"Yesterday, City Council unanimously approved a land exchange with Regional Group to preserve the Nantes Woods, a cherished urban forest in the Avalon neighbourhood.
When I was elected, the fate of Nantes Woods seemed settled: Regional Group was building Phase 6 of their Provence subdivision on a large part of the woodlot. The community was very concerned about the loss of the forest and felt like the social and environmental value of Nantes Woods was underestimated by the City. I immediately started exploring options to save a larger part of the woodlot from development.
The rapidly increasing cost of land made it impossible for the City to buy Nantes Woods in its entirety, so we needed to think creatively. I contacted the City’s Real Estate Office to discuss the feasibility of a land exchange, which I have come to refer to as my “Hail Mary pass”.
Last year, City Staff and Regional Group started land exchange negotiations and identified surplus City land near the corner of Innes and Frank Kenny. The difference in value between the woodlot and the City’s surplus land was bridged by a timely Ontario Land Tribunal decision in favour of Regional Group in a matter related to the Transitway block in Provence Phase 6. To say that the stars aligned to make this land exchange possible is an understatement.
This is a great example of what can happen when the community, the City, the developer and local councillor work together in good faith. It's not always headline-grabbing to take this approach, but a spirit of collaboration is one of the values I promised I would bring to the table when you elected me.
This positive outcome would not have been possible without the tireless advocacy of the community, led by the Greater Avalon Community Association and its president Rachelle Lecours.
I look forward to many more dog walks with Ruby in our newly acquired woods. We did it!"