COMMENT: Johnwoods closure comes too soon

Closing Johnwoods might make sense years from now when more of Stittsville’s planned road and transit infrastructure is in place, but it doesn’t make sense now.

I made this video in May 2016 ahead of a public information meeting hosted by the City to explain what’s going on.  Watch this: Continue reading


SHARE THIS

UPDATE: Mayor wants a say on future of Canadian Tire Centre

Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson says he wants to work with the Ottawa Senators to ensure that Stittsville and Kanata aren’t forgotten if the hockey team ends up moving to Lebreton Flats.

“I am also very mindful of the potential economic loss to Stittsville, Kanata and the West End of our City should the Canadian Tire Centre be relocated. I will work with the Ottawa Senators organization, West end councillors, businesses and residents to ensure that appropriate options are being developed to help make up for the loss of the arena,” he wrote in a letter last week to city council. Continue reading


SHARE THIS

NOTEBOOK: Clearing begins on CRT lands & Shea Woods

We knew it was inevitable but it was still a shock this weekend to see the trees already coming down along the edge of the Shea Woods.

A strip of cedar trees and brush along the east side of the forest has been cut down, and the field to the east is being cleared and is surrounded by construction fencing.

Continue reading


SHARE THIS

Nominations open for SVA volunteer of the year award

The SVA recognizes that our community wouldn’t be as amazing as it is without hundreds of volunteers lending their time and talent to a variety of programs each year. These unpaid heroes dedicate countless hours behind the scenes to create opportunities for fun, sport, culture, learning and more — and we all benefit from their generosity and giving spirit.

In appreciation for those who share themselves with the community, we are now accepting nominations for the second annual Stittsville Village Association’s Volunteer of the Year Award, which will recognize a local volunteer for his or her dedicated service to Stittsville. Continue reading


SHARE THIS

North section of Johnwoods permanently closes on November 15

Councillor Shad Qadri shared an update about the closure of the north end of Johnwoods on his web site earlier today.   The plan is to turn that section of road into a linear park with a recreation path running north-south, and re-route traffic via Rosehill and Santolina to-and-from Maple Grove.

Here’s how the City explains it: “This work must be completed to satisfy a condition in Mattamy Homes’ Fairwinds West subdivision agreement. The idea to downgrade Johnwoods Street from a major road to a local street has long been supported in several Council-approved documents like the Official Plan, Transportation Master Plan, Kanata West Concept Plan, Cycling Plan, and Pedestrian Plan.
Historically, Johnwoods Street has experienced issues with cut-through traffic as population growth has outpaced the development of the arterial road network in the community. The construction of the Huntmar Drive extension and the Hazeldean Road widening have helped to alleviate some of these concerns. The partial closure of Johnwoods Street will further improve the situation.”

Despite all those council-approved documents, news of the closure will likely surprise many residents in the area, particularly in the Bryanston Gate and Fairwinds neighbourhoods.  It was a surprise to many of the 100 people who showed up at a raucous meeting in May 2016, after which the City of Ottawa’s planning department apologized for poor communication about the project.

Here’s what’s happening in the next few weeks:

  • Starting around November 8, concrete barriers at Rosehill near Warmstone will be removed, and temporary traffic calming measures will be installed. (Just what those measures are hasn’t been revealed.) Then on November 15, Johnwoods will be closed for construction. Removable bollards and barriers will be in place to stop vehicle traffic.
  • The park will be landscaped with a 3-metre asphalt path, four new benches, post and rail wood fences at the Maple Grove and Rosehill entrances, and small trees and shrubs.  The existing street lights along Johnwoods will be retained for park lighting. A letter to residents says that a future pathway could be built by the City to connect to Bryanston Gate via the pumping station property on Mika.
  • The closure will also result in a change for the 162 bus route.  They’ll travel along Santonlina beween Maple Grove Street and Rosehill Avenue, with two new bus stops on Santolina Street, one close to 151 Santolina Street and the other behind 346 Astelia Crescent.

***

Here’s the update from the councillor’s web site:

Starting on Wednesday, November 15, 2017, Johnwoods Street will be permanently closed to vehicular traffic from Maple Grove Road to Rosehill Avenue and will be rebuilt as a multi-use pathway for pedestrians and cyclists.

This work will add a safe and accessible recreational amenity, more greenspace and direct connections for pedestrians and cyclists in your community. The pathway will also enhance privacy and livability for nearby residents by reducing vehicle traffic noise and headlight glare.

