PRESS RELEASE: Residents and Community Groups Call for a halt to Tewin water infrastructure spending

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

OTTAWA - A number of community groups including CAFES (Community Associations for Environmental Sustainability), Ecology Ottawa, Horizon Ottawa, Reimagine Ottawa, Just Food and Greenspace Alliance are calling on the City of Ottawa to revisit its inclusion of the Tewin development--and its nearly $600 Million price tag for capital water infrastructure alone--in the City's draft Infrastructure Master Plan.

The group urges Council to: 

  • Approve the proposed Infrastructure Master Plan but separate and halt the approval for Tewin water infrastructure
  • Require completion of plans and studies, including particularly hydrology modeling of wetlands and leda clay construction
  • Request a value-for-money sprint audit by the City auditor regarding the oversized cost of the project to taxpayers

The Infrastructure Master Plan report, dealing with big ticket items relating to water and stormwater management, shows that as much as one third of the full cost of the $2 billion plan will be used to service just Tewin capital costs alone (ignoring future maintenance and operations). This is because the development will be constructed in an area where little to no infrastructure exists to service the 16,000 to 45,000 residents that would live there. These numbers also don’t include other infrastructure needs like roads, transit routes, and other transportation and energy needs which would be further into the billions.

“All of our groups objected and still decry any urban expansion as we demonstrated that housing targets could have been met through intensification”, said Paul Johanis of the Greenspace Alliance. ”In the end, the approved urban expansion will only supply 25,000 of the 182,000 new dwellings required in the urban area.This is a huge infrastructure bill for such a small incremental gain in housing. At a minimum, we would expect that growth pays for growth in all of the urban expansion areas, and in particular the largest one, which is Tewin. Why? There should be no structural incentive that favours building on the City’s fringe over building in the City’s interior transects.” 

Moving ahead with this sprawling development as is, goes against certain principles, including intensification, in the City’s Official Plan, Energy Evolution Strategy and Climate Change Master Plan. A city audit report earlier this month revealed that the city was significantly behind on its climate commitments. 

The development would also go against the advice of City of Ottawa staff who opposed the inclusion of Tewin lands when it was first brought to council who found that most of these lands scored poorly in respect to the criteria that included proximity to transit, sewage and water infrastructure, and the protection of farmland.

“Developers at the site have consistently told us that “Tewin will pay for Tewin,” but that is seeming less and less likely the more we learn about this project” said Monica Brewer, a representative of the CAFES network and member of ReImagine Ottawa. “Council is putting residents across the city on the hook for hundreds of millions of dollars for the unnecessary costs of sprawl.”

The inclusion of these lands in the urban boundary was a rushed and controversial decision by the previous Council. Leading up to the vote, Taggart conducted a significant lobbying campaign, meeting with several Councillors. The decision was also questioned by the provincial Auditor General. Taggart now stands to additionally gain significantly from the proposed $600M in water and sewer piping procurement - a core line of business of the corporation.

“Tewin is the most costly development and a prime example of needless sprawl and unchecked developer influence in our municipal government” said Sam Hersh, Coordinator of Horizon Ottawa. Moe Garahan, Executive Director of Just Food, asks: "At this time of serious food insecurity, and rising need for community, health and social services across Ottawa's urban and rural areas, we need to make sure that Tewin pays for Tewin, so that the City can address its actual urgent responsibilities.

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For Media Inquiries:

Sam Hersh
613-663-7018
[email protected]

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