Posted by: HamptonIona | January 30, 2012

Convent: Site Plan and OMB Appeal updates

The following are two updates regarding  the Soeur de la Visitation Convent site development.

Site Plan

Doug James, planner for the City has advised that the site plan for Phase One of the development is still under review.   A number of changes were requested by the City and the City’s design review panel, which Ashcroft has been addressing.   Once the plan is approved, the holding provision on the site will be lifted.  The developer has been asked by the Peer Review Panel to change the patio in front of the convent, which they felt was “too chopped up with different levels and the landscaping proposed around the existing porch on the east side of the convent building” (as per Doug James).  One question was whether there should there be a patio area at ground level to compliment the porch.  As a result, and to move things along, Ashcroft has revised Phase 1 to only include the building on Richmond Road.   This means that the convent building is not part of Phase 1.   We had always questioned as to the appropriateness of splitting the buildings south of the convent into a Phase 2 (given that the site had to work together in its entirety as one development).  It now seems that Phase 1 contains even less of the site than originally proposed.

Additionally, we had noted that Ashcroft had not included a set-back between the second and third stories of the Richmond Road building as it typical along mainstreets and which was in their original design.  There submission in 2010 their planners indicated the following:

“The development addresses the relationship between buildings and between buildings and the street. The building along Richmond Road incorporates a podium, setting the main portion of the building back at the second storey. The setback ensures that the podium frames the street while the main mass of the tower doesn’t cast shadow or impose on the pedestrian experience at grad.” (Fotenn Report).

When this setback did not appear in the site plan last Fall, the City said that this was a concern for them.  The City’s current position is now that the purpose for the setback is to create a transition between the commercial and residential components of a building rather than create a transition for the building into its adjoining neighbourhood.   While the official plan does indicate that building materials can be used to achieve a transition from other buildings in a neighbourhood (OP, 4.11.11 – http://www.ottawa.ca/residents/planning/op/ann_opa4_en.pdf), there is no mention of how this will help shadowing impacts.  Given that Ashcroft had originally indicated that there would be a setback from a podium, there is no indication given by the City as to why they have allowed Ashcroft to back away from their previous commitment.  Interestingly, Section 4.11.11 of the OP, states that “Transitions in built form will serve to link proposed development with both planned, as well as existing uses”.  There is no mention of the need to differentiate between commercial and residential elements of the same building.

OMB Challenge

As you may remember, in the Spring of 2011, the three appellants to the OMB challenge for the Convent site, hired a lawyer (Dawne Jubb of Sack Goldblatt Mitchell LLP) and planner (Catherine Gravely of  Sorensen Gravely Lowes).  Both our lawyer and planner were located in Toronto.  They advised us on our OMB challenge and led our negotiations with Ashcroft’s lawyer.

The final bill for the legal and planning services in 2011 has now arrived and been paid.  We are now able to report that the total expenditures for the OMB challenge were approximately $20,000 for the Legal Services of Dawne Jubb and $10,000 for the Planning Services of Catherine Gravely.   Catherine Gravely’s services included a trip to Ottawa, during which she: 1) met with the City Planner and Katherine Hobbs on the site plan; and 2) participated in a public meeting held by the Appellants on the site plan.  Approximately $1,000 was also spent on fundraising costs.   As such, total expenditures in respect of our OMB challenge and negotiated settlement were approximately $31,000.

The revenue we raised through a variety of events and donations from the community was approximately $8,800.  The fundraising costs noted above were paid for from this revenue. The remaining funds that were raised will stay with the community associations and be available to cover the cost of future land planning issues.

Our legal and planning costs of approximately thirty thousand dollars were paid out of the $200,000 settlement.  The remaining funds from the settlement (approximately $170,000) cannot be used for land use challenges (as per the terms of the settlement with Ashcroft).  These funds will be placed into a new fund, the Hampton Iona Westboro Community Fund, which is currently being established.  While a small portion of the funds will be spent in setting up an incorporated not-for-profit corporation, the bulk of the funds will be available to support a variety of projects throughout our neighbourhoods.    Further details will be provided once the incorporation process is completed.

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