Posted by: HamptonIona | September 9, 2011

Site Plan for Soeurs de la Visitation

The following is an update with respect to the Site Plan for the Soeurs de la Visitation Convent site.

On August 30, the Hampton Iona Community Group held a public meeting to review the site plan for the Souers de la Visitation convent site, as neither the developer nor Councillor Hobbs were prepared to call such a public meeting.   Unfortunately while we invited representatives of the Councillor’s office, the City, and the developer to attend our public meeting, none were available.  

As well, representatives of the Hampton Iona, Westboro and Island Park community associations (unfortunately West Wellington was not able to attend) met with Councillor Hobbs and Doug James (city planner for the site plan) earlier that same day at City Hall.  Our Planner Catherine Gravely, who led the discussion at our community meeting also participated in this earlier meeting at City Hall.

At the meeting at City Hall, Hampton Iona asked whether the date for comments could be extended.  Doug James agreed to extend the date to September 21.  Councillor Hobbs also reiterated that she was not planning to hold a public meeting or lift delegated authority but that she is would meet privately with any residents who wish to meet with her on the Site Plan. 

At this meeting Councillor Hobbs said that neither she nor Peter Hume would be re-opening the question of putting the proposed southerly access through the Byron Linear Park nor would City Staff be raising this issue again.  There was no mention of whether another Councillor might raise this issue and if so, what position our Councillor or Peter Hume would take.

A number of other site specific issues were raised at this meeting with Doug James which were subsequently discussed at our community meeting that evening.  Over 60 members of the public attended our public meeting as well as representatives of various news media (please see this week’s edition of Ottawa This Week for some coverage).

The key questions/issues that we have raised with Doug James subsequent to the August 30 public meeting were:

  1. Location of Underground Parking -  The underground parking only shows for the building along Richmond Road with no linkage through the site to the Building B which would be built as part of Phase 2 and which is located immediately south of the convent.  This building is supposed to exit through Richmond Road so it is surprising that Ashcroft is not putting in a connection at this time. 
  2. Underground Parking Level Plans – We have requested copies of the underground parking  garages (all levels) to see how they line up with the site and buildings.  With respect to the underground parking, given how there is only 0.5 parking spots per condo proposed for the site, I am wondering if this is consistent with Ashcroft’s sales to date.  What will happen with the parking required for commercial users and visitors if more than 1/2 the condo buyers want underground parking? 
  3. Set-Backs for Building A Along Richmond Road -  Typically the City requires a setback between levels 2 and 3 for buildings along Main streets, particularly if they are over 6 stories.  During the project approval, the Developer sited the taller buildings of The Exchange and Westboro Station as examples of higher heights with which the City agreed.   These buildings all have set-backs.      Even Ashcroft’s 6 story building across from the site has a small setback.  Will there be a similar set-back requirement for the Richmond Road buildings?
  4. Plans for Construction phasing, including how the site will be accessed.  While this might not be all be part of the site plan, knowing the impact of the construction on the community is very important.
  5. Provision of building elevations.  The detailed (above grade) elevations will provide details on the setbacks, nature and place of balconies, etc.  Shouldn’t these type of details be provided at the time of site plan approval?
  6. Further details on what type of vehicles will be allowed to use each access point on the site.  In particular, what size and type vehicles will be able to access the site from Richmond Road and from Leighton Terrace. Given that all Richmond Road entrances now appear to be under arches, there could be restrictions on the types of vehicles that can access the site from Richmond.  How will this impact on the Leighton Terrace entrance?   It would also be useful to have similar information for the proposed south side entrance.

Doug James has provided the following responses to these questions, including confirming the September 21st deadline for comments:

1.  While it’s good to know how the underground parking garage will function, because it might have implications for such things as a road widening and an encroachment agreement, when a Site Plan is approved, the underground parking is not part of that approval.  It’s looked at as part of the building permit.

As part of the Phase I development, the underground parking garage is shown on the site plan.  It is going to be excavated to the north face of the convent, where it will stop.  How it will function after that will be dealt with as part of Phase II of the development.   A further extent of the underground parking garage is not needed at this time. – (Note: Doug James has confirmed this with Ashcroft.  We are aware that some people may have been advised by Councillor Hobb’s office that the underground linkage to the south side of the convent was being built at this time.  Please disregard that information as it was based on a misreading of the site-plan).

The zoning states that only 65 vehicles will be able to enter and exit the underground parking access that will be located in the southern portion of the site and this will be the case.  As a result, as part of Phase II, the parking garage that will serve the building immediately behind the convent will need to have access to Richmond Road.  But as this deals with a building that is not part of this approval, it does not need to be determined at this time and will be finalized as part of the second phase of the site development.

2. We receive elevation drawings of the building and if asked, we can get plans of the parking garage.  The underground parking plans show that at the first level of underground parking, the garage will stop at a portion of the front wall of the convent.  The second level does not go that far.  I do not know what Ashcroft is telling their prospective buyers with respect to parking.  As part of the site plan process, I am just concerned that there would be enough parking to meet the requirements of the Zoning By-law, but even that would be up to the Developer to prove as part of a building permit.  All in all, any extension of the parking garage will be dealt with as part of the second phase of the site development.  It is not needed to allow the building along Richmond Road and the convent renovation, which are the only things being considered as part of this site plan application.

3. As part of the Site Plan Application, the Developer will be required to get input from the three person peer review panel that commented on the design during the rezoning application.  I am sure that a setback to create a podium will be discussed as part of this procedure.  As well, the City will bring up this point with the architect.

4. The construction staging is not part of the site plan and we should be speaking directly to he Developer on this issue.

5. Yes, as this building will be subject to the peer review, elevations need to be provided.  They will be analyzed and critiqued as part of the Site Plan approval and in the end the elevations will be on the list of approved plans.

6. The vehicles that would be using any entrance will be the ones that will not only fit through the entrances but can manoeuvre in the turning radii provided on the site.  At this point the City is not sure as to how Leighton Terrace will function but this will be raised with the developer.

Our Planner, Catherine Gravely, who is based in Toronto, was quite surprised that so many critical details have been left out of the site plan at this stage.  In her experience (outside of Ottawa) while it may be common to split large projects into separate phases for purposes of site plan approvals, common elements such as access points and site traffic circulation are typically handled upfront for the entire site plan if they have not already been dealt with in the zoning application process.  For projects of this complex and controversial nature, our Planner has also advised us that she is used to public community meetings on the Site Plan being organized by City officials, regardless of whether or not delegated authority is lifted.

We encourage the community to submit their site-plan specific comments/questions directly to Doug James (, copied to Councillors Hobbs ( and Hume ( If you have concerns with the site plan process or wish to meet with the Councillor to discuss this project, it is best to contact Councillor Hobbs’ office directly.

If anyone is an expert on horticultural matters or sewer infrastructure, we have extra copies of the specific landscaping and sewer/drainage siteplans that we can provide to you and would welcome your comments. To date, we have not commented on these very specific technical issues.   If you have any questions for the Community Group, please feel free to contact us.



  1. Wasn’t there something regarding the 65 parking spaces that said it would be 65 parking spaces only if seniors residences were built and that more would be required if they were to build condo’s in the back half? I could be mistaken on that, but I seem to recall reading that in the report from staff last year. Is changing the seniors residences to condo’s still even possible? I’m concerned that that would be used as a reason to put access through the park.

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