Willola Beach residents pour their hearts out ---with clear message: "Do it right!"

August 17, 2004                                             View: Willola Beach Notice of the Meeting

City manipulates Chats Falls bypass issue at Corporate Services Committee
Corporate Services …Committee has short-changed Willola Beach residents, again. Will full Council correct this fatal flaw, August 25th?

At the August 17th Meeting of the Corporate Services and Economic Development Committee, some of the councillors tried their level best to have a fair resolution of the Chats Falls-Willola Beach matter, but the meeting was stacked in favour of the proponents …who had neither provided adequate information to residents, nor had given any valid or factual arguments, at the committee meeting, to support their case.

After the Willola Beach resident-delegations were subjected to several of the usual manipulative strategies to discount and stifle, (including the familiar trick of running several proponent and their advocate-speakers last in sequence, to close), Committee Chair, Mayor Chiarelli, then cast his tie-breaking vote in support of the proponents.


Below, are a few of the misrepresentations that were presented at the Corporate Services Committee, and refuted by the Willola Beach residents and speakers from other respected organizations (i.e.: Sierra Club, Ottawa River Keepers, Greenspace Alliance and the Rural Council):


WHAT WAS SAID:


…AND HERE’S THE TRUTH:

 

 


Proponents inferred that NO Federal EA was required.


"The Canadian Environmental Assessment Act is administered by the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency (CEAA.) The CEAA is an independent agency that reports directly to the Minister. The Act requires federal departments, including Environment Canada, agencies, and crown corporations to conduct environmental assessments for proposed projects where the federal government is the proponent. It also requires environmental assessments when the project involves federal funding, permit or license."
http://www.ec.gc.ca/EnviroRegs/Eng/SearchDetail.cfm?intAct=1000

Proponents inferred that NO Provincial, (Municipal Class) EA was required.

There should have been a full, Municipal Class Environmental Assessment done to consider all of the available route options, as well as to assess all of the Environmental impacts (including the “Social Environmental Impacts” upon the potentially affected residents).

A Muncipal Class EA would have most certainly eliminated Willola Beach as an option, and may be the principal reason that it was not performed, at the beginning ---as should have been the case.

Rather than opening the unopened road allowance, (which would have required an EA to be performed), the city has contrived to circumvent due process by issuing a permit (to a private "involvement"), for PUBLIC USE of a roadway, on PUBLIC LAND, paid for with PUBLIC FUNDS. This contravenes the the spirit and intent of the EA process, which is there for the very purpose of protecting the environment and the public interest.

Proponents said they had mailed the requisite notices to the Willola Beach households.

Willola Beach residents emphatically stated, that is false: they had NOT received any notices, (and are challenging the Proponents to show dated postal receipts to support their incorrect claim.)

Proponents claim that the Chats Falls bypass was so vital, because it was the very last link in the chain of obstructions on way to St. Lawrence Seaway access.

False. They conveniently left out Deschanes Rapids (Aylmer) and the EB Eddy dam in central Ottawa.

The Proponents said that there would be NO environmental impacts, on the Willola Beach site, if completed.

The Ottawa River Keepers, Siera Club (environmental watchdogs), and Greenspace Alliance beg to differ, saying that there would be significant negative impacts to the site, and that the Proponents would have no way of knowing, the full potential of fish habitat damage, or potential damage to any rare species present, without the proper environmental assessments being done.

Experts say there would likely be significant "silting-in" downstream from the 150-metre rock berm, which would substantially alter the aquatic habitat of the area.

The Proponents claimed that the Willola Beach option was the only valid option.

 

 

 
 Proponents also claimed that if the city withdraws its funding, the project would die, and tourism would be severely hurt.

1.) The Mayor of Quyon, has stated that the Quebec side of the River has far better infrastructure than the Ontario side, and,
2.) he is quite eager to proceed with the project ---in the location it was meant to go, in the first place.
3.) The Ferry Road option has been described by everybody (except the Proponents) as the least disruptive option on the Ontario side of the River ---because the water is much deeper, there, making a long berm, (with its corresponding environmental damage), unnecessary.

