Here are some pictures from the Clifton Road Clean-up Crew
volunteering their time during the Spring Cleaning the Capital campaign.
Now that’s teamwork!
Here are some pictures from the Clifton Road Clean-up Crew
volunteering their time during the Spring Cleaning the Capital campaign.
Now that’s teamwork!
Posted on behalf of Westboro Citizens for Appropriate Development
Westboro C.A.D. have received the OMB decision of the review (requested by Uniform Developments) of the May 2012 decision that ruled that the high rise proposal was not in conformity with the Official Plan. Uniform applied to the City for an Official Plan Amendment (OPA) to allow the higher maximum zoning and allow their proposal, and they also filed for a review of the May 2012 decision.
In the review, Uniform argued there was a denial of natural justice as they had not had the chance to present their case. The recent OMB decision agreed that Uniform should be given the chance to present their case. So the case is to be continued. To quote the decision itself: “Specifically this hearing should continue before the original member where it left off but with the inclusion of the appeal to Uniform’s Official Plan Amendment (OPA) if launched.”
Here is the decision: http://www.omb.gov.on.ca/e-decisions/pl120109-jan-17-2013.pdf
So we know we will be going back to the OMB at some point, and we know that we will want to be involved in the City hearing and decision on the OPA requested by Uniform. But we don’t know the details of the process or the timeframe.
So stay tuned. We will get back to you on the details and let you know how you can help.
For more details, please contact the Westboro Citizens for Appropriate Development
Follow @WestborCAD on twitter
Add us to your Google+ circles
Join our Facebook group, Like our Facebook page
* Please note, this event is not being hosted by the WCA. Please contact the event organizers for more information. Thank you!
Want to eat fresh, local & organic vegetables this summer? Our Little Farm will be delivering Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) vegetable boxes in Westboro this summer and they still have a few spots left! Each week or every other week, depending on how many veggies you like to eat, you will get a box of local certified organic vegetables dropped off on Cole Avenue near Richmond/Churchill (late June-late Oct.) This a great way to get fresh, local produce direct from your farmer, to get some of their favorite recipes and to be invited to family-friendly farm events. Hurry, as the number of spaces are limited; contact Jim Thompson: firstname.lastname@example.org (Edited to add: the email is now correct! Sorry about the confusion.)
An open letter to the Mayor
Dear Mr. Mayor,
We are among the quarter million of immigrants that Canada welcomes every year. We moved to Ottawa three years ago, as skilled labor, after having lived in Switzerland and Germany. And as all immigrants do, we compare our new home to our old home. Some things are wonderful about our new home. Many things are just different. And then there are a few things which are very disturbing. For example, ever since we came to Ottawa, we were wondering why Ottawa is ugly. Let there be no misunderstanding: Ottawa has a lot to offer for its residents. The quality of life is high. Green space and water abundant. Nature has been very generous to this city. But man has not. The man-made urban landscape is simply astonishingly unattractive: The few organically grown older neighborhoods are under siege by soulless and uniform “infills” (a term Europeans tend to associate with nasty dental procedures rather than architecture); poorly designed condo towers, not unlike those that were built in the 1970s all over the former Soviet Union, mushroom everywhere in the City; finding an example of decent architecture among the many cheap and thoughtless utilitarian buildings is hardly possible. The urban landscape of Ottawa is a cacophony; it is eclectic, unplanned, and largely untouched by even the slightest sense of esthetics in the public space. And sadly, the world is aware of this. Just read what the Wikipedia entry on “architecture in Ottawa” has to say.
Good architecture matters, Mr. Mayor! It matters, because you and I and everybody else want to live and work in a city which displays, occasionally, some sense of esthetics. But it also matters because an attractive urban landscape helps to attract and retain well-educated, creative people. When a city becomes too ugly, these people leave. And with that the tax base erodes. In today’s world, cities have to compete for the well-educated and mobile workforce, and an attractive urban landscape matters!
