CJRO requested an interview with someone from the City of Ottawa regarding the scheduled Bearbrook Wetland Evaluation. The City did not provide an interview, but did answer our questions in an email. Here is the email exchange:
Dear Madam or Sir, I am a reporter with CJRO News, the only dedicated news outlet in the Bearbrook watershed. I am writing to request an interview with someone regarding the Bearbrook Wetland evaluation, which was triggered by the proposed Tewin subdivision. The interview would be 10-20 minutes, by telephone, would run on-air for about a week and be a podcast on cjroradio.com. Would someone be available this afternoon? There are two major stories in our area. First is the proposed Taggart Miller landfill (which we have heard Taggarts have turned over to Miller Waste) and the proposed Tewin subdivision. Both of these involve serious hydrological and biological changes to the area. Our listeners would therefore like to know a lot more about the wetland evaluation process and how to participate. Since the Taggart Miller EA process revealed gaps and flaws in the assessment process, many residents here have little trust in environmental assessments. Consequently the inclusion of local knowledge, not just brief observations and opinions from outside consultants, is strongly desired.
So my first question is:
1. how might that be achieved? Other questions include: 2. a detailed timeline of the process; 3. who is Parsons and what is that organization's role? 4. what are the qualifications of the persons conducting the study? 5. how will the public be able to comment on, object to or refute study conclusions? Please let me know if an interview is possible. Thank you kindly. Best regards, Candice Vetter
Unfortunately, we won’t be able to accommodate an interview, however, please see the responses to your questions below. You may attribute them to Nick Stow, Program Manager, Natural Systems & Rural Affairs.
1. How might that be achieved?
“The wetland evaluation is a technical evaluation. Provincial policy requires that it follow the Ontario Wetland Evaluation System (OWES). That system will incorporate local knowledge of flora and fauna, where available and subject to verification. If the wetland evaluation results in a Planning Act process, that process will be subject to the statutory requirements for public notice and consultation, including a mandatory public planning meeting, at which residents may make submissions.”
2. Is there a detailed timeline of the process?
“The City anticipates that staff from Parsons will begin fieldwork in late April 2022, which will continue until mid-July, and Parsons will then submit the wetland mapping and evaluation to the Ministry, likely by fall 2022, wherein the Ontario Ministry of Northern Development, Mines, Natural Resources and Forestry will review. This process may take several weeks to months, depending upon the complexity of the wetland evaluation and whether Ministry staff want to verify any information through site visits. If the Ministry determines that the wetlands qualify as provincially significant, City staff will have six months to initiate an Official Plan Amendment (OPA) to designate them in the Official Plan. City staff would bring forward a corresponding Zoning By-law Amendment (ZBA) at the same time. Both the OPA and the ZBA would be subject to the requirements of the Planning Act and approval by Ottawa City Council.”
3. Who is Parsons and what is that organization's role?
“Parsons is an environmental consulting company certified to carry out wetland evaluations in accordance with the Ontario Wetland Evaluation System. They will carry out an independent, arms-length evaluation, which will be submitted directly to the Province for review and confirmation. The City has confirmed that Parsons is not in any conflict of interest on this assignment.”
4. What are the qualifications of the persons conducting the study?
“The wetland evaluators have successfully completed the provincial training on the Ontario Wetland Evaluation System and are certified by the Province to carry out evaluations.”
5. How will the public be able to comment on, object to or refute study conclusions?
“The City will hold a virtual public information meeting on February 8 to provide information on the upcoming South Bear Brook wetland evaluation, including an explanation of the provincial requirements, the need for the wetland evaluation, the process for conducting the evaluation, the timing and possible implications.
Wetland evaluations are considered “open files” by the Province. Any resident disagreeing with the conclusions of Parsons can hire a wetland evaluator to carry out their own evaluation and submit it to the Province. Should the evaluation result in a Planning Act process, then any member of the public will be able to make a submission at the mandatory public planning meeting.”