Clare Gardens Park: Fall Clean-Up

15 10 2018

Clare Gardens Park’s Fall Clean-Up

Saturday, October 20th, 2018 @ 10:00 am till noon (Rain date: October 21st)

It’s that time of year.  The WCA and the Volunteer Gardeners of Clare Gardens Park are hosting the park’s autumn clean-up.

We’ll bring rubber gloves and large garden bags. We’d appreciate if you could bring a broom, a wheelbarrow, pruners, a rake and or a shovel.

Hear the park news and ask questions. Tell us if you have any park-related concerns. We welcome your feedback.

Bring your families and meet your neighbours! Refreshments and goodies will be provided.

See you in the park!

Organized by:

The Volunteer Gardeners of Clare Gardens Park


The Westboro Community Association

FallCleanupOct2018portrait draft


Westboro residents come together against over-intensification in their community

12 10 2018

Westboro residents come together against over-intensification in their community

Over recent years, many Westboro residents have approached the Community Association expressing concern about overly intensive triplex development in our neighbourhoods.  This development has been well outside the limits of existing R3 zoning for three-unit dwellings, and is characterized by eliminating virtually all green space and squeezing two triplexes onto single lots previously occupied by modest single-family homes.

Prompted to action when multiple triplexes were proposed on their streets, groups of neighbours on Edison, Roosevelt and nearby Cole Avenues launched a campaign to urge the City to find a more suitable intensification solution that would maintain the character of Westboro neighbourhoods. By creating an email group (SaveWestboro) and pounding the pavement delivering flyers, this small group of residents brought together over 100 of their Westboro neighbours to join them in their campaign.

Their strategy worked. On Wednesday, Ottawa City Council passed a motion by Kitchissippi Councillor Jeff Leiper to enact an “Interim Control Bylaw” that will prevent developers from getting approval for triplexes that are too big for the lots, that don’t meet the requirements of the R3 zoning, and that require approval of “minor variances” by the Committee of Adjustment. The Bylaw will be in place for one year, while the City conducts a study about the suitability and compatibility of triplexes in this area.

For more information on this neighbourhood initiative, please contact the organizers

You can make a difference too.  Join us at our AGM- Your Community Association needs you!

The success of the SaveWestboro community group shows how a small group of neighbours can make a big difference.  You can make a difference too. Join us at our Annual General Meeting this Tuesday, October 16 at Churchill Seniors Centre (agenda attached below) and hear about the work we do.  Your Community Association needs new members who can bring their talents to our community.

What can you bring to your community?  You can serve on our board of directors or you can work on ad hoc projects. We need people to fill our executive positions. We need people to plan our social and cultural activities, to manage our website, and to liaise with the Westboro business association. Do you have a specific skill? We would love to create a pool of professionals such as lawyers, engineers, communications specialists, technical experts, designers or architects on whom we can call periodically as resource persons to review documents or help draft a response to a particular project.

What can you get from your community involvement?  The chance to meet your neighbours. The chance to connect with other community associations, the city, and nonprofit organizations on the issues that matter to you. Work on projects related to the environment, housing, our built heritage and transportation. Or simply work with others on your street to solve a local problem.

Please plan to attend the AGM.  Membership is only $10 ($20/family).  If you can’t attend, you can download a membership application at the following URL:

Questions or interest in becoming a board member or community resource person? Email us or  or

WestboroCommunityAssociationagendaAGM Egan: Infill or outcast? When old neighbourhoods grow newer, boxier via demolition

4 10 2018

Egan: Infill or outcast? When old neighbourhoods grow newer, boxier via


Of all the issues not getting much traction in the municipal election — and it was a lifeless affair even before multiple tornadoes literally sucked the air out of the city — there is an explosive sleeper: infill and intensification.

In any mature neighbourhood in Ottawa, older houses are being torn down and replaced by boxier replacements that are bigger, tend to have a hard-edged “massive” profile, eat away at green space, remove large trees, put cars right by the sidewalk, and replace small starter homes with million-dollar showcases of glass and stone.

