Web-extra (July 26, 2018): City Planning for What?; Important Points Ignored by Council in 65 Storey Decision.

Web-extra (July 26, 2018): City Planning for What?;
Important Points Ignored by Council in 65 Storey Decision.

By Cheryl Parrott.

The application for the tallest building in Ottawa was passed by Planning Committee July 10, 2018 and then fast-tracked to City Council the next day. It easily passed despite community opposition on many issues and opposition by both ward Councillor McKenney and Councillor Leiper.

The Trinity Development at 900 Albert St will have 3 towers – 65, 56 and 27 storeys and will be located on the very small piece of property just north of City Centre at the intersection of the new LRT line and the O-Train. It will have 1,232 residential rental units, 11,926 square meters of retail as well as 18,332 square meters of office space

The issues that all delegations except the proponents identified:

  • This development ignores the Bayview Community Design Plan (CDP) which called for a maximum of 30 storeys. This plan was passed in 2013 and clearly took into account the proximity to the new Light Rail (LRT). This application more than doubles the height and clearly means all the community volunteer time spent on the CDP means nothing. The ink is barely dry when those decision are overturned. Community volunteers are now questioning the point of dedicating many, many volunteer hours to CDPs and the City spending $100,000 when they seem to provide no guarantees for future development.
  • Too many vehicle parking spaces. There will be about 1153 parking spaces provided for a transit oriented development directly across from a major transit station. The transportation study predicts that 75% of those visiting the retail businesses will come by car – so only 25% by foot, biking, bus or rail. It also predicts close to an additional 700 cars in the peak hour in the afternoons and on Saturdays being added to an already congested Albert/Scott St.
  • Affordable units. The City has a policy that 25% of units are to be affordable based on CMHC guidelines. The proponents could not provide information on how the affordability will be managed and maintained over the life of the building.
  • The relationship of the building to the existing community. The south side of the building that faces the Dalhousie neighbourhood will contain a large area for the loading docks for the retail businesses. A pedestrian/biking pathway to connect to the multi-use pathway alongside the O-Train will be isolated at the farthest edge of the property past the loading docks. Albert St. is a fairly hostile environment with traffic and a lot of wind on top of the bridge – not a likely place to chat with new neighbours. The west side of the buildings facing Hintonburg is just stark tall walls with no articulation. Throughout several meetings both communities have asked for changes so that this building does not turn its back on the existing neighbourhoods and community members have chances to interact. Few changes have been made.

All community members were disheartened that after 3 hours of presentations and questions nothing changed.

[Ed: if you have insights or concerns about this development, (like does the builder have the right experience to build the extra 35 storeys on the highest tower, what is the effect on emergency or other services called to a situation in a tower twice as high as other towers in Ottawa, etc.) then please send them in to our editor soon so we can include them in our pre-election coverage of important issues for the Mayor and Councillors candidates.]

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July 26, 2018: Letter to the Editor: The Other Side of the Story; Letters to Newswest.

July 26, 2018: Letter to the Editor: The Other Side of the Story;

Letters to Newswest.

By Alma Cowa.

~May 16, 2018.
Once again [Newswest] has printed a report from R.E.A.D. about the short comings of Rosemount library. There is really nothing new in this report from previous submissions from R.E.A.D. other than to say that the library is getting a $2 million renovation which is ‘merely a Band-Aid solution’.

I have used Rosemount since 1990 and have always found it a welcoming space. Over the years much has changed from computers to self check out and after hours drop boxes. I am at the library most weeks and have never found it over-crowded with no where to sit not even on Saturdays or in the evenings.

The library board plans to replace the main branch sometime in the future at a cost of $168 million on land already owned by the City of Ottawa, just a short trip from Rosemount.

A replacement library in one of the many high rise buildings going up in Kitchissippi would be a nightmare. I can not think of anywhere else close to Rosemount that would provide enough space that R.E.A.D. thinks is necessary. Land in the area is very expensive and unless park space is used not readily available in close proximity to the current building.

Why not wait and see what $2 million can achieve and be pleasantly surprised. The library may not be big but it is small.

[Ed: the print edition has on the same page the last submission from R.E.A.D. which appears in this on-line archive as a web-extra for the previous June 28th issue.]

Web-extra (July 12, 2018): Tree Action Now; New Website Brings Together Local Greenspace Interests.

Web-extra (July 12, 2018): Tree Action Now;
New Website Brings Together Local Greenspace Interests.

