In February or early March, staff will present a report to Committee and Council with proposed new rules for short-term rentals (STR), based on a regulatory framework approved by Council in November 2019.
The city is asking for your input for a ward size review this year. Take the poll.
As you know, our city is divided in 23 wards. Every ward is represented by a ward councillor, in our case Keith Egli. However, as our population grows, some wards have many more residents then others: West-Carleton ward has less then 26,000 residents, Barrhaven has over 61,000 residents, making the Barrhaven voice count less. Our ward 9 has just under 40,000 residents, which is in the middle of the pack.
City council votes against Dymon proposal, but this might not be the end of it.
As a result of Coun. Egli’s principled arguments, together with his strategic lobbying of council colleagues and the voluminous support of area residents, Council today (Wed Jan 29) defeated by an unexpectedly large 17 – 5 vote a proposal to allow Dymon to build a storage warehouse at the corner of Baseline and Clyde.
Proposal not dead
This does NOT mean the proposal is dead. It means that should Dymon still wish to proceed, it must appeal this decision to a provincial arbiter, formerly known as the Ontario Municipal Board. Because the council decision meant it was rejecting the recommendation by the city’s planning department in favour of the proposal, the city will have an uphill battle to uphold the council vote.
More information on these next possible steps at the end of this article.
Of the 23 councillors plus mayor, two (Deans and Chiarelli) were absent due to health issues. All other councillors voted to reject the proposal, except for Harder, Tierney, Moffatt, Darouze and El-Chantiry.
The first three also endorsed the proposal at the planning committee; Hubley supported the proposal at planning committee but rejected it at council. The proposal had been approved at the planning committee by a vote of 4-3 (Lieper, Brockington and Gower opposed) with three members absent. (Coun. Egli is not a member of this committee, so although he was able to speak freely at that meeting, he did not have a vote.)
It is unusual for a planning committee decision to be rejected by the full council. But the arguments advanced by Coun. Egli, your Fisher Heights Community Association board (and two other adjacent community association boards), several members of the local business community and more than 50 individually written e-mails to Coun Egli from our community, supporting his position, served the councillor well in his winning widespread support from councillors.
Mayor on board
His success in winning the support of Mayor Watson was a turning point, for six other councillors, who tend to follow the Mayor’s lead on issues that do not directly involve their wards, all voted to reject. Without those seven votes, the proposal would have been approved.
Merivale Road a lost cause?
In his speech to Council, Coun Egli first recognized four members of the community association board who were in attendance. He then said a warehouse would “sterilize” the tip of the vacant Merivale Triangle lands by blocking more appropriate uses for the land in the future. A warehouse is not now allowed on the property, and to do so would result in a “fundamental change in the zoning and the character of the area.” Council would be saying, he said, that Merivale Road “is a lost cause. Merivale Road is NOT a lost cause.” This refers to longstanding and widespread opinion that Merivale Road (and Clyde Avenue) in this area is a lifestyle disaster – dedicated to vehicles, highly unfriendly to pedestrians and cyclists, with wide swaths of asphalt, limited green space, and vastly underused in its capacity for housing.
At planning committee he said that he, and area residents, wanted “people to occupy the site, not people’s stuff.” At the council meeting he said residents did not approve use of the site as “condos of clutter.”
Warehouse would contradict the city’s stated intents
He quoted from two e-mails he received: one pointed out that the city plans a significant bus and cycling corridor along Baseline and Heron Roads in the next decade. As this property is adjacent to Baseline, and the city specifically encourages housing intensification of land usage along transit corridors, a warehouse would contradict the city’s stated intents. The writer said that any action to make Merivale “less dreadful” was welcome, and a warehouse was not the right step.
The other said the proposal must be rejected because decisions on this property will “set the pace” for “the type of community we want in that area,” that these decisions will be a “turning point.”
Harder reliable supporter of the development industry
Harder, who through her consistent voting record over her 20 years as a councillor has become a reliable supporter of the development industry, asked the city planner to explain the department’s support of the project, particularly the claim by opponents that the site was a “gateway” property and hence needed far more inclusive usage. In response to her leading questions, Douglas James stated that the Dymon sites on Carling at the Queensway, Carling west of Lincoln Fields, and Bank Street in South Keys were equally gateway sites, although his only rationale for the Queensway site was that it was a prominent building.
