In this issue, I want to let residents know about the Zoning Amendment to halt the undesirable conversions of single-family homes into multi-unit apartment buildings. Plus, news about the Glebe Neighbourhood Cycling Plan and upcoming Capital Ward Walk/Bike, local parks, construction projects in Capital Ward, an NCC open house, and the City's upcoming Water Roundtable.
Councillor for Capital Ward
- Conversion Zoning Amendment
- Capital Ward Walk/Bike: Glebe Neighbourhood Cycling Plan
- New parks, bigger parks
- Upcoming construction projects
- NCC open house on QED crossing
- Call for 'Water is Life' posters / Water Roundtable
- Lansdowne site visit
Introducing Ottawa’s conversion bylaw
A year ago, many residents of the Glebe and Old Ottawa South were unpleasantly surprised to learn that a certain type of residential “conversion” was allowed in their neighbourhood, and that a number of such projects were already underway.
I was equally taken aback, amazed that a property owner could take a modest, single-family home, remove all but one wall and “convert” it into a multi-unit dwelling that covered most of the lot, towered over neighbouring homes, often required the removal of existing trees, and left minimal amenity space. To cap it off, there was no requirement to notify abutting neighbours, the community association or even the ward councillor in advance of construction. Effectively, unless the owner was seeking some sort of variance, these types of conversions were allowed “as of right,” and there was nothing you, I nor City of Ottawa planning staff could do to stop them.
I met with many angry residents, some of the developers in question, various members of City staff, and my colleague, Councillor Mathieu Fleury, who had experience with even more such conversions in Rideau-Vanier. With the support of Planning Committee chair Peter Hume, the mayor and the City manager, we decided that the City should take immediate and serious action. Our approach was to first use an Interim Control Bylaw to put a moratorium on all such conversions (other than those where building permits had already been granted). Next, we worked with staff in the Planning and Growth Management department to explore how we could amend existing rules and processes in order to better protect the character of the neighbourhoods where existing zoning allowed for such conversions.
I am pleased to say that after a year of community consultations, discussions with developers and much deliberation within the corridors of City Hall, a Zoning Amendment has been approved by City Council. It eliminates conversions of the type we were seeing, and introduces a new process. The issue can get rather technical, so I have attempted to present a brief overview below.
First, though, I want to address early reactions that focused on people’s fears of having up to 20 young, short-term tenants packed into so-called “student bunkhouses". My real concern was not that these places would be filled with students, who have been living in a whole range of building types in Capital Ward for close to a century, and most of whom are decent neighbours. Some admittedly cause problems, but that applies to residents of all kinds, living in all sorts of houses and apartments. The real problem with this new type of conversion was the building type and the lack of a robust process to review a proposal and decide if it could be built. What residents, City staff and councillors really needed was a tighter set of rules and a more thorough and meaningful process of consultation and decision-making.
I believe that is what we have approved.
Zoning Amendment on Residential Conversions: Overview
The City of Ottawa initiated the Zoning Study on Residential Conversions with the goal of producing an amendment to the City of Ottawa Zoning By-Law. The amendment would address growing concern in some urban neighbourhoods (Sandy Hill, the Glebe and Old Ottawa South) about the scale, density and compatibility of some residential conversions. The amendment sets new rules for converting an existing house into a multiple-unit dwelling to ensure that future conversions fit in with their surroundings and respect maximum building heights, minimum densities and permitted land uses in the Official Plan.
In particular, the Conversions Amendment eliminates the zoning distinction between (a) purpose-built dwellings of three or more units, and (b) conversions of existing buildings to increase the number of units. Now, conversions and new buildings are both subject to the same rules.
The amendment introduces a requirement for amenity areas at the ground floor in the rear yard in all buildings classified as Rooming Houses, Converted Rooming Houses, Three-unit Dwellings and Low-rise Apartment Dwellings in Residential Zones. And it also establishes limits on the number of units allowed in a Converted Rooming House in the R3 and R4 Zones.
For more comprehensive information on the Conversions Zoning Amendment, see ottawa.ca.
Capital Ward Walk/Bike: Glebe Neighbourhood Cycling Plan
Saturday, June 14, 10 – 11:30 a.m.
The next Capital Ward Walk will actually be a bike ride through the Glebe, stopping at key locations recommended for cycling infrastructure improvements under the Glebe Neighbourhood Cycling Plan. Join us for a tour and discussion of the changes projected for this summer and those still to come.
We'll meet at 10 a.m. at the Glebe Collegiate parking lot, Glebe Ave. entrance. Those who wish to walk can join us for the discussions at the start and meet us later at the end point (TBD).