Some of it is all to the good, of course. The housing stock improves, it helps stop urban sprawl, and it creates homes in a style that better suits modern living and a buyer’s market. It is also an owner’s unstoppable right.

But, undeniably, it creates deep division. There was a fascinating hearing in late September before the Local Planning Appeal Tribunal (the old OMB) that crystallizes much of the friction being writ large across the city’s core, one case of more than 8,000 units of central intensification in a five-year stretch ending in 2017.

A group of residents on Broadway Avenue in the Glebe is upset with a plan to tear down 21 Broadway — a traditional 2.5-storey brick house — and replace it with a larger, modern home with a flat roof. The main issue under the rules microscope? The house is set forward in such a way that its facade does not line up with the foundations of its neighbours, giving it a smaller yard with diminished greenery.

On paper, it hardly seems earth-shattering, but the proposal has set off an emotional debate about property rights, our attachment to the look and feel of our neighbourhoods and the unspoken — or non-existent — duty for individuals to maintain the era-look of new builds or additions.

”I don’t really understand why all this happened and it became such a hatred-filled environment,” said Hassan Moghadam, 48, an oral surgeon who bought the $1-million house with his wife, Litsa Karamanos, and plans to tear it down. “Over a house?”

Maghadam is so perplexed by the opposition, the transplanted Iranian wondered aloud if there was discrimination at play. He says he arrived in 1976 “with nothing,” stayed at the Salvation Army, wore secondhand clothes and made a life for himself by “working my butt off.”

“Basically, what I felt like is they’re telling me ‘You can’t live on this street,’ right?” (He performs surgery at The Ottawa Hospital, the Montfort, teaches at McGill and uOttawa and has volunteered at the Ottawa Mission.)

Guided by the family’s wish-list, he says he hired high-end professionals to design and site the house, leaving details such as setbacks and “non-conforming rights” to the experts, who designed within the allowable envelope.

Bernie Sander, 66, has lived at No. 25 for more than 30 years. He led a group of residents so passionate about preserving the century-old streetscape that they scraped together almost $30,000 to fight the plan. After a one-day hearing, they lost, and badly.

“We met afterwards on the street and kind of had a group hug,” he said the next day. “If anything, as neighbours, it has brought us closer.”

It is frightening how complicated these issues can get. At the LPAT hearing, each side had a lawyer and the proponent had a professional planner equipped with a binder two inches thick and at least five visual boards on easels. (We endured several minutes on what constitutes a “bay window” and definitions of “character” and “attributes.”)

This is a drawing of proposed house at 21 Broadway in the Glebe. OTTWP

Mostly, it comes down to how the city sets the infill rules. “So how has the city done?” asks Coun. David Chernushenko, whose ward includes Broadway. “Pretty badly.”

The problem, in a nutshell: The city is trying to establish a legal framework that forces infill to be in character with the existing street, something that defies easy regulation. According to its Mature Neighbourhoods Bylaw, the core message is “Your street gives you your rules.” And this is the principle that Sander and others felt was being violated by a house that has no big front porch, is set closer to the street, has a full third floor, and doesn’t blend in completely with a strip of century-old homes with mature trees.

“There is nothing about the proposed full three-storey house with its main front wall situated well forward of the houses on the adjoining lots that ‘fits into, respects, and reinforces the established character’ of the Broadway Avenue streetscape,” he wrote in his objection, quoting the bylaw itself.

On the stand, Sander went further. “Why move to a neighbourhood when nobody likes what you’re doing?”

There is much in those words. The hearing was told Karamanos has been shouted at for seeking a minor variance that allows a portion of the front to slightly protrude (about a metre) beyond the permitted setback. And, indeed, several Broadway residents wondered aloud why the new owners want to live on a traditional Glebe street, but don’t want to live in a traditional Glebe house.

Forget the niggly rules for a moment. The dispute is intriguing for the way it exposes the emotional attachment people have to their neighbourhoods, their streets, their homes, the house across the street — the visual comfort that contributes to our deep sense of place. “This is bigger than just lower Broadway,” Sander said.

