Sim-City model: Bayview-carling CDP

The City has been sporadically doing up a CDP (Community Design Plan) (which is a plan of dubious effectiveness under the Official Plan) for the O-Train corridor running from Bayview Station to Carling Avenue.

Residents frequently ascribe its tardiness to a desire on the part of the City to see all the developable land purchased and rezoned before the plan is drawn up. In that way, the city won’t have to continually amend it.

The City is committed to having CDPs done for all the stations along the OLRT. Having seen some of the in-progress ones I’d have to say they are better than nothing.  At least they might tell some residents (and Swiss immigrants) that they won’t be getting what the current zoning is for.

And having seen some of the completed ones, I have been left shaking my head that they could ever have been passed with any sincerity as to upholding them. I just don’t see scattered four storey infills as the definition of intensification. Nor will the OMB.

With that in mind, let’s look at the Bayview CDP. In particular, the Bayview Station end of the plan. (Recall that the Carling end of the plan is undergoing a feeding frenzy with Ottawa and Toronto developers gulping up every lot; and the middle section, around Gladstone, is about to get a lot hotter with  upcoming development of the former printing plant that occupies one entire block at Gladstone and Breezehill).

The City has decided against holding a real world public meeting on the plan, instead exploring an online public meeting. You can find it here: The last item on the menu on the left of their page is titled Online Open House, click and…   

There are three videos at the site; the first and second are for the very patient raw beginners (you know, the equivalent of the first dozen display boards at a real meeting, which are full of text, and you just skip over to get to the meat in the last few panels on the other side of the room). The third video shows the recommended plan. It is 20 minutes long, but is worth watching. (Remember, it’s still quicker than going to a real meeting…).

Here is what the area looks like, as seen by a future migrating Canada goose:

In the centre is the LRT Station, although we are not sure yet if it exactly there, or somewhat further to the left (west) directly over the OTrain tracks. The green buildings running off to the upper right above Albert Street are the approved plans for LeBreton Flats, currently likely to built in 2067 (our bicentennial) if the current buildout pattern is continued by Malhotra’s great grandchildren who will by then be owners of Claridge.

Immediately below (south of) the LRT Station is the proposed Phoenix triangular development at 801 Albert. This is for two 35 storey office towers employing about 6500 civil servants and having a total of 200 or so parking spots since everyone will come by transit or bike path. Having seen these proposed plans in some (preliminary) detail, the office complex ain’t too bad for the site.

Running further south in the picture along both sides of City Centre Avenue the planners envision mixed use developments that are highest closest to the O-Train and lowest adjoining the existing houses of the neighborhood.

I look forward to presenting these pictures at future planning committee meetings and OMB hearings when objecting to office highrises in the areas they now show as continuing to be low rise residential. Indeed, the L-shaped building in white at the lower right (in the above picture) is the proposed Domicile condo at the corner of City Centre and Somerset (present home of International Paints and Fine Thingys Antiques). Planners show it as 5 floors; the developer is already proposing 12.

Here is the city’s artist impression, the perspective from Dalhousie:

The pink houses are the existing neighborhood residential. Preston Street runs on a diagonal on the lower right; Somerset runs on the opposite diagonal lower left.The top- most pink townhouses are Walnut Court; beyond them is the proposed LeBreton project in turquoise ( a pleasant break from the yellow brick now being used). Notice how the buildings step up from stacked townhouses adjacent the pink neighborhood, to high rises along the OTrain. The tallest twin towers are Phoenix’s, opposite the Bayview Station. Immediately south of them (a bit to the left in the pic) are six blocks of towers built on the City Centre warehouse complex site.

The City has kindly shown us a persective from Hintonburg too:

This time the view is from a hot air balloon just north of West Wellington after it met Somerset at the triangular park shown on the lower right. The elongated low rise white building is Tom Brown (yes, I know its orange in real life, just pretend…) which has had some whopping big additions put on the west, north, and east sides of the existing building. The city has also shown a new ped bridge reconnecting the chopped up parts of West Wellie, allowing us to walk over the OTrain tracks and use the bike paths to be built there in 2012.

Off to the left (north) are new white buildings for the Bayview Yards area. One of them sports a curved middle section, evocative of the old train roundhouses that used to be nearby. Beyond Tom Brown, on the other side of the OTrain, are the two tall Phoenix towers, and to their right (south) are the Equity City Centre buildings.

Alas, just chopped off the far right edge of the picture is the site at the corner of Breezehill and Somerset, beside Devonshire School, which Claridge is now clearing in preparation for a yet-unrevealled condo and shopping complex.

The last view of this exciting mega-node sim-development is from Mechanicsville:


It shows the view from the 28th floor of the proposed Urbandale condo tower on Parkdale Avenue. In the foreground is Laroche Park; off to the left is the Ottawa River Commuter Expressway and the river itself. The proposed  condo towers on the far side of the park may be some time coming because they are on contaminated soil (the uncontaminated lands were reserved for non-buildings) and no one yet has the heart or dollars to remediate the crap found there. Notice how the buildings rise up as the view goes east, to their highest point (on the Mechanicsville side) at the west end of the new Bayview Station itself.  The penultimate height and bulk of building is still the Phoenix buildings in the distance on the south side of Albert at City Centre Drive.