The City of Ottawa initiated a planning and functional design study for the review and implementation of improved neighbourhood cycling routes within the Glebe.
I am working with the Glebe Community Association and a public advisory committee (PAC) made up of community representatives on the Glebe Neighbourhood Cycling Plan. The PAC will meet in mid-May, with the goal to host a public meeting in late June.
New parks, bigger parks
It is difficult to create new parks in a dense urban environment, and almost as difficult to expand the ones we have. That's all the more reason to celebrate two new parks and the upcoming expansion of two others:
- Design Your Park: Great news! The former Hydro Ottawa lot at Woodbine Place and Carlyle Avenue in Old Ottawa South has been transferred to the City of Ottawa and will be converted into a park. We're looking to the community to tell us what they'd like to see there. Come to our Design Your Park sessions at Sunnyside Library on Saturday, June 7, 10:30 – 11:30 a.m. or 12 – 1:00 p.m. Can't make it? Click here for information on how to share your ideas with us.
- Work will begin very soon on the new Children’s Exploration Garden in the southwest corner of Central Park East at Bank St. in the Glebe. The garden will provide additional play areas and unique features meant to encourage children to be creative and explore. They include a dinosaur fossil, musical instruments and a chalk-drawing wall. The project, paid for by $163,100 from Capital Ward’s Cash-in-lieu of Parkland funds, should be completed by the end of June.
- Springhurst Park in Old Ottawa East could soon be more than double the size it is today. The City is considering making the adjacent 1.29 hectare field — land that was once reserved for the Alta Vista Transportation Corridor project — officially part of the Springhurst Park we enjoy today. We're waiting to hear what that could mean for the future improvements to the park.
- The Hwy. 417 Interchange project and Bronson-Chamberlain-Imperial realignment may provide an opportunity to modestly expand Glebe Memorial Park, as Chamberlain is shifted slightly the north to line up with the extension of the Bronson off ramp. Both City Parks staff and the Ministry of Transportation have expressed support for the expansion, but it will only be possible after completion of roadwork on Chamberlain. That's not expected to start until 2015 at the earliest.
Upcoming construction projects
The City has several construction projects planned in Capital Ward for 2014:
- In the Glebe, road, water and sewer maintenance work will be performed on First Ave. from Percy to O'Connor, and a new cycling lane added. Some of the combined road, water and sewer renewal on Broadway Ave. will start this year, with bulk of the work completed next year.
- In Old Ottawa East, Lees Ave. will be fully rebuilt, and a cycling route will be added from Main St. all the way to the Lees transit station.
- In Old Ottawa South, a section of Seneca Ave. will be resurfaced from Grove Ave. north to Sunnyside Ave., where the No. 7 bus runs.
- In Heron Park, a new sidewalk will be added on Brookfield Ave.
There are many more infrastructure renewal projects on the way in the next four years. Please feel free to contact my office if you have questions about other future construction projects.
NCC open house on QED crossing
Tuesday, May 6, 8 – 9:30 a.m.
Canal Ritz, 375 Queen Elizabeth Driveway
The National Capital Commission (NCC) invites residents to take part in an open house, where they will present the draft design of the upcoming planned improvements to the crossing point at Queen Elizabeth Driveway and Fifth Avenue. NCC and City of Ottawa staff will be on hand to answer questions and receive feedback.
Those unable to attend may provide comments until Friday, May 9. An overview of the comments received and design adjustments will then be shared prior to construction.
Call for 'Water is Life' student posters, Water Roundtable participants
The City is inviting Grade 3, 4 and 5 students in Ottawa to create posters on the theme “Water is Life,” to illustrate the importance of water as the lifeblood of our city and a resource that we rely on daily.
Eligible schools in Ottawa can each submit one poster, delivered to any Client Service Centre before May 30. Please ensure that the school name and contact information appear on the reverse of the poster. All submissions will be displayed at City Hall and on Ottawa.ca as part of the City’s Water Roundtable, which will be held on Saturday, June 14.
Every participating school will be entered in a draw to send two student delegates and one teacher to a lunch at City Hall, hosted by Mayor Watson, their ward councillor and Environment Committee Chair Maria McRae. Six schools will be selected.
In addition, because the City has reserved 10 spaces per ward for the June 14 Water Roundtable, I invite Capital Ward residents with expertise or a strong interest in the subject to contact my office before May 20 to express their desire to attend. I will notify successful applicants by the end of the month.
Lansdowne site visit
My last site visit to Lansdowne Park, on April 29, revealed some major changes. Read more in the Landowne section of this website.