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 atsavewestboro@icloud.com

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:   

https://lovewestboro.wordpress.com/membership-forms-for-new-members/

Questions or interest in becoming a board member or community resource person? Email us athelloWestboro@yahoo.ca or contactnormmorrisson@rogers.com  or karenljohnson@sympatico.ca

WestboroCommunityAssociationagendaAGM

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From Joel Harden, M.P. (Ottawa Centre): Community Town Hall – Responsible Development

5 10 2018

From the office of Joel Harden, MP (Ottawa Centre)

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Community Town Hall: Responsible Development

WHEN
October 13, 2018 at 3pm – 5pm
WHERE
Ottawa South Community Centre
CONTACT
Joel Harden · JHarden-co@ndp.on.ca · 613-722-6414




Byron Place / Churchill potential development update – community meeting

5 10 2018

From Councillor Leiper’s Office:

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Byron Place / Churchill potential development update – community meeting

You may recall that in February, there was a lot of discussion surrounding a potential development at the corner of Churchill Ave and Byron Place. At the time, a community meeting had been organized to discuss this further, but it came out that the developer was not ready to move forward with their project. However, they are now ready to do so.

We are hosting a community open house to discuss this proposed development on October 30, 2018 from 6:30 to 8:30 pm at the Real Canadian Superstore PC Cooking School. Please encourage your neighbours to attend. At this meeting, the developer will review the details of what they are proposing and what they will be requesting from the City.

It’s important to note that the developer has not formally submitted their application yet, nor has our office been approached to review the proposed development in detail yet. From speaking with Novatech, the urban planning consultant working on behalf of the developer, they want to hear the community feedback at the open house, review the comments and make any changes before submitting formally to the City.

Please don’t hesitate to reach out to Jeff.Leiper@Ottawa.ca and Fiona.Mitchell@Ottawa.ca with any questions, comments or concerns in the meantime. Jeff’s newsletter is unavailable until October 23 (due to the election black-out period), but if you aren’t already signed up to receive it, please consider signing up (by letting me know). When it’s resumed, it will include significant development updates.





Bulldog.com: 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 – Bulldog.com: New High-Rise Zoning ‘Ridiculous’: Chiarelli

24 09 2018

New High-Rise Zoning ‘Ridiculous’: Chiarelli

When Ron Benn is not wearing his Bulldog columnist hat, he is a long-time member of the Centrepointe Community Association.

This a reply to a note he sent to his College ward councillor Rick Chiarelli late Thursday evening:

From: “Chiarelli, Rick” <Rick.Chiarelli@ottawa.ca>
Date: September 20, 2018 at 23:24:37 EDT
To: “ron benn>
Cc: “Linton, Jenny” <jenny.linton@ottawa.ca>
Subject: Some of the proposed settlement to OPA 150 challenges

Thank you for writing. You are making some important points. I have written to Mr. Smitt with these and other concerns and I am hoping this is all a big misunderstanding and that the report was just improperly written. Not likely, but there is a chance.

Otherwise this is ridiculous and it also has an impact on several areas in our ward. Furthermore, if this is the case, I would be very suspicious of the timing. The middle of an election is sometimes selected because an issue has to compete with many others for attention. Also, in an election, councillors are governed by “black-out-period” rules and they are prohibited from notifying residents of issues coming to committee and council.

Anyway, I expect an answer in the morning.

Rick Chiarelli

 

To read the report to which Chiarelli is responding, click here.





Ken Gray – Bulldog.com: 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.





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 (Jeff.Leiper@ottawa.ca) and to Joel Hardin, MPP (jhardin-co@ndp.on.ca).

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 savewestboro@icloud.com.

Max Finkelstein and Constance Downes
487 Edison Ave.








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