The Dark-side condo shower

Back in October, the City hired George Dark to conduct a “charette” – a planning exercise for the Otrain corridor and neighborhood along Preston, south of the Queensway.

As related here previously, the charette charade seemed little more than an exercise in bombarding the neighbourhood with high rises. Mr Dark presided over a large plan of the neighbourhood,  chummily accompanied by the city’s leading developers and their agents, raining down Styrofoam cut-outs of high rise apartment buildings. (

The local community association is holding a public meeting of upset residents in the area. The poster below pretty accurately captures their feelings.

Less obvious is the sense of betrayal, that the community went along with the first phases of the CDP (for seven long years !) agreeing to high rises on the vacant lands, former industrial lands, along the OTrain corridor. In return, there was a steep down gradient in the height zoning to the edge of the EXISTING low rise communities.

The main worry was how to ensure the City didn’t back out of the zoning agreement once developers said “if he can get 40 stories over there, why can’t I ??” That of course, was never answered.

But no one expected the City to step in before the CDP was finished, import an out-of-town “expert”, deus ex machina,  to radically change the course of the CDP at the last minute.

The community association is still playing ball, though, trying to insist that the City stop ad hoc rezoning in favour of waiting until the CDP is done. But isn’t the writing on the wall? The City wants high rises. Lots of them. And it has promised to honour CDP’s.

Ergo, CDP’s will now be directed to permit lots of high rises.

In accord with the City’s previous slights-of-hand, such as on the new Centretown CDP, the area will remain zoned one thing ( low rise), and the big squares on the planning maps will continue to identify the area as “low rise”. Except the fine print will say low rise permits 20 story buildings. There, everybody happy?

This project fits the City’s new definition of low rise in the Bayview-Carling CDP. And remember, blocks and blocks of residential streets will have this zoning:

You can read more about this particular project in a previous post.  (

7 thoughts on “The Dark-side condo shower

  1. You’re dead on Eric. And thanks for taking on the Dark side of planning practice in Jim Watson’s Ottawa circa 2012.

    Of course, as always, the “NIMBY” label will be deployed again to marginalize those who object to this on grounds that up-sprawl and mono-culture condo developments are not the same as smart growth or enlightened city-building.

    But note that in this case, it’s not so much about people trying to protect their back yards as trying to protect decades of good-faith work on community-building and planning exercises. So how about a new acronym for this group of people?

    (Not On Top Of My Bloody House!)

    1. Well, to be a bit flippant, it’s 1) growth, that is also 2) smart.

      I contrast that with the two kinds of DUMB growth. The first is NO growth, or – even worse – decline. And that’s bad.

      But the second is poorly managed growth. Which is bad in the suburbs or in the town. And that’s what’s happening here.

      1. I think its one thing and i agree with the idea with we need to be smart but the other side is you have some that want massive buildings and those who just want urban sprawl there has to be a even balance.

        1. Oddly enough though, most of those who want massive buildings in existing areas also happen to want a lot of sprawl as well.

          But there are a couple of notable things that these same people don’t want to do:

          One, they don’t want to create mixed use communities with big tall buildings in new areas. It’s amusing that in Kanata of all places a developer wants to do a big building infill in an existing area when just 3 km to the northwest is still-undeveloped land that could be filled with oversized buildings to their hearts’ content without bothering anyone since there are no neighbours to bother. An entire master-planned mixed-use community with lots of big buildings could be built up there, and they could even take advantage of the rail line running past to make it transit-oriented in the longer term.

          Two, they don’t want to infill in areas already covered in large expanses of asphalt. It’s like asphalt is sacred when on the ground but not when it forms shingles on top of houses. They could have a tall building blowout in the asphalt triangle of Baseline-Merivale-Clyde and few would give a damn. But what do we get instead? A low-rise Wal-Mart and another stubby office block. Or, to follow the Kanata example, in the designated “Town Centre” just a kilometre to the west – where are the proposals to fill Kanata Centrum with 25 storey buildings? Or they could start filling in those asphalt parking lots in the Kanata North business park… but no, ground asphalt is sacred to the tall buildings crowd.

          1. David
            Sure some that are pushing for massive buildings want more urban sprawl but there are some that want just don’t want buildings and only support urban sprawl.

            I agree with the idea of a mixed use community make it appealing to anyone who wants to build in this area be it let them build as high as they want that could mean a 80 floor mixed use condo/office and it would not or should not bother anyone.

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