The Terry Fox Clown Show

South March Highlands

As described in a prior post, the MCEA process in Ontario is “proponent-driven”.  The City of Ottawa evidently interprets this as meaning that they can get away with just about anything as long as they go through the motions of consulting with MNR, MoE, and CEAA. 

None of those “authorities” have actually any authority to dictate to the City any standard of compliance.  Meanwhile the city’s project staff can claim to have the “approval” of those same authorities as they merrily go about making a mockery of the process.

Consider the following timeline of “compliance” by the Terry Fox Drive Extension project:

  1. The City conducts public hearings, as required by the MCEA when preparing the 2000 EA, to obtain input on criteria to be used to evaluate alternative alignments for the road. 
    • A total of 3 workshops were conducted, resulting in unanimous agreement by residents that the natural environment was top priority (this is well documented in the 2000 EA Appendices). 
    • Project staff then proceed to ignore this feedback by not applying any criteria priority weights when evaluating the alternatives (clearly evident from reading the 2000 EA). 
    • The result is selection of the alternative that, by their own analysis, was rated by project planners as 5x worse for the natural environment than the most eco-friendly alternative. 
    • Does compliance with the process mean only lip-service to it?
  2. The traffic studyin the 2000 EA that  justify the traffic volumes for the road double counts traffic running along March road 3x.
    • It also counts traffic from subdivisions that were not even approved at the time that the traffic study was performed. 
    • In fact those subdivisions were not approved by the OMB until 5 years later!
    • How is the use of inflated traffic volumes compliant with MCEA process?
  3. In calculating the costs for the 4 different alignments considered for the route that the road should take, the cost of upgrading Goulbourn Forced Road (GFR) was applied against the eco-friendly alternative routes, but not against the alternative recommended by staff. 
    • The result was that the recommended alternative (carving out an entirely new road) is claimed by staff to be $4 M less expensive than the shorter route of upgrading an existing road!  As if. 
    • The cost of the GFR upgrade was also accurately costed to be within $1 M of today’s cost, but the cost of the recommended alternative was only $13 M in 2000 as compared to today’s cost of $47 M.  
    • Even at $47 M, this cost does not include future development of more lanes, a railway bridge, and several other expensive features.
    • How is fiscal manipulation and under-costing compliant with any process?
  4. In presenting the recommended alignment to the Transportation Committee in the fall of 2000, the City minutes reveal that there is no mention of the fact that the recommendation was in conflict with the highest rated priority expressed by residents.
    • Is this a transparent process as required by the MCEA or as expected by City Council?
  5. One of the reasons given in 2000 for the recommended alignment was that other alignments would split communities that had not been approved yet!
    • No consideration was given to the fact that the recommeded alignment would split a conservation forest in two.
    • The lands for the future development were not even rezoned as urban use for 5 years after the 2000 EA was issued.
    • Yet the westernmost road alignment was used to justify an expansion of the urban boundary in 2004.
    • How is using an EA to justify future development compliant with the EAA?
  6. The traffic study updated in the 2004 EA Addendum uses population projections  that are wildly optimistic.  They forcast that population growth will double in Kanata by 1996.
    • Yet census data reveals that population growth in Kanata from 2000 to 2006 was actually only 18%.
    • How can the road be justified based on this and why does this material fact not require a new EA Addendum?
  7. After completing a special study in March 2004 of the area caused by the shift in urban boundary arising from the 2000 EA recommended alignment, none of Daniel Brunton’s findings regarding the presence of significant species found in the area appears in the 2005 EA Addendum.
    • How is the documentation of 7 distinct habitats and the discovery of 268 (including 4 regionally rare and 12 Regionally Uncommon) native species of vascular plant, 6 Regionally Significant birds (including 1 one now on the SARO list), as well as the observation of Blanding’s and Snapping turtles not relevant to the EA Addendum?
  8. After approval of the 2005 EA Addendum by City Council in Oct 2004 (containing only a 400m diversion of Shirley’s Brook), but prior to filing the notice of completion, project staff “slipped in” a 1370 m diversion (project staff used those very words to describe this to a City Advisory Committee). 
    • However the document did not contain the costs for the larger diversion, nor an impact assessment of it, as required by MCEA process. 
    • Is that an example of EA process compliance?
  9. Despite moving a critical intersection with GFR 3 times from the original plan in 2000, the City maintains that there is no need to file a Notice of Completion for the 2007 EA Addendum because there was no change to the planning context. 
