declare a conflict of interest as I own property which backs onto the development. Additionally, it was determined that if I was to reopen the file, I would again be placed in a conflict of interest.”

“It would be very unlikely that another City Councillor would move such a motion as the reality is that the City has already approved this subdivision. If a Councillor was to receive support at Planning Committee and City Council for such an amendment to be approved at the City level, the developer would then appeal the decision to the province and the Ontario Municipal Board (OMB) and I feel very confident in stating that the OMB would not support a decision to change the already approved plan. Having an item go forward to the OMB will take a large amount of time, effort and potentially finances from the community in representation of their interests to the Board.”

“It is now time to move forward on this file. The next step is to discuss how this linear park will be constructed and what features could possibility be incorporated. Think about the potential this park could have and share your comments with me.”

I can sympathize with Councillor Qadri. He had to remove himself from the file because of the City’s conflict of interest rules, and he says he was given the wrong information by planning staff. And I agree that it’s unlikely the City would win at the Ontario Municipal Board (OMB). Mattamy’s got a strong case and has already sold houses backing onto the future park at a premium price.

Even if the linear park can’t be stopped, Qadri can still insist on strict conditions before it goes ahead. For example:

  • Traffic calming measures in place on Rosehill, Maple Grove, and adjacent streets (it’s not yet a sure thing).
  • Completion of a full Area Traffic Study to understand potential impacts (current traffic data is out of date)
  • Substantial completion of the north-south road network, including Robert Grant Avenue (scheduled for 2026 or later)

Somebody once said that right actions in the future are the best apologies for bad actions in the past. Councillor Qadri and planning staff should keep that in mind for whatever comes next with Johnwoods.

Here’s the full text of Councillor Qadri’s letter to residents today.


9 thoughts on “COMMENT: Sorry’s not enough to fix Johnwoods”

    1. I believe this falls mostly on staff. Councillors rely on staff for accurate information, Qadri says he didn’t get that.

      I also believe Qadri could have done a better job communicating with residents on this one, even with the information he had from staff.

  1. Let me see if I’m understanding this right…

    Because our beloved councillor lives amongst his constituents, there’s certain things he is blocked from telling us – because he lives here.

    And if we find out after the fact, he cannot help us do anything about it, again, because he lives here amongst us.

    And on top of that, the City went ahead and made a decision for something that, it appears, the people don’t want. Or if they were willing to talk about it before it got decided, they didn’t have that chance.

    There’ something very wrong with this process.

    Oh, and since Mr. Qadri was not allowed to tell us, I must have missed the big white sign posted well in advance by the City stating “An application has been submitted…” – you know, the big signs that go up on a property when someone like a developer wants to change the type of use for a particular parcel of land. You know, where we are invited to give out input before it happens.

    Personally, I think it’s a dumb idea to close the road. All it will do is re-route the same traffic through our streets – those streets with the kids out playing on their tricycles, scooters, skateboards, playing road-hockey. The traffic isn’t going to disappear.

    I didn’t get that chance to offer my opinions though – or debate it so I could understand why I might be wrong. Actually, none of us did.

  2. What a sad world we live in where people are upset that we’re building parks instead of roads. This car worship has to stop. We need better public transit and less roads, not status quo.

    1. Of course, but less of them. We have lots of roads. We’ve overbuilt the 417, and there’s still bumper to bumper traffic. Instead of adding more lanes, we should have built a rail line straight down the middle. People would sit in bumper to bumper traffic, see the train go by, and decide to take that instead.

      Replacing that road will make a meaningful improvement to the community. Leaving the road will just encourage more traffic, not even from that neighbourhood, to use it.

  3. Jimmy, Jayme – thanks for your comments.

    Jimmy – I agree with you – the controversy over communication has made it really difficult to have a real discussion about the benefits of a park.

    Jayme – true enough – but this is a mere 350m of roads. There’s no shortage of roads in this part of the community get around. Problem here is that we don’t fully understand how closing this stretch will affect the neighbourhoods. A new/updated traffic study needs to be done.

  4. As this appears to be a ‘done deal’, let’s move on to what can be done with a small park. Mattamy has already included a number of community parks; we have Bryanston Gate Park; why not have our own small DOG PARK, gated and fully fenced to the ground. Serves the neighbourhood and not just Mattamy land.

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