Letter exchange

A few weeks ago, the Mainstreeter received a copy of a letter from Hazel Street resident Connie Copps. She was concerned about potential changes expected with development of the Oblates property next to Saint Paul University. Ms. Copps had contacted the site’s developer, the Regional Group, as well as community and civic officials. Stephen Pope, head of planning at the Old Ottawa East Community Association, replied to her. An edited version of their exchange follows.

 

Mr. Stephen Cunliffe, Manager

Land Development

The Regional Group

1737 Woodward Drive, 2nd Floor

Ottawa ON K2C 0P9

Dear Mr. Cunliffe,

I am writing to you in response to the latest version of the Greystone Village proposed for the Oblate Lands.   My knowledge of this neighbourhood dates back to the late ‘60’s and early ’70’s, but more recently I am a resident on Hazel Street.

I am familiar with the community planning effort that has culminated in the current proposed configuration.  However, I suggest that there is still room for improvement.

  1. The proposed location of the towers will impact on the circulation of fresh air from the Rideau River to Main Street.  The air quality in the Main and Hazel area is heavily impacted by major arterial traffic – the Queensway to the north, Colonel By and Queen Elizabeth Drives to the west, Riverside drive to the south, and Main Street itself.  Getting a breath of fresh air while enjoying Main Street activities is important to the quality of life in the community. This sense of space and light differentiates this shopping area from the Glebe, Westborough or Beechwood Avenue.
  2. The proposed location of the towers will impact on the skyline currently visible from Main Street near Hazel.  Right now, the historic skyline as viewed from this part of Main Street is defined by the Deschatelets building, a cluster of mature trees, and the existing hedgerow behind Saint Paul University.  The skyline is a visual invitation to locals and visitors to the open space and the Rideau River beyond.
  3. The proposed location of the towers will impact on light to the existing hedgerow.  The hedgerow is both an agricultural remnant and a link to historic land uses, and as such is particularly valuable in an urban setting.  The lilacs are fragrant in the spring, and the trembling aspen chatter in the slightest breeze from the river – a very relaxing landscape element.
  4. The proposed location of the towers will impact on the Old Ottawa East Community Garden.  This long-established garden contributes local, organic produce to more than 50 families, as well as the Food Bank.  This garden is a multi-generational activity, promoting healthy active living and community involvement. The open skyline, the sound of the wind in the trees,  the fresh air from the river:  all contribute to the environment  experienced  in this garden.
  5. The proposed location of the towers will impact on integration between the new development and the existing community. Visual links from the development and Saint Paul, Main Street activities, local churches and schools will be lost. The towers will isolate the new development,  making it more difficult to build a sense of community and belonging by dominating the landscape.

Thank you for your kindness in considering these opinions.  I realize that market trends are the primary consideration in the development of the Oblate Lands.

Yours Sincerely,

 

Connie Copps

10 – 33 Hazel Street

Ottawa ON K1S 0G1

 

Hi Connie

Thanks for taking the time to put your thoughts in writing. You are certainly correct that there is a significant change to the landscape coming over the next 10 years or so.

You have focused on the nine-storey blocks behind Saint Paul U, which will be the largest structures in the neighbourhood outside of the towers at the Lees Avenue Transitway area. There can be no dispute that these will change the views in the neighbourhood. But they are not the only changes to come, and when all is said and done may have less impact than you currently imagine.

I suggest it is necessary to look at the whole picture to understand the extent of the change. Rather than making a comparison to what is on the ground now, the yardstick by which the Greystone Village project is measured is the demonstration plan that was prepared for the Old Ottawa East Community Design Plan (CDP) and the associated Old Ottawa East Secondary Plan. It is also necessary to remember that the city has put intensification targets of 1,000 dwelling units on the combined Oblates and Sisters of the Sacred Heart properties. The demonstration plan had six storey blocks throughout the property and three nine-storey blocks along the linear park at the Rideau River.

It is estimated it will take 10 years for all of the work to be completed. The new population will require new services, and the community association is working with the Regional Group, USP, the Sandy Hill Community Health Centre, and the city to find ways of bringing recreational and other services into the community to serve all of us better.

The CDP was also developed with an eye to adding a significant amount of commercial retail space on Main Street, allowing it to work like a neighbourhood core street rather than an arterial road that cuts one side of the neighbourhood off from the other. Main Street from Echo & Col. By down to Clegg is envisioned as having six-storey buildings similar in height to the Glassworks condominium at Main and Greenfield along its length in 20 or 25 years time. Saint Paul U is also considering development of buildings at a similar scale between the Hazel Street extension that currently leads to their parking lot and the Grand Allée. A six storey building on Main Street will have a much larger impact on Main than the nine-storey blocks behind USP.

The community association believes that the proposed Greystone Village concept is a big improvement on the demonstration plan. We recognize the magnitude of the coming change and look forward to more commercial services and a more lively, pedestrian and cyclist friendly Main Street.

The community association has a good working relationship with the Regional Group and we can discuss improvements with them openly. There is one tower proposed for the first phase of the development. The first phase will likely start next Fall with houses built along Clegg Street. The nine-storey block will be the last building in that phase, so construction on it will likely start two years from now. The other phases have been located, but very little has been done to work out the details.

Please don’t hesitate to continue the conversation.

Best Regards,

 

Stephen Pope

OAA, FRAIC, Assoc Member ASHRAE

Chair, Planning Committee, OOECA

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