March 15, 2018: Councillor’s Corner;
By Jeff Leiper, Kitchissippi Ward Councillor.
Happy March, Kitchissippi! Our February was very busy. We have lots of active planning files on the go, which means lots of public open houses. We also had our last community bonfire of the season, complete with s’mores and a synthetic skating pad courtesy of the Wellington West BIA.
On February 14th, council voted – including me – to approve a modified version of the Rochester Field development concept. This concept still contains two mid-rise buildings grouped together at the south end of the field, but some changes have been made to address the concerns I was hearing from residents.
The original proposal contained two six-storey buildings on Richmond, with a setback and a gap of roughly 15 meters between them. Because of concerns from myself and residents that this offered too little gateway between the Richmond and the SJAM park, I successfully secured a pause on the process to see whether any improvements could be made. My thanks to Councillor Harder, the Mayor, and the NCC’s Dr. Kristmanson for helping us get that second look.
Ultimately, the new plans resulted in a 4-meter widening to the gap between the two buildings, which is roughly the same width of the Byron Linear Park. To compensate for loss of density, the building on the east side of the site is proposed at seven stories instead of six. It was a difficult decision for me to support this, and I am grateful for all the advice I received, but I consider the addition to the gap to be meaningful. There is no actual development proposal for this property, and there likely won’t be for many years. This effort was not the last chance to effect change in the proposal, and we will continue efforts with the NCC as opportunities arise.
Recently, the Canadian Transportation Agency (CTA) decided that the City must take steps to either officially decommission the Prince of Wales Bridge or bring it into a state of repair where it could be used for rail operations within a year. While this decision has enormous repercussions for the City, it could be good news for those advocating for a cycling/pedestrian connection between Gatineau and the Bayview Station. The City will take some time to determine how it wants to proceed, and the current deadline for the City to outline its intended actions is April 30th. I have a few outstanding questions about this; it seems to me that the City should appeal the April 30th deadline in order to gather more information about the cost of renovating the bridge. Furthermore, we need to understand what the CTA will accept as a plan to repair the bridge moving forward. I consider that the bridge should be put into operation as a rail/cycling/pedestrian connection, but the issue is complex. You can read more about my thoughts on the blog.
We look forward to welcoming spring in the Ward and all the wonderful activities that attend it! Hope to see you out there enjoying the warming weather, Kitchissippi.