Rural Council of Ottawa-Carleton : 2009 - Annual General Meeting


Report on the...

Annual General Meeting of the

Rural Council of Ottawa-Carleton

March 28, 2009

The Rural Council of Ottawa-Carleton (RCOC) held its 2009 Annual General  Meeting on March 28th, at the Richmond Memorial Recreation Centre.

The AGM was attended by Ottawa Mayor, Larry O’Brien, Rideau-Goulbourn Ward Councillor Glenn Brooks, Rural Affairs Officer, Derek Moodie, the RCOC Executive and Members representing several of the rural wards of the city.

Other Rural Ward Councillors who sent regrets that they were not able to attend, were Councillor Eli El-Chantiry of West Carleton, Rob Jellett of Cumberland, and Doug Thompson of Osgood.

In rural church supper tradition, a delicious dinner was served by the St.Paul’s United Church (of Richmond) Women’s Guild.


 
Bruce Webster
President of RCOC

 
RCOC President, Bruce Webster, chaired the 2009 AGM - Guest of Honour was Mayor Larry O'Brien.

The mayor told a few good jokes before getting down to the serious subject of his vision for the rural part of the city.  

        (Photos by Bruce Collier.)

 
Mayor Larry O'Brien


Mayor Larry O’Brien stayed for the meal and took time to mingle and visit individually with many of the RCOC members, present, then, spoke briefly to the group as a whole.

He commented very favourably on the community-minded work of the Rural Council, and how his Rural Affairs Department, under Derrick Moodie, has enjoyed the constructive help, co-operation and input it has received from the RCOC.

The mayor stated that one of his earliest-voiced goals to the administration, going into the job, was to simplify and decentralize the rural operations of the city. He wanted city operations to be “client-centric”, rather than see rural residents having to go down town to look after their permit requirements and other business.

That has now been structured under the charge of Derrick Moodie, and his office has been expanded with extra staff, to more efficiently serve the rural needs.

Mr. O’Brien stated that after 600 days of sometimes frustratingly slow movement, many positive changes are starting to take hold and will be increasingly more apparent in the near term.

Mayor O’Brien’s ultimate goal is to “get city management back to the attitudes of pre-amalgamation.”

Councillor Glenn Brooks spoke next. He added that the rural citizens should govern themselves to the greatest extent possible. Not only would this make it easier for Council as a whole to function, it would greatly reduce the need for our current top-heavy bureaucracy, which often doesn’t understand the rural needs and perspective.

Mr. Brooks said that he currently favours a “borough system” of government, but that there are several options available that can achieve more rural autonomy, and we should “use the provisions of Bill 130” to assert this.

 

 

RCOC President Bruce Webster then spoke about some of the achievements of the RCOC, and some of its current involvements.

  • The Willola Beach Boat Bypass: One of the first projects that the Rural Council became involved with, was to team up with the Willola Beach residents in their fight with the city, (when Bob Chiarelli was mayor), over the city’s plan to waste several hundreds of thousands of dollars on a pork-barrel project that was being pushed forward without a valid Environmental process, that would have ruined the local beach eco-system, that had questionable commercial value and was commercially unsound.

While the Willola Beach Community Association and RCOC were successful in forcing the project to move to another location that was less environmentally and socially damaging, the pork barrel project still spent over $1-Million of tax dollars from various levels of government.

POSTSCRIPT: In light of being told that there were only about 13 boats that used the service last year, the RCOC now believes that the city’s Auditor General should investigate the potentially wasteful use of taxpayers’ dollars, in order to help prevent such abuses from being repeated over and over again.

  • The Munster-Richmond Sewage Forcemain Fiasco: One of the largest disappointments in the history of the Rural Council and for Richmond residents, was the shoddy way in which then Mayor Bob Chiarelli and Goulbourn Ward Councillor Janet Stavinga oversaw the deeply flawed Environmental Assessment process, (considered “illegal” by a leading environmental solicitor), which led to the installation of a high-risk pressure sewage forcemain cutting right through the vulnerable shallow aquifer, and potable source water of approximately 1,100 private homes in the Village of Richmond.*

The reason this was brought up at the AGM was because the, at least 7th, forcemain break had just been discovered two days before the AGM. The fact that the rupture was NOT DETECTED by the city’s remote-sensing alarm system, (known as SCADA), and the fact that it could NOT be determined how many weeks or months the raw sewage had been forcing its way through the ground water or upstream along the gravel bed of the pipeline ---demonstrates the gravity of the Walkerton-type “ticking time-bomb” that these former city politicians, city engineers, managers and consultants have imposed on village residents!

