Save Our Greenspace

Ottawa Communities Fighting to Preserve Our Greenspace / Updates on the LRT Project

March 29, 2006

Bowesville site - Railyard, or sports park?

Larry Pegg of Ecoview has provided this excellent view of the site, click the pic to enlarge. Note that Ecoview's design for the OSP takes into consideration and preserves the natural features of this land. Please see for details on the ultimate soccer facility.

Also worth noting - Ottawa paid "extra" ($160,000 per acre) to a developer in Stittsville to keep a greenspace green. ($1.2 M buys Stittsville wetland) By the same token, they should be willing to spend up to $6.4 MILLION to preserve either the Bowesville site or Airport Parkway site.

March 25, 2006

Letter to Mr Harrison, Mr O'Mara

Mr. Harrison, Mr. O'Mara,

For your information, this message was sent to Minister Broten last night.
If you haven't already seen page 8, re: maintenance yard location.

Please see stream of emails below.

It appears that the only reason the city of Ottawa agreed to putting the re-use of a Brownfield maintenance yard location as part of the MOU [available at bottom of this page], was to secure Government funding for the project ($400 M).

Let's think about this for a moment, you know that the Provincial and Federal Governments would have never agreed to levelling a greenspace field (site 2 or site 3) when an ideal Brownfield location was available.

The city has used the EA study and process, to change what they see as a constraint on the MOU. Unbelievable!!


Date: Thu, 23 Mar 2006
Subject: MOU - Ottawa North-South LRT project
To: "Chartrand, Rejean"

Mr. Chartrand,

Thank you for your note of March 23, 2006.

I agree, in part, with you that the the purpose of the MOU was executed to reconfirm the funding commitments. A very essential and fundamental component of this project.

However, I would like to draw your attention back to Section 1 of the MOU (the section from which you were quoting) wherein it states: "The purpose of this MOU is to build upon the announcement by: adjusting the proposed scope of the project ..., such adjusted scope is defined in Section 8 and Schedule A of this MOU, and reaffirming the financial commitment of the parties ..."

It is clear that the authors and signatories of this agreement placed, arguably, more weight on clarifying the deliverables by placing it first in the MOU than on reaffirming the financial commitment. This is the basis of any purchasing, borrowing, or lending situation, contractual or otherwise. When I buy a car I first specify the details of the car and then negotiate the price. If I am starting a business the bank wants to review a complete business plan before loaning the money. This situation is no different; before reaffirming the money the plan needs to be agreed to by the signatories.

Even if we accept that both clauses have equal weight, Section 1 of the MOU clearly and unequivocally establishes that Schedule A is the agreed to project. There is no mention in either Section 1 or Schedule A that either of the clauses, project definition or funding commitments, could be altered by an Environmental Assessment. Further, I do note that Section 9 states: "The parties may amend the Project definition by mutual agreement prior to the execution of the formal agreement". It is very clear and unequivocal that Schedule A is the Project Definition and no amendment has been provided, thus it can only be concluded that changes to the project definition have been made without the proper mutual agreement as required by the MOU.

In your note you mention that: "Section 4(a)i of the MOU explicitly requires the City to complete the necessary EA's for this project and the funding is conditional upon that requirement being met successfully. I agree, (though I understand that there are many issues regarding the completeness of the EA). However I have to disagree with you subsequent statement, which reads: "This of course includes the selection of the location of the maintenance facility ...". A reasonable person would not be led to such an interpretation. Rather a reasonable person would presume that the Section 4(a)i was to apply to the project as provided for in Schedule A - the project definition, and not as a mechanism to arbitrarily alter the project definition.

It is a travesty of due process, a circumvention of our parliamentary process, and an affront to the public good that an environmental assessment, as good or bad as it may be and clearly intended for another purpose, is being used as the vehicle from which to amend this project; a project to which the signatories have agreed to stated definition - Schedule A, and have agreed to a stated amending mechanism Section 9.

This travesty has wasted valuable resources, both public and those of individual community members who have committed to various working groups, in the pursuit of an objective not agreed to by the signatories. It is time for Council to take action and end this travesty, for anything else would be viewed as continuing the alleged veil of secrecy surrounding this project.

By cc of this note, I'm asking councillors to take action and direct city staff accordingly.

"Chartrand, Rejean" wrote:
Mr. Hillier,

Thank you for your e-mail of 23 March 2006 to Council members concerning the Memorandum of Understanding between Canada, Ontario, and the City on the LRT project.

