It’s back to the drawing board, but not quite to square one, for the Stittsville Main Street Community Design Plan (CDP).
In his weekly email newsletter to residents on November 7, councillor Shad Qadri said that city staff will look at the policy proposal in the “early part of 2015”, instead of this month as originally planned.
Qadri cited “significant feedback and continued concerns” for the delay.
“We have heard residents’ concerns regarding the allowable height and density provisions for Stittsville Main Street as well as traffic concerns,” he wrote in the newsletter.
“With this in mind, I will be working with Mark Young of the Planning and Growth Management Department to review the existing draft CDP, meeting with area residents again with the goal of coming up with some new ideas and proposals to hopefully meet residents’ concerns. We hope to have a final draft of the CDP for Planning Committee approval in Spring 2015.”
David Jenkins is one of the residents who has voiced concerns with the plan. A Stittsville resident for 30 years, he is also a member of the public advisory committee (PAC) for the CDP.
“It’s a very difficult road to tie down with a ‘vision’. There are so many variations everywhere you turn. This is a very difficult street to try to regulate,” he says.
Those variations include:
- the historic section near Abbott Street
- old homes converted to businesses just north of that
- low-rise senior residences
- commercial strip malls to the north.
“In the older section, some of the buildings have been really nicely renovated, but it’s all sort of patchwork down there. I’d really like to see something put in place to attract people down to that end,” he says.
“But for instance, you see this new coffee shop (Quitters) down there seems be attracting a lot of people. So I guess it can be done. The problem is that the more business that go to the north end, towards Hazeldean, they’re just going to draw things away from the lower end of town. That’s been recognized for a long time and it doesn’t seem to change.”
The goal of the CDP is to “ensure a balanced mix of residential and commercial development and a vibrant street that supports the community”, according to city documents. The plan provides “guidance on how to create a compact, mixed-use, and walkable environment.”
The latest version of the CDP from May 2014 includes a controversial six-storey height limit for buildings along Stittsville Main Street. In an interview earlier this fall with StittsvilleCentral.ca, Qadri said that the six-storey limit isn’t appropriate for all areas along the street.
“In some portions of Main Street it makes sense, other portions do not,” he said. “For example, I believe Hazeldean to Beverley, the six-storey limit makes sense. Beyond Beverley to Elm, it does not.”
Some properties along the strip are already zoned for six stories, for example a property behind the Lions building near Wildpine Court.
“You have to keep in mind, development is 15, 20, 30 years down the road, it’s not overnight, not in the next five years,” said Qadri. “One solution may be to stage it, with three to four storeys now, increasing to four to six storeys in later years.”
Jenkins says part of the problem is that city planners are trying to impose an urban main street design on what is essentially an old village road.
“Of all the traditional main streets which have been zoned as such under the official plan, this is the only street outside the Greenbelt. The rest of them are all downtown streets: Somerset, Richmond Road, Elgin, Rideau. They are long, well-established, highly-urbanized downtown city streets,” says Jenkins.
“This is an attempt by the City to turn Stittsville Main Street, which bears absolutely no resemblance to any of these streets, into another replica of a downtown traditional main street,” he says.
Jenkins says as a member of the formal PAC involved in the planning process, he was surprised to hear about the latest change in the process through Qadri’s weekly newsletter, instead of being formally notified by the city’s planning department.
He is hopeful that the delay in the process will give more people a chance to learn about the plan.
“The longer it goes, the more people might understand or at least hear about all the concerns that have been raised with respect to this project,” he says.
“The review should be subject to full public consultation, long before it goes to the planning committee.”
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