Tewin land-clearing controversy could lead to changes to Ottawa’s tree-protection bylaw

Article content

The chair of city council’s environment and climate change committee wants staff to consider changes to Ottawa’s tree-protection bylaw in the wake of a major land-clearing operation by the partners behind the Tewin development in Ottawa’s rural southeast. 

Advertisement 2

Article content

More than a dozen residents came out to address the committee Tuesday, decrying the tree-cutting discovered earlier this year on a swathe of land owned by prominent developer Taggart and the Algonquins of Ontario, adjacent to the land they’ll be turning into a satellite community.

Drone footage was captured last month after neighbours heard activity on the site, showing piles of trees felled and stacked across what CBC Ottawa identified in its reporting as roughly 70 hectares.

Of particular concern at the committee meeting was that the site in question is not just any plot of rural land — it’s developer-owned and was part of the partnership’s original ask for inclusion in the expanded urban boundary, which dictates where urban developments can take place. Instead, the land now sits just outside the line that determines where developable land is, and which could be adjusted again in five or ten years.

Article content

Advertisement 3

Article content

City staff determined earlier this month, after an investigation, that the tree-protection bylaw’s permitting requirements did not apply in this case, due to information provided about a plan to farm the land and a stated exemption in the bylaw for the destruction of trees as “a normal farm practice carried out as part of an agricultural operation by a farming business.” 

A spokesperson for the Taggart side of the partnership said previously that there are no plans for the future of the property “other than to farm the land,” but public critics as well as some councillors expressed skepticism Tuesday.

In bringing forward a direction to staff to report back on potential changes to the tree protection bylaw, committee chair Shawn Menard said his intention was to find a way to allow rural farmers to continue tree-clearing as allowed by current exemption while challenging instances of clear-cutting for short-term farming and ultimately, future development.

Advertisement 4

Article content

The declaration that this particular land-clearing operation was exempt from the tree-protection bylaw was a tough pill to swallow for many of the delegates who presented to the committee Tuesday, a group that included critical residents from the Carlsbad Springs community and members of environmental groups.

Phil Mount, a farmer and associate director at regional food systems organization Just Food, questioned the interpretation of the tree-cutting in this particular situation as a “normal farm practice,” and questioned if the city had sought clarity from the Normal Farm Practices Protection Board, a provincial body that rules on issues pertaining to farm practices.

Staff confirmed that this was not part of their process, prior to lifting a stop-work order they had applied to the site to investigate the tree-clearing.

Advertisement 5

Article content

Bay Ward Coun. Theresa Kavanagh brought forward a direction that could lead to staff consulting the board on the matter. Both Kavanagh’s direction and Menard’s request for a targeted revisit of the tree-protection bylaw will be written up as recommendations and rise to council for a vote, likely on April 12.

Taggart has apologized to Carlsbad Springs residents for moving ahead with the tree-clearing without informing the community, while the Algonquins of Ontario’s Chief Wendy Jocko, of the Algonquins of Pikwakanagan, has defended the farming plan.

A media contact for the Taggart side of the Tewin partnership, Jennifer Stewart, provided a statement attributed to Michelle Taggart in response to questions from this newspaper Tuesday. For the land where the tree-cutting has occurred, Taggart stated that an agreement in principle with a local farmer was made last October and ratified in March. It’s Taggart’s understanding that the crop on the site will be soybean or corn.

City staff have said they’ll be monitoring to ensure that the farming plan that exempted the owners from the tree protection bylaw is indeed being followed through on.


Postmedia is committed to maintaining a lively but civil forum for discussion and encourage all readers to share their views on our articles. Comments may take up to an hour for moderation before appearing on the site. We ask you to keep your comments relevant and respectful. We have enabled email notifications—you will now receive an email if you receive a reply to your comment, there is an update to a comment thread you follow or if a user you follow comments. Visit our Community Guidelines for more information and details on how to adjust your email settings.

Join the Conversation

    Advertisement 1

For more updates check below links and stay updated with News AKMI.
Education News || Politics News || Journal News || Daily Local News || Lifetime Fitness || Sports News || Automotive News


Show More

Related Articles

Back to top button

usa news wall today prime news newso time news post wall