Glebe residents slam 'visually polluting' redevelopment plan

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Roca Developments is proposing to build a pair of modern multi-unit residences along Queen Elizabeth Dr., between Fourth and Fifth avenues in the Glebe.

Jon Willing, Ottawa Sun

Road hockey would disappear, street parties would be cancelled and no one would want to take pictures along the Rideau Canal if an 18-unit redevelopment goes through, some Glebe residents say.

One woman went so far Tuesday as to bemoan her view that new residents are not becoming part of the community, as other established Glebeites have.

It felt like fears over the Lansdowne Park redevelopment were being replayed during the committee’s consideration of a project along Queen Elizabeth Dr. between Fourth and Fifth avenues.

Roca Developments wants to replace a block-length of buildings with two, modern, four-storey multi-unit buildings. There would be 18 units and underground parking in the development.

The current buildings on the land have 13 units altogether.

Neighbourhood critics predicted pandemonium if the two buildings were to be built along the federal roadway.

“Quality of life for current residents of the block will plummet,” Andrew Webster told the committee.

The community is already suffering from the noise and drunks spilling out of Lansdowne, opponents suggested.

Longtime resident Herbert Schiler was near tears as he said the development would “spoil the heritage” of the community.

Desmond Doran, a well-known volunteer who lives in the area, said the “photographic opportunity” along the scenic stretch would be lost.

“It is visually polluting as designed,” Doran said.

But owners of the current buildings like Roca’s proposal.

And just because the buildings’ outer appearance reflects the heritage of Glebe, it doesn’t mean they’re in tip-top shape, they said.

Brad Sigouin said he’s invested heavily in his building, but it’s still in poor condition.

As for Roca’s proposal for the replacement buildings, “we absolutely love the design,” Sigouin said.

Project architect Barry Hobin defended his concept, pointing to other successful, modern buildings that have gone up in the area.

“It’s unfortunate that some people see new projects as different than what’s there already,” Hobin said.

Hobin said the development team held open houses and used feedback from the public to rework the design.

While opponents criticized the height of the proposed buildings, city planners have noted there are already high-rises along Queen Elizabeth Dr.

But Carolyn MacKenzie of the Glebe Community Association warned the city about using the high-rises as a reason for allowing taller developments, since residents don’t particularly like the size of the apartments to begin with.

Politicians sided with the developer, with the planning committee unanimously approving the application. It goes to council Oct. 14.

Twitter: @JonathanWilling