 Hydro One has a contractual obligation to fully fund the the bypass, as part of its Chats Falls Power Station construction agreement. Hydro One should fulfill its obligation, on its own.
 The city of Ottawa should be putting these tax dollars back into our budget, to help with our under-funded core services.

 

Child safety concerns were marginalized by the Proponents, with the argument that there would be ---ONLY--- 5 to 10 vehicles-hauling-boats per day, traveling through the community.

Willola Beach residents expressed grave concerns about the city's and the Proponents disinterest in child safety. Residents argued, "Why have any risk, if it can be avoided with one of the other safer alternatives".

Residents were clearly supportive of there being a boat by-pass ---of some sort. They simply feel that an honestly-performed Environmental Assesment ---of ALL of the options--- must be completed, in order to clearly define a route that satisfies both the environmental and the safety concerns. (Not complicated!)

Without these measures, there is an "appearance" portrayed, that all of the disregard for environmental and safety concerns (in specifically fast-tracking the Willola Beach option), could possibly be designed merely to benefit a few contractor-developers ..."and their political friends".

That "appearance" must be dispelled by undertaking thorough Environmental Asessments. (As Councillor Rob Jellett said, at the August 17th Committee Meeting: "I wouldn't even be able to get a speed-bump installed, on a street in my ward ...without an Environmental Assessment".)

 

 

 


Which bypass solution makes the most sense?

1st Choice:

 

Complete construction of locks on the Quebec side, and use them:  
(It would cost roughly another $2-million to complete the locks.)  ...more information

  • The Quyon side already has partially constructed locks and canal system.
  • There is other supporting infrastructure there as well (i.e. docking capability).
  • Would allow passage of sail boats and many large craft which could not access the existing plan. (The Willola Beach proposal would allow passage of less than 4% of the boats on the River.)
  • The Mayor of Quyon wants to have it there.
  • There would not be any negative environmental impacts, or risk to child safety, only overall benefits.
     
     
2nd Choice:  

Use the Ferry Road docking point, option:

  • It is already on an approved higher-volume-traffic road.
  • The water is much deeper at the Ferry Road Dock, than at the Willola Beach location
    ---making a long berm unnecessary.
  • This location would have the least environmental impacts of any of the alternatives on the Ontario side of the river.
  • This location would not put the safety of any community's children at risk.
  • Work could be completed, and the site made operational, more quickly ---due to fewer hurdles to overcome--- than at Willola Beach.
  • This site would be more cost effective for taxpayers (short-term and long-term).
     

What is wrong with the current motion?

The way the motion now stands: The City is able to say, "We tried to get Federal and Provincial Environmental Assessments done, but the relevant agencies were not interested, therefore, we will proceed -without further delay- to develop the Willola Beach site."

The City's track-record in such matters, has been very problematic. The mayor should very-well know, the mere fact that the City and the Proponent have already tried to circumvent due process by fast-tracking the Willola Beach site without doing the Federal and Provincial Environmental Assessments, provides proof enough, that the existing motion needs to be amended to EXCLUDE the Willola Beach site as an option, IF full and proper (Federal and Provincial) Environmental Assessments are NOT completed, which will consider ALL of the available options (including the locks-completion, and the Georgian Bay Canal ---on the Quebec side of the river, as well as the Ferry Road option on the Ontario side of the river).

Due to all of the obvious environmental and safety negatives relating to the Willola Beach option, the city's own Environmental Advisory Committee is in favour of abandoning the Willola Beach site altogether. This is sound advise, the City would do well to heed.

It is hoped, for the Council Meeting of August 25th (when this comes up), that the wisdom of the Council as-a-whole will be sufficient to protect the environment ---with the adequate application of due process--- and protect the wellbeing of the citizens of the Community of Willola Beach --- in fulfillment of its duty to serve the public interest!


Ottawa Citizen: "Letters to the Editor" - Re: Corporate Services Committee Meeting - (Aug 17/04)

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