Parkdale United Church: 1st Annual Amnesty International “Write for Rights” Event

29 11 2018

Please note this announcement from a neighbour:


Parkdale United Church is holding its first Amnesty International “Write for Rights” event on Sunday, December 9, from 12:30 to 3:30.  Could you please add the following information to your website’s community calendar/events and Facebook pages:

Write for Rights at Parkdale United Church

When: Sunday, December 9, 12:30 – 3:30

Where: Parkdale United Church, at the corner of Parkdale and Gladstone. Please enter by the ramp off Gladstone.

More details:   Join in the biggest human rights event in the world, Amnesty International’s “Write for Rights”.  This is Parkdale’s first Amnesty write-a-thon, but they have taken place since 2001. Last December, hundreds of thousands of letter writers all over the world wrote five and a half million letters and messages in support of those whose human rights have been violated. Because they are under threat all over the world, this year’s campaign will focus on courageous women peacefully advocating for human rights.  Parkdale’s write-a-thon event is open to all. Coffee kindly donated by Bridgehead.

From a Neighbour: Response to Rezoning Request for Triplexes on Byron

7 11 2018

Please see the attached from a neighbour on a rezoning request for triplexes on Byron. Note that these have been submitted to the City.


Comments Regarding Planning Committee Decision on Rezoning – 266 and 270 Byron Zoning By-law Amendment Application No. D02-02-17-0037_R Pellarin


Westboro Resident Max Finkelstein: Thoughts on Intensification in our Community

7 11 2018

A letter from Westboro resident Max Finkelstein: Thoughts on Intensification in our Community


Lot after Lot, Thought After thought: The Westboro Story


Pontification on intensification: the Westboro story


This year has seen a bumper crop of little black and white signs all over Westboro.   Back in September, a couple sprouted up on the lot next door informing us of a request for two ‘minor variances’ to allow the construction of two triplexes on the property. Another black and white sign appeared at 514 Roosevelt, just south of Kenwood, also seeking approval for two tripleses and  the same two ‘minor variances. And so began what we have come to call “Westboro and the Creeping Triplex Menace”.  For those of you who actually live in triplexes, please understand that we are not against triplex residents, nor are we against triplexes, but we are against development that contravenes the spirit of the zoning bylaw and that is unplanned, unsupported by the community,  and opportunistic.

For the past few weeks, we have been pouring over the official plan, zoning by-laws, streetscape analyses and other planning tools. Coffee has been spilled many times, as we drift off late in the night trying to understand the complexities of urban planning. But all this research has reinforced what we, and you, already know – that the factors that contribute the most to making a neighbourhood feel like an extension of your home can’t be counted or measured. A house, whether it is a single family home or a triplex, is an expression of values.

When we moved into Westboro two decades ago, we noted its tree-lined streets and unique homes. Attention to detail, pride in workmanship, artistic and innovative design….these homes spoke loudly, and those that are still there, still speak loudly, of these values and more. They looked as if they had grown there, and, like a mature tree, emanate a feeling of stability, of a place where the rate of change is just a little bit slower and saner. It was a neighbourhood that was a mix of small homes, stately homes, apartments, with the Jean d’Arc Convent, with its housing for single women, as one of the anchors of the neighbourhood character.  When we moved into our house at 487 Edison Ave.twenty years ago,  the house was divided into two apartments, and had been that way since about 1944. We lived in the downstairs apartment, and rented out the upstairs one. At one time, in our 1500 sq.ft. home there were seven people, and a few dogs, living there. Our tenants included students, and young families new to Canada (and some squirrels in the attic, and chipmunks under the front porch). It was only when our growing family made us feel cramped in the downstairs apartment that we decided to renovate the house into a single family home.

The first infills on our block, just after the new millennium, were aimed at middle income families. But intensification in the neighbourhood has taken the form of ever-bigger, and ever-more unaffordable, homes. Even the proposed triplexes next door would rent for $2,500 – $3,000/month, which limits them to high income earners. The one new proposal that has received strong community support is the Cornerstone housing development of 42 apartments for single women in the old Jean d’Arc Residence.