Broadway resident Andrew Milne, 46, addressed this when he referenced the big trees on many front yards and the impressive open-sided porches that allow views up and down the street. In other words, by its design, the street connects people.

The digital marketing specialist called it “super frustrating” that it has thrown well-meaning people into an adversarial situation where the spirit of the bylaw seems to have been trampled.

“How does (the house) fit? How is it embraced by the neighbourhood? How does it fit into the style of change?”

Indeed, Moghadam picked up on that theme of houses changing neighbourhoods, but from the opposite perspective.

“Now it’s just not a little neighbourhood thing,” he says, adding that opponents have consistently misrepresented the size of the house at 6,000 square feet, when it is actually about 3,400, minus the basement. “Now the entire Glebe has put a pinata on you and says ‘You’re that a–hole who wants to build a monster home.’”

2013-17 Residential intensification

The counter-argument, of course, is that the city sets out zoning and building rules that guide new construction and all Moghadam is doing is following the rules — including asking for minor variances that are perfectly within his rights. What else, really, can we expect property owners to do — survey the neighbours for their architectural taste?

(He went further, in fact, saying he spent $7,000 to have coffee and cookie sessions with the neighbours (planners, lawyers included) to explain the design, which he says respects the surroundings with its use of brick, stone and copper.)

“If you’re telling me you don’t like something, I don’t have to follow your wishes. It’s my house.” He says he isn’t going to be “bullied” by the opposition and wants set an example to his three children to stand up for their rights.

Kitchissippi Coun. Jeff Leiper has dealt with infill issues since the day he was elected. We spoke of Carleton Avenue in Champlain Park, a street in my neighbourhood, where at least 40 new homes have been constructed in a 500-metre strip. Most are boxy duplexes that replaced much smaller houses.

How, one wonders, would anyone assess the “character” of the street, when it has undergone a wholesale remake in the past 10 years? In other words, when the previous character was put in a dumpster and trucked away.

“I don’t think we’re doing a very good job at that,” Leiper said, when asked about preserving balance between new and old.

“The size of the infills is changing the character of our neighbourhoods. Our neighbourhoods don’t look the same. They’re losing their charm.”

Little wonder that residents are frustrated: The province is encouraging intensification, the official plans are permitting it, variances are being given out like candy, and yet the city is writing bylaws with reassuring guidelines like “respect and reinforce” the character of the street. Huh?

“So what we see in Kitchissippi ward,” said Leiper, who works on infill issues every day, “is small homes, big lots, lots of demand, demand for suburban-style square footage, and developers seeking to maximize all those elements.”

Leiper laments the loss of trees, the “permeable” space, the urban forest — even the view of the sky — all given way to maximize the living space and economic value.

“Your street give you your rules,” the city says. Not really. The law does, the lawyers do.

To contact Kelly Egan, please call 613-726-5896 or email

Egan: Infill or outcast? When old neighbourhoods grow newer, boxier via demolition Councillor calls for ‘nuclear option’ to halt Westboro triplexes

4 10 2018

Councillor calls for ‘nuclear option’ to halt Westboro triplexes

Jeff Leiper asking for moratorium on new multi-unit buildings in part of his ward

Coun. Jeff Leiper is asking Ottawa city council to consider a moratorium on new triplexes in a section of Westboro, a move that would delay an application by a builder who wants to erect two multi-unit buildings on a single lot on Edison Avenue.

The same builder, Falsetto Homes, is looking at a similar project on nearby Roosevelt Avenue.

“I think they’re pushing the envelope,” said Leiper, who’s running for re-election in Kitchissippi ward. “I see it as overintensification.”

On Wednesday, Leiper will ask council to consider a motion calling for an interim control bylaw — essentially, a temporary moratorium — on triplexes from Golden Avenue east to Tweedsmuir Avenue, and Byron Avenue south to Dovercourt Avenue.

