NCC Watch

Working to consign the NCC to oblivion

Search string: "uplands"

Matches found: 5

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Jurisdictional confusion on the Greenbelt

As work gets underway on this trade show facility on Greenbelt land out by the airport, EMC Ottawa South attempts to figure out who's actually responsible for what:

Construction for the new trade show facility in Ottawa South has officially begun.

[...]The land in question falls into the Greenbelt, which is managed by the NCC and 4899 Uplands Dr. has been deemed a buildable site within the Greenbelt.

And while the NCC believes the Macdonald-Cartier International Airport and its land provides an excellent venue for further economic development, the NCC and the Ottawa Airport Authority currently have differing positions on the jurisdictions of the NCC in respect to these lands and are in discussions about the issue - but neither the NCC nor the airport authority would comment on what the discussions consisted of.

Krista Kealey, vice-president of communications and public affairs for the Ottawa International Airport Authority, explained that the authority's Land Use Plan, which is part of the authority's Master Plan and has been approved by the Transport Canada in 2008, governs the development on their land. It was also given approval by the NCC. However, in the statement of the NCC's approval, it lists a series of conditions, one of which is that submission of detailed environmental studies is required prior to development for the Uplands Employment Area in wooded or wetland areas only.

The site is currently a vacant wooded lot.

However, Kealey said the only approval the authority receives is from the Minister of Transport. In addition, NCC spokesperson Mario Tremblay said that the NCC "technically can't stop any development on the site."

[...]In addition to falling on the Greenbelt, the land is owned by Transport Canada and is leased to the Ottawa Airport Authority, which has then decided to sub lease their land to Shenkman Corp. As of Oct. 4, Shenkman was still waiting for approval of the lease from Transport Canada.

"This arrangement gives the Airport Authority the sole responsibility for operation, management, and development of the Airport lands," said Transport Canada spokesperson Maryse Durette. "The Airport Authority operates at arms length from Transport Canada."

Further, she explained that airport authorities are not currently federal authorities as defined under the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act and therefore "do not trigger a legal obligation to undertake federal environmental assessments."

Durette confirmed that while the site is owned federally, because it is leased, it is not considered federal land.

"To date, Transport Canada has not identified any actions or decisions by the Ottawa Airport Authority that would require Transport Canada to conduct a federal environmental assessment under the CEAA in relation to this project proposal."

"In this case, the Authority requires that Shenkman will follow the direction of the City of Ottawa through its site planning process and obtain all necessary permits, licenses and studies as the city sets out in its conditions to planning approval," said Kealey.

While the city has no authority over the land, they are in charge of ensuring that all studies are completed in according with their site plan control proposal process. City staff has maintained that all the necessary studies have been completed for the project.

However, there has been no Environmental Assessment completed because it is not required on federal land. But, as Durette said, this is not considered federal land.

[...]Regardless of the confusion of jurisdictions that surrounds, the project has begun and will continue in full force until its grand opening in Jan. 2012.

To recap, the NCC don't have jurisdiction, don't own the land, and approve of whatever gets built anyways. More good work on the Greenbelt file from the NCC, then.

EMC: Trade show and exhibition centre causes jurisdiction confusion [28 October 2010]
CBC: Ottawa development protest pressures minister [19 October 2010]
CBC: Protesters decry greenbelt clear-cutting [15 October 2010]
EMC: Trade show centre development raises questions about environment [14 October 2010]
EMC: A new Lansdowne in Ottawa South? [23 September 2010]
CBC: Residents oppose Greenbelt development [23 January 2002]

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

More Greenbelt development

The NCC, as they like to tell us, are charged with protecting lands of national importance such as the Greenbelt. So when a new trade show facility is being thrown up somewhere on Greenbelt land out by the airport, some might expect - given a leading name like 'greenbelt' - that the NCC would nix the thing. Well, not so much. From the CBC:

Environmental groups in Ottawa are challenging the city's plan to build a trade show centre near the Ottawa Airport.

The Greenbelt Coalition of Canada's Capital Region - which represents 15 environmental and community organizations in Ottawa - says the city and the National Capital Commission, or NCC, are trying to rush the $40-million project.

They say the site on Uplands Drive where the trade show centre and hotel are to be built is in the middle of sensitive wetlands and could threaten wildlife.