Additionally troublesome, is the fact that the current head of Ottawa’s sewage works department, Dixon Weir, P.Eng., appears to use all the adjectives he can find to understate and marginalize the health risk facing villagers, instead of using the warning signs as the reason to act swiftly to remove the ongoing threat to the residents. Mr. Weir’s posture of denial seems to mirror the pre-disaster city-staff mentality in Walkerton, of simply leaving residents in harm’s way until lives are tragically lost.

The RCOC President referenced the interest by Mattamy Homes Ltd., to build over 1200 new homes in Richmond. Bruce suggested that any communal well system for delivering water to the new development, must also include the capacity to deliver potable water to the 1,100 homes current placed at risk by the city.

And, with ever-increasing evidence that the approximately 25-year-old stretch of forcemain between Richmond and Glen Cairn is already decrepit, it is equally obvious that the new Mattamy development must be serviced not only by a NEW MODERN stand-alone communal wastewater treatment facility, but it too, must have the capacity to service ALL of Richmond.

 

 


*The public may recall that in order to substitute the construction of a safe communal wastewater treatment facility to be built at Munster, with an illicit raw sewage pressure-main traversing Richmond's shallow source drinking water, former Mayor Bob Chiarelli, former Councillor Janet Stavinga and consulting engineers Conestoga-Rovers & Associates orchestrated a Classic SLAPP lawsuit, (in the amount of $4,200,000), against a whistle-blower who asked too many unanswerable questions about the needless contamination risk of a sewer forcemain to Richmond's private well users, as well as about the greatly increased cost of the switch and the delays the pipeline substitution would cause.

The malicious suit achieved its intended objective of silencing the private citizen's right of fair comment, and allowing the illegally performed project to proceed.

The SLAPP (Strategic Litigation Against Public Participation) action was withdrawn as soon as the forcemain was successfully installed and turned on.

While many Richmond residents now live in the fear that the water they drink from their private wells could prove fatal at any time, the city is conveniently ignoring the financial devastation it deliberately caused one concerned citizen, as well as the irresponsible, and potentially-catastrophic, danger it has placed before the 1100 families in Richmond who are now forced to draw their shallow-source drinking water from the path of the high-pressure sewage pipe.

(Ref: OttawaSewergateFiasco.com/docs.htm)

 

 

 

  •  The Goulbourn Wetlands Fiasco -UPDATE- Submitted by Terry Hale:

The seemingly endless saga of the proposed wetland expansion into rural Goulbourn has taken another twist.  A report has recently been released by Carleton University based on the studies of three students in the Environmental Science, Honours program. These students took on this project a year or so ago, and have been doing an extensive study into the entire situation.  They were successful in obtaining approval to access some of the affected properties, and conducted in-depth studies of soil types, plant types, water flows, and water Ph readings.  These studies are the normal procedures utilized in identification of wetlands, and are studies which the city and MNR did not do in their investigation.  The study acquired background information through  discussions with city staff, property owners, the Rideau Valley Conservation Authority, and MNR, and gathered materials from various websites. 

Their conclusions regarding the blocked drainage ditch (Flowing Creek) and the diversion of water into the Hobbs watershed agree completely with the study done by Robinson Consultants Inc. in 2006.  The area at the intersection of Flewellyn Road and Conley Road is receiving ten times the natural flow.  The roadside ditch and Hobbs Drain extension were designed to handle the normal flow rate of 8 litres/second.  Because of the identified drainage ditch blockage and the subsequent re-routing of water, the water flow in this area is now 82 litres/second.  This ten fold increase in water flow is what is causing the seasonal flooding of these properties.

Their studies of plant species within the area showed that there were no wetland indicator species present.  This is significant, since it was the supposed presence of such species that was the reason for the proposed redesignations.  The original study, done by Jacques Whitford on behalf of the City of Ottawa, claimed the existence of wetland indicator species based on a study of aerial photographs and mapping, and an apparent flyover of the area.  No on-site ground proofing was conducted to verify this fact.  The Carleton University study states that “With a confidence level of 95%, it was determined that the cut grasses, hoary sedge, and duckweed all existed within the true (existing) wetland in significantly different proportions compared to the proposed system.  It was also noted that these plant species were not found at all within the proposed wetland system.”  The report goes on to state that “On initial observation, the proposed landscape did not resemble the true wetland system in any way.  Further investigation revealed that both the soil and plant attributes were not characteristic of a typical wetland.” 