I encourage residents to please review the following documents which have also been mailed to residents in the immediate area.

Johnwoods Closure Notice 2017

Johnwoods Closure Frequently Asked Questions 2017 

Johnwoods Linear Park Design


SHARE THIS

Yield when you see a green light coming your way

(press release via City of Ottawa)

The City of Ottawa would like to remind motorists that vehicles with green flashing lights are being driven by volunteer firefighters who are responding to a call. As a courtesy, all road users are asked to allow these vehicles to pass quickly and safely.

Ottawa’s rural communities are served by 470 volunteer firefighters. Through the Green Light program, volunteer firefighters are equipped with green flashing lights for their personal vehicles. When you see a green light flashing from a driver’s vehicle, it means the driver is a volunteer firefighter responding to an emergency. Continue reading


SHARE THIS

City Council approves two Stittsville zoning amendments

(press release via City of Ottawa)

City Council today approved zoning for three development projects and received the annual reports for By-Law and Regulatory Services and Crime Prevention Ottawa. 

A grocery store, two retail stores and a restaurant could be built at 5960 Fernbank Road, once water services are extended to the currently vacant site. The zoning approved by Council would also permit other commercial and residential uses. Continue reading


SHARE THIS

Fifth year for Stittsville Pumpkin Parade

(PHOTO: Some very creative carvings at the 2016 Pumpkin Parade at Village Square Park. Photo by Barry Gray.)


“I wanted to show that to my kids — that people who live in a community aren’t just residents in the community, they’re participants in the community.”


The 5th Annual Stittsville Pumpkin Parade is happening the day after Halloween on Wednesday, November 1 at Village Square Park. Continue reading


SHARE THIS

COFFEE BREAK: Quitters temporarily closed from November 2-10

(PHOTO: Saturday night trivia at Quitters, October 2017. Photo by Glen Gower.)

Kathleen Edwards from Quitters asked us to help spread the word about a temporary closure coming up from November 2-10.

“We’re fixing up a few things that need some fixing up before the Christmas season – and given how busy we’ve been I’m hoping to get the word out in advance,” she says.

The coffee shop will reopen on Saturday, November 11 at 8am.


SHARE THIS

New Stittsville Business Association meets for breakfast on November 14

Out of the ashes of the Stittsville Business Improvement Area comes a new Stittsville Business Association.

You may recall earlier this year when a group of local businesses proposed establishing a Business Improvement Area (BIA). That would have been a local management board made up of local business members, and funded via a property tax levy. Continue reading


SHARE THIS

COMMENT: Committee should have deferred Maple Grove decision

A shout out to CBC for continuing to focus on Stittsville development issues this week. Here’s an excerpt (in red) from an article by Laura Osman published today, along with my comments.  I’ve added some additional context based on my work with the Fairwinds Community Association.

Bottom line: If councillors and city staff really believe in the importance of public engagement, this case illustrates how far they still have to go to ensure transparency and trust in the development process.

***

Residents not allowed to weigh in on big subdivision, councillor says
Councillors approve application to build 945 residential units on Maple Grove Road after decade of holdups
by Laura Osman, CBC Ottawa

A large new subdivision in Stittsville has been approved, despite the fact the last public consultation meeting happened more than a decade ago.

As far as I can tell, the last public consultation for this zoning bylaw amendment was in December 2004, when most of the area was still farmland.

The planning committee approved the rezoning for Richcraft to build 945 residential units on Maple Grove Road.

The last update we heard about the project was in December 2013, when a plan of subdivision was submitted for around 800 residential units.

The development has been in the works since early 2004 but was held up by an appeal to the Ontario Municipal Board. Richcraft then filed an appeal against the city because it’s taken so long for the city to make a decision.

Coun. Shad Qadri asked the committee to hold off on the decision on behalf of the neighbouring Fairwinds community, which didn’t exist when the initial public consultations were done.

“The area now didn’t really have the opportunity to put their comments in,” Qadri said, adding that planning documents were also not posted online.

Qadri lost the vote seven to one.

Usually when there’s a zoning bylaw amendment in front of Planning Committee, it’s easy to search the city’s web site to find background documents like planning rationale, transportation plans, environmental studies, etc.  We couldn’t find anything on the city’s DevApp web site, or on the councillor’s web site, or even on alternate sources like ottwatch.ca.

