June 16, 2011: Group Recommends a New Official Plan: Civic Hospital Proposes Five Pillar Approach.
Group Recommends a New Official Plan: Civic Hospital Proposes Five Pillar Approach.
By Kate Harrigan,
Civic Hospital Neighbourhood Advocate.
This is the second of two articles about the issue of intensification by Kate Harrigan of the Civic Hospital Neighborhood. The first part appeared in the May 19 issue of Newswest.
The failure of the Official Plan to set limits on intensification is currently altering the quality of life if you live inside Ottawa’s Greenbelt. Due to recent events, we now know how terribly wrong it can go when a concept is not fully elaborated before implementation.
The Civic Hospital Neighborhood Association has a few suggested elements that a Community Equity Platform in a new Official Plan should address:
PILLAR ONE – intensification will have limits and definition. Density will be limited to eight storeys – period. We do not accept canyons of towers in our neighbourhoods. Case by case rezoning approvals with widespread inconsistencies will end. Nods to transit will be vetted to determine fact from fiction. It’s not good enough to say get out of your cars and walk/bike or use transit since most people don’t live where they work and have complicated lives that require a vehicle. Road and pathway infrastructure can’t accept more capacity without serious renewal and improvement; density over eight storeys is not sustainable.
PILLAR TWO – intensification will only be granted once Community Development Plans and Secondary Plans are completed; and not ignored. Backwards planning has been the order of the day, specifically high density without regard to existing capacity and accessibility. The complete abandonment of meaningful recommendations assessing the bigger picture, crafted with tax dollars, staff resources and volunteer efforts of residents, will no longer be tolerated. This reckless regard for neighbourhoods and the due process must end by putting teeth in the recommendations with follow-through and implementation. If the City won’t use the process it has developed then make cuts to the Planning Department since staff are no longer needed for a uselessness process of community engagement.
PILLAR THREE – setbacks of at least nine meters will be enforced and significant landscaping will be mandated to retain household habitat integrity. Every new development is practically sitting on the sidewalk right next to the roadway. With only three meters of space to plant anything most units end up with a flower pot or a spindly bush at best. The obliteration of yards and gardens is appalling and sanctioned by rezoning approvals that squeeze every dollar out of footage while ignoring the necessity for landscaping. Using the original nine meter setbacks will allow for adequate landscaping, and boulevards between the sidewalk and street are strongly encouraged.
PILLAR FOUR – prior to approval, a percentage of projected revenue generated from intensification will be mandated for traffic studies and infrastructure improvements to the neighbourhood directly affected.
— Currently the city requires only $30,000 from a developer whether they are building an eight or 20-storey building. That is a pittance compared to other Ontario jurisdictions where a formula is used to determine adequate economic input. Based on current intensification approvals one can only assume it’s all about the money – development income and tax revenue – with community concerns stonewalled by city staff and councillors due to the ambiguous definition of intensification and the lack of vision and determination to require equitable compensation from developers.
PILLAR FIVE – fix the OMB threat by getting the province to change its mandate or abolish it. outright. Communities have been held hostage far too long by this enforcement agency that has a track record of giving developers everything they ask. The city has 120 days to respond to a developer’s rezoning request, and even once it is approved they’ll go to the OMB if they feel they haven’t received the same as another competitor. The city spends millions of tax dollars on defending local decisions that may not be to the liking of developers, and in some cases community associations have raised the hefty funds for OMB defense only to be crushed by its bias toward developers. This money pit is costing more than the waste of tax dollars, it has created the reality that CDPs, secondary plans and grassroots community engagement are bogus and worthless. It’s time to eliminate this developer’s rubber stamp of approval.