    • So why did they prepare the 2007 version of the EA Addendum at all? 
    • And if intersection location is not important to the process context, why was it the objective of a Part II Order request filed by a landowner pursuant to the 2005 Notice of Completion? 
    • It was evidently important enough to justify a negotiated change the the EA Addendum at that time.
  10. Despite there being a change to the urban boundary as a result of an OMB hearing in 2005, the City maintains that there is no need to file a Notice of Completion for the 2007 EA Addendum because there was no change to the planning context. 
    • If an OMB ruling does not change the planning context for a municipality what does?
  11. Despite the introduction of the SAR acts both federally and provincially after the only Notice of Completion filed by the City in 2005, the City maintains that there isn’t sufficient change to the environmental context to warrant a revised addendum. 
    • If the passage of environmental legislation at both federal and provincial doesn’t affect the sensitivity analysis of an EA what does?
    • Given that, as a result of that legislation, there are now 17 identifiable species-at-risk in the scope of the project where previously there were none flagged, how is that not a material change to the environmental context?
  12. Notwithstanding the fact that the 2000 EA documents the presence of Bridal Shiner in Shirley’s Brook, a SAR listed both in SARA and SARO, project staff conveniently omit this critical information in their application for DFO approval. 
    • How is that compliance with CEAA process requirements to disclose the presence of all species-at-risk?
  13. Notwithstanding an Ontario-Canada agreement (2004) on the coordination of EAs that requires the proponent to follow an integrated process having a single body of documentation, the project staff chop the provincial EA into two parts and performs 2 separate additional EAs for the sole purpose of obtaining Federal approval (as documented in a memo from the General Manager of Infrastructure Projects to City Council). 
    • Is this in any way considered process compliance?
  14. Despite having not really started the part B project until April 6, 2010 (as stated by the General Manager for Infrastructure Planningin his memo to Council in April) project staff now maintain that they started part B in 2003 based on a technicality (amounting to the installation of a few hydro poles) so that they can avoid the 5-year lapse of time deadline imposed by the MCEA. 
    • Is that really in the spirit of process compliance?
  15. This technicality claimed by the City actuallyoccured a full year before the scope of the project was defined and approved by City Council! 
    • That is because the 2004 EA Addendum moved the intersection where the “start of work” was supposed to have occured.
    • How can construction have started a full year before the project was even defined, let alone approved by City Council?
  16. City Council minutes, April 6, 2010,  describe that the General Manager for Infrastructure Planning telling council that the official start of Part A was Feb 16, 2010 and that the tender for Part B was to close April 6, 2010.
    • How can the project staff claim that the start of the project was earlier if the General Manager was telling the truth to City Council?
  17. Now that project staff realize that their failure to adequately plan for the 1370 m diversion of Shirley’s Brook may be grounds for a judicial review causing a halt to the project, they have now changed the impact to a 250 m diversion and still have no plans to issue an EA Addendum reflecting the scope change.
    • The MCEA requires that all changes to project impacts be documented (not just increases). 
    • At a minimum the staff should publish their evaluation of how the 250m alternative is now sufficient when for years they were convinced that nothing less than a 1370m diversion would suffice.
    • So how can the staff claim to be running a compliant process?
  18. At the OFGAC meeting April 26, the project staff now state that Bridle Shiner were found in Watts Creek near the Beaverpond and Kizell Pond and that none were found in Shirley’s Brook.
    • Yet the 2000 EA presents a table that clearly indicates that none were found in the Beaverpond and Kizell Pond and that 4 were positively identified in Shirley’s Brook.
    • Is misleading a City Advisory Committee within anyone’s definition of an acceptable process?
  19. A reveiw of the 1999 Subwatershed study reveals that Bridle Shiner were reported in both Shirley’s Brook as well as in the Beaverpond an Kizzell Pond!
    • Was this information suppressed in the 2000 EA so that re-zoning for development could occur in the Beaverpond area?
    • Why did project staff omit this information when submitting their Screening Study to the federal Department of Fisheries & Oceans (DFO)?
    • Is suppression of observations of a species-at-risk compliant with the CEAA process?
  20. The CEAA EA for Part B of the road shows that a level grade is planned for the railway crossing at TFD. 
    • Yet the 2005 EA Addendum was prepared on the basis of a raised overpass crossing.
    • How is this change in scope not grounds for another EA Addendum?
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