LETTER: Community involvement points way towards a better planning process

Re: City and developer agree on further study of 6279 Fernbank

The unusual and unexpected adjournment and the conditions show the advantages to communities of having a party status at the hearing. Without this, I doubt if we would have been included at this point.

As the designated party, I put a huge amount of time and effort into preparing for the hearing, as did every member of our committee — my husband Gerry Kroll, The McKims, Diana Trudeau, and Glen McDonald. Those who could were witnesses for us, as well as Bob White and researcher and retired librarian, Faith Blacquiere of Glen Cairn. Jillian McKim also cross-examined the witnesses for the other Parties, as did I on the first day, before my voice abandoned me in the dry atmosphere of the hearing room.

We are glad of the opportunity to take part in discussions and studies over the summer and into September. Our involvement gives us a chance to support the applicant’s studies into what really happens to the water that runs through the site — where it comes from, its route and ponding, and where it goes — and to influence the final decision on whether or not this development should go ahead, and what form it should take if it does. While we don’t have power of veto, we will still have the right to present our summations, and, if the City and applicant reach an agreement that we don’t like, we will be able to include our reasons for disagreement in our final summation, for consideration by the Ontario Municipal Board.

I hope this experience will lead to a better way of doing things than is now current in the City of Ottawa. In many jurisdictions, it is normal for the community to be consulted and for a feasibility and viability study to be done for both the site itself and the surrounding community and lands, before an application ever goes into the city or municipality, especially for a site that does not fit normal parameters for development, such as this piece of wetland. Such consultation here could have saved thousands of dollars and months of hard work.

I’m not sure if the activities during this adjournment will take us to the conclusion that the surrounding community believes it should come to, but I hope that at the end there will at least be better understanding of the site, and cooperation among all parties going into the future. I commend the City and the applicant for including community representatives, and I look forward to having the future of this site finally resolved.

The site does, after all, perform a natural water management function within the surrounding communities and adjacent UNF (Urban Natural Feature), and between Fernbank Wetland and the Poole Creek Watershed. It may or may not support housing on an artifical 3.5 meter-high plateau without causing harm to existing lower-level houses — in my mind, it probably won’t. But it could definitely be a lovely wetland and woodland park for wildlife, much of which has called it home for many years, and people wishing to walk around a trail and boardwalk and enjoy some peace away from the hustle of the road, absorbing the calm of nature among the trees of this very special area.

Keldine FitzGerald, Stittsville


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