cbc.ca: Westboro curling club turns to redevelopment to sweep away tax troubles

31 10 2019

Deal could see new club built at nearby park, but some neighbours wary

The Granite Curling Club of West Ottawa says it wants to swap land with the city to secure the club’s future with a new mixed-used development.

People who live by the curling club near Westboro station are concerned the plan would amount to a loss of park space, since the club’s replacement four-sheet facility would be built behind the current club on part of Lion’s Park.

Geoff Wilson, club treasurer, told a community meeting Wednesday it’s essential to keep the club operating continuously.

“We cannot redevelop on our existing land without tearing this down first,” he said.

“We can’t knock this thing down and wait two years to have a new structure. It’s gone, it’s game, set and match at that point in time.”

The private, non-profit club is already in a financial tight spot, needing to increase fees after a recent property tax assessment put a strain on their finances.

Their taxes jumped from $8,000 to nearly $25,000 per year.

In the club membership’s preferred option, the curling facility would be built behind the existing building and stretch into Lion’s Park.

The developer would build a high-rise commercial and residential tower that could be 25 storeys tall.

The club said it would give the city a stretch of land to the east, larger than it would be taking, for a linear park.

A drawing of the Granite Curling Club of West Ottawa’s preferred redevelopment option, which would have the club occupy part of the current Lion’s Park. (KitchissippiWard.ca)

Loretta Fleming, who lives in a nearby co-op, is worried about the encroachment on parkland.

“This is our community too. We’re residents. When they’re gone after their hour or two of curling, it’s our park,” she said.

She’s concerned about ecological and community loss of having the city turn over existing green space at the request of any private group, even a non-profit.

“It would be a precedent that parkland is up for grabs,” she said.

“I don’t think it’s a good use of space for the people who are using the park right now, which are young children,” said Talitha Nabbali.

Linear park less versatile

Greg Mathieu, chair of the Granite Club’s redevelopment committee, said the proposal would make the park space more accessible to the community since it’s blocked from Scott Street by the current curling club building.

“Our feeling is about Lion’s Park is that it’s a great community asset. We believe we’re a community asset as well as the gymnastics club,” he said.

“We think opening it up to Scott Street … is going to provide some greater community use overall.”

Paul Landry, a senior project manager in the city’s parks department, said the linear park configuration would make the land less adaptable to different recreational uses.

“Even though you can get nice pathways, sitting areas, perhaps a splash pad and things like that — it still limits the utility of the park,” Landry said.

Coun. Jeff Leiper told residents at the meeting that is also his concern, but that he hasn’t taken a position on the proposal or the unusual request to swap land with the city.

The club has not filed a development or zoning application with the city.


cbc.ca: Residents eye more balance, certainty with Westboro development reboot

25 10 2019

Infill study could shape future of development along LRT

Triplexes, like this one built on Ravenhill Avenue, were already popular in Westboro, but some developers were proposing building two triplexes on a single lot before a moratorium last year. (Eric Milligan)
Today is the deadline for Westboro residents to have their say on the future of intensification in the rapidly growing neighbourhood west of Ottawa’s downtown.

City council voted in October 2018 for a moratorium on the approval of multi-unit buildings from Golden Avenue east to Tweedsmuir Avenue, and Byron Avenue south to Dovercourt Avenue.

That moratorium was extended until 2020.

Eric Milligan, who has lived in a Westboro infill home himself for the past eight years, is encouraging his neighbours to send feedback to the city about the type of development they want in their neighbourhood.

“We’d like to get it back into balance. We think it’s horribly out of balance right now,” Milligan said.

He said people understand intensification is one of the city’s objectives for the core, but that people want to protect aspects of their quality of life — especially as developers would apply to build triplexes and then seek variances to fit even more units on a lot.

“It’s having a massive impact on the character of the neighbourhood, the amount of green space that’s available on the lots, the destruction of mature trees, parking, congestion,” he said.

Milligan said he thinks provincial rule changes will also be required to rebuild trust among his neighbours for a system they see benefiting developers.

