Coun. David Chernushenko: ‘We just have to be vigilant about what new types (of buildings) are coming up.’

David Chernushenko

In the face of growing concern among residents about the possible course of new development in Sandy Hill, Old Ottawa East and South, The Mainstreeter went to Coun. David Chernushenko.

What can city councillors like you do, more than trying to limit building guidelines that developers will continue to try and test?

We just have to be vigilant about what new types (of buildings) are coming up. I give credit, if that’s the right word, to a lot of builders and developers for being creative. When we close one loophole or create a new rule they are finding new ways (to circumvent it). If the goal is to put as many people in a building on a piece of property and we ended what was known as conversions a couple of years ago, up springs another approach to maximize the number of rent payers on the site. So, we just have to be vigilant and say: what’s the latest thing that we hadn’t thought of. And I credit city staff. They work with us when we identify these problems to find a tool to deal with this.

But the flipside or other point to make is: an upset neighbour isn’t always going to win the day. There are some people who would like to freeze their street in a time capsule. There are a lot of homes that are in very poor shape and are due for a thorough renovation or if the condition of them is so poor, the smartest thing anyone can do is to knock it down and start again. And you are almost always going to get a more modern building. Tastes change, both in terms of size and expectations of what’s a single-family home.

So, I would be foolish to promise and I wouldn’t even be honest to promise that I want to stop all infill building types that we’re seeing. All I want to do is stop the types that are leading to social problems: too many people, badly behaved, hanging out over their neighbours’ lawn in some form because balconies, rooftop projections are not sufficiently set back, there’s no parking allowed for, their green bins are literally falling over on the sidewalk, there’s nowhere for it and nowhere for it to be stored. These are the sorts of things, the social problems that are manifested. The simple fact that there’s more people on a site is not always a problem.

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