That Planning and Development Committee recommend Council approve the donation of environmental lands from Urbandale Corporation to the City of Ottawa as compensation for the April 2002 tree cutting incident in Kanata Lakes.
RECOMMENDATION DU RAPPORT
Que le Comité de l'urbanisme et de l'aménagement recommande au Conseil municipal d'approuver la donation de terrains écologiques par Urbandale Corporation à la Ville d'Ottawa à titre de compensation pour l'incident de coupe d'arbres survenu en avril 2002 à Kanata Lakes.
In April of 2002, a contractor, not authorized by Urbandale Corporation, trespassed on lands owned by Urbandale and cut trees in the Kanata Lakes community. The tree cutting occurred within lands designated in the Official Plan as both Natural Environment Area and General Urban Area. Lands affected within the Natural Environment Area (NEA) were originally intended to be conveyed to the City of Ottawa by Urbandale through prior planning decisions. However, the exact boundary of the environmental lands had not been established at the time of the tree-cutting incident. The City promptly took action on this matter and formally conveyed our requirements to the landowner, Urbandale Corporation.
Both parties agreed to the following key principles:
(a) The environmental lands originally intended to be conveyed to the municipality will be dedicated to the City upon refinement of the natural area boundary;
(b) As compensation for the lands damaged by the tree-cutting, additional and comparable environmental land will be identified and conveyed for an area equal in measure to that environmentally sensitive land which was adversely affected by the tree harvesting operation; in addition, appropriate rehabilitation of the affected land will occur; and,
(c) That an Environmental Study will be conducted to determine the natural environment area boundary, identify required restoration measures and to provide a management plan for the area.
A technical advisory committee including staff from Development Services was assembled. A public consultation program was also implemented to provide the public with on-going updates and opportunities to provide input. The landowner undertook immediate actions, supervised by the City, to advance the key principles as well as to allow for continued use of the area by the public in the short term. These activities included:
Installation of temporary fencing around the impacted area;
Installation of sediment and erosion control measures;
Reopening of informal bike trails;
Inventory and assessment of cut trees;
Survey of affected area;
Clean-up of impacted area; and,
Removal of cut trees.
In addition, the landowner also provided the City with a cheque for $10,000.00, the amount received from the sale of the cut trees. This money will go towards implementing the management plan recommended for the natural environment areas (Kizell and Beaver Ponds).
Since the tree cutting incident, development applications have been submitted for the remaining urban lands within Kanata Lakes. While the environmental study and delineation of the natural areas within Kanata Lakes will be addressed as part of the development application review process, this report deals only with the compensation land issue.
Tree Removal Impact Assessment
A survey and assessment of the extent of tree removal was undertaken in the spring of 2002. The tree cutting occurred west of Goulbourn Forced Road within both General Urban and Natural Evironment Area (NEA) designations. The total amount of area within the NEA boundaries that was damaged by the tree removal is approximately four hectares (10 acres). Within the NEA boundary, extensive tree removal occurred in the cedar upland forest south of Kizell Pond, immediately west of Goulbourn Forced Road, and within the ash and maple swamp to the west of Kizell Pond, east of the First Line Road allowance. Tree removal also occurred at the edge of the wetland habitat west of Goulbourn Forced Road, on the south side of the pond. The damaged area extended to the north side of Kizell Pond on a portion of upland deciduous forest contiguous with the impacted swamp area.
Extensive tree removal also occurred outside of the NEA boundary in the upland deciduous forest north of Kizell Pond, immediately west of the Goulbourn Forced Road. Additional trees were removed from the upland deciduous forests on the south side of Kizell Pond, to the south of the NEA boundary within the future urban area. Although only mature trees were targeted for tree-cutting, much of the immature vegetation was damaged by heavy machinery. There was no damage to the deciduous forests on the north side of Beaver Pond, east of Goulbourn Forced Road.
Compensation Land Considerations
Urbandale Corporation agreed to provide land of equal area and environmental value as compensation for the area damaged within the NEA. City staff presented the compensation principle to the public at a public meeting held in the community on May 15th , 2002. Most people in attendance agreed with this principle. Some argued that the compensation ratio should be higher. Most of the public felt that the compensation lands should be in their community. As a result, a number of options associated with the compensation lands were developed. These compensation options were presented to the public at an open house held in July, 2002. The public was asked to comment on their two preferred options from the list below:
North of Beaver Pond;
Linkage from Beaver Pond to Trillium Woods;
North of Kizell Pond;
Lands to the West of Kizell Pond; and
Active Park Space.
A total of 28 comment sheets were received from the public. The breakdown by community is provided below:
Beaverbrook - 46% Rural March - 3%;
Kanata Lakes - 17% Outside Kanata - 3%;
Other Kanata Neighbourhoods - 14% No Response - 17%.
Beaver Pond and linkages from Beaver Pond to Trillium Woods were the highest ranking options with 53%. This is not surprising given the dominant response rate from the Beaverbrook community. No one (0%) chose increasing the active park space. Survey respondents ranked all other options equally (16%), including consideration of lands to the west of Kizell Pond.
