Get ready for a whole new view

By Jared Davidson –

It was standing room only on the evening of October 4, as Kitchissippi residents crowded into the Van Lang Field House to hear about the future of Rochester Field.

The issue of Westboro’s disappearing green space dominated the Rochester Field meeting on October 4. Photo by Andrea Tomkins

The field, located to the north of Richmond Road near Fraser Avenue, has been the subject of a 10-year debate, the complexities of which were detailed at the open house. Because of the location of the future Light Rail Transit Confederation Line, a deal was struck between the City of Ottawa and the NCC. This agreement was part of the “100-day solution,” which was approved by Council in 2015. As part of this agreement, the NCC would be allowed to develop one third of Rochester Field.

Click image to enlarge.

The town hall meeting, which was chaired by Councillor Jeff Leiper, was an opportunity for residents to get a look at the NCC’s proposal, see what the future Rochester Field might look like and discuss rezoning part of the property as Traditional Main Street, which allows commercial and residential properties of up to six storeys.

Lucie Bureau, Acting Director of Planning and Federal Approvals at the NCC, delivered the Commission’s plans while reminding all in attendance that they were the result of a tight schedule due to LRT timelines.

“All [LRT] plans needed to be completed by December 2016,” said Lucie. “That’s the train we were on to find a solution on this.”

“I don’t know that the use of that field is being considered,” said Ray Kalynuk. “If you really want to develop something for the river, put it close to the river. And if you want to develop the field for the users of the field, leave it open to the community.” Photo by Jared Davidson
“Everyone here wants nature in one form or another,” said Lawrence Wolofsky. “This proposal mows over – paves over – everything, chops it into little pieces that is just going to end up becoming weed-infested, meaningless concrete.”  Photo by Jared Davidson
“I find it ironic that the City and the NCC talk about being transparent but this deal between them was agreed upon behind closed doors,” said Janice Van Baaren. “The mandate of the NCC is to increase green space. A lot of people have said that we’re a ward that doesn’t have a lot of green space and they’re taking more of it away.” Photo by Jared Davidson

The NCC’s proposal includes mid-rise buildings banking Richmond Road, a 15-metre wide pedestrian walkway to allow access to the river, and a new park, which would include a public art garden and walking trails. Lucie was quick to point out that these plans are not finalized.

Concerns raised at the meeting ranged from the loss of trees, traffic and parking issues, to the proposed size and position of the buildings.

The Councillor said he felt that the plan was “over-programmed” and raised the view held by many of his constituents that the field should be kept in its natural state.

“Everyone in this room appears to be saying that they want the park to stay the way it is. They want nature,” said resident Lawrence Wolofsky.

Some residents noted the placement of the park behind Keg Manor/Maplelawn would make the park uninviting and inaccessible, hiding much of the green space from view.

The Councillor suggested development is inevitable on Rochester Field.

“I’m not going into this process to fight developing any of Rochester Field,” he said to KT the day after the town hall, “but I want to make sure that it is done as sensitively as possible and in keeping with what residents have expressed in terms of how that development should be done.”

The community is encouraged to have their say about the current proposal. Comments are open until October 16 and should be directed to Jeff Leiper at jeff.leiper@ottawa.ca and Bruce Finlay at the City of Ottawa at bruce.finlay@ottawa.ca.

 Update: Read Councillor Jeff Leiper’s perspective on the situation right here

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