Infill will spread along LRT, councillor says

Kitchissippi Coun. Jeff Leiper, who put forward the motion, said so far feedback has ranged from calling for greater height allowances close to the expanding LRT line, to trying to avoid change.

Leiper said he’s glad the study asks people what they love about their neighbourhood so the city can format better zoning rules.

“The challenge is going to try to turn ‘What I love about my neighbourhood’ into new math. So we can describe it objectively and quantitatively,” he said.

The councillor said the results of the Westboro study can be a model for other neighbourhoods as LRT spreads the pressure for intensification. 

“Developers are going to start eyeing neighbourhoods, like what’s around Blair Station, for the next wave of infill, so this study is probably going to give the city some new tools be able to address what the rules should be around infill,” Leiper said.

Leiper said no single study or rule change will rebuild trust for community members, but having the city define and enforce rules based on what residents want should reduce the number of fights between the neighbours and developers.



OttawaCitizen.com: Councillor almost convinces council to block builder adding units to Westboro triplexes

10 05 2019

Councillor almost convinces council to block builder adding units to Westboro triplexes

A councillor on Wednesday came up just short of convincing council to send a message to builders about being upfront with neighbours.

Falsetto Homes, the owner of the triplexes at 348 and 350 Winona Ave. in Westboro, wants to add a fourth unit to each. The buildings are southwest of the Westboro transit station.

Kitchissippi Coun. Jeff Leiper told council that the city’s reputation on defending zoning rules was on the line and he wanted colleagues to reject the application for the fourth units.

According to Leiper, the developer built the triplexes with the community of adjustment’s approval. The fourth units were roughed-in, with the developer knowing it would eventually come back to the city for permission to add the fourth units, Leiper said. However, the community was told they would only be triplexes.

The planning committee last month heard from a consultant representing the property owner who said triplex developers are using a two-step process to quickly generate revenue before going through with a costly planning approval process to get the fourth units. They do this knowing full well they might not get the fourth-unit approval from council.

Leiper warned councillors that the developer strategy won’t be a problem only affecting his central-west community.

“This is an issue that’s coming to your ward soon,” he told them.

Council voted 13-10 to allow the fourth units.

Innes Coun. Laura Dudas, who was the acting mayor while Jim Watson recovered from an eye procedure, voted at council to approve the fourth units after voting in opposition with Leiper and Stittsville Coun. Glen Gower at planning committee.

“I want to send a clear message to developers that they have to be forthcoming to our community,” Dudas said after the council meeting.

“They have to respect our communities, but at the end of the day, is this something we have to stand up for? Yes, most certainly, but I know that we also need to have infill in our communities. We need to build up around our transportation systems. We need to make sure that we’re providing people places to live close to transit priority areas. At the end of the day, after speaking with staff and seeking that clarification, I wanted to make sure I was making the right decision. We still need to be firm with developers and make sure they understand that having that dialogue with our community is essential, but I wanted to make the best decision for our city and for that community.”

Councillor almost convinces council to block builder adding units to Westboro triplexes


Wickedly Westboro Village

22 10 2018

Please see this from the WBIA:

FREE! A family and dog friendly Halloween event along Richmond Road – where jack-o-lanterns decorate the sidewalks, and businesses hand out goodies to trick-or-treat’ers. Kids can pick up their official Westboro Village trick-or-treat back pack at Winston Square, play the Marble Mansion for prizes, then walk down Richmond – trick or treating at various participating businesses. Dovercourt’s Bouncy Castle will be at Avenues Garage, then everyone can close the event with a movie under the stars presented by Capital Pop-Up Cinema – Beetlejuice. (there will be heating fans, hot cocoa and cider, too!) – Bring your camping chair!

See here for additional information.


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.

CBC.ca: Majority on planning committee taking developer donations

21 09 2018

Link to article is here.

Majority on planning committee taking developer donations

Developers held fundraisers for 2 members, including chair Jan Harder

Most councillors on the city’s planning committee are accepting campaign donations from developers during this campaign, and at least a couple — including committee chair Coun. Jan Harder — have been the beneficiaries of developer-organized fundraisers.

