Carling high-rise proposal a shady deal for Experimental Farm
The controversial proposal is for two residential high rises at 1081 Carling, currently a medical building
A proposal by Taggart to build two high-rise towers of 16 and 27 storeys at 1081 Carling at the corner of Parkdale Avenue has met with opposition from the Central Experimental Farm (CEF) and the Civic Hospital Neighbourhood Association (CHNA). A rezoning application for the proposal goes to the City of Ottawa’s Planning and Housing Committee on August 16.
There are two major issues: effects on the CEF and inadequate transition in height to the adjacent Civic Hospital community.
Shadows affecting research at the Central Experimental Farm
The current development proposal will have a serious impact on important research lands, say officials at the CEF. Shadow studies of the two towers show the number of additional minutes per year the fields would have reduced sunlight. Lowering the height of the towers would considerably mitigate the negative shadow impact on crop growth patterns and research at the Farm. In a letter to city planners, the CEF wrote: “The proposed development presents serious concerns related to the shadowing impact to our land created by the height of the towers. The shadowing is a significant risk for AAFC [Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada] as it impacts our research fields and jeopardizes our agricultural science integrity.”
AAFC says variable sunlight will make some research lands “unusable for most field experiments” because of the sensitivity of crops such as wheat, soybeans, barley, corn and oats. As well, the red light at sunrise and sunset triggers flowering in many crops. During the winter, sunlight affects the snow cover and snow melt, also important to crops. Reduced sunlight can reduce yield, delay harvest and ruin experiments.
The study showed that lands immediately southeast of the towers will lose more than 100,000 minutes of sunlight each year. This impact on the greenhouse is less – they would get 10,000 fewer minutes.
However, additional studies showed that lowering the towers to 16 storeys or nine storeys would dramatically reduce shadows.
Ottawa Centre MP Yasir Naqvi has stated that he is committed to protecting the Farm from further development and is championing Bill C-23, now before Parliament – it’s intended to improve our ability to protect the Experimental Farm by creating legal guidelines to protect historic sites.
Greenspace Alliance also expresses serious concern about the impact of the towers.
“Just as we advocated with respect to the Ottawa Hospital,” said chair Paul Johanis, “we would expect that major developments adjacent to the Central Experimental Farm, such as the proposed Taggart towers, respect the greenspace, heritage and research integrity of the Farm.”
Transition to residential community
The design and transition in the current proposal are controversial. The City’s Urban Design Review Panel criticized the proposal in 2022, suggesting that the site is suitable for one lower tower rather than two. The panel was also concerned with the buildings transition to the well-established neighbourhood to the north. It made additional recommendations about the shape and placement of the towers.
The Civic Hospital Neighbourhood Association strongly opposes the proposal because the towers will loom over adjacent two- and three-storey homes. The current zoning for the site is nine storeys at the front and three storeys at the back. Taggart has revised its proposal twice since it first applied for rezoning in October 2021, but CHNA maintains that the third version of the proposal still does not have adequate transition to the low-rise houses. It contends that the proposal does not respect the intention or the guidelines in the city’s new Official Plan, which requires adequate transition to the adjoining neighbourhood, and that the developer’s attempts to provide transition fall well short of what citizens should be able to expect.
CHNA has also expressed concern about the effects of the proposed development on traffic in the area and about the proposal’s inadequate green space.
“The CHNA supports the need for intensification and smart density, but it must be done responsibly. The city’s decision on 1081 Carling Avenue could set a trend for unacceptable transition, height and density for future developments in established neighbourhoods,” said Karen Wright, president of CHNA. “Councillors in other wards should understand that this decision could affect future rezoning requests to add high-rises in their communities. Additionally, this and future developments adjacent to the CEF will have a devastating effect on the Farm’s research and purpose.”
Throughout the process, CHNA has been concerned that the input of residents has not been reflected in the analysis, and it calls on the city to better respect the voices of Ottawa’s citizens.
With files from Civic Hospital Community Association