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2011


SLOWest Celebrates Winter Solstice

posted Dec 2, 2011, 4:24 AM by Westboro Beach Community Association   [ updated Nov 19, 2014, 6:28 PM by Westboro Beach Community Association ]

Hello;

If you are looking for something to do, check out the upcoming event at First United Church, 347 Richmond Road.


WBCA Executive

Mayor Watson, how ugly is Ottawa?

posted Dec 1, 2011, 4:45 AM by Westboro Beach Community Association   [ updated Nov 18, 2014, 6:28 PM by Westboro Beach Community Association ]

Many established neighbourhoods in Ottawa feel they are under siege from infill developers and from new home builders that generally think big is better, and that infill means massive buildings in the smallest possible space.  The letter below was written by a resident of Wilmont Avenue in reaction to the development of the Fendor property.  While the Westboro Beach Community Association agrees with the message of the letter, the views expressed are those of the author of the letter.

Mayor Watson, how ugly is Ottawa?

An open letter to the Mayor of the City of Ottawa

Dear Mr. Mayor:

 We are among the quarter million of immigrants that Canada welcomes every year. We moved to Ottawa three years ago, as skilled labor, after having lived in Switzerland and Germany. And as all immigrants do, we compare our new home to our old home. Some things are wonderful about our new home. Many things are just different. And then there are a few things which are very disturbing. For example, ever since we came to Ottawa, we were wondering why Ottawa is ugly. Let there be no misunderstanding: Ottawa has a lot to offer for its residents. The quality of life is high. Green space and water abundant. Nature has been very generous to this city. But man has not. The man-made urban landscape is simply astonishingly unattractive: The few organically grown older neighborhoods are under siege by soulless and uniform “infills” (a term Europeans tend to associate with nasty dental procedures rather than architecture); poorly designed condo towers, not unlike those that were built in the 1970s all over the former Soviet Union, mushroom everywhere in the City; finding an example of decent architecture among the many cheap and thoughtless utilitarian buildings is hardly possible. The urban landscape of Ottawa is a cacophony; it is eclectic, unplanned, and largely untouched by even the slightest sense of esthetics in the public space. And sadly, the world is aware of this. Just read what the Wikipedia entry on “architecture in Ottawa” has to say.


 Good architecture matters, Mr. Mayor! It matters, because you and I and everybody else want to live and work in a city which displays, occasionally, some sense of esthetics. But it also matters because an attractive urban landscape helps to attract and retain well-educated, creative people. When a city becomes too ugly, these people leave. And with that the tax base erodes. In today’s world, cities have to compete for the well-educated and mobile workforce, and an attractive urban landscape matters!
  Over the last year or so, we have slowly uncovered what makes Ottawa’s urban landscape ugly. Here is how we learned: We live in a quiet residential street in Westboro. Across the street is an industrial site. When we bought our property we were aware of the fact that this site was zoned for residential buildings with a height of up to 19.5 meters. Sooner or later, we knew, a developer would build something. Then one day we heard that a developer had bought the property and intended to build apartment buildings. The height of these planned buildings was not 19.5 meters, not 29.5 meters, not 39.5 meters. The developer wanted to build twin towers with a height of 53.5 meters.


 Of course, we were shocked and annoyed by the chutzpah of this developer. But we were not too concerned. You see, Mr. Mayor, in Europe, when a property is zoned for 19.5 meters, residents can be sure that the developers respect the zoning and by-laws. We call it legal security. Also, should the city intend to change the zoning laws, citizens have a say in this. We call it democracy. And when citizens are concerned about a development, they will ask their elected representative for support, and they will get it. We call it responsive government. Finally, in our home countries, there is a competent and impartial bureaucracy in place devoted to the public good. This we call good governance.


 But apparently the developer that fancies a 53-meter twin tower in the heart of a neighborhood characterized by two-story building must have assumed that the planning process in Ottawa has no respect for legal security, democracy and good governance. Or why else would he have dared to put forward a proposal which so very clearly contradicts all planning rationales of the city of Ottawa, and which so blatantly ignores the public good for the sake of increasing profit margins?


But not only that. The planning rationale is full of inaccuracies, misleading claims, and plain nonsense. At times, it is so silly that it is actually funny. My favorite part is the claim that the shadows from a 53-meter tower have a less negative impact on adjacent properties than the shadows from a 19 meters high building. Also quite funny is the notion that privacy for neighbors is better ensured by 53-meter towers than by 19-meter buildings. Or how about the claim the twin towers would provide a sense of orientation to the community? How often do residents of Westboro get lost because they have no grotesquely megalomaniac twin towers to provide orientation, one wonders?