City planner blithely ignores arguments
One main argument by opponents of the project was that these other Dymon sites, and one on Greenbank Road near Hunt Club, were in fact significantly less important than the Baseline/Clyde property in setting good land use precedents for the city and in enforcing the intensification goals of the city. So it was discouraging to hear a senior city planner blithely ignore such arguments.
The next move is up to Dymon. As mentioned above, it can seek to continue with its plan by appealing the council decision to the provincial tribunal. The city’s senior planning lawyer said it is very difficult for a city to successfully defend rejection of a proposal if its own planning staff has endorsed it. If Dymon won at this level, it could proceed with its building.
“Giving back to the community”
Another option open to Dymon is to listen in good faith to the arguments presented in opposition, analyze them in conjunction with its corporate culture and community mindedness, and decide if it was in the best interests of the city of Ottawa to proceed.
In this regard, it is instructive to read Dymon’s website, which has a section devoted to “Charity and Community.” It begins “Dymon gives back,” and outlines the large number of charities, not for profits and fundraising events it supports in the Ottawa area. It also matches employee donations on a 1:1 basis and pays for registration fees or minimum personal donations required for employees to participate in fund-raising events.
Further, it outlines a longer-term goal of creating a Dymon Foundation, a “major corporate philanthropy goal” to “contribute 50 per cent of Dymon’s value creation over time back the community.” This could be done by a variety of means including building low-rent housing, it says.” This goal of pouring resources back into our community is what drives everything Dymon does as a company,” it says.
Given those laudable goals, one would think that Dymon should be open to arguments that a practical way it can “give back” to the community is by finding a less critical site for its warehouse and selling this land to a buyer who is committed to more constructive development there.
Vote on Dymon storage warehouse at City council this Wednesday
Many residents have never attended a meeting of Ottawa Council, despite the major impact the city of Ottawa has on our lives. It is an activity that should be on anyone’s bucket list, and the Council meeting this coming Wednesday Jan. 29 provides an excellent reason to watch your Council in action.
Strong concerns and opposition
This is because the Council will decide on the immediate fate of the Dymon proposal for a storage warehouse at the corner of Clyde and Baseline. Our ward councillor, Keith Egli, has expressed concerns about the project, and your community association, and two neighbouring community associations, have all expressed their strong opposition.
The proposal was barely approved, by one vote, at the Planning Committee. We hope that city council has a different opinion and will vote against a storage space on an arterial main street.
No public participation
There is no public participation at Council meetings – that occurs at the Committee level – but a visible presence at the Council meeting will show to councillors the firm resolve of the community.
Difficult to predict
The meeting begins at 10 am, Wed Jan. 29, at the Council Chamber at City Hall, 110 Laurier Ave. W. Unfortunately, it is difficult to predict the time this issue will be dealt with because the Mayor will first be presenting his 2020 “State of the City Address”, and there may also first be discussion over the city’s climate change master plan.
It seems likely – but not guaranteed – that the Dymon application will not be addressed before 11 a.m., but it could also be much later, especially if the meeting breaks for lunch before.
Loud orange and red shirt
Despite these caveats, residents who have a flexible schedule Wednesday are invited to attend the meeting, arriving a few minutes before 11:00, say, and watch our local democracy in action. Residents will try to sit together, although that may not be possible if the audience is large.
Doug Yonson will be at the meeting from its beginning, and will be wearing a loud orange and red shirt so that you can identify him. E-mail Doug at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions. If you wish to carpool, please contact Jayne Belanger at email@example.com
As you may have heard in the news, community associations such as FHACA have been trying to stop the construction of a storage facility on Clyde Ave near Baseline.
We strongly believe that the so called Merivale Triangle should be developed for housing. It is a large piece of land on an arterial main street, which could potentially house thousands of people if developed properly. With the future bus rapid transit corridor on Baseline planned, dense housing near rapid transit would be very much welcomed by us, as it brings much needed housing for residents, increases the tax base and may diminish the demand for personal motorised vehicles as the BRT connects with Line 2 of our LRT system at Mooney’s Bay station. A storage facility on rapid transport corridor is not a very efficient use of the scarce space in our ward.
