O’Connor, Lansdowne and the Need for Respectful Planning

Shawn Menard
Councillor, Capital Ward

Phone: 613-580-2487

O’Connor, Lansdowne and the need for respectful planning

At the time of writing, Ottawa is firmly in Step 3 of the reopening plan. Our COVID-19 numbers are down and our vaccination rates are high. It’s been a long year and a half and I want to thank everyone who has done their part to slow the spread of the pandemic – especially health care professionals and essential workers.

In-person city services are beginning to be offered again. You can check the city website, ottawa.ca, to see what city services and programs are available.

Hopefully, our COVID-19 numbers stay down and we can slowly get back to something resembling normal.

O’Connor improvements

In July, road crews set to work on fixing “Lake O’Connor” – the giant puddle that would appear at O’Connor and Glebe every rainfall and wouldn’t drain properly. We were able to get crews out to put in a new drainage system. We’ve already seen a few big rainfalls and Lake O’Connor has not returned.

A new park is coming to the corner of O’Connor and Fifth (beside the fire station). The process to redesign the park was initiated several years ago but stalled for many reasons. Our office is contributing additional funds from our cash-in-lieu-of-parkland account to make sure it goes forward this year and has worked with staff and the Glebe Community Association to integrate community desires for grouped seating, shade and relaxed activities in an older adult-friendly design.

Over the years, we have received many requests from residents for a four-way stop at Third and O’Connor. Currently, only Third has a stop sign. Third and O’Connor had been reviewed many years ago and a four-way stop at the intersection is warranted but it was never implemented. We are working with staff and local residents to have the four-way stop implemented soon.

Lansdowne update

Last month, council had to grapple with what to do about Lansdowne Park. Despite pouring hundreds of millions of public dollars into the Lansdowne redevelopment seven years ago, another redevelopment may be needed.

The north side stands and arena are in disrepair. They leak. They don’t meet accessibility requirements. And they’ve passed their expected lifespan. It is unfortunate that the city did not have the vision 10 years ago to do a proper redevelopment, but we can’t fix that. Now, we must determine what is best going forward.

Staff have recommended tearing down and rebuilding the north side stands and arena. This is worth considering, but the city needs to be careful. We can’t repeat the same mistakes we made previously with poor financial outcomes without protecting the public interest. We need to see competitive bidding and public benefit first and foremost.

In addition to fixing the north side stands, the city is also looking to enhance the public realm at Lansdowne. We want to see improvements to Aberdeen Square, the great lawn and the play area. This will ensure a Lansdowne Park that everyone can enjoy.

In the coming months, there will be opportunities for public engagement on this issue. It is important to make your voices heard.

Joining the Planning Committee

After it was revealed that former Planning Committee chair Jan Harder had violated conflict of interest rules due to her dealings and relationship with a local developer, Jack Stirling, she was forced to step down not only as chair but also as a member of the committee. This opened up a seat on the committee and I offered my name to replace Councillor Harder.

I’m happy to say that at July’s council meeting, my colleagues elected me to fill Harder’s vacancy. I will be sitting as a full voting member of the committee starting in August.

Urban wards have been sorely underrepresented at Planning Committee this term of council and, as a result, we have seen a number of disappointing decisions. I have been quite vocal about the problems at Planning Committee – especially the developer influence – so I am glad that I will now be able to have a greater say in the planning decisions at city hall.

It will take work to make the changes that are so desperately needed, but we are now in a much better position to push for those changes.

30-48 Chamberlain

In July, council approved a development application for 30-48 Chamberlain that required violating the current zoning regulations, as well as the new rules that are being developed as part of the Bank Street height and character study.

That study has been ongoing for many years and stems from the string of planning decisions along Bank that showed no regard for city zoning regulations. The study was to offer better protection for residents and firmer rules for developers. Unfortunately, this developer slipped in just a few months before the study is expected to be ratified and council, once again, gave in to the desires of a developer.

This is a reason why I sought membership on the Planning Committee. The process for this decision was sorely lacking. It did not respect the desires of residents. It did not respect the current zoning regulations. And it did not respect all the work that city staff, the community association, residents and our office has put into the Bank Street height and character study.

Such disrespectful development decisions must not continue.

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