(from Councillor Riley Brockington)
Dear Residents and Neighbours of Riverside Park (North),
May I take this opportunity to wish you a Happy New Year.
This email is intended to provide you with an update on the property located at 3071 Riverside Drive, commonly referred to as the former location of Bayview PS. My last communiqué in September 2015 was circulated to 3,000 homes in Riverside Park North, to those north of Walkley Road and south of Brookfield Road.
There was strong interest in the information update and many telephone calls and emails were received. I also met with many local community groups on this matter. Every single email and call that was received was replied to by me. Every single request for a face-to-face discussion by a local community group was granted to discuss their specific issues.
Given the number of questions that were asked and my multiple meetings with City staff over the last 3-4 months, I would like to provide you with a brief summary of the main issues as they stand today.
How will the 10 acres of land be divided?
A community-led, City Council approved (in 2009), community concept plan illustrated how the land is to be divided. There will be four main sections: low density housing to the north, medium density housing in the middle, low density housing to the south and parkland/greenspace as well. Based on public feedback, the placement of the park and medium density housing is currently being reviewed to ensure that concerns raised can be addressed and mitigated. With that information known, the final placement of those four main parcels is currently not final.
How many dwellings can be built on land zoned for low density housing?
Staff indicate that on average 7 homes can be built on one acre of land. It would be premature to firmly state a number at this time as there are a number of variables that would determine how many units can or will be built in the low density zone including, size of a single detached dwelling and the size of a lot. More information will become available when a future plan is presented by a developer.
How many dwellings can be built on land zoned for medium density housing?
The range is too wide to make an accurate estimation. The community could expect to see low-rise residences/apartment style buildings, that will be capped at 6 stories in height.
What does medium density zoning permit to be built?
Low-rise apartment/condo/senior residence type buildings. I had earlier indicated that the medium density designation for this particular property would not facilitate the potential for a seniors’ residence. I was incorrect. The zoning would allow for it in this case and the cap of 6-stories would not change.
What safeguard will be in place to ensure the approved zoning for the parcels of land are adhered to and not appealed to the OMB? What if a developer attempts to deviate from the zoning and the approved plans?
Later in 2016, it is expected that a Request for Offers (RFO) will be released that will seek a developer/purchaser of the parcels of land. The RFO will be awarded to a developer(s) that satisfy the evaluation criteria that complies with the vision set out in the City Council approved Community Concept Plan. The Agreement between the Ottawa Community Lands Development Corporation (OCLDC) and the purchaser/developer will commit the developer to build in accordance with the plan by a set date. Variation from the requirements of the Agreement will trigger the City’s option to re-purchase the land. Under the sales agreement, the OCLDC will have the right to buy back the property, and/ seek legal remedies should a purchaser not honour the terms of the agreement. Specific wording is typically included in all OCLDC agreements that prevents a purchaser from rezoning the lands in contravention of the agreement and purchasers have no rights of appeal to the Ontario Municipal Board.
Why doesn’t the City just retain the 10-acres as greenspace or simply limit the development to low-density only?
The Council approved, community-led concept plan is a compromise between the City’s official plan that calls for greater intensification and a status quo/low density –only development. If the City was motivated to earn as much money as possible from the sale, it would not have approved the concept plan, as this does not maximize the number of units that can be built, therefore maximizing property tax revenue in future years. As I said, the concept plan is a compromise. While not all residents embrace it, the plan aims to strike a balance.
What would the (up to) 2 acres of greenspace be used for?
I am not directing staff to do anything with the land at this time. I simply want the land reserved and I will host a comprehensive public consultation session, at the appropriate time, requesting the community provide their needs/wishes for the park. Some ideas provided to date are soccer pitch, play structure, splash pad, etc, room for an ice rink and portable trailer for skating in the winter. I am opposed to spending $1.1 million on a permanent field-house. Those savings will pay for whatever the community decides it wants in its new park.
Will there be social housing on-site?
No. 25% of the proceeds from the sale of the land are required to go in to a fund that is directed to social housing, in lieu of building new social housing units.
Where will the main entrance/egress points be?
Property between Holy Cross School and Holy Cross Church was acquired by the City of Ottawa in 2011. City staff support a road from Springland Drive that would allow for both entry and exit. I oppose this. I do believe the site needs more than one entry/exit point, ie Riverside Drive, but at this time, I support and exit-only egress point on to Springland, as long as traffic can only take a south-bound, right turn towards Walkley Road. This will eliminate traffic on Springland, north-bound.
Even if Riverside Drive becomes the main entry/exit point for this development, there is currently no median-cut for southbound motorists. This modification, if pushed by a developer, would be paid for by the developer and not taxpayers. This remains an outstanding matter that City staff needs to continue to investigate. I want to see as few cars as possible on our local residential streets and direct most to/from Riverside Drive.
City staff have hinted that they may consider recommending the lane off of Mooney’s Bay Place for vehicular traffic. I oppose this as well. While I want the lane to be used as an entry/exit lane, it should only be used for pedestrians, cyclists and emergency vehicles.
I have asked City staff to conduct a comprehensive traffic study that will better identify potential traffic flows.
Is a green buffer necessary?
Local residents and city staff have mixed feelings about a buffer.
A green buffer has been proposed to run the perimeter of the development to act as a natural boundary between existing homes, ie Mooney’s Bay Place, Bayside, ViewPointe Pvt and any abutting new homes. City staff believe a buffer will be problematic for a number of reasons including maintenance, vandalism, safety/seclusion, loss of privacy. Some residents on the northern perimeter, ie Mooney’s Bay Place have shared their opposition to any buffer. Staff believe that with the elimination of a buffer, the backyards of the new homes could be increased and the set-back of the new house from the existing homes, will also increase. No final decisions about a buffer have been made as I would like to continue this discussion with those most affected.
What are the next steps moving forward?
Staff intend to release a Request for Expressions of Interest (REoI) to seek ideas on how the area could be developed under the conditions set out by the City. This process is expected to commence at the end of January 2016 and last 6 weeks. Following receipt of the various ideas, City staff will meet with me to review what has been submitted. That meeting is expected by the end of March 2016. Please note, these are not bids to purchase the land, this is simply a visioning initiative to acquire feedback from the development community. While it is difficult to estimate the timing of the next steps after that, there is a zero per cent chance that any development will occur on the site in 2016. I will ensure that the City takes as much time as needed, to thoroughly review issues that the community raises and various options are considered before moving to the next stage.
When will the next information bulletin be circulated?
April 2016. Please contact my office at any time if you have any additional questions/comments.
I am committed to working with you and all members of the community as this project progresses forward.
City Councillor – River Ward