By Debra Huron.

This new website [ https://yowelection2018.wixsite.com/trees ], sponsored by Community Associations for Environmental Sustainability (CAFES), BIG TREES of Kitchissippi, the Greenspace Alliance of Canada’s Capital and Ecology Ottawa, offers you a chance to take 3 strategic actions:

  1. Use the Lost Trees of Ottawa site to map trees lost to natural or human causes, and share a photograph or personal memory of the lost tree. Also, share the map with your neighbours, friends and community groups in person, by email and on social media.
  2. If you agree with our recommendations to Amend the Bylaw, please call or write city politicians and staff to say so. To date, 22 Community Associations, the University of Ottawa Biology Department and 7 environmental NGOS have signed on. During the next term of Council changes to the bylaw will come to a vote. The more politicians hear the voices of citizens like you, the more likely they are to agree that these recommendations are crucial.
  3. Ottawa is blessed with many active neighbourhood and virtual communities. Join one or more to contribute to the debate on why the loss Ottawa’s urban forest has reached crisis proportions, and should be high on the municipal election agenda. When is election day? October 22, 2018 .

Please feel free to share the website and the map for Lost Trees of Ottawa with your friends, neighbours, community associations and enviro group…and on social media, websites and by word of mouth.

from: Debra Huron and…

Daniel Buckles,
Co-Chair, Environment Committee,
Champlain Park Community Association,
https://urbanforestgreenspaces.wordpress.com/ .

Animator
Champlain Oaks project,
http://www.champlainoaks.com .

Big Trees of Kitchissippi,
https://bigtreeskitch.wixsite.com/trees .

Web-extra (June 28, 2018): Imagining a Greener Hintonburg; Ottawa’s first community sustainability plan.

Web-extra (June 28, 2018): Imagining a Greener Hintonburg;
Ottawa’s first community sustainability plan.

By Carol Paschal, Hintonburg resident.

Kermit the frog once proclaimed, “It’s not easy being green.” One might wonder if this applies to Hintonburg. Well, let’s take a look. Long-time residents know that Hintonburg has had a history of re-using, repairing and repurposing long before it was fashionable.

The pawn shops and second-hand shops are gone, along with the appliance recycling store, but there are still an impressive number of shops who continue to carry on this tradition. JR Perry Electronics and the Audio Video Centre are two long-time Hintonburg businesses that come to mind, along with newer ones such as Maker House Co. (locally handcrafted items) and Nu Grocery (zero waste grocery store).

Hintonburg is known as a very walkable neighbourhood. The steady stream of people along Wellington St. West, and the constant bumping into neighbours, attests to the fact that it’s more than possible to get by without a car while doing errands.

The local bus routes are quite convenient and the advent of the LRT will further improve getting around. Residents and businesses alike have taken steps to improve cycling safety through bike-specific signage and infrastructure such as bicycle parking. The neighbourhood is lucky to have two large parks (Parkdale Park and Hintonburg Park), as well as many “pocket parks” and a farmers’ market. So why imagine a greener Hintonburg.

As a neighbourhood in transition, Hintonburg is undergoing significant changes, many of which have a negative impact on the environment. The number of demolitions and renovations is striking. Some of the recently built (or underway) infill developments and renovations have contributed to problems such as fewer trees, less public green space, more cars and traffic, more garbage and — although it is against City by-laws — paving over front yards for parking.

Walk down any street in Hintonburg and you will see dumpsters filled not only with construction debris but also other materials that could be repurposed (e.g., wood and metal) or recycled (e.g., cardboard and paper).
.
Knowing all this, it would be easy to throw up one’s hands and ask, “What’s the use?” But, as it turns out, there were 40 people who didn’t feel that way and recently came together to discuss ways to make Hintonburg a greener place to live and work.

Through a project of the Ottawa Biosphere Eco-City (OBEC), this group created Ottawa’s first community sustainability plan based on 10 themes including transportation, energy, design, food, waste and recreation. Simply put, sustainability means using the resources that we need for a good life but leaving enough for others, including future generations, to have a good life too.

Ideas ranged from simple things like using LED lights and buying local food to more ambitious projects like creating affordable housing. The next step is to put the plan into action. You can help by downloading the sustainability plan, choosing any project that interests you (including ideas that are not in the plan) and then reporting on what you are doing. I think Kermit would approve.
For further details, check out: tinyurl.com/y9g7vb4.
[ http://obec-evbo.ca/hintonburg-community-sustainability-plan .
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Photo Caption: The manager from the local GT Express Store (second from left) on Wellington West joins in with the Transportation Group

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Photo Caption: The Habitat group in discussion.