They argue that the area's wetlands are protected by federal legislation and accuse the NCC and top city officials of treating the site like a developer's playground.

"It's all about development," said Sol Shuster, chair of the coalition. "It's seen by some people at the NCC as business opportunities rather than protecting the greenbelt."

[...]Coalition cochair Nicole Desroches said she isn't against the construction of a trade show centre but believes it should be built elsewhere.

"The location is problematic," she said. "Not only because of the wetlands, but closer to downtown would provide a more readily available access by public transit and avoids creating a field of parking used only occasionally."

Members of the alliance say the project could endanger wildlife in the area.

Cheryl Doran with the Friends of the Greenspace Alliance, a member of the coalition, said turtles are already being killed on Uplands Road and says she is sickened that more turtles - including snapping turtles and endangered Blanding's turtles that might live in the area - will be wiped out if the wetlands are filled in for parking lots.

"This is anything but greening the capital when you have to wipe out a federal wetlands and the species that live there," she said.

NCC officials were not available for comment but are on record as supporting the development even though there has not been an environmental assessment.

In fact, single-story trade show facilities with plenty of surface parking are just the sort of sprawl the NCC has always encouraged for the Greenbelt.

CBC: Environmental groups fight trade show centre plan [21 September 2010]
Citizen: Trade-show site plans raise concerns [5 October 2010]

Friday, September 5, 2003

Moffatt farm study gives go ahead

A study (ordered by the OMB in its decision awhile back) recommends protecting half of Ottawa's Moffatt Farm from development, including the part bordering the river. The remainder will likely be developed for 200 single-family homes.

The NCC has become a commercial private developer. I have been struck by the banality and mediocrity of the proposal for developing that land. - Senator Anne Cools, Ottawa Citizen

One thing about the Moffatt Farm controversy, it has raised questions about the NCC's role as land speculator in the region. Regardless of the merits of any particular development proposal, what public purpose was served by having a federal agency acquire the land in the first place? And what public purpose does that agency serve today?

Banal and mediocre development is the NCC's signature - just take a stroll around Confederation Heights or Tunney's Pasture (in winter for best effect). And they're still at it - in January 2002 they proposed building a business park on Greenbelt land between Uplands Drive and the Airport Parkway. Well any developer with a sackful of cash and a city councillor in his back pocket can build one of those, why does Ottawa need a federal agency?

CBC: Moffatt farm study gives go ahead [5 Sep 2003]
Citizen: 'No NCC greenspace is safe,' councillor warns [5 Sep 2003]
NCC Watch: Uplands development
NCC: Uplands development information page

Wednesday, January 23, 2002

Residents oppose Greenbelt development

The NCC's latest Greenbelt business park development proposal (between Uplands Drive and the Airport Parkway) received a cool reception at their public meeting. From the CBC:

A battle is brewing over the National Capital Commission's plans to develop part of the city's Greenbelt.

The land spans between Uplands Drive and the Airport Parkway in the city's south end.

The NCC outlined its plans for the area at a public meeting last night. Area residents showed up to give it the thumbs-down.

The land in question is covered with low-lying vegetation with part of it being designated as a wetland.

It's a place where people enjoy the outdoors. However, it could one day be home to a group of high-tech workers.

The NCC wants to build four office buildings on the land.

The NCC's senior planner Robert Walters harrumphed that they could "develop property right now with current zoning." Robert, you don't have to tell us the whole exercise is a charade - we know. The development: 800,000 square feet of office and research space in one- and two-storey buildings in the middle of nowhere. Smart growth indeed.

CBC: Residents oppose Greenbelt development [23 January 2002]
OBJ: NCC to rezone land near airport for biz park [23 January 2002]

Monday, January 21, 2002

NCC to pave over more Greenbelt

The NCC is proposing to amend the NCC's Greenbelt Master Plan and Plan for Canada's Capital to permit "commercial and institutional uses in a green, open setting, and rural landscape" on greenbelt land north of the airport between the Airport Parkway and Uplands Drive. In laymen's terms, they call it a "business park," itself a euphemism for low rent office space in the suburbs. Good thing we have the NCC around to preserve land for generations so that banal office parks can be built in the future.

Citizen: NCC sets sights on patch of Greenbelt [22 Jan 2002]
NCC Uplands development information page