Old Ottawa East Community Association: December 2016

OECA

By Phyllis Odenbach Sutton

This article roughly coincides with the end of my first year as your president. When I was first elected, I was asked about my priorities. After some reflection, I concluded that liveable intensification was key. My involvement with the community association began with our local planning committee. So, I have decided this month to focus on several city planning initiatives. I will also reflect on why I feel so strongly about the need to present our views to the city, even when the outcomes can be so discouraging.

First up, the recent unanimous decision by the city’s Planning Committee to approve new rules for coach houses. In the August Mainstreeter, I noted we were pleased that the city’s revised proposals generally limited coach houses to a single storey. We still have concerns, however, which we presented to the city on Oct. 11. In particular, the rules allowing coach houses to be built on or close to the property line could damage both structures and trees in neighbouring yards, as well as make routine maintenance almost impossible. We also disagree with city staff that a 3.2 metre coach house wall will be “not much different” from a fence of 2.13 metres.

The Old Ottawa East Community Association was not alone in relaying concerns. The Federation of Citizens’ Associations (FCA) and several other community associations noted a number of the same concerns. There was also general frustration with the consultation process.

When city staff were asked by councillors on the expected take-up on this initiative, they suggested there would only be limited activity (perhaps 40-50 coach houses built per year), which left us all puzzled as to why such a high level of resources was devoted to this project.

Why are community associations so concerned? We are fearful that such intensification may soar and eliminate much of our current green space in rear yards. We feel the city does not really want to listen to us or address our concerns. Many of us are trying to ensure that the current character of our neighbourhoods is not completely lost. As we are already disheartened by a lack of enforcement of existing by-laws, we are fearful of a future with these new bylaws in place.

Although the city has suggested they will monitor this bylaw, I encourage residents of OOE to help us identify such projects as they are built.

Next up, the R4 zoning review. There is considerable angst already in the largest R4 neighbourhood in our community (north of the Queensway) with recent and proposed developments. Although the city has announced a review of R4 zoning, for many residents this review is not taking place quickly enough. A detailed discussion paper was to be posted in mid-October. I suggest concerned OOE residents monitor the web-site Ottawa.ca/R4zoning and ensure they make their views known. Hopefully this time the city will listen to our concerns.

I would also like to provide a quick update on plans for the reconfiguration of Elgin Street and Hawthorne Avenue. The preliminary preferred design was to be presented for broader public input at a Public Open House on Nov. 24. See the project website at Ottawa.ca/elginstreet for more information.

One of the key goals of this reconfiguration is to make sidewalk spaces more welcoming. I am pleased to say I think we have succeeded in finding such welcoming spaces on the new Main Street. It is wonderful that one can feel so safe and comfortable enjoying a coffee while sitting on one of the new benches in what was previously such a car-centred thoroughfare.

Finally, I would like to note that 2017 will soon be here. We are still hoping to sponsor several sesquicentennial projects. Watch for details of our monthly discussions of Canadian prime ministers (more volunteers to help organize and plan these nights would be welcome). Mark your calendars for Saturday, Sept. 9 (rain date Sept. 16) for a canoe/kayak Rideau Island circumnavigation.

For more details check out the OOECA website at: http://www.ottawaeast.ca/

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