By Sue Stefko
Canada Lands Company (CLC), together with their joint venture partner the Algonquins of Ontario (AOO), is wrapping up its virtual community consultation on its rezoning proposal for 291/299 Carling Avenue. Since the proposal was last seen in 2019, a number of changes have taken place. Much of the feedback CLC received focused on height, with the majority of respondents feeling that the proposed buildings were too tall. As a result, CLC has reduced the maximum building heights from 25, 20 and 13 storeys to 20, 15 and eight.
Another change relates to the placement of the potential buildings. The rocky outcropping at Bell Street South was initially designated as a future “parks and open space” area. However, some of this area did not meet city requirements for parkland, so CLC has relocated the future city park area to the north end of the site. This means that buildings can now be built further east, closer to Bell Street South and Carling. Accordingly, CLC has added another land use area with a maximum building height of 15 storeys. There are now four separate land use areas across the site instead of the three proposed in 2019. One aspect popular among residents – there is no surface parking planned for the site, except for reasons of accessibility.
Due to the change in park location, there will now be two areas, albeit somewhat smaller, that are proposed to be zoned parks and open space. One will be a city park located just south of Ottawa Community Housing’s Hasenack Place, which will be constructed by CLC. It asked for the community’s priorities for the park as part of its virtual consultation. However, CLC plans to conduct more targeted consultations before presenting the park design plan to the City of Ottawa. Following construction, CLC will turn the park over to the city, providing a much-needed amenity for the growing community. Much of the rocky outcropping along Bell St. South is proposed to be rezoned as parks and open space. It will be privately owned but still publicly accessible.
CLC remains committed to increasing commercial opportunities in the neighbourhood. While the requirement of a grocery store has eased now that Arnon is planning to build one at the corner of Preston and Beech, the neighbourhood is still largely lacking in amenities. Noting this, CLC proposed rezoning would require that at least half of the ground floor of the building podiums be devoted to commercial use. The remaining floors of the podiums are flexible – they could be commercial, office or residential.
The towers will be used to support residential housing demand, with more than 500 units expected. CLC’s mandate includes a 10-per-cent affordable-housing target for their development projects, and it will be working with the city to establish the affordable housing component through the rezoning process.
CLC has also proposed that the entire site be zoned under an Arterial Mainstreet designation, which currently exists for the south portion of the site. CLC proposed to remove several uses, such as a full-scale automobile rental business, crematorium or cemetery, as they were deemed incompatible through the public feedback and the vision established for the urban site. However, a number of residents expressed concern about other proposed permitted uses, such as outdoor amusement parks and night clubs, given the increased noise that often comes with these types of establishments. Some have also expressed concern about uses such as a parking garage or amusement centre (laser tag, trampoline parks, axe-throwing etc.), as they would mean more traffic from outside the community and provide little tangible benefit in return.
During the virtual open house, CLC also asked residents for feedback on architectural, commercial and pedestrian friendly design. This input will be used as CLC works with their AOO partners to create Architectural and Urban Design Guidelines for the site. These will provide direction on aspects such as building materials and building style to ensure that the development fits with the character of the neighbourhood, maintains heritage and ensures connectivity throughout the site.
The next steps of the development are the park public consultation (anticipated early next year), site remediation in preparation of future park construction, then a sales and marketing program to builders. CLC has yet to decide if the site will be released as one parcel or segmented into several to be developed by different builders who will adhere to the overall design guidelines for the site.
Sue Stefko is president of the Glebe Annex Community Association (GACA).