Tuesday, 7 July 2015

City Council and Ramsey Lake

Glenn’s Rant
Well another 4 ½ hours spent in Council Chambers at TDS. Again, it was a planning meeting but this time there was no joy to be found at least among those friends and fellow travellers that I tend to hang out with, metaphorically speaking.
I was there for two reasons. One was regarding all those solar plant plans for which seem to have suddenly showed up all over Valley East. Those in the know, mostly by accident, and who have expressed their disapproval not about solar energy per se but of the locations they seemed to be planned for. With all the possible sites that most of us could agree that would be appropriate, most chosen were judged by us to be inappropriate. Ruining a beautiful forested wet land where species at risk were known to reside, another right up against two of Ward 5’s largest sub-divisions, and another on a land that could be considered ideal for development sometime in the distant future are three examples.
The subject was widely discussed amongst the Planning Committee Members and as well as our two Valley East Councillors, both of who were in there swinging on our behalf. Nobody was happy with the process dictated by the Wynne Government and the worst part of the whole thing is no matter what anybody says, those installers of solar farms are able to rough shod over everybody. No doubt about it, more direct action will need to be done by the citizens of Greater Sudbury. Today it may be the ‘Valley’, tomorrow it could be in your back yard.

And speaking about your back yard, if your back yard is anywhere the university be prepared to be bombarded with heavy trucks and earth moving equipment, as it would appear that there is no legal way the proposed development on Keast can be stopped. The city is requesting some more changes to the developer’s original plan, which, if the developer does agree, will probably go ahead. If the developer does not agree then he will probably go to the OMB.
While the Planning Committee did all they apparently could to protect Lake Ramsey from the ills emanating from said development I could see no way any of this could happen, other than by the goodness of the developer’s heart.
We’ve talked about a water shed study for years and even when the previous council did agree on having one, nothing happened, which kind of identifies that dysfunctional bunch pretty accurately I must say. So now we have budgeted a measly $ ¼ Million per year for this very important issue and while it is acknowledged by most everyone knowledgeable in this area that this is a lake in trouble, we seem to have to be stuck in a place by a set of rules made before even this day of short-sighted environmental enlightenment.
WHY! How can we proceed regardless what a 10 year old document says when we know that it is both out dated and even more important, inappropriate. One of our councillors spoke out passionately to the citizenry that if we don’t agree with the rules, work hard to change them. I’ll start, NO DEVELOPMENT WITHOUT A WATERSHED STUDY. There, I’m only about the 250th person that has said this recently.

Did I mention that Ramsey is the drinking water source for about 40% of our population?
Glenn Murray, Sudbury Chapter, Council of Canadians, July 6

 Elaine’s Rant
The Planning Committee members worked hard to be on top of the complex issues related to the Keast Dr. rezoning approval at today’s meeting.  However, what they said about their concerns and their decision did not match.  Councillor Landry-Altmann outlined a possible doomsday scenario for the lake in the future and made the connection between a healthy lake and the welfare of those living on the lake and the larger population dependent on it for drinking water.  Then, she joined the others in approving  the zoning application and subdivision with only one stipulation.

The planning committee did add an important proviso, that the stormwater management and lift station be taken out of the flood plain.  However, the committee handed over the project to a city manager and the developer with only impassioned exhortations that both he and the city manager follow the most stringent environmental practices in building this subdivision.   The solution was not imaginative or forward looking even though Councillor Landry-Altmann had outlined a possible doomsday scenario for the lake in the future and made the connection between a healthy lake and the welfare of those living on the lake and the larger population dependent on it for drinking water.  The watershed study was mentioned as a needed tool for decision-making but, since the official plan had not mandated it, no one was willing to take their concerns to that extent.

This is the same developer who is not willing to abide by the conditions that were set down by the city even after the city had bent the rules to accommodate the broad outlines of his development plans.  The city manager has been put in charge of stickhandling this project through to the end with a developer who has run out of money and a city that is trying to keep down its staff levels.  This is a formula for bending and misshaping the rules, not adding more and better ones.  We are giving the hen house to the foxes. . . or is it to a developer whose wolf call is the OMB?
Elaine Porter, Sudbury Chapter, Council of Canadians, July 6

July 7, Letter to the Editor, Northern Life

They Missed the Boat
City Council’s Planning Committee turned away from making the right decision yesterday. Despite its own concerns for the protection of the City’s drinking water with Ramsey Lake providing 40 % of that source, it approved the huge development of 147 homes along its pristine shores to compromise part of the lake’s watershed.

There was some handwringing yesterday as the Committee churned through its decision-making, but not enough because they recommended approval for it anyway. Regrettably, all those concerns for Sudbury’s potable water fell by the wayside as they also ignored the fact that those 147 units will crowd the shores of our lake with people, lots of people who will salt their driveways, wash their cars, fertilize their lawns and add to the flotsam of surface water that will leak into our lake. Other construction projects are sitting by, waiting for approval and Council will be hard pressed to refuse the others. So our future generations may well see our lake crowded and polluted by urban development. And who knows what the pending watershed study will tell us at a later date. What to do when its tells us, “well, you shouldn’t have done that”. Let’s see what brave soul will call for expropriation when that day comes.

If they hoped to dissuade the developer from appealing to the OMB by supporting a somewhat reduced 147 dwellings rather than the original 174, it seems the developer is appealing anyway and now he has the tacit approval of the Committee to support his plea. Eight hours of committee meetings over the last two weeks was a revealing civic experience. They fixed 42 conditions to the proposal. Wasn't that an indication this proposal was a bit sour? As our politicians struggled to do things right with this proposal they neglected to do the right thing. The timing was right to protect our lake – but they missed the boat.

André Clément, Chair, Sudbury Chapter, Council of Canadians