While the decision to hold a on-line public consultation has been controversial, it is still useful. Most useful of all are the 3-D sketchups of how the properties could develop. The buildings shown are, of course, a planner’s wet dream, nicely stepped up in height and density, and varied in form. Builders prefer to build clones of the previous building, or in pairs, to save money. But unlike 2-D flat drawings of zoning codes, the 3-D view allows way more people to imagine what might develop.

IF the plan passes, and the zoning is put in place to match the pretty sim-city models shown, will council have the courage to insist on the zoning being followed? Or will council continue to fob the hard decisions off to the OMB?

Now that you’ve seen the pic, go to the city site , click on Online Open House (last item on the menu on the left) and watch  video #3. Some sweet voiced lady will walk you through the Bayview of a Brighter Tomorrow!

9 thoughts on “Sim-City model: Bayview-carling CDP

  1. You’ve done quite a bit of work on this post. It will take some digesting. I do feel though that most of these projects will be done long before Lebreton. As you say, the Malholtra grandchildren will be likely overseers of some phases of this project.

  2. Eric, thanks for the useful information. It was nice to meet you at the Bronson meeting last week (I was there with my baby daughter).
    Is there still a O-train station planned for Gladstone ? The BA printing plant would be a great location for a grocery store.

  3. “And having seen some of the completed [Community Development Plans], I have been left shaking my head that they could ever have been passed with any sincerity as to upholding them. I just don’t see scattered four storey infills as the definition of intensification. Nor will the OMB.”

    I think we can ascribe three causes to this:

    1. NIMBYism on the part of community associations to get seriously onboard with intensification. That said, given the existence of an OMB that seldom respects anything anyway – regardless of how well-though out a plan may be – it may also be a tactic to set a low bar to begin with in anticipation of future fights at the OMB; i.e. set it lower than reasonable so as not to get something excessively higher than reasonable because if you set it at a reasonable level it will end up ridiculously higher than reasonable.

    2. Lack of sincerity on the part of City planners. CDPs and even Secondary Plans appear to be essentially toothless anyway so there is not much incentive to push for reasonable heights in them. Some planners and/or councillors might even take up the rationale in (1) that by undershooting the end result is more likely to be closer to reasonable than if reasonable levels were included in the first place.

    3. Lack of meaningful participation by developers and major landowners in the creation of the plans. I suspect that if developers and major landowners actually participated in the creation of these plans, it would lend the resulting plans an added degree of legitimacy (at least as it pertains to their particular properties) – even before the OMB. It’s likely that developer participation in plan creation would result in more reasonable heights being applied to their properties but since developers are never happy with reasonable height limits the upshot could well reduce the developer’s chances of getting beyond-reasonable heights at a subsequent hearing due to the aforementioned additional legitimacy their participation would convey.

    The common thread through here is the distorting effect of the OMB: all the stakeholders have incentives to game the process so as to best position for a hearing at the OMB. If, as is the case in most provinces, the Council had the final say in the matter of rezoning, then everyone, starting with developers and major landowners, would have an incentive to participate more seriously in the creation of Community Development Plans because the outcomes would have real weight.

  4. David: I had a little a-ha moment when you said “all the stakeholders have incentives to game the process”. So I have discovered. It’s easy to play games with the planing process because it isn’t the real controlling factor; that is left to politics and the OMB.
    Simon: the city decided that spending $80,000 to determine how/if the Gladstone station should be built was unnecessary; and will / may study the issue when it studies otrain expansion at a later date. It will be interesting to see if the cost of modifying the interim expansion to fit the final expansion will cost more than the $80,000 saved. So, when the six train 8 minute service starts, riders will drift ever so slowly through the cut because there isn’t a station to stop at while the other train goes by. Silly, eh?

  5. The Bank Note building (fortress?) is to be redeveloped? Do you know what’s planned for the site?? It’s a neat location, with the EBA & Stables next door.

    1. Just looked at the site on google maps: I always loved the street view (from Wellington) of this building, but yeah, I now see it’s a massive complex and can understand that it might not make for a very stimulating neighbor. That said, I really hope they save the Wellington-facing part!

  6. Heather: the feeding frenzy is just getting underway. We will let you know which developer gets the site. Its a whole city block, right on top of the future gladstone otrain station and an easy walk to bayview via the new bike path along the tracks being built next year. Should be “fun”.

  7. I guess all historical value has been lost from the old streetcar barn when it was converted to self-storage, and this is therefore why it’s shown as being replaced with various forms of housing.

  8. David
    I agree with most of what you said how ever i do think all are to blame you have devlopers who at times may want buildings that are to high at times you have some citizens thata re aginst anything higher then 3 floors and in some cases i think are a bit to close minded then you have the city that could handle both sides much better.

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