Over the last year or so, we have slowly uncovered what makes Ottawa’s urban landscape ugly. Here is how we learned: We live in a quiet residential street in Westboro. Across the street is an industrial site. When we bought our property we were aware of the fact that this site was zoned for residential buildings with a height of up to 19.5 meters. Sooner or later, we knew, a developer would build something. Then one day we heard that a developer had bought the property and intended to build apartment buildings. The height of these planned buildings was not 19.5 meters, not 29.5 meters, not 39.5 meters. The developer wanted to build twin towers with a height of 53.5 meters.
Of course, we were shocked and annoyed by the chutzpah of this developer. But we were not too concerned. You see, Mr. Mayor, in Europe, when a property is zoned for 19.5 meters, residents can be sure that the developers respect the zoning and by-laws. We call it legal security. Also, should the city intend to change the zoning laws, citizens have a say in this. We call it democracy. And when citizens are concerned about a development, they will ask their elected representative for support, and they will get it. We call it responsive government. Finally, in our home countries, there is a competent and impartial bureaucracy in place devoted to the public good. This we call good governance.
But apparently the developer that fancies a 53-meter twin tower in the heart of a neighborhood characterized by two-story building must have assumed that the planning process in Ottawa has no respect for legal security, democracy and good governance. Or why else would he have dared to put forward a proposal which so very clearly contradicts all planning rationales of the city of Ottawa, and which so blatantly ignores the public good for the sake of increasing profit margins?
But not only that. The planning rationale is full of inaccuracies, misleading claims, and plain nonsense. At times, it is so silly that it is actually funny. My favorite part is the claim that the shadows from a 53-meter tower have a less negative impact on adjacent properties than the shadows from a 19 meters high building. Also quite funny is the notion that privacy for neighbors is better ensured by 53-meter towers than by 19-meter buildings. Or how about the claim the twin towers would provide a sense of orientation to the community? How often do residents of Westboro get lost because they have no grotesquely megalomaniac twin towers to provide orientation, one wonders?
Then there is a traffic study (for which the developer paid, of course) which duly states that traffic from the new building will have no negative impact on the traffic situation in the neighborhood. The problem is that this study is methodologically so bizarrely flawed that every undergrad student would be ashamed to hand it in as a term paper.
Surely, no one could take such a planning rationale seriously, we thought. Everybody would understand that all these inaccuracies – no, let me rephrase this – all these silly little lies were just a desperate attempt of an unprofessional developer to build a case when there simply is no case.
But then, Mr. Mayor, a few months later, the City planner delivered his report on this proposal. Would you believe, Mr. Mayor, that the report almost verbatim repeated all the inaccuracies, factual mistakes, and the plain nonsense from the planning rationale? Yes, says the City planner, this proposal is in line with the planning rationales for Westboro (even though it takes three minutes to read the Richmond Road / Westboro Secondary Plan in order to find out that it is not). Yes, the traffic study is done in accordance with City of Ottawa regulations. Does the City regulate that traffic studies must be flawed? Yes, the shadows from the towers have a less negative impact on the neighborhood than shadows from a lower building. And so on.
After having read this report from the City planner, we were no longer annoyed. We were appalled and ashamed. Could it be that our friends and neighbors, who had warned us that the planning process in Ottawa is seriously corrupted, were right? We had refused to believe this. After all, we just immigrated to Canada, and as all immigrants, we want our new home to be something we have not to be ashamed of. We want it to be good.
Mr. Mayor, on December 5 the planning committee will vote on the proposal of Urban Uniform for a zoning by-law amendment proposal for 335 Roosevelt Ave, file Nr. D02-02-11-0068. If the planning committee says “yes” to this proposal, it will say “yes” to the greed of a few, and “no” to the public good. It will say “yes” to the profit margins of the investors, and “no” to the legitimate concerns of the many residents who live in the neighborhood, who raise families in the neighborhood, who pay taxes in the City of Ottawa, and who put their trust in the legal system of this city.
