By Charlie Senack
The City of Ottawa is seeking community feedback on a proposed development at the intersection of the Little Italy, Hintonburg and Chinatown neighbourhoods.
The 21-acre parcel of land bounded by Somerset Street West, Gladstone Avenue, the O-Train tracks and Preston Street will become an “integrated and sustainable community hub,” according to city documents.
An expansion of the nearby Plant Recreation Complex, a new French-language public elementary school, and affordable housing units are part of the plan.
“There will be a major expansion of the recreation centre, including doubling the gym space,” said Somerset Ward Coun. Ariel Troster. “Downtown parents are currently driving their kids out to the Nepean Sportsplex for lessons. We don’t have enough gym space downtown. It’s going to take so much pressure off of other recreational programs in the city.”
It’s a rare opportunity for the city to build a large-scale development in the centre of the city, Troster said.
The development will be made up of various parcels of land. In February 2021, city staff purchased 6.3 acres of federal land near the future Corso Italia LRT station. With a market value of $25 million, it was sold at a discount for $11 million.
Ottawa Community Housing (OCH) is collaborating with the city on the affordable housing portion of the 1010 Somerset St. W. development. It is adjacent to another future affordable land development called Gladstone Village, which will consist of two towers in phase one: an 18-storey building and a nine-storey building connected by a four-storey podium.
“With 336 units, this phase will offer a diverse range of studio, one-, two-, three- and four-bedroom apartments and commercial spaces,” said Cliff Youdale, chief development officer at OCH. “The buildings will be constructed according to ‘passive house’ standards, ensuring energy efficiency and reduced environmental impact. The buildings will be equipped with high-efficiency heating and cooling systems and wastewater heat recovery.”
The new homes will be located minutes from the second stage of Ottawa’s light rail transit system and next to expanded three-acre park space.
Early drawings for the site show the 45,400-square-foot French-language school being built in Plouffe Park, with new greenspace allocated in another part of the development. Troster said, according to community feedback, it’s an area of concern.
“They want to see more greenspace and they don’t want to see the school in the park,” she said. “Somerset Ward has 20 per cent tree coverage, the lowest in Ottawa. For climate change, we need 30 to 40 per cent.”
Private condos will be built on the edge of the property to offset the costs of the development, said Troster. A French-language child-care facility with potential for an arts hub are part of the proposal.
While shovels could be in the ground for the new French-language public school in a year or two, city development on the site won’t begin for five to 10 years.
“This is the time for engagement,” said Troster. “If there is something you like, tell us. If there is something you don’t like, tell us. This is just a first drawing.”