December 15, 2011: Opinion: Circle Your Wagons Mechanicsville!
Opinion: Circle Your Wagons Mechanicsville!
By Lorrie L. Marlow
Remember those cheesy western movies when a gunfighter would step out into a dusty street with his shadow stretching out in front of him? Well, one such gunfighter in Mechanicsville is Urbandale Development. They want, from the City, a zoning amendment at 99 Parkdale to allow them to build a 28-storey tower with a shadow that will stretch over Mechanicsville!
You may think the shadow of one tower won’t affect much but there are four other developers amassing properties in Mechanicsville and they will want the same height. With increased height comes increased traffic and parking issues. Parkdale Avenue and Scott Street have already become parking lots during daytime hours. Tunney’s traffic now speeds through Mechanicsville to escape the gridlock. It is no longer safe for children and pets to play on the streets of Mechanicsville, another area of concern at this meeting.
Historically a home for train yard workers, backyard mechanics, boozecans and crackshacks, Mechanicsville is a gritty little neighbourhood Its racy past was the source of Donnie Laflamme’s play Mechanicsville Monologues. Collected Works also has books on its history that are well worth the read.
Mechanicsville is located north of Scott Street to the Ottawa River Parkway and west of Tunney’s Pasture to Lebreton Flats. Two major transportation hubs that flank Mechanicsville, Bayview and Tunney’s, are slated for expansion. With such expansion, the real estate speculators and developers are all over this neighbourhood like shit to boots! These old wooden houses, in recent years, have become affordable first homes to young couples and families. There is also a number of rooming houses, city housing, low-rent income properties and a crisis shelter.
Laroche Park is the social hub of this neighbourhood and well-used by families and dogs! Laroche Park Field House was the facility for a hastily-organized open house by Councillor Hobbs on November 27. Councillor Hobbs discussed the Bayview O-Train expansion of which the communication package is only available online. It was brought to her attention that online communication strategies are not sufficient as not everyone has access to A computers. However this expansion was not the big issue on the minds of the Mechanicsville residents at the meeting.
Residents ofMechanicsville asked for a community plan, a traffic study and more stop signs. The Councillor advised only communities with zoning changes will get a Community Plan. The City is not undertaking any traffic studies but will look into the stop signs. Residents of Mechanicsville were not satisfied by this news. This is a community with developers that want zoning changes. The suggestion of a moratorium on development until plans and studies have been undertaken, drew a huge round of applause at this meeting. Councillor Hobbs could not commit to that.
So circle your wagons, Mechanicsville, or you won’t recognise this neighbourhood in a few years. Find a strong leader, form a community association or become an adjunct to the neighboring Hintonburg Community Association (HCA). The HCA are a tough, scrappy group with 20 years experience dealing with the City and developers. You need to fight any amendment to zoning that allows for increased height. Also, insist on a moratorium on development in Mechanicsville until adequate representation and studies have been undertaken.
December 23 is the closing date for the Urbandale application for a zoning amendment at 99 Parkdale that will allow them to build a 28-story tower. That tower could cast more that a long, dark shadow on Mechanicsville if you don’t fight back. Send that email NOW to Katherine.Hobbs@ottawa.ca. For the minutes of the Nov. 27 meeting online see: http://ourkitchissippi.ca/news/laroche-park-community-meeting-tuesday-november-29th. Those minutes will also be available at the Laroche Field House for those who don’t have access to the internet.