(Above: City of Ottawa planner Mark Young presented highlights from the new draft plan for Stittsville Main Street at a public meeting on May 20.)
The latest draft of the Stittsville Main Street Community Design Plan (CDP) is getting a very warm reception from residents.
About 100 people attended a standing room only open house at the Goulbourn Recreation Complex on Wednesday night to hear about the latest version of the plan. Once approved, the CDP will provide a framework for development along the Stittsville Main Street corridor (roughly from the library to Hazeldean Road) over the next 20 or more years.
“This is a vast improvement,” said David Jenkins, a resident who’s been involved in the consultations on the plan for the past three years. “The previous draft was really very inflexible, and didn’t have much imagination to it.”
“You’ll notice one of the main points in the new draft is the recognition that Stittsville is a unique community, that Stittsville Main Street doesn’t compare to the rest of the so-called designated traditional main streets in the City of Ottawa, all of which inside the Greenbelt, most of which are downtown streets like Richmond Road, Somerset, Elgin and so-on,” said Jenkins. “We’ve said all along: You can’t do a one-size-fits-all scheme for Stittsville.”
Mark Young, the City of Ottawa’s urban planner in charge of the project, gave the crowd an overview of the plan’s highlights at the meeting, including what has changed from the previous draft.
“The biggest concern was that six storeys is not appropriate for Stittsville Main Street,” said Young. “This plan has a maximum of four storeys (or 15 metres) for the entire corridor. (There are) height transitions provided to residential and open space areas.”
Young says the plan includes specific design guidelines to maintain the “village feel and character” of Stittsville Main Street, including encouraging dormers, porches, double-hung windows, and attention to the scale and height of buidlings. He says the Blackbird shop in Almonte and Alice’s Village Cafe in Carp are good examples of the type of buildings they’d like to see more of on Stittsville Main.
“I am passionate about Stittsville Main Street. I want to see it thrive,” said Young.
Tanya Hein has been involved in public consultations on the plan since October 2012, both as a private resident as president of the Stittsville Village Association.
“The six-storey plan stuck in a lot of people’s craw. They were afraid of a canyon effect going down Stittsville Main Street with tall buildings either side, making it dark and crowded. And with traffic concerns, and the historic buildings, we have some bottleneck areas. This plan is more responsivie. Some people insisted on a three-story limit, but I think four is a reasonable comprimise,” said Hein.
Hein credits Young, a Stittsville resident, with changing the tone of the consultations with residents. He took over the file last fall.
“He has family links to Stittsville, he knows the community. I think that made a big difference. We went section by section, stating our concerns, what we’d like to see, what the potential could be. It was a much more consultative process than the past meetings were,” she said.
“I feel a lot better about this version that they’ve taken the community concerns into account. I can see several areas where the suggestions have come through in the draft document,” said Hein.
Several residents at the meeting voiced concerns about traffic, and the ability for Stittsville Main Street to handle more cars if more development occurs. City staff said improvements to roads in the area, including a north-south arterial road connecting Fernbank to Huntmar, would move north-south cut-through traffic away from Stittsville Main Street, alleviating some of the traffic.
Other highlights in the plan:
- Residential land use will be allowed everywhere along the street, except for the village core near Abbott Street. That’s to encourage more commercial development in this area.
- A strategy for more links between recreation trails, especially around the Poole Creek corridor. It also aims for wider sidewalks, dedicated cycling tracks, and on-street parking, like the new design of Churchill Avenue in Westboro.
- Recommendations for features like benches, street lighting, public art and open spaces.
- A recommendation that a Business Improvement Association be established, although that will be up to local business owners to initiate.
The City is accepting comments on the plan until June 3, and hopes to get it in front of the City’s planning committee for approval as early as July 7. You can read the entire document at ottawa.ca/stittsvillecdp