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Photo Caption:The energy group in discussion.

May 24, 2018: When is the best time to plant a tree?; The upside of casting shade.

May 24, 2018: When is the best time to plant a tree?;
The upside of casting shade.

By Cheryl Parrott, Hintonburg resident.

There is a Chinese proverb that says, “No shade tree? Blame not the sun, but yourself.”

The once very shady Bayview Friendship Park is today less shady than it used to be. A particularly strong storm on May 4th uprooted one large tree which broke the top off of the tree next to it.

The fallen tree destroyed the steps in the pathway leading from Hilda to Bayview, as well as wiping out part of the park’s fence. At this writing, it is too early to tell if the kids’ play structure is damaged since the downed tree has completely engulfed that structure.

The April 16th ice storm resulted in another tree coming down in the park, and with it, branches of 2 other trees had split and later, had to be removed. One of the play structures was also damaged in that storm. In all, this park has suffered a great deal of storm damage over the past winter.

Over the last seven years eight trees have been lost in the Bayview Friendship Park alone. Several other parks have suffered similar set backs.

McCormick Park has suffered a similar fate and has lost a lot of trees through storms and also as a result selective cutting to reduce the spread of the Emerald Ash Borer. Several trees have been replanted in McCormick Park but it will take many years before they can provide any significant shade.

Many parents have talked about how ideal Bayview and McCormick Parks were as playgrounds precisely because of the shade on the playground structure for a good part of the day. Now, some of the best and most-used area parks will have the play structures subject to direct sunlight for most of the day.

In an era where community growth demands more intense infill, often at the expense of existing trees and foliage, it seems like this would be a good time to plant more trees so that in the future, the parks will return to providing some shade, other environmental benefits beyond cleaner air, and new nesting opportunities for birds and smaller urban wildlife.

It is worth noting that in Paris, France, every tree in the city has an individual number. A department in charge of taking care of all of Paris’ urban trees has been managing the city’s greenery for decades. This includes having added a cement support for an Acacia, the oldest tree in Paris, on the banks of the Seine, just a two minute walk from Notre Dame Cathedral.

Although Ottawa is only about one tenth the size of Paris, and has been established as an urban centre for much less time, it is still well worth our trouble to keep a watchful eye on our city’s greenery and to take steps to protect, and replace when necessary, our constantly threatened urban forest. We would do well to remember another ancient wisdom which says, “The best time to plant a tree is twenty years ago. The second best time is now.”

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Photo Caption: Uprooted tree beside the wood fench it crushed. Photo by Tim Thibeault.

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Photo Caption: Bayview Friendship Park in 2012.
[ED: to see more of Bayview Friendship Park as it was 6-years ago, go to the parks page in newswest.org]

Web-extra (May 24, 2018): Why Westboro?; Some thoughts from the Street.

Web-extra (May 24, 2018): Why Westboro?;
Some thoughts from the Street.

By Kevin Doyle, Westboro resident.

“Current zoning discussions seem cast as a battle between the future and a disappearing past and many current zoning rules may get in the way of re-defining what is in the public interest.”

Maybe our notion of zoning needs to be redefined. The current construct seems unnecessarily adversarial. Developers with a legitimate interest sometimes appear to behave in a suspicious and underhanded way. Hence Mr. Ludington’s exclaim of “why Westboro” and why is it that developers seem to receive municipal approval of all they ask even though it may not conform to zoning plans or other requirements?

But what is it that Mr. Ludington is trying to defend? What do people want in their community. What is a community? Perhaps we need a new vision of community and one that is not predicated on zones of separate, distinct community interest.

What is the public good? Communities need people and services to be viable and commercial enterprise to fuel a healthy tax base that pays for services.

Westboro of old was failing on that front. Westboro of new is getting better but there is a rub between an emerging new urban environment and its old identity. There is an aging demographic community and aging housing stock that is the shape of the current urban picture.

Is this the future? How do we reconcile transitions – because one is clearly underway. Zoning fights seem unsatisfactory – and set up a winner/loser mentality and outcome. Can we imagine beyond this construct? Do we need, for instance, to update our notion of family dwelling.

Perhaps the era of the single family home detached with large lot is the legacy of another time. Not that it is bad, but other models can co-exist on the same street. Variation is great. What is wrong with infill? What is wrong with the “two for one” regeneration of older housing stock.

