Rideau Action Group (RAG) and residents of North Gower, Kars, and other local communities, are excited and relieved that the Ontario Land Tribunal is finally going to hear their appeals regarding the zoning changes for the property at 1966 Roger Stevens Drive. The Ontario Land Tribunal will sit for seven days starting November 8, 2021 after long delays caused by Covid-19.
The saga regarding the property started in August 2019, when a few residents living close to the site were notified by the City of Ottawa of proposed amendments to the zoning by-laws and the proposed changes to the City’s Official Plan. A community meeting in October revealed that the proposed development was a massive distribution centre on the scale of the Amazon facility at Citigate in Barrhaven, to be built by out-of-town multi-billion dollar developer Broccolini.
North Gower is a small agricultural community. The property targeted for development is situated within the North Gower village boundary and backs onto residential properties on one side and Hwy 416 on the other, with frontage along Roger Stevens Drive. The property was zoned to allow for sustainable commercial and small industrial development, specifically for the benefit of the agricultural community. Residential and recreational uses were also included, and this zoning was subject to a mediation agreement dating to 1999 which was supposed to have settled the matter of what was permissible on the land in perpetuity.
Concerned citizens, en masse, attended a meeting of the City of Ottawa Agricultural and Rural Affairs Committee (ARAC) in December, 2019, and were dismayed that, despite a full day of public commentary expressing their concerns, only one councillor (Councillor Meehan) voted against the proposal. Residents’ anger was further inflamed by lack of support from their own ward councillor, Scott Moffatt, who sits on the Planning Committee, ARAC, the Environmental Committee, and the board of the Rideau Valley Conservation Area, all of whom have a stake in the decision.
When Ottawa City council passed the motion to allow the by-law zoning amendment and Official Plan amendments, Rideau Action Group was formed to appeal the decision at the Local Planning Appeal Tribunal (now the Ontario Land Tribunal). Two appeals were accepted in January, 2020, and were originally scheduled to be heard in April of the same year. Covid-19 delayed the hearing, thus beginning a long wait for the matter to be heard.
In the meantime, RAG has raised approximately $38,000 to pay for legal expenses, and hopes to raise approximately $15,000 more over the final few weeks. RAG has retained lawyer, Burgundy Dunn, from Viridius Lex LLP of Kingston, and planning and environmental expert, Michael Wynia of Skelton, Brumwell and Associates Inc of Barrie, as representatives for the upcoming Ontario Land Tribunal hearing. RAG members are extremely optimistic for a favourable outcome which will protect both the rural and agricultural nature of the village, and future potential growth for local businesses.
Donations to the appeal fund may be made through GoFundMe at: https://www.gofundme.com/f/say-no-to-north-gower-mega-warehouse
More information can be found at: rideauactiongroup.org. Rideau Action Group Inc is a not-for-profit group formed for the purpose of lodging these appeals with LPAT and supporting a sustainable and resilient future for local communities. It consists of members of the communities of North Gower, Kars and Richmond.