All neighbourhoods have a life cycle. Change is inevitable. But change needs to be planned so all the values that come together to make a great neighbourhood are not lost in the rush towards intensification and maximization of tax revenues – both good goals – but at what cost? We know the four tests to evaluate minor variances do not consider any of these values.  But we all know it when we see them, and when we don’t, in building proposals.  When we see identical ‘cookie-cutter’ designs plunked on lots that leave no room for mature trees to survive, when we see concrete and stone from lot line to lot line (‘intensification does not have to be ‘asphatification’) , when we see roof-lines as flat as a left-over morning-after  beer, everybody knows what values are being chosen, and not chosen.

Ottawa’s official plan states up front that  This Plan manages [this] growth in ways that reinforce the qualities of the city most valued by its residents: its distinctly liveable communities, its green and open character, and its unique characteristics that distinguish Ottawa from all other places….The qualities that make neighbourhoods special and contribute to their identity are valued in any consideration of land-use change.

The challenge to planners and politicians, the art and the poetry, is to balance change with community values. We can do both. Let’s work together to make it so. We can do better.


“If we add beauty to the world, we can be sure we are doing the right thing.”


Kitchissippi Times Letter to the Editor: Westboro is changing

24 09 2018

Kitchissippi Times Letter to the Editor: Westboro is changing

Dear Editor,

The character of the Westboro is changing fast…  and is going to change faster.

The lot beside our home was recently sold, and we were not surprised to hear it was to be redeveloped. We were not surprised when the City of Ottawa envelope arrived in our mailbox, informing us of an application for minor variances. But we were surprised (though perhaps we shouldn’t have been) by the proposal itself – subdivision of the lot to build two apartment buildings. Six apartments (or 8) where there was one single family home. The application requires “minor” variances to reduce both the minimum allowed width and area of the lot.

Constance Downes and Max Finkelstein at their Westboro home. Photo by Andrea Tomkins

We are not opposed to new developments. In fact, we are generally supportive of City policies for infill and intensification. However, we are shocked by this level of intensification and the incongruity of the proposal to the character of the street, which is a mix of older and newer single-family homes.

We were taken aback that the City considers an application for an approximately 25% reduction in the allowable minimum area to be “minor.” There can be valid reasons to grant minor variances (e.g. where it adds community value by improving traffic flow or addresses safety concern). However, in this situation, there appear to be no valid grounds. Granting these minor variances would not add  any community value. It is clearly for the maximization of profit and tax revenue by squeezing two apartment buildings into an area that is clearly defined under the City bylaw as being too small.

Time to do a bit of snooping around the neighbourhood. We are not alone. It’s not just “in our back yard.” On Roosevelt Avenue, there is an identical proposal just two blocks away by the same developer, same apartment building plans, same minor variances requested to enable the construction of another two side-by-side monolithic buildings on one lot. Granting five “minor” variances cannot be considered, by any reasonable measure, to be “minor.” Again, another two blocks away on Ravenhill, we find four recently-built apartment buildings, and two more being built right now, on what were previously three single-family lots, completely changing the look and feel of the street. In this case, the approved three-unit apartment blocks mysteriously grew to be four units after construction.

So on Edison, where we once had one neighbour, we will have six (or eight). Where we once had the shade of century-old maple trees we will now have none. Where once gardens and lawns provided beauty and a permeable surface for run-off, we will have concrete. Where there were once one or two cars with sufficient driveway there could now be six or more, with only two parking spaces provided. Where will the other cars be parked? We all know the answer – on the street. Churchill Alternative School, which our son attended, is at the north end of the block. The twice-daily drop-off and pick-up of students in school buses and cars already creates a chaotic situation that has required complex parking and traffic restrictions. The addition of more cars to this mix could make it a dangerous situation.

