New Ottawa Development given green light

Trailhead development given green light

Councillor calls for revamp of community design plan

Ottawa West News

Despite opposition from the local city councillor, a proposal to replace the Trailhead Paddle Shack on Scott Street with a highrise was approved by the city’s planning committee on March 28.

The 22-storey building will include retail at grade, as well as four storeys of office space and residential units.

Four residents spoke in opposition, citing the community design plan for the area, and concerns about traffic and the character of the neighbourhood.

“The secondary plan calls for intensification that is compatible with the adjacent community,” Cecilia Alpern, the immediate neighbour to the site, said. “It’s not compatible.”

Gary Ludington, chair of the Westboro Community Association, said residents knew what they were doing when they created the community design plan, and the development is not what the plan intended.

“To put it bluntly, this thing is off the rails. I would turn this down and come to a compromise on storeys,” he told the planning committee.

Planning chair Jan Harder said the work for the community design plan was done in 1998 and completed before light rail was destined for the neighbourhood.

"To hold the CDP up as sacrosanct, you have to realize the times are different,” she said.

The CDP calls for four to six storeys on the site, a number even the Kitchissippi Coun. Jeff Leiper said isn’t realistic given the proximity to transit.

“There’s a huge area within 600 metres of light rail,” he said, adding it might be time to open up the CDP.

Leiper voted against the development, saying he isn’t against intensification on the site, but wanted to see an updated vision for the area.

He said the city is engaging in ad hoc “spot zoning” and needs to have a vision for the area.

“If the committee approves this, I don’t know how we will tell residents that a community design plan will offer any protection for their neighbourhoods,” he said.

Leiper tried to talk the developer, Colonnade BridgePort, down to 12 storeys. 

The committee approved the application by a vote of seven to three.

College Coun. Rick Chiarelli expressed concern that a lessening the density proposed by Colonnade BridgePort could impact $600,000 in contributions to the ward, through Section 37. That city policy is designed to take in funds from developers that markedly increase density. The funds can then be used for ward-specific initiatives to serve the increased local population.

Chiarelli expressed sympathy for nearby residents on Clifton Street, but said ultimately the number of homes affected wasn’t enough for him to vote against the development, given the proximity to transit.

“I think the applicant has done everything you can expect them to do as long as you accept there's going to be a development,” Chiarelli said.

But Paul Stacey, another resident who was opposed to the development, said scaling it down to 12 to 15 storeys would still be a 200 per cent increase on what the design plan calls for.

Both Harder and Kanata South Coun. Allan Hubley said the city needs to allow new development around transit to make the best use of the city’s investments in light rail.

“If the ridership numbers aren’t reached for light rail, we will never get extensions to Barrhaven and Kanata,” Harder said.  

Council gets the final vote on the proposed highrise on April 12.

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