Their study of soil types is also significant.  They found the soil types in the proposed expansion areas to be that which is not supportive of wetlands.  This also agrees with the information provided by Robinson Consultants Inc., which stated that these soils “are un-supportive of wetlands without outside influences such as beavers or poor maintenance”.  The available soil maps clearly indicate a definitive change from Jockvale to Farmington type of soil, immediately where the existing wetland ends and the proposed addition begins.  The Carleton University study states that “This analysis revealed that both the proposed and true wetland systems possessed significantly different soil types, and therefore varying ecosystem conditions.  The true wetland system was composed almost entirely of relatively un-decomposed organic matter.  The soils found in the proposed system were more typical of aerobic processes.  This suggests that the hydrological history of that region had shown relatively dry trends throughout.”

In conclusion, the report states that: “It was found that the area studied in this investigation which had been redesignated as class 1 wetlands, did not meet the required criteria put forth by the Province of Ontario, Ministry of Natural Resources, Ontario Wetland Evaluation System and the City of Ottawa.  The claims put forth of the landowners, through the Goulbourn Landowners Association, of increased hydrology due to improper and changed drainage systems, which was found to be done through anthropogenic and not natural, are justified.  It can be concluded, based on the hydrology of the area and the biological study that the initial extension of the wetland was wrongfully applied to the area in question”.

In thanking Mr. Hale for his report, Bruce Webster noted that the independent study scientifically vindicates what residents asserted all along, and that all of the former political manipulations and, at times, seemingly deceitful behaviour of the former councillor (who started the bogus process) along with city bureaucrats and ministry officials has taken a huge toll on the affected Goulbourn citizens. This includes the unfair burdens upon their time, their finances, and two heart attacks that were suffered as a result of the incredible stress.


RCOC FOOTNOTE:

The Rural Council has been supportive of Larry O'Brien, as Mayor, because he has continuously attempted to cut wasteful spending and largess at City Hall, to reign-in excess manifestations of self-anointed political and bureaucratic entitlement and to streamline municipal governance -- all with an end goal of having more efficient, honest and accountable management of our city's business.

He frequently reminds the politicians, bureaucrats and, at times, union workers that they ARE, in fact, 'public servants' and should ACT like public servants!

Rural residents continue to wish Mayor O'Brien success in these vital areas!


  • Manotick Expansion and Development Control:

President Webster noted the terrific efforts put forth by the West Manotick Community Association, in conjunction with other agencies and the Rural Council, to bring the city onside in the fight to preserve rural Ottawa. He noted (RCOC) Director Brian Tansley's efforts in particular. The O.M.B. has at this time not rendered a decision but the Chair of that body was heard to compliment all presenters on their professionalism and well founded positions.

  • Lynwood Village Trailor Park Water Quality Issue:

The Lynwood Trailer Park, owned by Killam Enterprises continues to have water quality issues. With prodding from the Rural Council, the matter now seems to be getting some attention. We are continuing to monitor and address the issue with the assistance of Derrick Moodie and Councilor Doug Thompson. Hopefully, the residents will soon receive relief from a problem that has plagued them for years.

  • Looking Forward to the Next Municipal Election:

Many people have begun speaking out early about the need to have changes in the composition of the present Ottawa Council. The Federation of Community Associations, (F.C.A.), has started working towards preparing a slate of potential replacements. The RCOC, of course, needs to continue its efforts to cut through excessive bureaucratic red tape, as well as the inertia and dysfunction that often paralyzes city Council.

  • Re-election of the Board and Constitutional Changes:

In a constant effort to streamline our work, the rural Council has decided to reduce the number of physical meetings and go more electronic. We will hold meetings on an at least quarterly basis and other meetings on an as needed basis. By decision of the board of directors we also decided to all extend our terms by one year. This gives the board a continuity that will serve us well through 2009 and into 2010. We are still open for new directors and the term for those will be as described by our constitution.

  • Thanks from the President:

President Bruce Webster extended thanks to all who attended our AGM, noting especially the continued support from ALL COUNCILLORS and the MAYOR who by their continued verbal and financial support indicate their commitment to our community role. Bruce also made it clear that the present board of directors is what makes the Rural Council the success it is, and will to be.


 

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