‘Nuclear option’

“I realize this is the nuclear option,” said Leiper, whose motion also asks city staff to study the impact of triplexes in Westboro.

Coun. Jan Harder, chair of the planning committee, has seconded Leiper’s motion, an strong indication of support.

Leiper’s proposal prompted the city’s committee of adjustment —  the arms-length tribunal considering the Falsetto Homes application — to delay its decision until council votes.

Neighbours upset

People living in the area under consideration applaud the move.

“It shed a strong ray of sunshine on what seemed to be a kind of hopeless situation,” said Max Finkelstein, who lives next to the proposed site on Edison Avenue.

He said the development seemed to be a tipping point for the community, where many residents are concerned about the changing face of a neighbourhood where single-family homes were once the rule.

Eighty people showed up to a recent consultation held by the developer to discuss the Edison Avenue proposal.

“It’s not just a couple of neighbours upset, it’s a whole community that’s upset,” Finkelstein said.

Too intense?

The city’s official plan is geared toward intensification in urban neighbourhoods, and the neighbourhood in question is zoned to allow triplexes, but Leiper said many residents feel the pendulum has swung too far the other way.

“Replacing a single family home with six units — potentially a fourth unit in each of those triplexes if the owner comes back for rezoning subsequently — that seems to be a threshold too far,” he said.

But for advocates of urban intensification, triplexes make desirable downtown neighbourhoods more accessible to homebuyers currently priced out of the single-family home market.

“This is forward-thinking,” said Kate Whitfield, an urban planner and lecturer at Carleton University.

“When cities have a chance to adopt progressive policies, we have to keep moving forward to get the kind of city we want,” she said. – Cobb: Infill builders are cutting up our roads and we’re paying for it

4 10 2018

Cobb: Infill builders are cutting up our roads and we’re paying for it


Infill development, a significant contributor to the city’s property tax coffers, is a booming business. Properly done, it can enhance an aging street and blend respectfully with the existing character of an established neighbourhood. Properly done, infill is constructed by developers who respect and communicate with neighbours and who do their best to minimize disruption and destruction.

While some developers and their sub-contractors do quality work in just such a respectful manner, infill development in parts of Ottawa is now a free-for-all.

The ongoing carve-up of public roads is a prime example and although residents and councillors in rural and suburban wards have been traditionally indifferent to the inconveniences of urban infill, they, too, are ultimately contributing to paying the road repair or replacement bill.

Kitchissippi ward, which includes Champlain Park, the Civic campus of the Ottawa Hospital, Mechanicsville, McKellar Park and Westboro, accounts for more infill and intensification than all other urban wards combined.

Ward councillor Jeff Leiper says high on the list of complaints he hears about infill – and he hears lots – is the routine damaging of public roads by developers who typically buy and demolish older houses, then build two, three or four replacements on the same piece of land.

The new properties need services, or service upgrades, and that’s when the public roads get carved up or, in official parlance, “cut.”

There are hundreds of examples throughout Kitchissippi – and other areas of urban Ottawa –of trenches being cut through roads and refilled in a slap-dash manner, leaving behind a crumbling bump or a dip on previously flat, well-engineered roads.

They are ugly to look at, uncomfortable to drive over and constant jolts to the body for cyclists – not to mention the danger to those on two wheels.

For a particularly egregious example, travel north along Roosevelt Avenue in Westboro, cross Byron Avenue and Richmond Road and journey to the transitway bridge. Almost the entire section of road has been reduced to potholes and rubble by a succession of sloppy road cuts. And this is, allegedly, one of Ottawa’s most desirable neighbourhoods.

Relatively new major thoroughfares aren’t immune either.

Older properties along Churchill Avenue, one of the newer jewels in the Ottawa city road system, are in the crosshairs of developers and cuts are already slicing the road, pedestrian sidewalks and bike paths.

The Churchill reconstruction cost taxpayers $21.4 million. It was finished less than four years ago.