Then there is a traffic study (for which the developer paid, of course) which duly states that traffic from the new building will have no negative impact on the traffic situation in the neighborhood. The problem is that this study is methodologically so bizarrely flawed that every undergrad student would be ashamed to hand it in as a term paper. 


Surely, no one could take such a planning rationale seriously, we thought. Everybody would understand that all these inaccuracies - no, let me rephrase this – all these silly little lies were just a desperate attempt of an unprofessional developer to build a case when there simply is no case.

But then, Mr. Mayor, a few months later, the City planner delivered his report on this proposal. Would you believe, Mr. Mayor, that the report almost verbatim repeated all the inaccuracies, factual mistakes, and the plain nonsense from the planning rationale? Yes, says the City planner, this proposal is in line with the planning rationales for Westboro (even though it takes three minutes to read the Richmond Road / Westboro Secondary Plan in order to find out that it is not). Yes, the traffic study is done in accordance with City of Ottawa regulations. Does the City regulate that traffic studies must be flawed? Yes, the shadows from the towers have a less negative impact on the neighborhood than shadows from a lower building. And so on.


After having read this report from the City planner, we were no longer annoyed. We were appalled and ashamed. Could it be that our friends and neighbors, who had warned us that the planning process in Ottawa is seriously corrupted, were right? We had refused to believe this. After all, we just immigrated to Canada, and as all immigrants, we want our new home to be something we have not to be ashamed of. We want it to be good.


 Mr. Mayor, on December 5 the planning committee will vote on the proposal of Urban Uniform for a zoning by-law amendment proposal for 335 Roosevelt Ave, file Nr. D02-02-11-0068. If the planning committee says “yes” to this proposal, it will say “yes” to the greed of a few, and “no” to the public good. It will say “yes” to the profit margins of the investors, and “no” to the legitimate concerns of the many residents who live in the neighborhood, who raise families in the neighborhood, who pay taxes in the City of Ottawa, and who put their trust in the legal system of this city.


If the committee says “yes”, it will say “yes” to yet another uninspired, thoughtless, ugly and deeply provincial design whose sole purpose is profit maximizing. If the committee says “no”, it will send the developer back to the drawing board. There is no reason at all why a developer should not be able to come up with a design which conforms with the current zoning, and which is attractive for both old an new residents of the neighborhood. And if the current architect cannot do this, then find a decent architect who can. It is not hard.


But finally, and most importantly, Mr. Mayor, the planning committee will vote on something else, too. You know, the unattractive architecture of Ottawa is just the manifestation of something more profoundly and truly ugly: It is the manifestation of a deeply corrupted planning process. If the committee votes “yes”, it will further undermine the credibility of the bureaucracy. It will undermine the respect for its own rules and procedures. It will demonstrate what many citizens suspect: That decisions are made arbitrarily, and not in the interest of the public good. In sum, Mr. Mayor, if the committee says “yes”, it will undermine the very principles on which democratic communities rely: Trust in the rule of law, in democracy, and in accountable and transparent good governance.


The world needs more Canada! We new immigrants read this all over the city. Many of us came because we want to believe in this. Mr. Mayor, I continue to believe that the world needs more Canada. But then there are also some things which the world does not need. Which Canada does not need. Things of which all of us who live here in this community should be ashamed of. We should fix these things. On December 5th, there is an opportunity to start doing just that.


Sincerely,
Dr. Christoph Zürcher
378 Wilmont Avenue
Westboro

Recent Result on Applications to the Committee of Adjustment

posted Nov 29, 2011, 5:01 AM by Westboro Beach Community Association   [ updated Nov 18, 2014, 6:27 PM by Westboro Beach Community Association ]

Hello;

When a property owner intends to make significant changes to an existing property e.g. sever the lot, build a larger than permitted structure, etc, they must request variance approval from the City of Ottawa Committee of Adjustment.  The WBCA reviews these requests carefully and works with the neighbours to oppose variance which are not in keeping with the neighbourhood.
On November 16, 2011, there were 4 properties under consideration in the Westboro Beach area.  The decision of the Committee has now been announced.
 
1.     289-291 Atlantis Ave (developer Urban Strada).  The developer asked to sever the lot in half, and build 2 houses requiring reduced lot width and reduced lot size.   The fourth request was to have the house be higher than the 8 metre height allowed for by zoning.
 
Result:  The application was adjourned to be reviewed at the January meeting.  This is to give the developer and neighbours time to find a compromise. The application will be coming back to the Committee of Adjustment.
 