The Fairwinds Community Association asked Councillor Qadri to put forward a motion to defer a decision on the file until next month’s planning committee, to at least give residents time to access and review the documents.

Planning committee chair Jan Harder said the public had the opportunity to be heard at Tuesday’s meeting.

The committee received two written statements responding to the report that was tabled last week.

They would have received more than two written statements if there was a more proactive effort to alert residents about it. I stumbled upon it last week when I was reading the agenda. I doubt that many of my neighbours make a routine of reading the weekly agenda updates!  Besides that, how can we provide proper comments without the full information to work from?

(I would have loved to attend today’s meeting, but work commitments kept me from taking the morning off work to trek downtown.)

If the committee held off on making a decision, the developer would simply withdraw the zoning application and go through the OMB instead, Harder said.

“And then we’ll have a made-in-Toronto decision that may not be that great,” said Coun. Rick Chiarreli.

Chiarelli didn’t want the decision to be made by the OMB because there’s no way to appeal it, he said.

The developer has been working toward this subdivision for 13 years, and the city should not be holding up the process any longer, he added, comparing the application to a criminal trial. Serious charges would be dismissed after such a long period without a decision, he said.

I don’t know how accurate this is.  If the threat of an OMB decision is so significant, why did the report from planning staff attached to the agenda not call this out as a potential legal risk?  The document refers to previous OMB hearings but it doesn’t explain the relevant background or approval timelines for this application.  After 13+ years, what’s the rush to get this zoning approval through?  Shovels can’t hit the ground until next year at the earliest.

The proposal includes townhomes, detached houses and low-rise apartment buildings. It also includes some commercial development along the south side of Maple Grove Road, which is currently entirely residential.

During the initial public meeting in 2004 the city received six responses, including concerns about the Carp River restoration project and the timing of the development.

Back in 2004, the Stittsville Village Association did submit comments about transportation impacts. Current president Tanya Hein says that they did receive advance notice of the meeting, but just barely: “By chance, I found out late yesterday that a paper notice dated October 13th was mailed to David Jenkins (a former SVA member). I think he was on record from the original application, before email was the standard means of circulation. That, in itself, might suggest a more modern public consultation is warranted.”

Part of the development is expected to be built on the former floodplain of the Carp River, which is currently under construction to alleviate flood concerns.

The development must still be approved by city council.

The Carp River restoration … commercial development on Hazeldean Road … residential development in Fairwinds and Fernbank … an evolving mass transit plan … pending departure of the Senators… These are just a few examples of major changes in our area since 2004, and reason enough in my view to treat this zoning application with more scrutiny.

***

Another person who sent comments to councillors about the zoning bylaw amendment was Faith Blacquiere, a retired research librarian who reviews planning documents as a hobby.

She submitted nine pages of detailed technical notes to the committee, which are included below. She really gets down in the weeds of the planning process. I haven’t fact-checked the document, nor are all of her concerns necessarily within the scope of this zoning amendment. Still, I believe she’s identified enough inconsistencies and concerns with the published staff report to justify a deferral. Or at the very least, more scrutiny from on the Planning Committee today.


SHARE THIS

CBC: Taxpayers on the hook for an extra $10M to help developers build homes in Kanata

Laura Osman from CBC Ottawa has a story today about increasing costs for the Kanata West pumping station and Carp River Restoration Project. An excerpt:

Taxpayers are on the hook for $10 million more than planned after the cost for two projects to help developers build homes in the city’s west end has shot up in the last decade.

The escalating price tags for the Kanata West sewage pumping station and the Carp River restoration — projects shared between the city and local developers — have received little to no public scrutiny, despite overshooting their original budgets by millions.​

In the case of the pumping station, the cost of the project has ballooned from an estimated $15.95 million in 2012 to $61 million in 2017. The city’s share of that project is about 10 per cent, and has grown to $6 million from $1.6 million.

Continue reading


SHARE THIS

Helicopter fly-by over Canadian Tire Centre on Monday night

(Via the City of Ottawa)

West end commuters and residents around the Canadian Tire Centre can expect to see a Canadian Armed Forces CH-146 Griffon flying over the area between 5:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. tonight. A member of the Canadian Armed Forces will be rappelling from the helicopter. The activity is being filmed for the Ottawa Senators annual celebration of Canadian Armed Forces night on November 2.