Here’s what the city’s bylaws say about road cutting:

“Upon completion of the temporary surfacing, or permanent reinstatement of the road cut, all excess material shall be removed from the area of the road cut and the area shall be left in a safe, neat and clean condition, similar to the condition of the highway area adjacent to the road cut, all to the satisfaction of the General Manager.”

That’s the law, not a request or a suggestion.

According to Linda Carkner, the city’s Program Manager of Right Of Way, contractors must provide a bond of $2,500 for each cut. Larger contractors with multiple projects on the go are required to deposit $25,000 to $50,000.

Road cut permits carry a three-year warranty after which the city returns the contractor’s bond – if all the work has been completed, presumably to that “general manager’s” satisfaction.

That’s the law but it isn’t being enforced, partly because the sheer numbers of cuts and refills make it physically impossible to enforce. However, street excavators – there is no shortage of them to ask – have told me that some city street inspectors are more diligent than others. It’s the diligent ones who are more inclined to call them back and get the roads returned to the state demanded by the bylaw.

When a road is cut and refinished, even on the relatively few occasions it is done perfectly, the lifespan of the entire road is shortened.

Prior to amalgamation in 2001, the Regional Municipality of Ottawa-Carleton charged developers an additional, non-refundable fee based on a formula that included the age of a road. The city discontinued that cash collection but reinstating it in some form would seem like a sensible option. Either that or impose a significant increase in the deposit.

At the very least, bylaws should be toughened, and should include methods to ensure developers and their subcontractors comply fully and completely with the law.

And those who don’t should be made to pay, so the rest of us don’t have to.

Chris Cobb is an Ottawa writer.

Cobb: Infill builders are cutting up our roads and we're paying for it Will Councillors Fold On New Development Rules?

24 09 2018

Will Councillors Fold On New Development Rules? Benn

Bulldog columnist Ron Benn looks at the proposal from city staff to allow high-rises just less than half a kilometre from a main street:

The problem is not just limited to extending the up-to-12-storey zone to 400 metres from main streets.

It appears to be compounded by the introduction of the concept that where Secondary Plans were allowed to be more restrictive than the Official Plan, that when these amendments are passed, the Secondary Plan can be less restrictive than the Official Plan. In the context of the report, if the Official Plan limited the building heights to 12 storeys within 400 metres of a main street, the Secondary Plan could not allow greater than 12 storeys. Under the proposed changes, the Secondary Plan could say “notwithstanding” (see its not just Doug Ford who gets to use that word) the Official Plan, buildings greater than 12 storeys, including those that are greater than 30 storeys are permitted for this neighbourhood.

Today the development industry has to go through the difficult process of changing the Official Plan, a document that addresses the city as a whole. A process that draws far more attention from the public and needs to be approved by a majority of councillors across the city. Tomorrow, the development industry need only try to get a specific Secondary Plan amended to allow them build their 31+ storey buildings beside bungalows and two-storey homes in specific neighbourhoods. Once that occurs, then the need for individual rezoning applications goes down by a factor of 10, or more. Will the councillors for wards not affected by the specific Secondary Plan pay close attention to the changes being lobbied for? Based on the voting records for applications to rezone specific properties for higher buildings a serious reader would be challenged to think they would.

Divide and conquer is an age-old strategy. In this case, it appears that the city’s planning department has joined the development industry on the conquerors side of that equation. The only question is whether the councillors who sit on the planning committee are willing to fight to retain the authority that goes with their responsibilties, responsibilities that will not disappear with these proposed changes, or will they just capitulate again?

Ken Gray – City Doesn’t Give A Damn About Your House

24 09 2018


City Doesn’t Give A Damn About Your House

You scrimped and saved and did without for decades so you could buy a home for your family.

Perhaps you expect to be able to sell your home to help cover some of the costs of your retirement.

But the City of Ottawa wants to put a high-rise building beside your home if you live within just less than half a kilometre from a main street. So your life’s work has a building of unlimited height taking away your privacy and your home’s value. Essentially the city wants to transfer the value lost in your home into the massive profits of the development industry.

City council and staff don’t represent you. They represent the interests of developers.

