Posted by: HamptonIona | October 17, 2010

Convent Development Update

On September 28, the Planning and Envionment Committee (PEC) passed a motion with regards to entering into a discussion with Ashcroft Homes under Section 37 of the Planning Act. This discussion was to look at what Ashcroft could do for the community at 114 Richmond Road in exchange for greater densities/heights than allowed for under the zoning. The purpose of this note is to provide an update.

Process – PEC committee is planning to re-hear the application for 114 Richmond Road on November 16. In order to meet this deadline, staff is supposed to release a new report by November 6 which will outline the results of the Section 37 discussions. The City and Ashcroft have begun discussions (see below) to see if any mutually acceptable resolution/compromise can be reached. The City will have to hold a meeting with the public prior to November 6 to gauge the publics’s opinion on the results of the discussions. There are no guarantees that any resolution can be reached that will meet either the needs of the City, the public or Ashcroft. If this is the case, then the November 16 hearing will deal with the application as it was on September 28.

Status – The City has struck a committee consisting of Tim Marc of the City’s Legal staff, John Moser of the Planning Department, Christine Leadman and three community representatives (selected by Councillor Leadman); Lorne Cutler of Hampton Iona Community Group, Roland Dorsay of the Island Park Community Association and Sylvano Carrasco, a resident of Leighton Terrace. The group met with Ashcroft’s team (Alan Cohen – legal council, Ted Fobert – Fotenn Planners and Rod Leahy – architect) on October 14. While Ashcroft had publicly indicated that they would not negotiate with the “public”, there was ultimately no objection to the presence of the three community representatives and we were able to fully participate in the discussion.

As many are aware, Ashcroft has made a proposal to the City (which somehow made its way to the Ottawa Citizen) to turn the Convent building over to the City. Ashcroft’s proposal would see the City paying rent to Ashcroft for the building at between $5 and $12 per square foot (this is below market rate for commercial space in Westboro) as well as all taxes and utility costs for the Convent building. Under Ashcroft’s proposal, the City would also be responsible for all costs associated with upgrading the building. Presumably, the City would use the building for some public use. Ashcroft has also requested that the historic designation be lifted from the site, while still being maintained on the Convent. As well, subsequent to the adjornment on September 28, Ashcroft has now filed an appeal to the OMB on the basis that the City has not heard their application in the required time frame (120 days from date of application).

As noted above, part of the Section 37 process is for the City to meet with the public to get input on the discussions. If any sort of possible agreement is potentially reached, it will be presented to the public for input as noted above. We have noted that the community has made the point that any public benefit should be able to specifically address the needs of the local community not just the wider city. Based on discussions to date, the City is formulating its counter-proposal to Ashcroft. The three community representatives have reiterated to the City that as indicated by public at the PEC meeting on September 28, we would need to see something very meaningful from Ashcroft before the community could consider any increases to the heights and densities over and above as indicated in the Secondary Plan.

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Responses

  1. I do hope this process does not lose sight of the main concern – over intensification.
    Although more community space would be nice, it is secondary to the need to limit density and, subsequently, traffic.


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