A new kind of development in Westboro

18 11 2009

Sky bungalows in Westboro

Sometimes small things such as the use of different words has a major impact that was not anticipated. We discovered such a change when we saw the sign at 430 Byron Avenue for the Bungalows of Westboro. The developer told us they expected to build within the Zoning By-law. That’s when we discovered the small change in wording.

In the 1998 Zoning By-law which has now been replaced by the City of Ottawa Zoning By-law 2008-250, triplexes were a permitted use. The zoning permitted a triplex per the following: “triplex house limited to a converted three unit house.” In other words an existing house could be converted to have three units but you could not build a triplex outright.

In the new by-law what is permitted is now defined as a “three-unit dwelling.” Sadly we missed this small change which now appears to have a major impact as one sees from the new definition: “Three-unit Dwelling means a residential use building originally constructed to contain three principal dwelling units divided horizontally.” NOTE that converted is no longer in the definition.

The new by-law permits the building of a three unit on a lot size similar to that of a single detached home but to a height of 11 metres. A single or semi-detached home has a height limit of 8 metres in our community.

Granted there are some streets where a three-unit might be appropriate, but the City’s “Urban Design Guidelines for low-medium Density Infill” states:

“Allow the front door (the public entrance) to dominate the façade (front wall) as opposed to the garage. The use of quality materials and an eye-catching entrance is preferable over recessed and shadowed entrances and Create design excellence, using visual cues from the neighbourhood, through the following elements:

  • Quality materials
  •  Textures and colours used in wall treatments
  • Articulation of design features such as projections, recesses, front porches, stoops, balconies
  •  Cornice lines, chimneys, etc.
  •  Size, shape, placement and number of doors and windows
  •  Form of the roofline

… and create building faces that are detailed with inviting entrances and living spaces close to the ground that offer eyes on the street and contribute to the amenity of the public realm.”

Building these kind of “three units” on a residential street consisting of homes of 8 metres in height is not in keeping with the character of the neighbourhood. When there is no requirement for a site plan or minor variance we can only hope that City Staff will be vigilant during the building permit stage.

The Building Permit stage is sometimes the only time an infill project will be reviewed (it may be exempt from Site Plan Control By-law 2002-4 as amended; the Building Code and all other Zoning By-law provisions have been met; it is not a Designated Heritage Building or within a Heritage Conservation District under the Ontario Heritage Act and there is no requirement for a severance). At this stage all applicants will receive a copy of the design guidelines and will be encouraged to comply.

As always, we’d love to hear your thoughts. Below are some views of the location of proposed development on Byron Avenue.

Sky bungalows in Westboro

Sky bungalows in Westboro

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6 responses

18 11 2009
David

The things you guys get excited about… honestly. Byron is a minor collector. At one point in time this part of Byron even had a bus route, and, long ago, a tram. The site itself is on the south side of the street and overlooks greenspace, so no one is going to be overshadowed by a few extra metres of height. But where this gets really silly is the fact that elsewhere in several places along Byron not too far away triplexes already exist. Literally steps away, between Evered and Highcroft are a pair of triplexes. There’s one at Kirkwood and another cluster at Hilson.

You’ve cited urban design guidelines but I fail to see how that makes a case against this proposal at a conceptual level. We haven’t seen the specific details so we don’t know if the proposal will abide by them but it’s hard to imagine that we’ll end up with a 3-car garage on Byron either. Indeed, parking will probably be at the back and the structure brought as close to Byron as possible. Well that would be an enormous improvement on all the semi-McMansions going in around here with their 50′ of paved frontage. I grant that some of the examples of the triplexes along Byron aren’t pretty (the ones near Hilson are much better though) and their parking arrangements leave much to be desired, but that doesn’t mean that a new triplex would be out of character either.

Instead of getting all excited about this, it would be better to make sure that what is proposed and built has some visual interest and conforms with the intent of the urban design guidelines, especially on the parking space location issue.

18 11 2009
Gary Ludington

The WCA stated ‘granted there are some streets where one of these three units might be appropriate’ so we do agree with you. The issue we have is that with the removal of one word they can be built anywhere on any street and if they don’t need a ‘minor variance’ nobody has an opportunity to make a comment. The Infill Guidelines are just guidelines and the only time you or anyone else can ask that the guidelines be considered is if a ‘minor variance’ or ‘consent’ is required.

19 11 2009
Churchill Neighbour

This is only phase 1 of 2 phases.You may want to check out the “Sky Bungalows of Westboro” website.On the ottawa living website there is an elevation on this new development, although architecturally “interesting” it does include a three car garage facing Byron!

It would be great to have input but we face one BIG problem. As the city moves forward towards densification and our neighbourhood continues to be desirable at any cost this is our reality, we should expect this type of redevelopment.
location, location…ugly or not…here we come!

Here`s the two phases

PHASE 1
430 Byron

PHASE 2
LATER RELEASE ATHLONE PRIVATE
On Athlone south of Clare Near Clare Gardens Park,

4 12 2009
CB

I’ve looked at the plans for this architectural plans. I question whether the city will take into account where the residents will put their snow in the winter months. A similar problem exists on Evered Ave. A developer built a side-by-side where there is no front yard to speak of. It is mostly driveway and stairs. The only place they can put the snow is in the street or on the neighbours’property.

15 01 2010
Byron Resident

I live very close to this and to say that this disappoints me, and my neighbours, is an understatement. A triplex is bad enough but that it will sit on top of garages is even worse. The height is insane. The footprint is insane (isn’t the size supposed to be comparable to the current structure?) as are the lack of design and continuity with the neighbourhood. Added to this, we are all forced to wait for many many months to hear what will be built (as they have yet to say that triplexes are indeed happening) and in fact, as of today, I saw an open house in the window. Are the developers backing out…not selling for the insane price?! Hope so. I hold out hope that duplexes will be the end result or better yet, a reno of the house to keep the block in character with the neighbourhood.

26 10 2012
Dean McCuaig

We live on Edgewood, and the property next door to us was recently knocked down and a side by side semi-detatched unit is being built in its place. The home is 1.2 metres away from our property line and a portion of it is actually .76 metres away from our back yard fence. Based on the R3R zoning we are asking the city to explain to us how a building can be so close and still be safe. Because the new-build takes up the entire property, when they dig the foundation they dig right to the property line, which is next to our garage. As a result, the surrounding land sinks and falls into the space where the new foundation is being built and a portion of our foundation is actually exposed. The city says they will not get involved in private disputes and the builder says they will fix it in due time. My point is, our property should not be impacted by the construction next door. Don’t even get me started on how this changes the character of the neighborhood. It’s not the builder that my issue is with, it is with city by-laws that permits a home, or parts of a home, to be 0.76 metres away from the next property. That is a huge contrast to our double lot and the feel of the neighborhood today.

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