Posted by: HamptonIona | August 17, 2011

Important Update – 90 & 114 Richmond Road

The Community Group has just received from the City the detailed Site Plan for the Soeurs de la Visitation convent site (90 & 114 Richmond Road) with a request for comments.  The detailed site maps and request for comments were only sent to the Hampton Iona Community Group and the Westboro Community Association.  Please find a copy of the covering letter here.

Douglas James of the Planning Department (who is handling the site plan) has advised us that while comments are welcome from everyone in the community, it is only the community associations who are directly approached for comments, including receiving the site plan drawings.  The City has only received a limited number of site drawings from Ashcroft so the city does not distribute these documents to the general public.  The documents, including siteplan maps, can, however, be found on the City website at www.ottawa.ca/devapps.  Once you get to this page, you need to enter File # D07-12-10-0221 and the documents and schematics are online.

Normally, Planning Staff has delegated authority to make the final decisions around site plans.   They would review the site plan submitted by the applicant with any comments received from the public.  Staff can approve the plans as submitted or request changes.   This delegated authority means that while the public can send in their comments to staff, the matter is not reviewed by the Planning Committee or Council. The Ward Councillor, however, has the option of lifting the delegated authority.  If this is done, the Site Plan goes to the Planning Committee and Council for approval and the public are allowed to make public presentations similar to what was done when the development was considered by Planning Committee in November 2010.  Regardless of whether the Site Plan is approved by Staff or by Council, the final decision by the City can only be appealed to the OMB by the applicant (Ashcroft Homes).  The public cannot appeal the site plan decisions.

During the pre-OMB hearing negotiations that we held with Ashcroft, we tried to include certain aspects which would be relevant for the site plan.  Unfortunately, Ashcroft would not agree to any site plan issues in the Minutes of Settlement.  The site plans submitted by Ashcroft, therefore do not reflect input from the OMB appellants.

At this time, Ashcroft has only submitted the Site Plan for the half of the property from Richmond Road to the southern edge of the convent building.  They have not submitted their plans for the rest of the property.  Ashcroft proposes to deal with the lands south of the convent through a separate site plan revision application.   We do not know why the Ashcroft has taken this approach.  As such, the current Site Plan does not deal with the southerly access to the site which has perhaps been one of the most contentious issues of this development.  That being said, the plans still appear to show the southerly access through the Byron Linear Park (in a smaller inset diagram).  Planning Staff could give no explanation for this.

Given the complexity and controversy associated with this development and the fact that the site plan approval is being split in two (which further complicates the issues), we have asked Councillor Hobbs to consider lifting the delegated authority.  To date, she has not indicated whether she is prepared to do so.  Given the history of this development, our Association believes that all approvals should be done with maximum transparency, which would include lifting delegated authority on the site plan.  We also believe that it would be useful for there to be a community meeting with City Staff to present the plan to the public.  We have been advised by Staff, that while public meetings to review Site Plans are not the norm, they are by no means uncommon.  If the Councillor were to hold such a meeting, Staff would be expected to appear, if requested to do so by the councillor.   If the community were to have to hold its own meeting, staff may consider appearing but would be under no obligation.

The deadlines for comments is September 5, 2011 with the staff decision targeted for October 3, 2011.  As this report has just been issued, time is very tight, particularly for public meetings.

For further information on the site plan, either check on the City’s website or contact Douglas James (613 580-2424, ext. 13856 ordouglas.james@ottawa.ca).  If you could like to see delegated authority lifted or think that there should be a public meeting prior to the Sept. 5 date (or to see if the dates can be shifted), we recommend that you contact Councillor Hobbs (katherine.hobbs@ottawa.ca) as soon as possible.  As always, please feel free to copy the community group on your correspondence with City Hall on this issue.

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Responses

  1. Possibly the project has been divided into two phases so that Ashcroft can proceed with the Richmond Road portion, while continuing to lobby for access across the Byron Linear Park before committing to a site plan for the southern portion.

    Nevertheless, the site plan submitted to the city attempts to take the second phase into account, notably for serviceabilty. The Serviceability Report (All_Image Referencing_Site Plan Application_Image Reference_Site Servicing Report D07-12-10-0221.pdf) states in Section 5.1.1 that “Phase 2 development has been considered in this analysis in order to ensure the feasibility of Phase 2 as well as provide [sic] adequate storage and sizing of sewers to accommodate future development of Phase 2.”

    I’m not an engineer, but I gather that the lay of the land for Phase 2 might present problems for storm runoff in extreme events. “Where possible, flows in excess of the 100-year storm will also be conveyed through overland flow routes to Leighton Terrace and Richmond Road. However, a depression exists currently within the treed area that is to be preserved and cannot be regarded [sic — I suspect they mean ‘regraded.’] Due to elevation changes across the site no overland flow route can be provided.” The report says that a catchbasin system will be used instead.

    Section 5.1.3 refers to detailed storage calculations for storm runoff contained in an Appendix B, which is not included. Based on these calculations, the section concludes on page 5.5 that “sufficient stormwater retention is available.” However, on page 5.4 the report explains that this conclusion is based on an assumption. “As minimal details are currently available for the Phase 2 development and the future courtyard above the underground parking, assumptions of surface type were made resulting in a runoff coefficient of 0.48.” According to runoff coefficient tables available on the Internet, This figure suggests a mixture of soft and hard surfaces. The coefficient for a paved surface can be much higher. (See for example http://www.ems-i.com/wmshelp/Hydrologic_Models/Models/Rational/Equation/Runoff_Coefficient_Table.htm.)

    Moreover, the same section says that “storage could not be provided for some areas. These catchments flow uncontrolled and are considered ‘non-tributary’ areas.”

    Again, I’m not an engineer, but I wonder if this bears further investigation. It sounds to me as if runoff from the site could jeopardize neighbouring properties, notably on Leighton Terrace, and that an accurate assessment still needs to be made. Given the uncertainty, the analysis should at least examine the possible effect for a range of runoff coefficients.


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