Planning is City Hall’s most powerful committee, approving billions of dollars in development applications in a single council term.Its members may accept donations from executives of the very companies that need the planning committee’s approval.

Municipal election rules absolutely allow these sorts of donations, but the practice raises eyebrows in some circles.

“If I’m mayor, no one is going to sit on that planning committee who receives money from developers — not a person,” said mayoral candidate Clive Doucet. “That’s a huge conflict of interest.”

Whether accepting these sorts of donations is a conflict — or even a perception of conflict — is up for debate, but some residents feel strongly about the issue.

Leiper, Nussbaum refuse developer money

Following this week’s revelation that former planning chair Peter Hume invited almost 70 people in the development world to a fundraiser next week for Alta Vista incumbent Jean Cloutier, CBC asked the other nine members of the planning committee whether they’re open to accepting donations from people in the development industry.

Only two members — Kitchissippi’s Jeff Leiper and Rideau-Rockcliffe’s Tobi Nussbaum — said they are making efforts not to knowingly accept them.

“This ward is being transformed by development and it’s often in a direction that residents are not pleased with, and I want residents to have confidence that I am not tied to that development industry,” Leiper said.

The remaining members — Stephen Blais, Riley Brockington, Rick Chiarelli, Harder, Allan Hubley, Shad Qadri, and Tim Tierney — are accepting donations from anyone legally allowed to contribute, including those in the development field. They also add the $1,200 maximum donation cannot influence their vote on the planning committee.

The names of donors and the amount they contributed become public next March, five months after the Oct. 22 election.

Fundraiser for chair

Development industry executives also organized and attended fundraisers for Harder, the longtime councillor for Barrhaven, and Cumberland incumbent Blais in May, according to emails obtained by CBC.

The one for Harder was organized by Jack Stirling — who was the Minto VP of development for years but has been working on his own since 2015 — and Taggart Group’s Ted Phillips.

“We would appreciate you bringing a cheque (or as many as you like) in the amount of $1,200 made out to Jan Harder 2018 Campaign,” said an email sent to about 30 executives in Ottawa development circles.

Harder told CBC she “did not ask anyone to do anything for me,” but that Stirling, an old friend, offered to host it. She attended the event at the Barrhaven Heart and Crown but said she didn’t handle any contributions and doesn’t know how much was raised.

Asked whether it might appear inappropriate for the chair of the planning committee to be attending fundraisers with development executives, Harder said that “if I have friends from any walk of life, I am proud to take their contribution … I’m an ethical person, that’s how I was raised.”

Blais solicits campaign cash

Also in May, Blais asked Phillips to have a fundraiser for him. Taggart wrote to about a dozen development folks that “Steve” would like to have a small lunch “to get some cash in the bank.”

Blais told CBC he attended and paid for the lunch, which would be an allowable campaign expense. He said fewer than 12 people attended and he wasn’t sure how much money was raised, but likely in the range of $7,000 to $8,000.

All political systems rely on donations and generally those donations come from people who have an interest in what goes on in the city.– Ted Phillips, Taggart Group

He points out that all sorts of organizations and businesses work with the city, but no one ever suggests that candidates refuse donations from people connected to social agencies, advocacy groups, charities and not-for-profits — many of whom receive city funding.

“I’ve voted against projects from people who have in the past contributed to me, and I’m sure that I’ll vote against projects in the future [of those] who have contributed to me recently,” said Blais.

“I can’t speak for anyone else, but on a fairly regular basis I reject outright or constrain developers’ requests.”

Brockington lobbied developer

Riley Brockington, who was first elected to River ward in 2014, said his goal is not to take money from the development community, but he would if he incurs a large debt in his campaign.

“I’m very concerned about optics and perceived conflict of interest, and I don’t want to be part of that,” he said of developer contributions.

Brockington told CBC earlier this week that he had a single conversation with a development industry executive about a number of things, including the possibility of a fundraiser, but that he didn’t push for an event because his fundraising is going well.

