On July 12, 2021 Councillor Brockington and a representative from Dianne Dean’s ward met with two senior executives of the Ottawa International Airport Authority (OIAA) to discuss Otto’s development application. The following is an overview of the discussions that were made.
The OIAA has a contract with Transport Canada to operate the Airport until 2077, this includes all lands in possession of the airport. The OIAA is an economic engine of the City, generating over $1 billion in GDP in 2017. The airport employed 10,776 people in 2017 when you include all the companies who have staff on-site. The OIAA, pre-COVID, generated about one-third of its budget from non-aeronautical revenues, ie non airlines.
Part of the mission and vision of the airport, is to generate revenue and economic activity. They strongly believe their lands have untapped potential. The OIAA is responsible for 10 acres of land abutting Hunt Club Road, between Otto’s and Lowe Martin. It is their desire to see this strip developed.
From 1945-1958 this parcel of land was used as a landfill for household and building waste.
The forested lands immediately to the south are owned by the Department of National Defence and maintained, under MOU, by a Crown agency. DND has no plans to develop or declare surplus any of their lands in the vicinity.
For over a year, Otto’s and the OIAA negotiated the current draft contract. The contract is ready to be signed but hasn’t been to date.
All of the land that has been developed along HC and Riverside, is leased, no land has been sold. The airport collects monthly rent.
Another discussion between the airport and a different company are in very preliminary stages now, this is for the land west of Otto’s and east of Lowe Martin.
The OIAA believes that because 80% of the forested land abutting or in the vicinity of Hunt Club (they are including D&D lands) will be saved and maintained, is a win for the community, I did not agree and said that argument will not fly. I made it very clear, I could not and would not support the application.
They do not believe the woods are healthy, calling them a tinderbox. They don’t agree it houses wildlife and they don’t agree there are signs of growth, repeatedly saying, this is not a healthy woodland.
They didn’t have an issue with the protesting, but indicated that anything posted to their fences, will be removed.
It became clear from the beginning that this was about revenue generation for the airport. They agreed they would talk to the City about the parcel of land on Riverside, that could potentially be used to swap land. This is a big stretch, but I will connect the two parties.
I also stated that should City staff not recommend the application for approval and/or it fails at Planning Committee, that the OIAA and community have a discussion about the potential uses for this land. They aren’t very accepting about that request, not that they don’t want to sit down for a discussion, rather, they don’t want to limit options to develop the land.
I was asked a few times if I believed their point about DND lands being retained would sway the public and I said not one person will accept that argument, the objective is to stop a car storage facility, number one, and two, to retain the woods.
Once I connect them with the City’s Real Estate team, I will book a meeting with the Planning team to get in to the nuts and bolts of the application and argue the point that this does not make planning sense (and many other reasons).
I hope this summary was informative.
City Councillor, River Ward