CBC.CA: New developer plans to partially demolish Westboro convent for commercial use

8 12 2017

New developer plans to partially demolish Westboro convent for commercial use

Ashcroft Homes to present plans to for 19th Century convent in January

Ashcroft Homes, which owns Les Soeurs de la Visitation Convent in Westboro, is proposing to renovate the site by partially demolishing it and building a glass enclosure to encase both modern and heritage elements.

Another pitched development battle is brewing in Westboro over a new proposal by Ashcroft Homes to partially demolish a 19th-century convent designated as a heritage building to make way for commercial uses.

Ashcroft’s “adaptive re-use” of Les Soeurs de la Visitation Convent will be encapsulated in glass and combine both heritage and modern elements, according to information posted on the website of Kitchissippi ward Coun. Jeff Leiper.

Ashcroft is proposing to modernize the stone building to attract commercial and office tenants.

The developer — along with City of Ottawa staff in both the planning and Heritage departments — will present more details in a public open house next month.

Expect a fight, says councillor

Leiper has warned Ashcroft to expect a fight from residents and from council.

“This is almost certain to generate a significant amount of community backlash. It will be difficult for me to support any modification to that building,” Leiper said.

The city made it clear to Ashcroft in 2010 that preserving the convent was one of the conditions it had to commit to when it was given permission to purchase the property, he said.

Kitchissippi residents will also demand Ashcroft keep its initial promise to use the 147 year-old building for community space, he said. When it was awarded the development rights to the two-hectare site, Ashcroft pitched council a vision to use the former monastery to hold neighborhood gatherings and art installations. Stores and office space were not part of the deal, Leiper said.

“There is a need for community facilities in the neighborhood,” Leiper said. “Ashcroft has a real challenge to convince the public to support the addition of more commercial space.”

The Kitchissippi councillor said there is already bad blood in the ward stemming from Ashcroft’s previous deviation from council-approved plans.

Ashcroft’s controversial redevelopment for the convent property was the subject of a three-day planning committee in 2010, where dozens of residents spoke against the plan. Ashcroft paid $12 million dollars for the property on Richmond Road at Island Park Drive.

 Ashcroft’s development on the convent lands is recognized around the city as the type of “main street development we don’t want,” Leiper said.

Leiper says Ashcroft’s development on Richmond Road, which dwarfs the convent behind it, is an example of what not to develop on a main street.

‘This place is sacred — like a church’

Ashcroft has not filed a formal land use application for the convent, according to city staff.

Glimpses of the structure built in the mid-1800s can be seen through the archways of an adjacent Ashcroft-developed glass condominium on Richmond Rd and Island Park Drive.

The stone building has sat empty for more than seven years. It is currently fenced off with its windows boarded up, and wooden support beams propping up some of its walls. Despite its state of disrepair, Marthe Ledoux, 77, said Ashcroft must keep its promise to the community to restore the building.

Westboro resident Marthe Ledoux questions the developer’s ability to attract commercial space to the site.

“This place is sacred, like a church,” Ledoux said. She has lived in Westboro for nearly two decades and resides across the street in another Ashcroft development on Richmond Road and said from the window of her modern condo, she sees half a dozen unrented retail storefronts surrounding the convent. She has doubts Ashcroft will be able to attract commercial interest in the site.

“Why would commercial space come here (to the convent) when they don’t come on the main street?” she asked.

Site needs sponsor, developer says

Ashcroft Homes president David Choo was unwilling to be interviewed, but in a brief email exchange he told the CBC restoring a large heritage site like the convent requires a “sponsor.”

“If heritage assets are to be preserved and that is what we are trying to do — then how can we achieve (this) given the enormous cost of such an undertaking…. The convent needs several millions to even begin to adapt and the question is who pays?”

Choo did not answer questions about how much his company has spent to preserve the building since purchasing it in 2010.

The public hearing for Ashcroft’s long-awaited proposal for the convent will take place Jan. 10 at Van Lang Field House at 6 p.m.




Westfest Remains Behind the Real Canadian Superstore

7 06 2013

Concerns of Westfest being forced to relocate have been put to rest.  Check out this Citizen article for more details.

What do you think of the location?

The article also notes that Katherine Hobbs is usually out of town for the local large festival.  I wonder if we’ll spot her this year?  If you see her let us know.



Westfest's Location



David Reevely (Ottawa Citizen) refers to your Hobb comments as ‘epic thread’!

6 04 2013

Your comments to Hobbs regarding the convent-site noise exemption have been noticed. Most recently by David Reevely of the OTTAWA CITIZEN. He refers to the ‘epic thread’ of resident comments on our Hello Westboro blog, and noted ‘the only person defending Hobbs was Hobbs’.

Reevely’s full article:

Reevely’s blog post on the same topic, more detail:

Original post that gave everyone something to talk about:


Will we see you at the new Westboro Farmer’s Market?

17 08 2012

Just a reminder that the new Westboro Farmer’s Market is starting this weekend (August 18, 19). According to the Citizen, the new market will set up in the park space bordered by Richmond Road and Byron, Golden and Broadview avenues on Saturdays Aug. 18 to Oct. 27, between 9:30 a.m. and 3 p.m.

If you haven’t heard about it yet you can read more about it on the Ottawa Citizen website.

Women behind Clare Gardens honoured, Multi-year effort to clean up park awarded

14 06 2012

“Deb Chapman and Irmi Elbert remember a time when Clare Gardens Park in Westboro was used for drug deals, the cement pathways were cracked and dotted with pot holes, and the children’s play equipment was falling apart.

Now, about five years later, the two Westboro women have been awarded the Ontario Volunteer Service Awards for their efforts in cleaning up the park…” (You can read the rest of this article in EMC Ottawa West.)

Congratulations to volunteer gardener Deb Chapman and WCA board member Irmi Elbert for all their hard work!

OMB shoots down rezoning for Westboro condo towers

13 06 2012

“Opponents of two condo towers overlooking the Transitway trench in Westboro have won a victory from the Ontario Municipal Board, which found that the city’s planning documents are supposed to mean what they say.

The two buildings at 335 Roosevelt Ave. were designed to be 14 and 16 storeys tall. Their would-be builder, Uniform Urban Developments, made the case that they’d hold the same number of units, but be more attractive — taller but slimmer — than the four-to-six storey apartments allowed under the existing zoning. In December, over many nearby residents’ objections, city council signed off on the zoning change permitting the taller structures…” (Read the rest of this story on the Ottawa Citizen website.)

City of Ottawa sticks with top picks for western LRT route; frustration grows with NCC

7 06 2012

“The city is sticking with Richmond Road and the Ottawa River Parkway as its top choices for a western extension of the light-rail system, thanks to a unanimous vote by city council’s transportation committee Wednesday afternoon.

The decision cuts a list of 15 possible routes down to four, three of which use different versions of a corridor along Richmond Road and Byron Avenue west of the current Westboro Transitway station. And it means continuing to look at the parkway despite the firm objections of the National Capital Commission, which owns it….” (Read the rest of this story on the Ottawa Citizen website)

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