CREDIT: Jean Levac, The Ottawa Citizen
Myles Frosst asks a question during a forum of Manotick
residents opposed to the proposed Minto development that
could add 2,000 residences to the community.
More than 1,500 residents from as
far away as Kenmore and Fitzroy Harbour crammed into the Manotick
arena last night to hear how community leaders hope to stop a
2,000-unit subdivision near the historic community's core.
Moderator Wayne Rostad called
Manotick a "benchmark for other communities," and urged "cool,
calm, deliberate dialogue" as people talked about Minto
Developments' proposed Mahogany Harbour project.
Brian Tansley, president of the
West Manotick Community Association, which co-hosted the event,
said Manotick planned for growth, but not "impulsive, dramatic
growth" that would threaten its "heritage, character and pride."
Paul Webber, legal counsel for
the community association, called the City of Ottawa "a mausoleum
built on the corpses of former villages" like Orleans, Kanata and
Stittsville -- now urbanized parts of the city -- and warned that
"Manotick is next in line."
He said the city has made
numerous mistakes in creating and applying its official plan and
said the land earmarked for the project "should not be available
for urban development."
Mr. Webber criticized the city
for "hiding behind creative interpretations of the official plan"
and told the lively crowd there were "significant legal remedies
available" to contest construction of the subdivision. He said
urban development in a rural area happens when a community hooks
up to city sewage.
"We're starting to understand
this is about the big pipe," Mr. Rostad quipped. "Bring in a big
pipe and a lot of poop happens."
Minto's vice-president of
development, Jack Stirling, attended the meeting. While he would
not comment last night on the content of the meeting, he told the
Citizen "it was great to have so many residents here, expressing
an interest in their community."
Although the meeting was
co-hosted by two Manotick-area community associations to voice
concerns about the Minto project and the city's handling of it,
speakers quickly pointed out the larger issue of rural rights was
In an interview before last
night's meeting, Bruce Webster, president of the Rural Council of
Ottawa-Carleton, talked about the community of Richmond's
disastrous experience with a force main and pumping station that
experienced leakage and odour. Force mains, the "big pipe" Mr.
Rostad spoke of, are in the plans for the Minto project.
"If the city had initially
listened to the residents of Richmond, this force main would never
have gone through," Mr. Webster said.
"The bureaucrats certainly don't
seem to be working for the residents, and they are certainly not
listening to the residents."
Bob McKinley, who served as
chairman of the Rural Summit Task Force -- mandated to address
rural residents' unhappiness with amalgamation -- criticized the
city for "wasteful and stupid thinking" in planning to bring city
sewage service to Manotick.
Manotick is served primarily by
individual well and septic systems, which require homes to be
built on lots that are half an acre or larger. City services must
be in place for the Minto development to proceed.
Before the meeting, Mr. McKinley
said "central sewers destroy villages eventually," and pointed to
Stittsville as an example of a community being transformed into a
suburb when "big pipe" service is brought in.
He said standalone sewage
treatment plants using proven and widely-used technology can be
tailored to meet a village's needs, without opening the door to
Jack McLaren, president of the
Carleton and Ontario Landowners associations, told the audience
Manotick's problem is lack of effective rural representation. "You
do not have control of municipal government decisions in your
rural community," he said, "and because of that -- the amalgamated
city took that away from you -- other people are now making
decisions on how your community is going to build and grow."
He said the village's secondary
plan, which was developed prior to amalgamation, "is basically
ignored by planning staff at the city, and (Manotick residents) do
not have the political clout to make changes at city council
because (they) have one rural councillor out of 23."