ARAC report: Goulbourn Wetlands

NEPEAN – The Agriculture and Rural Affairs committee (ARAC) increased the Goulbourn Wetland Complex’s size during the Feb. 6 ARAC meeting.

Coun. Eli El-Chantiry chairs ARAC.

“The last ARAC meeting had a full agenda with many of the reports carried as straightforward zoning amendments stemming from Committee of Adjustment decisions,” he released in a statement Feb. 21.

Two additional items of note on the agenda were included the Goulbourn Wetlands.

“There was a good turnout of residents who came to speak to the committee about revising the boundaries of the Goulbourn wetlands,” El-Chantiry said. “After much discussion, the committee approved an increase in the amount of land encompassed within the Goulbourn Wetland Complex.”

The city would add new wetland areas, which would grow the overall size of the complex. The boundary change is the result of more than a decade of research and public discussion, but ultimately, it’s something the city is required to do. Government of Ontario policies require municipalities protect provincially significant wetlands, and to preserve their environmental benefits by prohibiting development or site alteration on them. City-led studies did conclude the wetlands are long-standing natural features. They are not the result of human interference causes like changes to drainage, pumped discharge from quarry areas or improper ditch maintenance.

“While future development would be prohibited on these wetlands, existing uses would be permitted to continue,” El-Chantiry said.

ARAC also approved a zoning amendment for the Hard Rock Ottawa Raceway and Casino at 4837 Albion Rd.

“ARAC and council approved zoning for this project in May 2018, but the applicant had proposed to build the addition to the north of the existing casino,” El-Chantiry said. “They have changed their designs and now plan to build on the south side. ARAC approved the amendment reflecting the new location, which would allow for work to begin on the 177-room hotel, the 1,600-seat theatre and new restaurants.”

The next regularly scheduled ARAC meeting is on Thursday, March 5 at 10 a.m. at the Chambers, Ben Franklin Place, 101 Centrepointe Dr. Committee meetings are always open to the public and the committee will receive presentations by members of the public and community organizations. ARAC agendas are posted on the city’s website.