This is the fifth of a multi-part series that will follow environmentalists Chris Henschel and Allegra Newman as they share their first-hand experiences dealing with an intensification project directly affecting their own residence near Island Park Drive.
This week gave birth to both rumours and official documentation of Springcress’s plan for the condo. One of our neighbours heard some good news in a phone call to the City about the developer’s parking plans; I’m still trying to confirm this before writing publicly about it.
The Developer also made a formal application for variance for the building. He is seeking three variances (italics added for explanation):
• To increase the building height limit from 18m to 22m above average grade (from 6 stories maximum to 7 stories maximum;
• To reduce the required front yard set-back from 2m, above 15m in height, to 0.5m (reducing the depth of the ‘step-back’ designed to reduce the ‘canyon effect’ of large buildings);
• To reduce the required corner side yard set-back from 3m to a height of 15m and 5 m above, to 0m (no setback from property line on the west side).
These applications are problematic because they are all focused on increasing the ‘mass’ of the building and diminishing restrictions that are in place to reduce the visual impact of buildings on the surrounding neigbourhood. For example, Ottawa’s Urban Design Guidelines for Development Along Traditional Mainstreets recommend to “Set back the upper floors of taller buildings to help achieve a human scale and more light on the sidewalks” (Guideline 12).
Furthermore, the draft Community Design Plan for Wellington Street recommends for this part of Wellington that the maximum height be changed from 6 stories to 4 in order to help new building fit in better with the residential character of the neigbourhood.
I must ask the developer why he is proposing variances to bylaws that are specifically designed to make new developments fit better into the neigbourhood. Seems like a bad idea.
The Committee of Adjustments is scheduled to decide on these variances on February 6 – the clock is ticking on these development plans!