As the city continues to grant these “minor” variances, the precedent is being set thus allowing it to happen over and over and over again throughout our neighbourhood and others. One doesn’t have to search far to find similar situations in the Glebe, Old Ottawa South… the list goes on.

We repeat, we are not against reasonable intensification nor are our neighbours to whom we’ve spoken. However, the City has no plan or vision for Westboro’s future, official or otherwise. There is no definition of “intensification” or how it will be applied. Are there any limits to it? There appears to be none. There is no definition of what constitutes a “minor” variance and no consideration of the cumulative effects of these “minor” variances. How many can one request?

Is there an unwritten vision by the City that Westboro will ultimately become a community of solid apartment buildings? We know none of this. The City, our politicians and the Committee of Adjustment is failing the residential community. To have the future of Westboro written on a case-by-case basis simply for the pursuit of maximum short-term profits is a mistake. The City’s lack of long-term community planning is a mistake that its citizens will look back upon with regret.

So say goodbye to our cozy, tree-lined Westboro haven. It will soon be gone forever. Unless we, the residents, act. If you are concerned, there are three things you can do right now:

  • Come to the developer’s community meeting on Tuesday, September 25 at 7 p.m., Churchill Seniors Centre (345 Richmond Rd).
  • Write a letter and/or attend the City’s Committee of Adjustment hearing on Wednesday, October 3, at 1 p.m. at Ben Franklin Place, The Chamber, Main Floor, 101 Centrepointe Dr.
  • Write a letter to Councillor Jeff Leiper ( and to Joel Hardin, MPP (

For more information on this proposed infill development and our community’s hopes to work with the developer to find a more suitable solution that maintains the unique character of Westboro, please contact

Max Finkelstein and Constance Downes
487 Edison Ave.

483 Edison: Neighbourhood flyer that’s been delivered to affected Edison residents.

20 09 2018

Sharing this neighbourhood flyer that’s been delivered to affected Edison residents. Please note the open house on Sept 25th.

Note that the views in this flyer do not necessarily reflect those of the WCA.


483 Edison Flyer v6

Cornerstone: Celebrate the Dream Event – October 24th

14 09 2018

Please see the message below from Cornerstone, Housing for Women:

The Celebrate the Dream Event

Welcome to the New 373 Princeton Avenue:

Wednesday October 24th, 2018

5:30 pm to 8:30 pm

373 Princeton Avenue, Westboro

Our new home is complete and we are ready to welcome you to Princeton!

Please join us for this fun foodie event, featuring the best food, beverages and entertainment that the neighborhood has to offer.

Princeton will be a new chance at a brighter future for forty-two women to move past the experience of homelessness into hope and healing.

Tickets are limited. Special early bird price of $50 available until September 30th, 2018.

For more information, please contact or call (613) 254-6584 ext. 503.

Celebrate the Dream Event


Event: Celebrating Two Old Ottawa Maples

3 08 2018

Celebrating Two Old Ottawa Maples

Richard Deadman and his family invite you to join them in their yard at 102 Springhurst Avenue in Old Ottawa South to celebrate two maples at risk of falling to Regional Group’s “Greystone Village” (see CTV story). They are located near the Rideau River on the northern edge of the former Oblates Missionary site, a property that will see 916 condos and townhouses go up in the next few years.

Starting at 1:30 PM this Sunday, August 5, 2018, the Ottawa naturalist Owen Clarkin will talk about the features and ecology of the sugar maple, and the two trees at risk. Tree activists will outline efforts to map the lost trees of Ottawa and steps needed to correct the poor record of tree protection in the City of Ottawa. By 2:15 the event will move down Springhurst Avenue to the Rideau River Nature Trail, concluding by 3 pm.

Join the celebration of what is and could remain a heritage green space in a residential neighbourhood.

Champlain Oaks project
Big Trees of Kitchissippi

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