SHARE THIS

LETTER: Stittsville needs some fenced-in dog parks

Re: NOTEBOOK: City moves a step closer to protecting part of Shea Woods

After moving to Stittsville from Nepean I was looking forward to the many trails and green space available for walking.  It was a surprise to learn that Stittsville has no “fenced-in” dog parks available.  Yes, there is an “unauthorized” off leash dog park according to Councillor Qadri’s office but being “unauthorized” means there are still folks that prefer having dogs on leashes and will state that fact if walking a dog in these unauthorized trails and they are right in stating this.

You can never be too careful when it comes to walking off leash.  I personally do not let my dog off leash unless he is in a safe area.  I now travel to Barrhaven or Carleton Place to visit fenced in parks.  Many people with dogs in Stittsville would love a fenced in park where they can socialize and let their pets run free.  Surely there must be an area such where this can become a reality with the help of the City and the Community, possibly off Westridge where there are a few possibilities.

Linda Baumgart

(EDITOR’S NOTE: The unauthorized dog park that Councillor Qadri referred to is the Shea Woods, which is private property. Valecraft Homes is planning a fenced dog park as part of the Rathwell Landing neighbourhood in the south part of Stittsville. There are a few un-fenced off-leash dog parks in Stittsville (here’s a map).  See also our dog blog: “Time to include dog parks in community planning”.)


(What do you think? We welcome letters to the editor on this or any local topic. Send your thoughts to feedback@stittsvillecentral.ca)


SHARE THIS

NOTEBOOK: Major Maple Grove development coming to planning committee

This Tuesday, October 24, Ottawa’s Planning Committee will vote on a zoning bylaw amendment that would give the green light for Richcraft to proceed with a massive residential development on Maple Grove Road, just east of the Fairwinds neighbourhood.

You would be forgiven for thinking this latest zoning proposal came out of nowhere, even though this development has been going through the approval process since 2004. Continue reading


SHARE THIS

CITIZEN: Former Stittsville volunteer Mary Durling honoured with park name

From the Ottawa Citizen:

On Friday, Stittsville’s Cypress Gardens Park, on Brae Crescent and just two blocks from the house where Mary lived for 48 years until her death in 2015, will be renamed Mary Durling Park, to honour her decades of community service.

“I think this is beautiful,” said her son Neil, one of four boys she raised, “because Mom did so much and never wanted acknowledgement or credit, or even anybody to know.

“She didn’t like the attention. She was pretty humble. She put everybody ahead of herself. But it’s wonderful that they’re remembering her and doing something for her.”

Named Stittsville’s Senior Citizen of the Year in 2009, Mamie, as she was known to her family, volunteered with and raised funds for numerous charities and community groups. An avid dart player and gardener, she was an active charter member of the Ladies Auxiliary of the Royal Canadian Legion 618 branch and longtime supporter of its Wednesday night bingo. She was also involved with Holy Spirit Catholic Parish, where she attended, and canvassed door-to-door for such charities as the Canadian Cancer Society, March of Dimes and the Kidney Foundation.

Cypress Gardens Park was, at most, a glint in a developer’s eye when Neil was a youngster, although he frequented its forested precursor and built forts and rafts there. But he recalls his mother visiting the park regularly after it was built in 1991, with the numerous neighbourhood children she babysat to help make ends meet.

“So, yes, it’s pretty special that it’s this park,” he said. “It wasn’t here when I was a kid, but when my daughter, Rachel, was growing up, there’s be a skating rink here in the winter and I’d bring her and her friends here, and they loved it.”

Read the full article…


SHARE THIS

Jack Ketch chef returns to his Stittsville roots

(PHOTO: Kevin Conway and Alli Pearce, co-owners of The Jack Ketch on Stitttsville Main. Photo by Barry Gray.)

It’s been a long time coming, but Kevin Conway and Alli Pearce are finally set to open The Jack Ketch restaurant on Stittsville Main Street.

They’ll work out the kinks with two friends-and-family nights on Thursday and Friday, and then open to the general public on Saturday night, October 21.

The restaurant is in an old building formerly occupied by Brown Bear Daycare.  Conway and Pearce have turned it into a 30-seat restaurant that they describe as a “contemporary rustic cosy nook kind of place”.  The menu is contemporary, including some French Canadian-inspired dishes and a lot of locally-sourced ingredients.  Continue reading


SHARE THIS