Posted by: HamptonIona | June 12, 2011

Convent Update

The following is an update on the OMB challenge concerning the Convent property. 

As you are aware, Hampton Iona Community Group, Westboro Community Association and Sylvano Carrasco have all filed appeals with the OMB against the City’s approval of the Ashcroft development at the former Convent site.  Ashcroft had received approval from the City to build 9 stories along Richmond Road and a mix of 9 and 4 story buildings south of the Convent.  We have appealed based on the Secondary Plan which allows for 6 stories along Richmond Road and 4 stories south of the Convent.  At the same time, Ashcroft has appealed requesting 12 stories along Richmond Road and a mix of 9 and 5 stories south of the convent.

1) We have engaged Dawne Jubb of Sack Goldblatt Mitchell (SGM) as our lawyer.  Dawne recently joined SGM in their Toronto office.  She has practiced both in private practice and as a lawyer for the City of Toronto and has significant experience as a municipal lawyer and over 800 hours appearing in front of the OMB.  SGM is the law firm that is representing the legal challenge for the Friends of Lansdowne.

2) We have engaged Catherine Gravely of Sorensen Gravely Lowes (based in Toronto) as our planner.  Catherine has recently acted on behalf of some community members on the Lansdowne OMB challenge.

3) Both Catherine and Dawne are well experienced and because they are able to contrast Ottawa’s planning documents to those elsewhere in the province and judge how those documents work within a legal framework, they have a wider perspective on the OMB and how it works.

4) As we indicated to the community in early May, at the OMB Pre-hearing we indicated our interest in a negotiated settlement.  To this end, the three appellants have been in discussion with Ashcroft since late-March.  While an OMB hearing process is often a case of win or lose for one side or the other, the negotiation/mediation process often results in both sides achieving some of their goals but not everything.  The willingness of parties to negotiate is based on such factors as: the cost of a hearing; the risk of a hearing outcome; the respective strengths of their cases; and a desire by all parties to achieve a win-win result (even if neither side gets a full win).  As well, while an OMB hearing can only be strictly focused on the actual zoning bylaw of the site, a negotiation/mediation can introduce other aspects of the development if the parties are willing to entertain such items.

5) This past week, we entered into another intensive round of negotiations with Ashcroft with the aid of our lawyer and planner in an effort to settle this matter.  At this time, due to confidentiality reasons, our lawyer advises that we are not able to disclose the details of the negotiation.

6) Much of our time in May was devoted to dealing with an unexpected attempt by Councillor Hobbs to re-open the question of whether there should be an access road through the Byron Linear Park.  The community was not advised by our Councillor that this matter was slated for Planning Committee agenda until one week prior to the date of it being heard.  Due to an outpouring of comments from the Community, the matter was taken off of the agenda, at least until the OMB process has been concluded.  The community association wrote a detailed note to Peter Hume requesting that this issue not be reconsidered until at least after the OMB process had concluded, if at all.

7) At the May 3rd Pre-hearing, at which the 3 appellants were unrepresented by counsel, we discovered that the OMB had combined our appeals and Ashcroft’s into one hearing.  We were unprepared for that eventuality and did not understand the implications and as such, our lawyer has made a request to the City and to Ashcroft’s lawyers that the OMB hearing date be postponed from July 18 until later in the Fall.  At this time, it appears that Ashcroft may not willingly agree to this small postponement and as such, our lawyer may have to file and argue a formal motion to the OMB for such a postponement.

8) A fund raising committee under Marg Hillier and Dan Pascoli was struck and is proceeding with several initiatives.  As we have noted previously, an OMB challenge takes significant financial sources. We encourage the community to continue to support this effort.  We would also like to note David Long who created and developed our successful sign campaign which has now been mentioned in the Ottawa Citizen.

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