There is a deliberately vague planning environment for the two 30-storey condo towers proposed by Phoenix DCR for 801 Albert Street (the vacant lot beside the City Centre tower and opposite Tom Brown Arena and the Bayview OTrain Station ). The City has signalled that it wants development to be significantly better than the industrial zoning common along the Bayview to Carling rail corridor. Yet it lacks a comprehensive plan for developing the area. A Community Development Plan (CDP) was begun several years ago, and considerable progress was made. The Phoenix development in a number of respects honours the incomplete CDP, but the city shelved the plan process in favour of other priorities.
Residents are left with the worst of situations. The current zoning cannot be relied on. The new zoning is hinted at in the incomplete CDP but there is nothing official. We can now only look with envy at the Escarpment CDP recently approved by the city (for the lands running from Ottawa Tech site down Albert to Booth) or the Lebreton development agreements. The existence of a CDP allows developers to propose projects that fit into a larger neighborhood wide plan, which will make their projects more marketable and a result in a better neighborhood over time. Meanwhile Dalhousie residents, and those in adjacent Hintonburg, are stuck with ill-defined underdeveloped lands that become prey for any developer or politicians’ bright idea – including three (!) outdoor stadium-and-concert-hall proposals just last month. LRT train yards? Highest condo in the city? Parole office? Anything goes!
We must, yet again, nag the councilors and city to get the neighborhood CDP reactivated: neighborhood plans are supposed to be in place before developments are proposed.
[The Escarpment Plan, passed by the City last year, calls for a number of neighborhood benefits, including a bike/pedestrian path along the north side of Albert, and burying the LRT track underground starting at Booth St so that the City-owned development sites won’t be looking into an open cut. The multipurpose path appeared like magic in 2008 as part of the new watermain project along Albert; the Downtown Ottawa Transit Tunnel plans all start with the buried section of track right at the edge of the City’s development site. Would Bayview-Carling corridor residents be so lucky as to have an effective CDP in place to guide developments!]