Comments Needed by Nov 27: Triplexes at Ravenhill/Roosevelt/Byron and in Westboro

Please see the comments below from the SaveWestboro group:
If you were able to attend the Open House meetings on the rezoning application and/or if you feel comfortable addressing the issues that it raises for the neighbourhood, please send your comments to the City Planner who is reviewing this proposal: Ann O’Connor:
You might also wish to send your email/comments to Jeff Leiper, to the Westboro Community Association, and to the ”savewestboro” email address.   Here are the coordinates:
To my mind, the developers’ proposals to rezone this area of Westboro raise two types of issues.
First, would the type of developments allowed under a R4 zoning be appropriate for the immediate neighbourhood and beneficial for Westboro as a whole?
Second, is it appropriate for the City to reward the triplex developers for “gaming the system” and building potential fourplexes when they only had approval for triplexes?
With regard to the first category of issues, here are some of the concerns that were raised by residents at the Open House meeting, held on Nov. 10:
  • Intensification is a sound planning objective. Westboro is not, has not been, and should not be immune.   However, there is a limit to the level of density that is acceptable.   The Official Plan makes it clear that Ottawa is a city comprised of unique neighbourhoods and that, in pursuing intensification and infills, the unique character of the neighbourhoods should be respected and preserved.  The rezoning would allow developers to introduce a density that is inappropriate for the area and out of character with the Westboro residential neighbourhood.
  • The area is NOT suitable as a transitional area from the R4 developments on Byron.  There will always be an “edge” area between a higher and lower density area.   This simply shifts that boundary further inward into the heart of the Westboro residential neighbourhood, allowing developers to introduce densities that will fundamentally alter the character of the rezoned properties and the residential areas adjacent to it.
  • The area is already experiencing significant issues with traffic congestion and on-street parking.   It is inevitable that the residents of these dwellings will have at least one car, if not more.   The parking provided by existing triplexes is already inadequate (although more than is legally required).   Increasing the number of residents will exacerbate both traffic and parking issues with broader impact on the adjacent residential area of Westboro.
  • Westboro is a neighbourhood noted for its narrow, tree-lined streets, many without sidewalks.  Snow removal is a continuing and growing concern as increased on-street parking further narrows the streets as the snow banks build up.  The increased level of on-street parking and traffic in the vicinity will make this problem worse. It will increase the risk for pedestrians on the streets, particularly for any children who walk to the neighbourhood schools.
  • Infills have resulted in significant loss of mature trees and permeable (i.e. planted) surfaces in the Westboro neighbourhood as structures that largely fill the lots have been allowed to proliferate.   These developments have greatly reduced the amount of land that was previously available for infiltration of rain water and snow melt.   Neighbours in a variety of Westboro areas have reported issues with water in their basements.   Allowing R4 structures in the area could create or exacerbate this problem for adjacent properties and their owners.
  • In addition to the drainage issues resulting from the loss of mature trees, the removal of trees that are as much as 100 years old is slowly, but dramatically, reducing the urban canopy that has been a defining characteristic of the Westboro residential neighbourhood.  If allowed to continue unabated, this practice will have tangible and significant cumulative environmental impacts, including an increase in ambient temperature throughout the area, worsening of air quality, loss of wildlife habitat, and a degradation of the environment for residents.
  • Intensification does not have to be accomplished at the expense of a “living” environment.

With regard to the second category, here are some points that were addressed at the meeting: 

  • The developers of the Ravenhill triplexes knew, from the outset, that they were intending to build structures that would be serviced and outfitted for 4 dwelling units, even though they sought and received permission to build triplexes.   They did not disclose their intentions to the Committee of Adjustment and they hid their plans from residents and the Westboro Community Association.
  • The tactic used by the developers for the Ravenhill triplexes was previously used successfully by a developer of triplexes on Byron Ave.   In that case, City Council’s Planning Committee approved an application to rezone the triplexes to R4.  This sent a clear signal to developers that they could successfully exceed the density limitations set for Westboro’s R3 neighbourhoods.   This was a “green light” for more of the same behaviour by developers.
  • Although not technically “illegal”, the behaviour of the triplex developers was devious and seriously misleading for both residents and for planning authorities.  They do not come before the City Planning Committee with “clean hands” and do not deserve to have their conduct rewarded.  Approving another R4 rezoning request would send a clear signal that this type of practice is acceptable.   It would reinforce the incentives that have already been established for developers to utilize this tactic. The inevitable result will be more and more attempts by developers to do the same thing elsewhere in Westboro.
  • Perhaps more importantly, rewarding such behaviour brings the entire planning and approval process of the City of Ottawa into disrepute.   Citizen reaction to this situation has been universally negative.  People are shocked that it has been allowed to continue and that it might succeed again.   It seriously erodes citizen confidence in the legitimacy of the approvals process and it signals that the laws and plans established by the City which were designed to protect and preserve the character of neighbourhoods like Westboro, can no longer be relied on to achieve that result.
Please do NOT just copy and paste any of these points.  You should express your concerns in your own words. Comments that are exact duplicates of a template will be discounted because they don’t reflect a personal engagement with the matter.
Also, don’t feel that you need to address every point in your comments.  You should focus on the issues that resonate the most with you.
So, please take a few minutes and send in your comments to Ann O’Connor.  If our voices are not heard, community approval for this rezoning application will be assumed.  Speak up for Westboro now!
Remember, Tuesday, Nov. 27 is the deadline.

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