Current zoning discussions seem cast as a battle between the future and a disappearing past and many current zoning rules may get in the way of re-defining what is in the public interest. Why, for example, can one side of a street sever lots and grow new housing, while the other cannot because of the invisible zoning line down the middle.

This is not to argue that developers should continue to receive without scrutiny the benefit of municipal flexibility in planning and developing. Perhaps we need to re-balance what the public interest is, and what the community interest is, and level the playing field.

Why Westboro?…well, why not. It is a great place to live and could be better.

About those missed opportunities. Well, there is the transit way and cycle paths and the linear river park very close by. When development happens, please demand that a public corridor be part of all development. That did not happen when the old Ketchum’s factory became condominiums at the corner of Richmond and Berkeley – a missed opportunity to allow the community direct access to their amenities.

If Rochester field is developed along Richmond Road, demand a public corridor so that people can access the park, the river, the bicycle paths.

When the Highland Park Bowling Club is no longer able to operate, what public good will the city demand as part of its development? How will the community of Westboro be made better through the development of this small corner lot.

A kid’s playground maybe a nice idea because as Westboro regenerates so does its population. Golden Ave is full of little ones again. Give them a safe place to play Then maybe we can call ourselves a “village.” I can always dream.

Kevin Doyle,
Golden Ave.

Web-extra (April 26, 2018): How High Can You Go?; Developer aspirations soar to new heights.

Web-extra (April 26, 2018): How High Can You Go?;
Developer aspirations soar to new heights.

By Cheryl Parrott, Hintonburg resident.

How high can you go? Want to be the tallest building in Ottawa? 30 storeys no longer cuts it, nor 50 storeys, nor 59 storeys. Let’s get this race going and try 65 storeys.

This is the newest proposal for a tiny, tiny piece of land across from the new LRT Bayview Station at 900 Albert Street. It is situated between the City Centre buildings to the south, Albert Street to the north, the O-train station to the west and City Centre Avenue to the east.

Workers have been busy moving piles of earth around all winter as they relocate a major sewer line that went through the middle of the property.

This work is in anticipation that the City will approve their request to build a major development on this tiny piece of land. The sewer relocation is being done by developer Trinity Developments at their expense.

On April 13, 2018, a notice was sent out from the Planning Department that Trinity has changed their proposal again and they are now proposing greater height.

The changes are numerous, so the main points are copied from the City’s communique: Summary of Revisions.

Building heights: Tower 1 has increased in height from 55 to 65 storeys; Tower 2 has increased in height from 50 to 52 storeys; Tower 3 has decreased in height from 59 to 32 storeys with a larger floorplate for offices on the first 15 storeys;

A hotel component has been added, with 150 guest rooms;
The number of residential units has decreased from 1,632 to 1,232 units.
The amount of retail GFA has increased from 10,864 square metres to 11,926 square metres; The amount of office GFA has increased from 17,442 square metres to 18,332 square metres;

The parking layout has been revised. Previously five (5) levels of above-grade parking were proposed within the podium, and four (4) levels were proposed underground. The revised plans include seven (7) levels of underground parking and no parking within the podium.

The proposal also states 1,153 parking spaces and 749 bike parking spots.
This newest application can be seen at https://app01.ottawa.ca/postingplans/home.jsf?lang=en where the address to enter is 900 Albert.

How things change over a few years. Fifteen years ago the proposal was for 24 townhouses and 32 condo apartments. Thirteen years ago the proposal for this site was for a new Ottawa library on the first 6-10 storeys with a tower above with 140 residential condominiums and a restaurant, the total height was to be 24 or 25 storeys.

The plan then changed to office and residential use with two 30 storey buildings plus a third 8 storey building.

In 2016 a new owner of the property, Trinity Developments came forward with a new plan that again included a new Ottawa library on the main floor, retail space larger than at Landsdowne Park, some office space and three towers of residential that were 55 storeys high and would contain about 1,500 rental residential units. They also wanted to build overtop of the O-Train line and connect to Albert Street at the edge of Tom Brown Arena. The proposal then changed to three towers that were 59, 55 and 50 storeys.

Will it stop here? 75 storeys anyone?

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Photo Caption: Tall buildings in tiny spaces reflect multiple changes in developer plans as the site at City Centre reaches for new, record heights for Ottawa highrises. This image from the City Hall web site gives a view from the northeast.