I often jokingly refer to Stittsville as “one of Ottawa’s most exciting suburbs”, but there’s actually a lot of truth to that. (Just look at what happened here in 2015 alone.)
We live in one of the fastest-growing wards in the City of Ottawa, and the constant development is a constant source of conflict as well as new people and businesses arriving in our community.
Here are a few stories we’re watching in 2016…
In December, the City’s heritage committee denied Richcraft’s proposal to dismantle and move the big red barn on Hazeldean Road. The next step in the process is a decision from Planning Committee meeting on January 26, followed by City Council the next day.
It’s an important decision that’s about more than just heritage. How important is preserving Stittsville’s traditional village character? What does healthy development look like in the suburbs? At the heritage committee meeting, Councillor Tobi Nussbaum touched on some of these ideas and called the way that Hazeldean Road is currently being developed ‘a disappointment’.
STITTSVILLE MAIN DEVELOPMENT
With the Stittsville Community Design Plan and new zoning put in place in 2015, the stage is set for a renewal of our community’s traditional main street. It all depends on property owners and developers being ready and willing to spend some money, but we’re already seeing some positive signs.
A number of properties have changed hands in the last year. There’s a proposal to build a large retirement residence on Wildpine, and there’s word of two other large complexes being proposed soon along the north half of the street.
The new medical complex next to Greco is expected to open this year, a dessert bakery called The Sweet Room Bakery Boutique is opening in the plaza near Johnny Leroux Arena very soon, and the condos next to the Legion are supposed to be rebooted as “Stittsville Walk”.
Compared to this time last year, I’d say the prospects for Stittsville Main Street are definitely looking up.
BUSINESS IMPROVEMENT AREA
Councillor Qadri says one of his priorities in this term is to start up a Business Improvement Association (BIA) for Stittsville. About a dozen local business owners and operators met last November, and there’s a follow-up meeting planned for early in the New Year to establish a steering committee to get more businesses on board.
BIAs support activities like marketing, market research, streetscape improvements and special events, and have been successful in other Ottawa neighbourhoods at strengthening the health of local retail.
There are several groups in our community working to support and sponsor Syrian refugees. Just a few days ago, Holy Spirit church welcomed a Syrian refugee family that they sponsored. They’ll be living in Kanata and there are lots of volunteers who are helping to get them settled in.
The Kanata Stittsville Refugee Sponsorship Group, a coalition of local church volunteers, is also hoping to sponsor refugees from Syria and elsewhere this year, and help them get established in Canada.
CARP ROAD LANDFILL EXPANSION
Most of the municipal and provincial approvals in place for Waste Management to proceed with the West Carleton Environmental Centre expansion. One of the last pieces of paperwork is to finalize a Host Municipal Responsibility Agreement with the City. That document will set out a number of terms including community compensation, property value protection, traffic, and groundwater safety.
The Coalition for Landfill Accountability (COLA), sent out an email update yesterday: “We have been told that it is being actively negotiated, and that at some point there will be a mechanism for the public to provide comments. But the councillors and city staff have been unable to tell us how that consultation will occur. Will it presented at a committee meeting? At city council? Will there be a public meeting? Or will staff just send a memo to councillors? We keep asking, but so far we’ve had no answer.”
We had a number of articles last year about dog parks (or the lack of them) in Stittsville. There are two possibilities for dog parks in Stittsville: 1) Councillor Qadri told the Fairwinds Community Association last month that he’s hoping to work with Mattamy to create a fenced dog park at the south end of the Fairwinds West subdvision, on Rosehill. 2) Qadri has also asked city staff to look at funding options to purchase a parcel of land known as the Shea Woods near Fernbank. It’s privately owned land.
(We’ll probably see a decision early this year on the dog park in Kanata North as well.)
The new École secondaire catholique Paul Desmarais, the french Catholic high school on Abbott, is expected to open in February. It will be the first of several schools built in the Fernbank area.
The english Catholic board has purchased a block of land on Aquilo in Fairwinds for a future elementary school, although there’s no timeline for building it.
Will 2016 be the year that the province green lights funding for a public high school in Stittsville?