The MOU was executed to reconfirm the funding commitments from the senior levels of government towards the City's LRT project and to clarify the procurement process that would be used for the delivery of the project. The project definition included in the MOU was based on the information available at the time. You will appreciate that the EA process was not completed at that time, and that the issue of the maintenance facility was addressed in the EA with the identification of three potential sites, with a selection process for the final site subsequently put in place by the Ministry of the Environment.

Section 4(a)i of the MOU explicitely requires the City to complete the necessary EA's for this project and the funding is conditional upon that requirement being met successfully. This of course includes the selection of the location of the maintenance facility by Council, as per the process established by the Ministry. As communicated previously, we expect that a report will be available for Council's consideration on this issue in May 2006.

The MOU needs to get formalized through a Contribution Agreement between Canada, Ontario, and the City. This will be the formal legal agreement between the parties committing the funds for this project. The development of this agreement is well underway and will be executed following contract award by City Council for the construction of the LRT project, as per Treasury Board's requirements. We anticipate this agreement to be in place by end of summer with a construction start following shortly thereafter.

Should you have any additional questions on this, please contact me directly.

Réjean Chartrand

From: Peter Hillier []
Sent: March 23,2006 9:52 AM
As requested by a neighbour, please see the attached MOU, specifically page 8 which details the layout of specific parts of the LRT project. Our questions to council are:

a. Is this MOU considered a mandate by the signatories?
b. If so, why wasn't the Walkley Yard the only option considered given the only options for other parts of the project have been lauded as a mandate in the MOU (i.e. dual vs single track and electric vs. deisel trains)?
c. Does an intergovernmental MOU of this nature necessarily have to be formalized by an agreement or contract in order to see the funding come through?

Given, I have been spending a considerable amount of my personal time "assisting" the City in the Public Working Group and now find that my time is being wasted on a selection process that should have never been facilitated, I demand to understand why the city has gone through this expensive process. At what point between this MOU and the initiation of the EA did it become necessary to position 3 alternative site if the Government of Canada and the Province had already agreed to fund on the use of one? I'm concerned that the optics of this suggest that the Walkely Yard was only positioned in the process as it was a brownfield and to front it vice any other location would bear more weght with the other partners in funding.

Peter J. Hillier

March 22, 2006

Some pictures of Walkley

From Cheryl's presentation, here are full colour aerial views of the Walkley site.

The first picture shows the Western tip of the Walkley site (1.) where it meets Bank street, and the Airport Parkway site (2.) just South of Hunt Club.

These shots show the Walkley site - looking East.
And a closer shot of the grounds where the buildings are to house the O-Trains.

These two pics are ground level shots of the existing storage and maintenance facility at Walkley, used for the O-train.

Réjean's latest dealings

Today's Citizen has this story - another example of progress being made with disrespect to the PWG process now underway.

March 20, 2006

LEED Green Building Rating System...

From: citycouncil

The station architecture, streetscaping, landscaping, and overall urban design consideration will be particularly important in designing a system that will be both highly functional and aesthetically pleasing. Given the nature of the LEED Green Building Rating System, it is not expected that platforms, stations, and maintenance facility will be designed to that standard, however, the RFP will encourage designs that have a high regard for energy efficiency and environmental considerations.
The designs, yes, what about maintenance yard placement? That's up to the city to decide, whether to pave greenspace or reuse existing brownfield. With the latest Citizen article it looks like the city is continuing to regard our PWG process as a formality.

Site Comparison Document online

An online (HTML) version of the Save Our Greenspace document listing the natural features of the three sites has now been posted online.

March 16, 2006

Ottawans not happy with council: Poll

A Poll done by Decima Research for the Ottawa Citizen indicates that we're not happy with our municipal leaders, those that get a large chunk of our tax dollars:
Indeed, taxes emerged as the most important issue for residents in the survey, with 18 per cent saying it will determine how they vote. Eleven per cent named city budget management as the second most important issue. Traffic and transportation came in third at nine per cent. Protecting social programs garnered four-per-cent support.

Among those who named taxes as the most important issue, 59 per cent said the city was on the wrong track. And of those concerned with transportation problems, 54 per cent said the city was going in the wrong direction. link to article
Note that Traffic and Transportation came in at 9% in importance - above protecting social programs at just 4%. Is that surprising? We care more about traffic and transportation than we do about protect social programs. That's pretty surprising (and revealing) in my opinion.

Why do you think a majority of the 400 residents surveyed think that the city is going in the wrong direction when it comes to public transportation?

While the LRT project is supposed to be the crowning jewel to mayor Bob's list of accomplishments, it's being rushed in order to do so. This has raised criticism from residents, experts, politicians and those involved in the project. That's why public opinion is so low on the transportation issue.