“I have not got to the point where I have asked anyone to proceed with a fundraiser,” said Brockington, who added there were no subsequent discussions with the developer after that one conversation.

But emails obtained by CBC show Brockington’s staffer, who is also volunteering on his campaign, asking the developer about possible dates for the fundrasier.

“Riley asked me to get in touch with you to help coordinate the fundraising gathering in his honour that you discussed,” said one email to the development executive on Sept. 13.

“If you give me a few dates, I can let you know what works best for Riley’s schedule.”

The developer has not responded to Brockington’s request.

Politics relies on donations

Ted Phillips of Taggart is open about the fact that he often raises money for incumbents and first-time candidates. Sometimes he offers, other times he’s asked.

“All political systems rely on donations and generally those donations come from people who have an interest in what goes on in the city, the province, or the country,” he said.

Phillips also pointed out that while some want to paint developers as somehow conniving, many groups come to those same developers to ask for money. Indeed, developers do give millions to art galleries, recreation centres, hockey arenas and hospitals.

“What’s ironic to me is how some people want to vilify developers and make it sound like they’re bad people.”

CBC.ca: LRT deal leaves Westboro ‘jewel’ open to development

18 01 2018

LRT deal leaves Westboro ‘jewel’ open to development

Agreement between city, NCC would allow 6-storey buildings on Richmond Road section of Rochester Field

CBC News Posted: Jan 17, 2018 1:29 PM ET Last Updated: Jan 17, 2018 1:32 PM ET

An Ottawa city councillor is calling for a halt to a deal with the National Capital Commission that would leave what he calls “the best part” of Rochester Field in Westboro open to development.

Under the proposal, which is tied to an agreement with the city to extend light rail farther west, 80 per cent of the NCC-owned property would be retained as open space for public use.

But the proposal, to be heard at next week’s planning committee, would rezone the remaining portion of the pistol-shaped field to allow for six-storey mixed-use buildings along Richmond Road, a change that is not sitting well with either neighbourhood groups or the ward’s councillor, Jeff Leiper, who accuses planners of rushing the process.

In his written comments on the proposal, Leiper complains rapid intensification has already robbed Westboro of most of its available green space.

‘A jewel in Westboro’

“For over a century, Rochester Field has been a jewel in Westboro. If a plan being rushed forward through City zoning by the National Capital Commission (NCC) proceeds, we’ll lose the best parts of it forever,” he wrote.

‘If a plan being rushed forward through City zoning by the National Capital Commission (NCC) proceeds, we’ll lose the best parts of it forever.’– Coun. Jeff Leiper

Leiper said the NCC’s shift from an earlier proposal to develop only the northeastern section of the field is enough reason to “press pause on the process.”

Rochester Field, bounded by the Sir John A. Macdonald Parkway to the north and Richmond Road to the south, is part of an NCC-owned piece of land that includes the historical Maplelawn property and the Keg Manor restaurant.

The city’s dispute with the NCC over the land goes back to 2003, when the city’s official plan designated most of the field as major open space, limiting what the federal landowner could do with the property. The NCC appealed that designation, but the appeal was never resolved.

In his written comments to the city’s planning committee, Coun. Jeff Leiper calls Rochester Field ‘a jewel in Westboro.’

Community associations also opposed

In 2014, the city announced it wanted to run the future western expansion of the light rail transit system above ground for 500 metres along the northern edge of Rochester Field, but the NCC opposed that plan.

The two sides eventually came to an agreement to move the trains under the Sir John A. Macdonald Parkway. The city agreed to pay the NCC $30 million as part of the deal, and also agreed to permit future development along Richmond Road.

The NCC’s most recent plan calls for the development of two parcels along Richmond Road, divided by a pedestrian corridor connecting to the parkway.

The Westboro Community Association and the McKellar Park Community Association also wrote to register their opposition to the NCC’s plan.

The city’s planning committee is scheduled to discuss the proposal when it meets on Jan. 23.




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