If the committee says “yes”, it will say “yes” to yet another uninspired, thoughtless, ugly and deeply provincial design whose sole purpose is profit maximizing. If the committee says “no”, it will send the developer back to the drawing board. There is no reason at all why a developer should not be able to come up with a design which conforms with the current zoning, and which is attractive for both old an new residents of the neighborhood. And if the current architect cannot do this, then find a decent architect who can. It is not hard.
But finally, and most importantly, Mr. Mayor, the planning committee will vote on something else, too. You know, the unattractive architecture of Ottawa is just the manifestation of something more profoundly and truly ugly: It is the manifestation of a deeply corrupted planning process. If the committee votes “yes”, it will further undermine the credibility of the bureaucracy. It will undermine the respect for its own rules and procedures. It will demonstrate what many citizens suspect: That decisions are made arbitrarily, and not in the interest of the public good. In sum, Mr. Mayor, if the committee says “yes”, it will undermine the very principles on which democratic communities rely: Trust in the rule of law, in democracy, and in accountable and transparent good governance.
The world needs more Canada! We new immigrants read this all over the city. Many of us came because we want to believe in this. Mr. Mayor, I continue to believe that the world needs more Canada. But then there are also some things which the world does not need. Which Canada does not need. Things of which all of us who live here in this community should be ashamed of. We should fix these things. On December 5th, there is an opportunity to start doing just that.
Dr. Christoph Zürcher
378 Wilmont Avenue
This letter comes from Amos Hayes and has been republished with permission.
Staff has recommended allowing a permanent private access road through the Byron Linear Park. Their report is on the agenda for the planning committee on Tuesday May 24th (next Tuesday!) at City Hall (Champlain Room in the heritage part).
From what I understand, enacting their recommendation will also require a city bylaw change to permit access to a property through adjacent property.
These decisions will affect communities throughout the city.
Please pass along this information to your neighbourhood community associations and your neighbours. Please let your councillor know that this is an unacceptable use of a public park.
Send your comments to the planning committee:
Caitlin Salter MacDonald
(613) 580-2424 x. 28136
Bums in seats are *really* important. Come to the meeting on Tuesday at 9:30am at City Hall and let the planning committee and planners know how you feel. You can sign up to say your bit on the morning of or let the person above know sooner if you’d like to be early on the list.
The only alternative on the staff’s table is access through Shannon Ave. (currently a narrow street which dead-ends at the property.) This would have a significant impact on residents there. Even though it has been confirmed that the southern building parking will have underground access to Richmond Rd., the city staff and the councillor are suggesting that if there is no southern access, the developer will cut down all the mature trees on the eastern side of the property (Nun’s Walk) rather than slightly adjusting building footprints to accommodate emergency/service vehicle surface access from Richmond Rd. You may recall that in November the committee was assured that all service vehicles would use the Richmond Rd. entrance either way, and that the Leighton Terrace entrance was to be the second entrance required for emergency vehicles only.
The community has been railroaded into a terrible either/or decision which pits neighbour against neighbour, all to reward a developer with an overly dense site plan. This is despicable and an affront to all communities. Please take some time to make yourself heard. Please also consider visiting http://hamptoniona.ca and donating time or money to the community appeal to the Ontario Municipal Board.
Dear Councillor Hobbs,
I would dearly love to see someone, somewhere take some leadership on this issue. Try hard. Make an effort. Do their best.
Instead of saying how hard things would be (a levy) or explaining why things can’t be done, could you please, please, please just look at what can be done and then kill yourself trying to do it.
This process has been a disgrace since way back when.
It starts with groups that get tax breaks (in this case the nuns) being able to sell to the highest bidder with no regard for the community that subsidized them all these years. And that, bottom line, is the fault of the city for not putting guidelines in place saying “pay now or pay later”. You can avoid paying taxes for years and years but that means when you sell we’re first in line and for a reduced price too, thank you very much.
However, that wasn’t done and there are no signs it will ever be done.