What is next: Vote at City council
Planning committee however voted in favour for the building. The next step is a vote at city council in January. We hope we can still garner some support to stop this building from being build.
Si vous avez des questions à propos de l’Étude sur les logements locatifs, vous pouvez communiquer avec moi, aux coordonnées ci-après.
Jerrod Riley By-law Review Specialist | Spécialiste, Examen des règlements municipaux Emergency and Protective Services / Services de protection et d’urgence Tel / tél. : 613-580-2424, ext. / poste 13580
Coun. Egli announced that Dymon Storage has submitted a revised application for its site at the corner of Baseline Road and Clyde Avenue. As referenced in the newsletter, this article includes some of the new plans (site plan, landscaping plan, and the softscape and hardscape plans), as well as the Planning Rationale:
Dymon released its initial plan for the property in mid-2017, to include a five-storey self-storage warehouse on Clyde beside the Petro Canada gas station, which is not part of this project. The storage building would be similar to other Dymon buildings in the city, with indoor parking for clients and 24/7 access.
A standalone sitdown restaurant is proposed for the frontage on Baseline Road, and the existing retail space, previously a Canadian Tire and then a Value Village, has already been renovated and houses Motor Sports World, a dealer in small recreational vehicles such as motorcycles, ATVs and snowmobiles.
Dymon also proposes a five-storey addition beside the existing retail building, at the far corner of the property.
The proposal requires a zoning change because a warehouse is not currently an allowed use of the property.
Association representatives who discussed the plan with Dymon and the city in 2017 were particularly concerned about making the site, a “gateway property” in Coun. Egli’s words, as green, pedestrian friendly and visually and architecturally attractive as possible. Most of the Merivale Road / Clyde Avenue retail strip is car-centric, and there have been suggestions for decades to improve its overall appearance.
For this site, any improvements have to be made as part of this proposal, since the buildings will exist for decades to come.
Last fall, Coun. Egli stated that he had “significant concerns” about the entire proposal.” “I believe that so much more could be done at this corner, which is really a gateway property, other than a self-storage warehouse.” He said any proposal for this property, in conjunction with the development of the adjacent Triangle lands (immediately east of this site, extending to the Loblaws plaza), should “aid in the rehabilitation of this area into something other than strip malls and big-box retailers” – namely a “viable multi-use proposal with residences, restaurants and shopping along with some innovative greening.” He said a self-storage warehouse does not “rise to the challenge and promise” of this property and sets a “less than ideal precedent” for development of the Triangle lands.
The new plan does not change the overall concept, but Dymon now proposes to operate its own retail store on the first floor of the five-storey addition; the restaurant has been moved west to abut the gas station to allow a wider access to the site from Baseline eastbound; and there has been landscaping improvements to the site.
As the newsletter went to press, Coun. Egli said he will be meeting with the city planner and Dymon to review the revised plan, but “after the quick review that I have done thus far I still have questions and concerns … at this point I am still not a booster of this project.”
The City is seeking public comments on its plans for improved bus transit along the full length of Baseline Road. Work began on the project several years ago; major new details were released earlier this month at a public Open House. Construction is at least several years away, and depends on additional funding from provincial and federal sources. However, NOW is the time for public comment on the plans. The first phase will involve the eastern section of Baseline, from Woodroffe to Heron and on to Billings Bridge.
The plan calls for two bus-only lanes in the centre of the road, with less frequent stops. Passengers will board the bus at platform-stations built at each stop, with traffic lights to control access. The roadway will be widened to keep two lanes in each direction for cars, and add a protected bicycle lane and a sidewalk on the side. The residential section of Baseline in our community, along the experimental farm, will feature a bicycle/pedestrian “multi-use pathway” on the north side. In Fisher Heights, most of the expansion for the wider roadway will be on the north side, but the plan foresees that homes on Baseline Road would lose the city boulevard in front of their houses.
Here are two sources of more detailed information:
A detailed drawing of the section between Clyde Avenue and Fisher Avenue can be found here.
“Frequently Asked Questions” and the display boards from the “Open House #4 – October 5, 2016” are found here.
The city is asking for comments on a very tight time frame, by Oct. 21. Email to Jabbar.Siddique@ottawa.ca We suggest that late comments (copied to Councillor Keith Egli at firstname.lastname@example.org) will still be accepted.