The City’s (in)famous Bayview-Carling CDP process has been sputtering along for a very long time. In January, the City cut it into three segments, each their own CDP. Rather like the myths about worms, does each section have a heart and ability to keep on wiggling?
Interested observers can trot off to Tom Brown Arena this Tuesday evening to see the purported “final” draft of the Bayview Station area plan. You can send your doppleganger to the Albert Street reconstruction open house being held the same night at the Dalhousie Community Centre. Since the two projects overlap planning areas, it is somehow appropriate they overlap their public consultation times, but at different places, hence the need to employ your twin.
Bayview Station is less contentious than the still-writhing-in-the-Dark Carling end of this planning worm. That’s because this CDP planning zone contains exactly zero houses. That’s right, its all vacant land, brownfields, industrial lands, former dumps, and other stuff the Florida creative class disdains. Although cheap industrial space is so scarce that it is becoming trendy, witness the arrival of some speciality boutiques and restaurants in old industrial buildings. How the worm turns.
Above: the basic study area – Bayview Yards on upper left, City Centre Avenue on lower right. (from previous draft plan)
And, in the usual Ottawa manner, the plan follows behind spot rezonings and much lobbying. So 801 Albert has already been rezoned for 30 stories or so for two office towers; if built, they will be the largest office complex in the city. And the crowd of condos lining Parkdale is set to jump east and take up proliferating along the Bayview industrial lands, north of the transitway/Albert/Scott. Won’t those new condos block the views of the Parkdale condos? No, they’ll be the new view, that’s all.
Here’s a sketch from the previous draft showing the eventual build out of the Bayview Yards area as seen from some not-yet-sold Parkdale penthouse:
The above pic is from the previous draft of the plan, and a few items have changed. The old sewer works yard, the white building on the left, will likely be kept. The buildings closer to the transitway/LRT have gotten
shorter taller, and are now 30 stories. The plan still calls for the buildings to be linked by a series of courtyards and arches and green mews, just like no one appreciates at Claridge’s project at the east end of the Flats.
There is some talk of removing one of the high rise buildings mid-block on the parcel east of Bayview Road, and putting in a local neighbourhood park. The larger existing Laroche Park is used for field sports as well as local uses, and has a splash pad, but presumably it will be more intensely used as condoville grows along Parkdale, so maybe another local tot-lot park will be wise. The missing development space from the removed tower will be added to the top of the remaining towers, which may actually hep make developing these polluted sites more economic.
Above: sketch viewed by a pigeon from somewhere high above Hintonburg from previous draft of plan. Undulating roof is the LRT station, Tom Brown arena is shown much expanded (no funding mind you). Warning: new plan will not be exactly as shown, as elaborated below:
On the southeast quadrant of the plan along City Centre Avenue there are some significant changes. Here is the view from the previous plan:
The pink houses in the foreground and right are existing homes; the turquoise stuff is NCC dreams on the Flats, with the Claridge great-grandkids still constructing condos. The proposed zoning starts at four stories along the edge of existing housing that runs from Preston westwards.
The general principle of the plan is OK. There is a height gradient as one moves west through the neighbourhood There used to be a height gradient as one moved south too, away from the 801 Albert office towers shown at the very top of the white building cluster. But about a year ago the major property owners (Domicile, Equity) questioned whether the gradient should run down as it went south, or up as it went south to Somerset.
So in a fine example of Solomon-like wisdom, the City is rezoning all the land along the east edge of the tracks as 30 stories. This is sure to make someone happy.
The plan still has some glaring flaws.
While it calls for mixed use development, there is no plan to quantify that. If it goes all residential, or all office, no matter, as long as there are some convenience stores at ground level. There are no intensification targets for jobs, residences, population or even a dog count. So there is no plan for more recreation facilities or parks since the eventual buildout is all unknown. Still, it remains difficult for the city to write a plan even without any targets.
Will the plan contain some detailed descriptions of acceptable ground level usages? The Dark plan for Centretown CDP actually specifies how residential frontages should work, in some detail. Will these guidelines be extended to Bayview or the Carling CDP’s? Dunno.
The plan includes Albert Street running right through the middle, but is silent on how wide it could or should be, and when it might reach that status. Previous CDP dreams for Albert to be prettified and landscaped and traffic calmed, are gone. The bridge has a speeding problem now, how will that be addressed? It won’t.
Bikewest currently runs on the north side of Albert and then on Scott, interrupted by the narrow Albert street bridge over the OTrain. Will that be fixed/connected? That is apparently up to others.
Will Bikewest connect to the OTrain path at the LRT Station? Dunno, and the Bayview LRT station design currently doesn’t allow for a ride-able connection.
The CDP plan is being presented with no details about the size or detailed function of the Bayview LRT station except for the previous RTG “artist conception” sketch released last fall. Nothing to see here folks, move along.
This lead to some nasty comments at the PAC (public advisory committee) that it doesn’t matter because as the LRT stations continue to shrink, Bayview Station will end up reusing the four bus shelters already there, with a permanent station to be built “some day” “as the area develops”.
The draft document I saw last week also muddied the waters on the Primrose extension. When the Just Right storage building – the former Champagne streetcar bar, subsequently Vimy House – becomes just right for redevelopment, Primrose is supposed to be extended thru the site as a pedestrian street, aligning with an extended Primrose west of City Centre Avenue (when that site is redeveloped…) and connecting to the new Old Wellington right-of-way pedestrian bridge over the OTrain tracks. The concept was straight and clear on previous drafts, but somehow got messed up getting to this draft [perhaps due to the long planning process people can't remember any more - ed]
Similarly, the high-potential underpass that links City Centre Avenue with the government warehouse complex at 1010 Somerset, is left vague. If it isn’t addressed when doing strategic planning, when will it be? At the last minute? In a rush?
The City is also continuing along its path of proposing to have a CDP plan that calls for high rises, but to leave the actual zoning as is. In this way, every applicant has to apply for a rezoning, and the City can sell this permission to the developer for money under sec 37 of the Planning Act.
So despite there being a plan, the endless contentious rezonings would continue.
Community members of the PAC strenuously objected, since one of the purposes of the plan is to create certainty, and the zoning — which is what general members of the public understand — should be honest. There were dire predictions that deliberately setting the zoning and the plan at odds would eventually lead to an OMB overthrow and the city would lose all the Sec 37 stuff anyway.
On this matter, at the last PAC meeting the developers agreed that they didn’t like the zoning not matching the plan, and felt it makes them out to be the bad guys each time they propose a building within the plan specifications. Plus, uncertainty costs money, as does the rezoning process. Will those objections be enough to cause the city to reconsider its greed? Not likely.
Observers of the Bayview Station CDP need to also keep in mind that the redevelopment areas don’t just end at Somerset on the south (there is another CDP to do the Somerset-Gladstone-Queensway stretch of CDP) nor do they end along Scott or Mechanicsville areas (Mr Dark has been hired to wave his magic wands over those areas in the Scott Street CDP). And don’t forget there was that awfully disappointing Tunney’s Pasture redevelopment plan last fall.
On the positive side, the City is actually looking at designating some of the land along the OTrain MUP behind 801 Albert Street as official parkland. It would be the only park in the city with a secret.