Planning committee to consider controversial waterfront Glebe apartments

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The developer is seeking permission to demolish six Glebe homes and erect two modern-looking, four-storey apartment buildings.

A sketch of two apartment buildings planned for the Glebe, across from the Canal Ritz restaurant.
CITY OF OTTAWA

By Lucy Scholey, Ottawa Community News

A developer is looking to demolish six Glebe homes and erect modern-looking, four-storey apartments overlooking the Rideau Canal.
Roca Developments Inc., an Ottawa-based firm, will seek the planning committee’s approval to build two red-bricked, glassed complexes along the Queen Elizabeth Driveway across from the Canal Ritz restaurant. In total, the buildings will house 18 units equipped with elevators and underground parking.

Two of the six homes that will need to be demolished – 364 Queen Elizabeth Driveway and 1 Fifth Ave. – are on the city’s heritage registry. That means they have “heritage value,” but are not legally protected.

According to a city staff report, the majority of the 45 people who gave feedback did not approve of these buildings.

“The presence of two rather ugly apartment towers nearby is no justification for demolishing beautiful old red brick homes,” reads one comment.

Several complaints centred on the removal of trees around the property. While staffers admit 11 trees would be cut down, they say 19 will be replanted. Two spruce trees and a Norway maple along the Fourth Avenue right-of-way will be protected, but a nearby ash tree could be chopped.

Several see the buildings as “too massive” and incompatible with the neighbourhood, but planning staff considers four-storeys as “low-rise” and point to similar apartments in the Glebe on O’Connor Street. Plus, 11-14-storey towers on the Queen Elizabeth Driveway, south of the Queensway, have formed part of the neighbourhood since the 1970s.

“Defining neighbourhood character in an area that has many styles of development from different eras is challenging,” reads the staff response.

“Clearly, some existing buildings are less successful than others and future development should draw upon the most desirable attributes of a neighbourhood.”

Further, the developer is flexible in the building materials and has already incorporated red brick to match the neighbouring homes, according to staff.

Then there’s the question of the Rideau Canal, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

But after consulting with the National Capital Commission and Parks Canada, city staff says the plan does not threaten the “heritage values of the Rideau Canal Corridor.”

In his written comments, Capital Coun. David Chernushenko did not outwardly oppose the project, but said nearby “undesirable” highrise towers should not be part of the rationale.

The condos will be before the planning committee on Tuesday.