Friday, August 26, 2011

Traffic traffic traffic

Traffic is a major irritant for many CHNA members, and apparently, we are not the only ones who are bothered. Judging by this week's Globe and Mail series on the issue, traffic is a national preoccupation. Links to part of this series follow:

Cities get creative with solutions for traffic congestion woes

Consider this: Gas tax fund should be earmarked for public transit

Traffic jams may force oil sands workers to stop driving

Drivers, want more space on the roads? Push for bike lanes

Is a car sharing service a realistic alternative?

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Heart Institute to get new wing

The University of Ottawa Heart Institute, which is located behind the Civic Campus of the Ottawa Hospital, is getting a new wing at the back of the current building on Ruskin Street.Construction is expected to start in 2014 and take up to five years.

Click on the following links to find out more:

Heart Institute expansion will help lure innovators: McGuinty

McGuinty Government Increasing Access To Cardiac Care Closer To Home

Ottawa Hospital's Heart Institute information:

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Upcoming meeting on proposed infill housing solutions

The City of Ottawa recently posted the following information on its website:

After numerous consultations with the public in February, staff have developed a number of proposed solutions to resolve this issue. Residents are invited to hear more about the proposed solutions and ask questions following the presentation at the upcoming meeting. A report on the issue will be brought to Planning Committee in the fall of 2011.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011
Champlain Room, 2nd floor, Heritage Building
Ottawa City Hall, 110 Laurier Avenue West
7 to 9 pm
Presentation at 7 pm followed by Q&A

Plan to attend this meeting and send your comments on the proposed solutions for infill housing no later than Friday, September 30th, 2011 to:

Selma Hassan, Planner
Infrastructure Services and Community Sustainability
Planning and Growth Management Department
City of Ottawa
110 Laurier Avenue West
Ottawa ON K1P 1J1
Tel: 613-580-2424, ext 25192
Fax: 613-580-2576

Monday, August 22, 2011

CHNA Comments on 500 Preston Street (Soho Italia)

August 22, 2011

Dear Mr. Bridgewater:

Re: Proposed Development at 500 Preston Street

I am writing on behalf of the Civic Hospital Neighbourhood Association (CHNA) to comment on the development that is proposed for 500 Preston Street.

While the proposed development at 500 Preston lies just outside the boundaries of the CHNA, it will undoubtedly and significantly affect our neighbourhood. The CHNA represents about 2000 homeowners and tenants in an area bounded by Highway 417 to the North, Carling Avenue to the South, Island Park to the West and the O-Train line to the East.

The CHNA shares the concerns of the Dalhousie Community Association (DCA), the organization representing residents on and near 500 Preston Street. We agree with the DCA’s position that having a 350 foot wall rising straight up from the sidewalk is not good mainstreet development. The CHNA also agrees that there is no compelling reason to support one-off spot rezoning. The City should maintain its current zoning for the area and only rezone through normal neighborhood planning procedures.

Like the DCA, we hope that the City does not engage in ad hoc rezoning at the behest of developers but follows rational plans based on input from the citizens and taxpayers of Ottawa.

Additionally, the CHNA has traffic concerns. We believe that the proposed development at 500 Preston will further exacerbate traffic issues within our neighbourhood. Our community is already suffering from increased volume, speed and noise from car traffic. We are currently attempting to manage the implications of intensification along the O-Train corridor as it affects our area. This new development will only add to the congestion and subsequent flow-through traffic at key choke points like Preston & Carling, Sherwood & Parkdale and the 417 on-ramps. We would like to encourage the City to obtain funding from Mastercraft Starwood for a traffic study of the area if the development at 500 Preston Street proceeds.

Yours truly,
Katherine Steinhoff

Dalhousie Community Association Comments on 500 Preston Street

Thursday, August 11, 2011

500 Preston (Soho Italia)

The City will shortly be considering the rezoning of 500 Preston Street to permit a 35 storey condo tower occupying the entire lot at the corner of Preston and Sydney. Here is our input to the city consultation process:


755 Somerset Street West, Ottawa, Ontario, K1R 6R1 11 August 2011
Eric Darwin, President

Planning and Growth Management Dept
Attn D.Bridgewater

Re: the Soho Italia proposal by Starwood Mastercraft, 500 Preston Street

The Dalhousie Community Association (DCA) has discussed this project, met with the proponents, and unanimously agreed that it is objectionable on numerous grounds.

Firstly, the City is supposed to plan for its future using an Official Plan, supported by lower level plans. Neither the OP nor the CDP for the area call for high rises at the south end of Preston Street. Indeed, the zoning for the Carling and O-Train corridors was recently revised by the City as part of the CDP. And the CDP itself is still ongoing, a work in progress. Surely the correct planning procedure would be for the developer to request an amendment to the OP or similar neighborhood wide rezoning if they desire to promote a “Vancouver style” collection of tall condo towers. Instead, they are asking for a one-off rezoning, which will unleash speculation frenzy in this area. Lacking a persuasive case for spot rezoning, the City must maintain its current zoning for the area and entertain rezoning only through its normal neighborhood planning procedures.

Second, the proposal for a 35 storey tower built right up to the very edges of the sidewalk with no setbacks (indeed, the proponent calls for his building to overhang the public sidewalk) is totally contradictory to the Traditional Mainstreet designation in the OP and zoning, as well as the intent and letter of the on-going Bayview-Carling CDP. What is the purpose of gathering the citizens and land owners and planners together for multi-year planning processes if everything can be overturned based on the lobbying of a single developer? (Recall too that this site was spot rezoned from six to 20+ stories just a few years ago). The City has seen numerous challenges to its planning process in recent years. Public confidence has been shaken about the validity of the strategic planning process and its results. Approving such a drastic challenge to the planning process will further destroy the City’s reputation.

We have not yet found a planner to support the idea that a 350’ wall rising straight up from the sidewalk edge constitutes good mainstreet development.

Third, the proposal for the tallest building in Ottawa needs to be assessed in a neighborhood context, not just as a one-site anomaly. What will the impact of this -- and other -- tall buildings be on the pedestrian environment, sidewalk patios, and two-storey traditional homes immediately adjacent the site? What will be the impact of these buildings on on-street parking for the restaurant trade? We note that the balconies of the proposed Soho Italia building extend to within 12” of the lot line; how then will adjacent lots be developable? Note that this community association is not opposed to high rise developments per se. We support intensification, especially along transit corridors, and for the conversion of brownfields to urban mixed-use spaces. Just because Starwood is a late-comer to the Ottawa condo market does not mean the city must inappropriately upzone lands or trash its neighborhood plans for the developer. Neighborhoods last forever, developers come and go. Will Council go for short-term buzz or leave a legacy of long-term vital neighborhoods?

Fourth, the City’s intensification goals can be reached by building within its current planned growth areas. The proposed 35 storey tower is merely the equivalent of 3 eight to ten storey mid-rise buildings, which are much more compatible with their neighbors and for which there is an abundance of appropriate lands. We question why the developer wants to build such a huge building on such a small lot in an area not zoned for that.

We urge our City to show resilience and support for the OP strategic and neighborhood planning processes. This development proposal by Starwood is very high profile. It will be watched closely. The proponent’s planning rationale is sufficiently broad as to be applicable to any and every current and future rapid transit corridor. While approval of this Soho Italia project will not establish a de jure precedent for intensification, it will certainly be a de facto one.

The City’s decision will send a clear message to citizens, associations, and developers.

Does the City jump to rezone at the behest of developers, or does it plan for a rational city that works for all citizens?

Send this project back to the drawing boards. A better building is desirable and viable.

Eric Darwin