March 13, 2006

PWG schedule to come

If Tim's request to extend the PWG process in order to include a Spring walkthrough of the three sites is turned down, the following will be when the next meetings will be held:

Meeting 4, Mar 22: Begin selection of evaluation criteria and relative weightings. (Richmond room)

Meeting 5, Mar 27: Continue selection of evaluation criteria and relative weightings. Discuss project interactions and impacts. (Richmond room)

Meeting 6, Sat. Apr 1st: Carry out evaluation of the three sites and develop mitigation measures. (Richmond room)

Meeting 7 Wed Apr 5th, Colonel By Room (9:30am – 4:00pm): Continue evaluations, make a recommendation.

Week of April 11 - PUBLIC OPEN HOUSE - at City hall, 4:30-8:30 - come provide your feedback!)

Meeting 3 completed

Moving right along... Public Working Group meeting 3 spoke of site characteristics. We heard from MMM's Bill Draper on 13 natural characteristics he chose to focus on. I presented a diagram illustrating the vast area available at Walkley, enough to fit a couple of the Lester-size facilities.

The natural study done by MMM and in the EA, uses arbitrary footprints for the space required to build a maintenance/storage facility. True, an environmental study must take into consideration the surrounding lands but this was done in such a way to bring the Walkley site 'up' in natural characteristics. At the same time the Medeola woods East of the tracks at the Lester site were excluded from the natural study. All of this makes comparing the three sites difficult.

Meeting three capped off with Cheryl presenting natural info on 2 of the 3 sites before she ran out of time. Her sources were botanist/wetland expert Albert Dugal, Mick Panashar (Breeders Bird Atlas), Christine Hanrahan, and others.

Minutes have not yet been distributed.

March 06, 2006

Walkey site characteristics

Residents near the Walkley site have voiced their concern for the natural characteristics of the Walkley site. These concerns will be heard at the PWG meeting tonight.

It's my belief that these concerns can be easily mitigated by designing the facility to best use the area available at the Walkley site. We've already seen that the space available is ample enough to put two maintenance facilities. The pic in the previous post shows that the buildings could be placed at the East end of the site. We also know that the NCC is selling 7 hectares of land West of Albion which could also be used for this project. (pic)

Let's look at Calgary's Haysboro storage area, pic at right. This description comes from Tim L.:
It's a photo of the Haysboro LRV Storage Facilities
on Calgary's LRT line. The site is north of the
Anderson main storage & maintenance facility.

This shows how long, skinny buildings work
just fine as secondary storage facilities, and would
be easy to fit anywhere in Walkley Yard, without
having to wipe out any of the greenspace north
of the yard.

The larger building has five tracks in it for storing
LRV's. Note that the tracks only enter one end
of the building. At Walkley, we could easily have
a similar building with doors on both ends, for
greater operational flexibility.

The smaller building above it is for parts storage.
One can see a three car LRT train beside it.

Remember, we won't run anything more than a
two car train here in Ottawa, so that the productivity
of light rail will never appear to be too much better
than our buses. :)
Using long and narrow storage buildings is also a cost saving for the city - less switches required, less entrances required, easier to build.

It is clear that the design of the maintenance/storage facility is very important to minimizing the encroachment on greenspace. Mitigation should be built into the plans.

March 02, 2006

Meeting 2 issues raised

David G's simplification of the Walkley site vs 2 'virgin' greenspace sites: He wanted to know what relevance there was to doing a natural study on the three sites when one is so different than the other two. One would assume a site already used as a rail yard would have very little mitigation necessary to the natural environment since the function of the site won't change.

Bill Draper (MMM's ecologist) responded to this by saying that the area for his natural study of Walkley was chosen arbitrarily and was larger than necessary, encompassing a portion of the woods that would remain untouched by a maintenance facility. (see photo of relative sizes of Lester and Walkley sites, which will be tabled at next meeting).

Ed (MMM): CP Rail's sale of Walkley site to the city does not include the tracks. Ed said that CP intended to 'salvage the rails'. Tim Lane asked if a price was worked out for the land with rails and Ed didn't know, seemed not to care or that it had no relevance.

Tim Chadder: Tim went over the zoning and land use of the 3 sites. Regarding the Lester site's city-owned section currently zoned as Institutional Government Zone (Ig): he said that a maintenance/storage facility would fall into Point 4 of section 7.7.1 'Permitted Main Uses'. Point 4 reads: "use that is owned and operated by the Federal, Provincial, Regional or Municipal Government or agency thereof, including the Airport Authority".

