City Council turns deaf ear to residents: Nine Storeys Approved For Greystone

Many Old Ottawa East residents recently donned lime-green t-shirts in solidarity against a request filed by the Regional Group seeking Planning Committee and then City Council approval to increase the height of a new building at 10 Oblats Avenue from six storeys to nine storeys. Unsuccessful in their opposition, the community association on behalf of residents is now considering an appeal to the Local Planning Appeal Tribunal to block the allowance of a nine-storey tower on the former Oblates land. Photo by John Dance

Community Plans to Appeal

As The Mainstreeter went to press, the Old Ottawa East Community Association announced a Special General Meeting on August 27th to seek funding authorization to appeal the City of Ottawa’s approval of a nine-storey residential building at 10 Oblats Avenue. The City’s ruling outraged members of the community who attended Council’s meeting to oppose the request by the Regional Group. Ron Rose was at the meeting and filed the following report.

The presence of 40 Old Ottawa East residents resplendent in lime-green t-shirts were not enough to prevent the City of Ottawa’s Planning Committee from approving construction of a nine-storey building in front of the Deschâtelets building.

On June 27th, by a vote of eight to one, the Planning Committee approved a request from the Regional Group to build a nine-storey building at 10 Oblats Avenue, in front of the existing building belonging to the Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, between Main Street and the Deschâtelets building.

Regional had originally secured OOE community support by pledging that the height of the building in question would be only six storeys. At the same meeting, the Planning Committee also approved a change to the City’s Official Plan that will permit buildings of up to nine storeys anywhere in the rectangle of land from Main Street to the Rideau River, between Oblats Avenue and Hazel Street.

The vote was also eight to one in favour of the change to the Official Plan. The lopsided votes came despite the presence of 40 OOE residents who attended the meeting to express their opposition to Regional’s request, decked out in vibrant lime-green t-shirts emblazoned with the declaration “Respect approved plans”.

Seventeen of those residents addressed the Committee, arguing that the proposed changes went against the expressed desires of the OOE community. These presentations were supplemented by other residents who had previously filed written submissions to the Committee, also opposing the proposals.

Prior to the Planning Committee’s vote, Capital Ward Councillor Shawn Menard delivered a presentation in strong opposition to the developer’s proposals, but he wasn’t able to vote on the motion as he is not a member of the Committee.

Councillor Menard has since released a report recommending amongst other initiatives to split the Planning Committee in two in order to increase representative decision-making.

Two weeks later, on July 7th, Regional’s request went to a vote by the entire City Council at a meeting attended once again by the lime-green clad community members. Many Councillors from Ottawa’s urban core, who are not represented on the Planning Committee, spoke against the motion, including Councillor Menard who proposed amendments which would have reduced the impact of the developer’s proposals.

Throughout the debate at the Planning Committee, and the subsequent deliberation by City Council, OOE community members were left shaking their heads at statements from Councillor Jan Harder, who serves as Chair of the Planning Committee and who, at one point in her youth, resided in Old Ottawa East.

Councillor Harder suggested that it was investments by developers like Regional that were responsible for many of the recent improvements enjoyed by residents of Old Ottawa East.

Specifically, she suggested that the transformation of Main Street as a complete street, the Flora footbridge, and preservation of the Grande Allée were due to investments made by developers. Her further assertion that residents’ ability to access the Rideau River was also attributable to the developers was greeted by loud boos from those OOE residents attending the Council meeting.

Attempts by The Mainstreeter to contact Councillor Harder for clarification on her comments have gone unanswered.

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