New crossing guards, new Official Plan and a wayward development proposal  

New Crossing Guards in the Glebe

I’m happy to report that we’ve secured two more adult crossing guards for schools in the Glebe, out of only eight new positions added citywide. One will be assigned to the mid-block crossing on Fourth Avenue between Lyon and Percy. This crossing is an important one for children at Mutchmor and Corpus Christi.

The other will become the second crossing guard at the intersection of Bank and Fifth. We pushed the city in 2019 for a first crossing guard there, and it’s been a tremendous benefit for everyone crossing in the morning and afternoon. However, a guard can only handle one side of the street at a time. Currently, one is assigned to the northwest corner (by the Papery), helping people in the north and west crosswalks. An extra guard will mean coverage to all four crosswalks.

Assuming the hiring process goes smoothly, the new crossing guards will be in place in a few weeks, for both the morning and afternoon school runs.

The City Plots its Course with a New Official Plan

The Official Plan is the primary planning document for the city – it sets the course for how Ottawa will grow in the coming years. We want the city to become more livable with walkable, human-scale neighbourhoods. We want to protect our tree canopy, improve our air quality, build truly affordable housing and enhance public infrastructure like open green spaces and parks.

As with all plans, it’s the details that matter. We’ve been listening to the community and working with staff to try to address some concerns with the plan.

We brought more than 10 motions and directions to Committee and City Council on the Official Plan. We passed a motion to increase the affordable housing target to 20 per cent of all new residential units, from 10 to 15 per cent in the draft OP. This will be important when an inclusionary zoning policy is developed. We also ensured that anti-displacement measures to protect affordable rental housing will be on the City’s workplan for 2022.

Our office passed and supported motions for neighbourhood-level monitoring of tree canopy and smaller parkland access (thanks to the Glebe Community Association for the partnership on this), for reviewing the need for the Alta Vista Transportation Corridor, for improved GHG reporting, for implementing the principle of healthy streets and for minor corridors to be developed at a human scale (four storeys). We also passed a motion targeting increased intensification in suburban areas instead of just within the greenbelt.

We brought a motion bolstering the use of site-plan control for low-rise developments in Capital Ward and directed staff to improve work on zoning and property standards around colleges and universities.

There has been a lot of great input from community members and from the GCA. The work that residents have put into analyzing the Official Plan has certainly helped improve it and, by extension, will improve the future of our city.

Bronson and Carling Development

City staff are currently reviewing a proposed development at the corner of Bronson and Carling Avenues. The current proposal sheds all modesty and presents a 26-storey tower at the corner of Dow’s Lake, the Glebe and the Glebe Annex.

We have had numerous discussions with city staff and the developers, and last month we held a public consultation where local residents were both passionate and thoughtful in their suggestions. We also attended the Urban Design Review Panel (UDRP) with professional architects.

We do not support the proposal as it currently is:

  1. Mass and Scale: Given UDRP comments, previously negotiated community acceptance, shading and context, we think the height requested is not tenable and does not meet standards set out in zoning regulations or our Official Plan. We will be negotiating for better.
  2. Greenspace: There is currently none planned. A reduction in massing/density and the elimination of the long back lane onto Cambridge would help tremendously. We would like to see some greenspace added here, and will push for this.
  3. Parking: We think this development presents a significant opportunity for much less parking. Ideally we completely eliminate any entrance/exit off Cambridge Street South.
  4. Retail at Ground Level: We would like to see retail on the ground level. There should be excitement about the street’s renewal and the potential to create a better Bronson.
  5. Step-backs: We think there is a need to continue to explore step backs and reveals and break down overall volume of the large building.
  6. Grading Response: We are concerned with grading response and the relationship of buildings to streets they face. Large parapet walls on Cambridge and different solutions for parking to ensure a positive relationship between street and entrances are needed.
  7. Affordable Housing: The building should have some deeply affordable units, upwards of 20 per cent of them.

We have made our concerns clear to city planners, and they have also expressed concerns. This month, we will be meeting on site with city planners and community members. We will continue this discussion with staff to see how we can improve this development for everyone.

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