Peter countered that it could be easily challenged, noting the intention of this bylaw is to allow for similar uses in the spirit of Institutional Government. A train maintenance yard/storage facility is hardly similar to any of the other list items: agriculture, horticulture, passive recreational use, equestrian facilities, hog farm... Therefore the debate remains: can the city do what it wants with the land under this bylaw 'loophole'?

2 new designs were presented by MMM, one for the Bowesville site layout and one for a dramatic fly-over at the Walkley site to allow trains to go South when exiting the site.

Tim Lane began to comment on the new fly-over design for Walkley Yard before being interrupted. A separate meeting is planned between he and MMM on this issue. Tim's comments were regarding the site in relation to the stormwater project currently in construction. He contends that there simply is no room and therefore the plan is impossible to build, and not necessary anyways.

As an aside, the 2 members of the LRT Office who were present remained silent. I assume it's their job to make sure the LRT project doesn't interfere with other city projects.

I raised Aviation Safety concerns with regards to the Bowesville site being right under the airport's flightpath, close to the runway.

Tim Lane added that Larry Pegg's application to put a soccer park in that area was turned down by the Airport CEO, Paul Benoit due to the potential for planes crashing into soccer fields/ concerns for children. Yet this is a risk the city is willing to take with the maintenance facility? A crash would significantly impact the entire transit system and contingency plans would have to stay in place until the site is rebuilt. Not to mention the lives of 100 or so workers who would be killed.

There were no responses to this.


We were bombarded with information, and didn't get through half of the agenda items. People were repeatedly cut off when they were voicing legitimate concerns surrounding the new data that was provided. No time has been allotted (yet) for members of the PWG to present information pertaining to site characteristics. It has been "all MMM".

March 01, 2006

Welcome PWG members

At the meeting tonight I offered to use this site as a sounding board for discussion surrounding the public working group's site selection process. If you are a member of the PWG (I feel for you) - feel free to comment on this thread regarding tonight's meeting. If you want to post a new thread, email me using the 'Let Us Know' link at the right. I will post on your behalf.

I'll collect any pertinent comments or questions raised here and table them at the next meeting, with permission of the commentor.

Points Raised at PWG meeting 1

The goal of the first PWG meeting was to intorduce ourselves and define our role and what we would attempt to achieve. We also talked about what the difference is between a rail yard vs a maintenange facility vs a storage facility. Finally we heard what features are expected in the maintenance /storage facility.

In brief, the facility will be made up of the following:
  • a light maintenance area
  • a heavy area
  • a washing facility much like a modern car wash
  • hydrolic cranes
  • storage area
Each site has a unique layout, but most have the heavey and light maintenance areas in one building, a separate building for storage and a separate area for washing. Standard contamination precaustions will be put in place, according to WHIMIS and other health and safety regulations.

After the meeting many comments were made regarding the short timeline in which we have to complete this site analysis, something that would take a contractor months. The group is comprised of community representatives, environment groups, related agencies, the consultants MMM (Marshall Macklin Monaghan) who are contracted by the city to provide program management and assist in the selection of a private company to do the work on the public-private venture.

Some of the comments that were raised following the meeting:

  • The MOE rep said, that the MOE won't decide which site is best - that's up to the city.
  • The proponents were asked to bid on the project, assuming that the Lester site would be where the yard goes.
  • The cost of building the yard on some other site than Lester, would have to be negotiated with the successful bidder.As Stan Rosenbaum of the Ottawa Field Naturalists' Club pointed out, that could leave the city open to ransom.
  • "They" said that the ELRT vehicles will not run in trains (thus negating most of the economies of scale that LRT is SUPPOSED to provide, compared to buses). At most, they expect no more than two car trains, and platforms no longer than that, for the far distant future.
  • It was admitted that trucks servicing the Lester site would have to access it from the Airport Parkway.Several members of the PAC advised them that trucks are not allowed on the Parkway. No response from the planners.
  • Some time was spent looking at the Anderson Storage & Maintenance facility for Calgary's LRT and we found many feature similarities to it and the Walkley site.
  • MMM cannot/will not provide costing figures. Since cost is such a high criteria, a proper comparison of the sites can't be done.

Public Working Group Meetings

Today is the second of four meetings with the Public Working Group, which is tasked with evaluating the three proposed sites for the maintenance/storage facility. At the end of this process we will compile our analysis into a report, with a site recommendation to city council. Then it will be up to council to decide on the 'most-right' location. If they choose not to take the site recommended by the PWG (assuming the group comes to a consensus), then they will have to justify their decision.

As a member of the PWG it is my role to keep my fellow residents informed of progress made, and I intend to use this site to do so. If you have concerns or questions, please let me know using the email link on the right.

You can see the city's plans via this memo
Note the RFP process is moving forward 'concurrent' with the PWG process.