Oh yes, the city will call this intensification and give a thousand reasons why it is ecologically and economically sound. But don’t kid yourself. Developers can still build in wide swaths in the suburbs and they can take away the enjoyment and value of your home by being able to build in some of the most desirable and traditional locations downtown. Furthermore the planning department is funded by development money in one of the grossest conflicts in modern government. This is a cash grab … a huge cash grab.

Such a bylaw if passed next Tuesday at planning committee will decimate the old neighbourhoods of such communities as The Glebe, New Edinburgh, Westboro and Wellington Village. If you live in those neighbourhoods, I would advise you to sell your home immediately for fear of having a huge skyscraper built just beyond your back fence. I’m not being frivolous about selling. I’m dead serious. The city is quite prepared to have you lose a large portion of your life’s investment in your home.

Developers now have the run of the suburbs and downtown neighbourhoods. They run this city rather than the mayor or city council and they wield power over the local media through the power of their hefty advertising.

They control our municipal government through their campaign funding of local politicians. And the payback to developers is giving them the run of the city for a pissy little job on council.

Ottawa municipal government has sold itself to the development industry.

This is grossest misuse of municipal government power I’ve seen since I started covering city hall in 1998.

The question that baffles me (actually I have my suspicions about what is going on but I can’t authenticate them) is why politicians and staff would choose to support developers over their constituents. The politicians must be getting back from builders something very valuable.

Our city council is probably the weakest one I have ever seen in Ottawa. The majority of its members are lazy (only about a third of them read the reports they are given by staff), incompetent because they don’t understand what is put in front of them, possibly stupid, without backbone (they can be whipped into a vote by Mayor Jim Watson in a microsecond) and horribly unethical. This is a sad representation of a very smart but woefully apathetic community. Wake up. Your property value is being taken while you sleep. Your councillors, the mayor and city staff don’t care about you.

You should know this and be concerned about it. But politicians and city staff are hopeful that you are too apathetic to care until the 31-storey high-rise looms over your garage. You’ll wish you had followed municipal politics long before your home value is decimated by a city hall which cares more for developers than the people they are supposed to represent.

So let’s get back to ways the residents of this community can win proper municipal representation. Unless your current councillor is very competent, vote them out. Very few of Ottawa’s councillors are good at what they do.

In particular, Barrhaven residents should dismiss councillor and planning committee chairwoman Jan Harder. Harder is a case of someone who wants power but has become way too close to the development community. She is a good example of someone who has never had power in their lives and when she gets it, she goes wild with it. Harder has forgotten who she represents and that’s the residents of Ottawa, not developers.

Harder should never have been appointed chairwoman of planning committee and should not be chairwoman now. She has done nothing to see that her residents are safe at dangerous level crossings on the Via Rail line north of Barrhaven where at one, a tragic accident occurred between an OC Transpo bus and a Via Rail train. She is the head of the planning committee which can’t get light rail to Kanata and Barrhaven. Then she and Mayor Jim Watson announce a $60,000 environmental study (taken from city revenue) for light rail to Barrhaven. Both she and Watson know that this study will expire long before light rail is to come to Barrhaven long past 2031. They have spent $60,000 to make it look that they are bringing LRT soon to Barrhaven so as to help the mayor’s and Harder’s re-election chances.

As well, Ottawans should throw Watson out of office. The mayor has created this developer-dominated city government and has been the architect of the anti-democratic processes that preceded the passing of the 65-storey Albert Ave. project and the adoption of the height and zoning report with virtually no public input. This process, if you can call it that, are completely and absolutely wrong.

Your agent would strongly advise voters to support former councillor Clive Doucet for mayor. He will put an end to these kinds of abuses.

I don’t agree with a few of his policies but I know in my personal dealings with Doucet that he is an honest and well-meaning man.

And municipal Ottawa desperately needs an honest man.

It has got to the point at city hall where residents, taxpayers and citizens are perceived as nuisances rather than the heart of democracy. This is not an exaggeration.

Ottawa City Council and city staff are out of control.

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