2.    283 Kirchoffer Ave. (developer Greg Capello).  The developer wants to duplicate what he built at 285-289 Kirchoffer – something which was also not approved at the Committee of Adjustment nor at the Ontario Municipal Board.

Result: The reserve decision of the Committee was to adjourn all of Mr. Capello’s applications ‘Sine Die’.  In order for Mr. Capello to reactivate his applications he will have to pay a fee to the Committee for their reactivation/recirculation and then in turn will re-notify everyone that is within a 60 metres radius of this property of the new Hearing date.  There is no decision issued when the Committee adjourns applications ‘Sine Die (adjourned without assigning a date). 
 
3.     285 Selby Ave and 266, 268, 270 Ferndale Ave. (developer Uniform Urban Developments).  The developer asked to sever the existing lot into 4 lots and to have reduced lot size (20%) and lot width.

Result:  Application approved. "It is the opinion of the Committee that the scale and massing of the proposed development is appropriate for the subject property.  The Committee acknowledges that corner lots provide unique opportunities for intensification, and find this particular corner lot provides a suitable lot area to accommodate the four proposed parcels, with minimal adverse impact on surrounding development and existing vegetation.”
 
4.    283 Lanark Ave  and 272,274,276, 278 Beechgrove Ave. (developer Sam Falsetto).  The developer asked to sever the existing lot into 4 lots and to have reduced lot size (40%) and lot width.

Result:  Application refused.  “The applications for minor variances having failed, therefore these applications must also fail.”
 
If you wish to discuss any of these properties in greater detail or to have more information on the Committee of Adjustment process, please contact any member of the WBCA
.

WBCA Executive

Proposed Development at 335 Roosevelt - Youtube

posted Nov 28, 2011, 5:34 AM by Westboro Beach Community Association   [ updated Nov 18, 2014, 6:26 PM by Westboro Beach Community Association ]

Hello;

The following is a posting on Youtube that captures portions of the public meeting on 335 Roosevelt Avenue.  The meeting was held on September 27th/2011 at the Churchill Seniors Centre.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WmdN-JvZ9CI

WBCA Executive

SLOWest Monthly Coffeehouse

posted Nov 28, 2011, 4:59 AM by Westboro Beach Community Association   [ updated Nov 18, 2014, 6:25 PM by Westboro Beach Community Association ]

Hello;

If you are looking for something to do, check out the upcoming coffeehouse at Wellington Bridgehead.




WBCA Executive

Rezoning of 250 Lanark Ave. (Old CBC Land) Part 2

posted Nov 4, 2011, 5:14 AM by Westboro Beach Community Association   [ updated Nov 18, 2014, 6:24 PM by Westboro Beach Community Association ]

Hello;

The WBCA has obtained a copy of the Asset Management Plan for the Graham Spry Building on 250 Lanark Avenue.  A copy of this file is attached to this article. 

See the article posted on this website "Rezoning of 250 Lanark Ave. (Old CBC Land) for Residential Development" on October 25 for additional information.

WBCA Executive

Westboro Beach Community Association Annual General Meeting

posted Nov 2, 2011, 4:59 AM by Westboro Beach Community Association   [ updated Nov 18, 2014, 6:23 PM by Westboro Beach Community Association ]

A REMINDER:

We hope you have circled November 7th on your calendar. It is the Westboro Beach Community Association Annual General Meeting. We have an exciting guest and you won’t want to miss it.

Phil Jenkins, award winning author, singer songwriter and Ottawa Citizen Columnist will speak. “I’ve come to unearth a story.” You may hear of something new about the neighbourhood you live in.

Following the meeting, we will have an overview of the projects and issues tackled over the year, followed by election to the WBCA Board.

Meet Phil Jenkins on:

Monday November 7, 2011

Churchill Seniors Centre (345 Richmond Road)

And it all starts at 7:00 p.m.

See you then,


Westboro Beach Community Association Board

Rezoning of 250 Lanark Ave. (Old CBC Land) for Residential Development

posted Oct 25, 2011, 5:18 AM by Westboro Beach Community Association   [ updated Nov 18, 2014, 6:22 PM by Westboro Beach Community Association ]

Hello:

In April, 2011, the Westboro Beach Community Association (WBCA) requested that Public Works and Government Services Canada allow the land at 250 Lanark Ave. to be used for community green space.  This land became available because of the demolition of the old CBC studio.  When no response was received either by the WBCA or MP Paul Dewar, the WBCA submitted a formal Access to Information request.  Shockingly, it discovered that the Government of Canada is examining the possibility of re-zoning the old CBC lands in order to allow for residential development.