In addition to public input, staff considered other factors in determining the most appropriate lands for compensation. These factors included environmental value, environmental connectivity, community connections, as well as technical and economic considerations. As a result of this analysis, the land directly west of Kizell Pond was selected as the preferred option (refer to Figure 1). The compensation land is part of the South March Highlands, an environmental area, that is both provincially and regionally significant. The South March Highlands is designated Natural Environment Area (NEA) in the new Official Plan. We are therefore compensating NEA land with NEA land.
It is important to note that the compensation land does not represent the Natural Environment Area boundary for the South March Highlands, but merely defines a vegetation unit for dedication purposes within the larger area. The NEA boundary for these lands as well as the larger South March Highlands area will be addressed through the Special Study Area exercise currently being undertaken by Development Services Department.
The compensation land is directly connected to Kizell Pond and supports a mature deciduous swamp forest and mature deciduous mixed upland forest dominated by sugar maple. Site disturbance is minimal and provides high aesthetic qualities. The vegetation unit contains a core protected forest area large enough for area sensitive breeding birds. This vegetation unit has also ranked as a high priority for protection through previous environmental studies (South March Highlands Study Area Natural Environment Assessment, Daniel Brunton, July 1992).
The compensation land is approximately 13 hectares (32 acres) in size, effectively increasing the ratio of compensation land versus environmental land lost from a 1:1 ratio, as originally agreed upon, to a 3:1 ratio. Dedication of this land to the City helps to protect the valued ecological features and functions within the South March Highlands. In addition, it provides ecological connections between the urban natural features (Kizell and Beaver Ponds) to the broader ecological system (South March Highlands). Overall, the compensation land achieves the following:
High environmental value;
Increase in the compensation ratio from 1:1 to 3:1;
An acquisition of environmental features similar to those that were damaged by the tree cutting;
Direct connection to the Kizell Pond and Beaver Pond natural areas; and
Close proximity to the Kanata Lakes community.
The open space system, including natural areas for the Kanata Lakes community, is now being refined through the development application process. The public's desire for linkages between Beaver Pond and Trillium Woods has been included in the proposed open space system for the community.
The acceptance of the compensation land will assist the City to achieve its commitment to the community in acquiring similar natural environment area lands in compensation for those damaged during the tree cutting incident in 2002. Dedication of this land to the City helps to protect the valued ecological features and functions within the South March Highlands. In addition, it provides ecological connections between the urban natural features (Kizell and Beaver Ponds) to the broader ecological system (South March Highlands).
A public consultation program was implemented to address the unauthorized tree cutting. This program also provided public consultation opportunities for other planning studies ongoing in the study area. Key community representatives were identified and consulted throughout the process. Document 2 summarizes the public consultation events that occurred:
DateEventResultsEarly May 2002Advertise/Notify public of meeting to discuss tree cutting incidentCity notifies those people who have expressed concern and key community groups. Place advertisement in the Kanata Courier.May 15th 2002Public Meeting held by the CityPurpose of meeting to:
Update public on site clean-up activities
Provide overview of planning process
Provide overview of required studies
Actions to be taken City-wide
May 21st 2002Set up Community Liaison Group
Send copy of public meeting presentationKey community members targeted:
Beaverbrook Community Association, City Environmental Advisory Committee and City Forest Advisory Committee, Kanata Lakes Community Association, Briarbrook & Morgan's Grant Community Association, Kanata Environmental Network, Kanata Trails Advisory Group, Mountain Biking KanataJune 7th 2002Confirm July 10th Public MeetingSend confirmation date and agenda to Community Liaison GroupJune 20th 2002Community Liaison Group Recreational MeetingCity staff, Urbandale, Community Liaison Group meet to discuss recreational needs, issues, etc.June 27th -July 4th 2002Advertise/Notify public of Open House City notifies those people who have expressed concern and key community groups. Place advertisement in the Kanata Courier.July 10th 2002Public Open HousePurpose of open house:
Open Space Dedication
Preliminary Recreation Concepts
Preliminary Land Use Concept PlanNovember 18th 2002Invite Community members to meeting to discuss Concept Plan, tree cutting and Terry Fox DriveRepresentatives from Beaverbrook., Kanata Lakes, March Rural and South March Community Associations attended
Preferred compensation land area was presented to the community representativesDecember 3rd 2002 Open HouseMeeting to present:
Preferred Compensation Land option
Environmental, Serviceability and Recreation Studies
Terry Fox Drive Environmental Assessment AddendumAugust 21st 2003City initiated walking tour of the NEA lands within Kanata Lakes as well as compensation areaCity staff, community association representatives, landowner and surveyor walked flagged boundary of Kizell Pona and Beaver Pond. In addition, compensation land was visited.September 18th 2003Public Open House in support of Development ApplicationsAnnouncement that compensation land to the west was nearing resolution.
The lands are being dedicated to the City at no cost. However, there may be some cost in the future to address management requirements in which case those costs would be the subject of a future report to Committee and Council.
Document 1 - Location Plan
Real Property & Asset Management Services of Corporate Services Department will oversee the dedication of the compensation lands to the City.