forests

Greening Lansdowne Park by Paving Greenbelt Forest.

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Greening Lansdowne Park by Paving Greenbelt Forests.

Next Wednesday, September 1st 2010 the City’s Committee of Adjustment will be considering an application for a “Minor Variance” that would allow more than 28 acres of existing forest in the Greenbelt to be destroyed and replaced with a 2,000 car parking lot and Exhibition Hall.

Our city has already accepted a proposal from the Shenkman Corporation to build a 220,000 square foot exhibition hall and massive parking along Uplands Drive near the airport (Link to the June 1st report here).   From the report:

“The construction of a new Exposition Hall Facility, as proposed by Shenkman, will not only solve the problem of lack of contiguous exposition hall space that has significantly limited the ability of the trade and consumer show industry to grow in Ottawa, but will also allow the City to pursue its ‘greening” objectives for Lansdowne Park”

Lansdowne Park currently has a total of 96,400 square feet of exhibition space and since most of it will be replace with shopping, hotels and condos this Exhibition Hall project seems to be packaged in with Lansdowne’s Partnership Plan.

While I understand that the NCC has marked the proposed area for development, after touring the proposed building site you can’t help but wonder why the Exhibition Hall needs to be built in an existing forest when there is acre upon acre of manicured green lawn just across the road.

Construction is due to be completed by December 2011.  So while our attempts to Green Lansdowne may be just, it is somewhat ironic that constructing a 2,000 car parking lot in the existing forests of our greenbelt.

p.s. Other Contacts:

City of Ottawa’s Lead Planner for the Exposition Hall Facility Project:

Simon M. Deiaco, MCIP RPP
City of Ottawa
Planner II
Infrastructure Services and Community Sustainability
Planning and Growth Management Branch
t: (613) 580-2424 Ext. 15641
f: (613) 560-6006
e-mail: Simon.Deiaco@ottawa.ca

UPDATE #1: It looks like Spacing Ottawa has picked up on the story and is getting some good comments!

UPDATE #2: Metro Ottawa has picked up the story as well.  (Thank you Tim!)

Shifting boundaries

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Via the Ottawa Citizen: Shifting boundaries.

There was an interesting letter in the Citizen this morning.  It made me wonder if this “sacred ideology of growth” which Madeline Weld writes about could be successfully shifted to focus on (or include) plants and animals.

The Letter:

Shifting boundaries
By Madeline Weld, The Ottawa Citizen May 18, 2010

Re: Councillor muses about Terry Fox land swap, May 16.

This Citizen article illustrates the fact that unrestricted growth destroys the environment, while smart growth destroys the environment more slowly. As our expanding human population requires ever more space, we will just take it, wherever it may be and, however, it may be zoned.

Boundaries established to protect the habitat of endangered plant and animals will simply be shifted to accommodate relentless growth, as is occurring in the case of the planned expansion of Terry Fox Drive.

Developers know that the Ontario Municipal Board will almost always rule in their favour if recalcitrant residents or environmentalists give them any trouble.

What is playing out in Kanata is repeated countless times in Canada and around the world, as the global population soars from its current 6.8 million to a projected 9 billion-plus during the next 40 years and Canada’s population soars from 33 million to 44 million, an increase of 33 per cent driven primarily by the government’s own policies.

Environmentalists may win the occasional battle, but as long as they refuse to recognize growth as the enemy, as most steadfastly refuse to do, they will lose the war to preserve the habitat that biodiversity depends on. When push comes to shove in an increasingly crowded world, human needs for space to live, grow food, and meet their energy needs will always trump the needs of other organisms.

The developer may seem like the obvious villain in this case. But the real villains are the sacred ideology of growth, our governments who embrace this ideology, our environmentalists who refuse to challenge it, and the rest of us with our silence. The developers are merely implementing this sacred ideology at whose altar we all worship.

Madeline Weld,

President,

Population Institute of Canada

Cumberland

City proposes cuts to tree maintenance budget

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Shared via here.

Shared by jg

A great article from Apartment613!

Courtesy of jhscrapmom on flickr

Courtesy of jhscrapmom on flickr

Trees are the thin green line holding our cities back from the concrete abyss. Adding a line of ash or maples instantly transforms the mean city streets to a more humane and hospitable place and adds both beauty and privacy to the urban space. However, the advantages of the urban forest go beyond aesthetics to the more practical domains of energy savings and air quality. For example, having a tree in front of your house to break the wind can result in energy savings of 10-15%. They are also giant air filters, absorbing as much as 7,000 particles per litre of air as well as sucking up carbon from cars and buildings.

Given all these economic, environmental and social benefits, the proposed $2 million cuts to the city’s $11 million forestry program is a bit of a puzzle. According to the CBC, the cuts will mean that the regular trimming of Ottawa’s 310,000 trees will happen only once every 32 years, instead of once every 5 to 7 years as is currently the stated practice (although apparently that time line is more aspiration than fact). One disturbing (and completely unsubstantiated) rumor floating around is that the city will choose to just cut down trees that may become a problem over the next few years rather than deal with the risk.

The cuts to the tree budget are part of the city’s efforts to deal with a number of upcoming fiscal shocks that ironically have little to do with the deepest and most widespread global recession of recent memory. Instead, the strain is largely coming from the $36.7 million settlement to the contractors of the canceled north-south light rail line as well as money for the $13 million for the green bin program, $20 million for infrastructure and a $10 million increase to the police budget. Other fiscal measures on the table include cuts to OC Transpo bus routes, eliminating the $500,000 Crime Prevention Ottawa program and a 4% hike in property taxes.

Don’t get me wrong; fiscal probity is important, and it’s always hard to find budget cuts that won’t cause some self-righteous blogger somewhere to complain. However, it seems as if the council’s priorities in this case are a little off kilter. For example, they just pledged to spend $12 million ($6 million more then intended) on an electronic system to announce the stops in buses – not exactly on my list of things to spend on when I have a $32 million bill coming in. I have no beef with the police, but given that their budget has doubled over the last decade did they really need $10 million more this year? Couldn’t they have got by with only $8 million?

Upkeeping trees is a policy to improve energy efficiency, clean the air and beautify the city all at once. Not upkeeping trees endangers both a valuable resource and public safety. This might save money, but it is certainly a waste of common sense.

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