While the consultant’s report on potential use of the vacant land lists a number of options for the land and the remaining office tower, the recommendation is that Public Works and Government Services Canada should proceed to re-zone the land in order to allow for redevelopment.  The current office tower is in good enough shape to be retained for use by the Government of Canada.  Currently, it houses part of Health Canada.

 The deconstruction of the site under the supervision of SNC Lavelin is almost complete except for the landscaping and removal of surplus debris. A public meeting was held prior to the beginning of the demolition at the Graham Spry Building on Thursday, March 17, 2011.  At that time, the consultants told a large group of residents that there were no plans for re-development or rezoning of the site.

The WBCA will ask MP Paul Dewar to table a written question in the House of Commons for the Minister of Public Works and Government Services Canada, the Hon.  Rona Ambrose .  The question will ask for specific details about when the application will be filed with the City of Ottawa to re-zone and sell the land. We need to prepare for the future.

The maps of the site are on this web site under the post titled WBCA Requests Access to New Greenspace at 250 Lanark Avenue.

WBCA executive

Response to Planning Rationale Report for 335 Roosevelt

posted Oct 18, 2011, 6:00 AM by Westboro Beach Community Association   [ updated Nov 18, 2014, 6:21 PM by Westboro Beach Community Association ]

Hello;

As part of proposal for the development at 335 Roosevelt, Uniform has creating a Planning Rationale Report.  The WBCA has reviewed that report and the key conclusions of the WBCA analysis are as follows:

1) The document “Planning Rationale Report”, prepared by Willis and Associates, (at in fact fails to provide any rationale whatsoever for exceeding the current height zoning for the former Fendor properties.

2) All of the problems with the current zoning that are alleged in the document are in fact problems with the “straw man” design (“building the zoning envelope”) that is proposed as the only alternative.  There is no problem with the zoning.

3) The developer has so far refused to put forward any thoughtful designs that fit within the current zoning and conform to all applicable planning principles.

4) Building 194 units, in this way, on this property is not in character with the surrounding community and will result in serious impacts on the community, including serious traffic and shadowing impacts.  The only way to avoid these problems is to stay within the current zoning and to build a significantly smaller number of units, i.e., less density. 

5) The Planning Committee should reject this proposal, for two key reasons:

i)              There is no rationale for exceeding the current zoning; and

ii)     Accepting the proposal would create a very unfortunate precedent.  Specifically, it would imply that the Planning Committee’s accepts the “straw man” argument that has been put forward by the developer.  This would effectively declare “open season” for developers – and indeed private individuals – to make the same argument in respect of the properties they own.  In this way, it would seriously undermine the credibility of the zoning bylaws, firmly establishing them as nothing more than a “jumping off point” for developer negotiations with communities, the City, the Planning Committee and Council for more height.     As we have seen time and time again in Ottawa, this “gaming” of the bylaws by developers results in costly battles pitting citizens against each other, their Councillors, City staff and the Planning Committee.  This costly gaming of the system by developers must end.  Putting an end to this costly game must start by saying a firm “no” to Uniform’s proposal. 

See the attached file for the WBCA's full analysis of the Planning Rationale Report.

In addition, there is a 2nd attached document created by the CMHC on a Transit-Orientated Development Case Study for the Metropole building.

Have a good day.

WBCA Executive

New Date for FAll Cleanup

posted Oct 7, 2011, 4:23 AM by Westboro Beach Community Association   [ updated Nov 18, 2014, 6:20 PM by Westboro Beach Community Association ]

Hello;

MY apologies for the double email.  I forgot to change the date fro the cleanup on Saturday.

Due to adverse weather last weekend, the cleanup was cancelled.  Please accept our apologies if you showed up and no one was there.  A WBCA member went to all three meeting areas to inform anyone who showed up that the cleanup was cancelled.

The new cleanup date is Saturday, October 8, 2011 - 10:00 to noon
 
Come on out at help clean up our neighborhood.  This event, affiliated with 'Cleaning the Capital', so we'll be measuring the amount of trash collected.
 
They'll be three separate meeting areas to choose from:

  1. the pavilion at the beach
  2. at the end of Churchill Ave.
  3. at the end of Latchford Rd. 
There will be some supplies available, but if you have an old pet food or soil bag, you might find they work well, and a favorite pair of gloves might also be a good idea.
 
For further information, contact Kenneth Abraham at:
613-792-1566
ben_and_kath@rogers.com
 
We hope to see you there.

WBCA Executive

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