By Alyson Queen –
By noon on Saturday June 4, approximately 200 people had turned up at Our Lady of Fatima Parish on Woodroffe Avenue to hear from City officials and voice their opinions on the community’s future planning and development.
“I’m here to represent myself, my wife and my family and I’m here with a whole bunch of neighbours to hear and be heard,” said resident André Baril, who will be following up with a formal letter about his concerns.
Participants brainstormed at tables and offered their opinions on anything from traffic congestion and parking to parks, green space and pedestrian paths to the design for the Cleary station and LRT in general.
“We collected our issues together, like how people park in our neighbourhood, cut across the main artery from Carling to Richmond Road, or zoom down the street. It’s the same for most of our streets,” said André.
The agenda, split between a morning and afternoon session, covered the Cleary and New Orchard Planning Study, the Richmond Road “Complete Street” neighbourhood plan which includes the Byron corridor, an overview on LRT Stage 2 and the Byron Traffic Calming study.
Kitchissippi Ward Councillor, Jeff Leiper, was pleased with the turnout and the level of engagement.
“I’ve been heavily involved in consultations like these for the past 18 years and this is actually one of the most impressive that I’ve seen. I have never seen a consultation that tries to put so many related but separate studies together.”
There was also discussion of the proposed new rental towers at 809 Richmond Road, commonly known as the “Kristy’s development,” on the site of Kristy’s Restaurant.
Owner, Walter Boyce, has submitted a Zoning By-Law Amendment application to develop two 16-storey residential rental towers with a total of 257 units, connected by a three-storey retail space and underground parking. Some residents expressed concern about the proposed height of the towers and the impact to the streetscape.
The heights requested differ significantly from the limits in the existing Community Development Plan, approved in 2007. But, as is argued in the application, the community will be very different once LRT has been completed and the tower heights will conform to similar highrises in the area.
“We are very keen to see the ridership numbers for LRT as high as they can be. So the thinking about the kind of density we want around transit stations has evolved. Squaring that circle is going to be a challenge,” said Councillor Leiper when asked about the development.
The original LRT plan had the building expropriated to make way for the line. With that blueprint now tunneling under Richmond Road, Walter is hoping to accelerate the construction plan.
Kristy’s Restaurant manager, Steve Blake, says it is “business as usual” at Kristy’s, as things won’t be getting underway for at least another 18 months.
“We’re not going anywhere anytime soon. My intention is to keep Kristy’s going until the last day,” confirms Steve, who adds that should the development proceed, Kristy’s new home will hopefully be in the retail space that joins the two towers.
The widely anticipated consultation fell on the heels of Friday’s announcement that the province will be committing $1 billion toward Stage 2 of the LRT expansion project.
Stage 2 will add 30 kilometres of new rail and 19 new stations, extending the LRT network to the east, west and south.
Ontario’s funding commitment will mean two additions: a spur to the Ottawa Macdonald-Cartier International Airport and an extension to Trim Road in Orléans. These will add 6.5 kilometres of new rail and three stations.
For some residents and businesses, the funding news helps provide certainty that the second stage of the plan will actually happen in the scheduled timeframe.
Speaking more broadly about the Confederation Line plan, Steve says, “15 years from now people will love it. What better for a community than to jump on a train and get downtown in 10 minutes? It’s getting to that
point that just isn’t comfortable.”
Construction of Stage 2 is expected to start in 2018, once the Stage 1 Confederation Line is completed. Stage 2 is expected to enter service in 2023, bringing 70 per cent of residents within 5 kilometres of rail transit.