At first glance, it’s easy to want to object to Minto’s proposal for Potter’s Key, the development to be built adjacent to Jackson Trails and Echo Woods. Change can be hard, and the addition of a new subdivision in a previously forested area can be difficult to swallow. Furthermore, several suggestions were made at the initial public meeting that appear to have been disregarded completely, a situation which does not instill confidence, or a sense of comradery.
However, after a more in depth inspection….. the plan isn’t all bad. Development North of Kimpton seems to fit well with the existing Jackson Trails and Echo Woods communities, and has a decent flow. Provided the lot sizes are kept consistent with Jackson Trails, the layout makes for an attractive setting to call home, including many premium lots, and winding roadways
Numerous concerns do remain.
Development South of Kimpton is a different story altogether:
- Minto is proposing a segregated area of tightly packed townhomes. There is a strong degree of isolation between the townhomes and the single homes.
- These townhomes are proposed to be placed directly abutting large high end single family homes.
- These townhomes would be directly accessed through the existing Jackson trails community, but would have no continuity or compatibility with Jackson Trails.
- There is limited safe access to the parks and the plan is in no sense encouraging of safe pedestrian passage.
- There is no safe pedestrian connection between the southern portion of the plan to the northern portion, where the parks are intended to be placed.
There is still no direct connection to any major arterial road way.
- Kimpton has been realigned to continue through to the Echo Woods development, and eventually meet up with Carp road. This does offer an alternate exit; however, the intersections currently in existence in Echo Woods would not be able to handle the volume that will be created by traffic exiting to Carp road. Echo Woods is simply not designed to handle it.
- Direct access to Hazeldean is intended for the future, but is still not proposed at this time.
- There is also the new introduction of the possibility of future development north of the Maple Grove unopened road allowance, or eventual access to Maple Grove.
WHERE DO WE GO FROM HERE?
- Access to Hazeldean is a must: NOW!! This is not a point that can remain hypothetical.
- The new proposed development would have three roads that exit into Jackson Trails, all of which will funnel to Main Street, which is currently the only access point to enter or exit Jackson Trails. It should be stressed that this means Minto proposes funnelling the entire Potter’s Key neighbourhood, which will be upwards of 681 vehicles, to the Main Street/Hazeldean intersection. This intersection is already heavily congested during commuting hours with the traffic from Jackson Trails alone: adding 454 houses worth of commuter traffic to this location daily is untenable.
- Stephens School will be another victim of the increased traffic, as it is found directly on the collecting corridor of Main, where all the traffic will be directed.
- In addition, the single exit proposed for exiting through Echo Woods to Carp Rd. has its own challenges. The community of Echo Woods already funnels towards this access point, as it is the only access from the subdivision to Carp road that has traffic lights. As a result, the intersection is backed up currently: further traffic routed through this intersection seems unmanageable.
This new proposed development by Minto has the illusion of being very accessible, but the fact of the matter is that the entire community would be funnelled through a maximum of two already heavily congested intersections, and through school zones.
The Jackson Trails Community Association (JTCA) was told previously that Maple Grove would not be opened, but the plan now shows the possibility of this happening, along with the possibility of future development to the north funnelling through the same streets.
Access to Hazeldean Rd. cannot wait. It cannot sit on the plan as a mere future possibility. It is a must before development begins.
- The JTCA finds the park space to be insufficient. Nothing is planned for anyone in the south portion of the development.
- The protected open space should not count towards the required parkland.
- On the north section of the plan, there is now an area where the road is directly adjacent to the protected creek area. This is not a good idea as it will invite garbage, snow plow debris, and other unwanted pollution directly into the protected open space.
Compatibility and Continuity
- Clarification of the lot sizes, and level of build quality (energy star, double garage singles, etc.) is required. In order to ensure compatibility and continuity (as required by city zoning), we need to know what the intended lot sizes are to be, and what level of build Minto intends to produce. Having the option of several build qualities, we expect a higher level to match or be better than the existing developments.
- If Minto wishes to build townhomes behind Overland Drive, they will be required to place a buffer between the two communities. This is to allow for a transition between two completely different formats of community design. A flow from one community to the other is an important key to a properly thought out community design.
- Included in the buffer area, there should be a pathway that connects Bandelier at the southern end of Potter’s Key, to Kimpton at the northern end. This should in turn connect to the existing trails which are already integrated in to the Jackson Trails community.
- This pathway is the last missing piece of an intended pedestrian network throughout the community. This would complete the circle, and allow safe access throughout Jackson Trails, and the new Minto community.
- Adding a small park area connected to this pathway would also offer the Minto residents a closer option to home for play, and make the complex far more family friendly.
- Minto should also offer pathways throughout that are better buffered from road traffic. Kimpton was designed as, and has the potential to become, a very high traffic throughway. Safer development of pedestrian passage needs to be integrated.
Keep in mind that this is not a completely separated community proposal. This is a community that is taking over where another left off. It should not only be compatible with the existing community, it should compliment and even enhance the existing community. By doing so, the value of all involved communities will improve, but tangibly (financially) as well as intrinsically.
- Questions are still unanswered as to the capability of the existing drainage systems in place. Although the studies show that the systems should be more than capable, in reality, extreme backups at the sewers along the Kimpton corridor and elsewhere in Jackson Trails are experienced during rainy days or winter thaw. Will this be remedied?
- Have the environmental boundaries associated with the protected area been fully respected? Feedmill creek seems to be negatively impacted by the development.
- Straight roads tend to invite excessive speeds. What traffic breaks are intended for the Kimpton corridor?
- Will Maple Grove open?
- Are the zoning regulations regarding building heights and need for intensification in current non-target zones being respected?
- How will property values of existing residents be impacted?
There are myriad different opinions and concerns expressed by many residents in Stittsville. I have discussed some of the more commonly raised concerns. This is not to say other concerns are less important! Any, and all feedback, should be sent to the city regarding this proposal, whether good or bad.
THE BOTTOM LINE
This is an exciting time. We have the opportunity to welcome an entirely new neighbourhood to the village of Stittsville. We have the chance to expand and share the beautiful community with people from all over Ottawa.
Let’s do our best to make sure all new communities in Stittsville reflect the existing village feel and design: a village full of trails and pedestrian friendly access, a Main Street with beautiful architecture and shops, and a community feel like nowhere else in Ottawa. Let’s keep looking forward and building our future together.
Minto has a rare opportunity to work as a partner with the village of Stittsville, and to show Ottawa what Minto has to offer. Will Minto accept this challenge? Will the City Planners accept this task? Together we can create a plan that benefits everyone.
Stittsville should strive to be a shining example of good community design, a standard to which other communities can aspire. We encourage developers to partner with residents, as we showcase how positive, smart, expansion and intensification, in the suburbs can really be.
And, hey! Imagine this: maybe, one day in the future, if Stittsville grows to be large enough… we may even get our own high school!
There is a public consultation meeting on November 4th, at the Goulbourn Recreation Complex, at 7pm. Doors open at 630pm for an Open House. Each new development in Stittsville sets precedence for the next. This conversation is for all of Stittsville, not just the residents of Jackson Trails. Join us, and make your voice count.
Email your comments to:
Tag the subject as referring to development plan for 6111 and 6141 Hazeldean Road in Stittsville (File Number D07-16-14-0013).
(Omar Sultan is the president of the Jackson Trails Community Association.)