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.
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.
Dr. Christoph Zürcher
378 Wilmont Avenue
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.”
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.
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.
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
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
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.
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:
For further information, contact Kenneth Abraham at:
We hope to see you there.
1-10 of 35