Then there’s Ashcroft buying property upon which they know there are restrictions and then completely ignoring those restrictions and pissing and moaning when anyone suggests they’ll be enforced. Againa though, like in the case of the nuns, it comes back to the city to do something about this.
If nobody’s going to tell people they can’t have tax breaks for nothing and if nobody tells developers they have to stick by the rules, then why should they? The city needs to show some leadership.
At the moment, the only people I see showing any focus, determination or leadership are the management of Ashcroft and THAT IS WHY THEY WILL WIN. They’re fighting the best fight. They’re doing the best job.
Show us you can fight too. Show us you can do your job. Whatever anyone thinks about Christine Leadman’s overall performance on this project, she demonstrated she was willing to try throwing some creative twists into the mix and didn’t mind at least TRYING.
You need to try because even if you believe Ashcroft should be able to break all the rules and build whatever they want and it’s OK to lose a unique and interesting piece of our heritage, many of your constituents don’t and anyway, the rules are still the rules and you should be fighting to enforce them if for no other reason.
Show us what you can do. We’re watching. And counting the days until the next election.
The follow email exchange between a Westboro resident and Councillor Hobbs is posted with permission.
Dear Councillor Hobbs,
Could you please let me know the status of the convent site? After all the turmoil and participation of the community over the past year, communication seems to have stopped dead. Councillor Leadman used to send out periodic updates keeping us informed as to the various issues and specific actions she was taking and that we, as a community, could take. I’m sure it would be greatly appreciated if you would do the same.
With the March 31st deadline looming, is progress being made with regards to buying back part of the property for parkland? What happens if no decision is reached by March 31st?
How will it be determined whether or not to impose a levy on the ward to contribute to the cost?
What is happening with regards to Ashcroft’s appeal to the OMB?
Do you have any information about the Conservation Review Board public hearing on January 25th? Will they be discussing this site, and if so, what aspects of it, and should we attend?
Thank you for your email. I understand your concerns regarding the communications regarding the convent development, and unfortunately I do not have all communication vehicles up and running at the present time. I did have an item in the last issue of the Kitchissippi Times that addressed this. However I do not have access to any of Christine Leadman’s files, therefore her distribution list is not available to me to send the same kind of updates she was doing.
At the present time we are preparing a communiqué and a public meeting to outline the results of a very intensive undertaking to determine how the purchase could be accomplished. Throughout the month of December City Staff investigated all of the avenues we have to purchase property. Meanwhile City Staff were working on an official appraisal determining the worth of the property. We are expecting that information early next week which will give us the appropriate figure to work with to present the exact levy $ information to the community.
Throughout December and January I met with the three community association presidents and a number of residents on Leighton Terrace to discuss different options for the purchase.
I am most pleased to add you to my growing distribution list on the convent issues.
The WCA has endorsed the contents of this letter, which was written by WCA volunteer Deb Chapman. It has been emailed to Councillor Hobbs.
Dear Katherine Hobbs,
I am writing to ask you to support a City staff funding request to fix the drainage problem in Clare Gardens Park in Westboro. This park went through an extensive revitalization project last summer to replace aging play structures and pathways that were at the end of their lifecycle. A new play structure was also installed that was fundraised for by the community. Clare Gardens Park is a much loved gathering place for residents of all ages.
There has always been water in the park. However, since the last summer’s construction and the raising of the grade around the play structures and pathways, water now collects in the middle of the park in the playing field. After a rain the water can be up to 4 to 6 inches deep …and it takes days to drain. As a result, kids cannot play games like soccer, baseball, tag, etc. A stage will be installed in the spring. If a performance happens after a storm the audience will have to come in boots with chairs and floaties.
The City has invested a good sum of money to revitalize Clare Gardens Park. It would be a shame if we can’t use the entire park and not just the areas that are on higher ground. This is a health and safety issue. We did not have a case of West Nile disease last year but if this disease does make a comeback this park would make for a perfect ground for mosquitoes.
We need your support to champion this budget item through the budget process next week. Hope we can count on you.