EDITOR’S NOTE: Jillian McKim lives on Fernbank Road in a home that’s adjacent to a proposed 149-home development at 6279 Fernbank Road. Over the past few months, she’s been participating as a community representative in discussions with the City of Ottawa and the developer, Chenier/Cananagh, about the subdivision design. After an Ontario Municipal Board (OMB) hearing in April, the City and the developer agreed to try to reach a consensus to resolve their disagreements. As McKim explains, at this point it looks like the development will proceed with a few conditions in place to address resident concerns about flooding and zoning.
I have spent the past six months in bi-weekly (and sometimes weekly) meetings at City Hall with City of Ottawa and Chenier/Cavanagh experts. The learning curve was steep but I can now confidently say that I have become fairly functional in stormwater management and flood mitigation strategies. What did this get the community? The proposed development of 149 houses at 6279 Fernbank Road will go ahead. However, not without first hearing some local concerns.
Residents tasked me at the April 2015 SWS Community Association meeting to take forward to the table of experts five concerns ranging from water issues to height restrictions and construction noise.
While we dealt with many of the concerns at the Ontario Municipal Board (OMB) hearing in the spring concerning zoning and City intensification planning,the water balance discussions brought forward new concerns. The discussions identified that there was a serious stormwater issue at the corner of Meadowland and Elm. The stormwater capacity just wasn’t there to handle the water coming out of the ditches in front of the homes in the area.
City engineers have come up with some great strategies and this should greatly improve the area at Elm Crescent as we move forward in infrastructure updates.
Residents were concerned about the proposed development flooding their basements. Cavanagh and legal representation for Chenier, Soloway Wright, supported by engineering experts at Robinson Consulting assure us that all water from the site will be managed through closed stormwater pipes and the Urban Natural Feature.
This is a stark contrast to the original plan that would have the water infiltrating back into the ground using a modified Etobicoke system similar to the stormwater system in the Westwood development to the north-west of the site. The City experts and modeling from JF Sabourin Associates has scaled back the amount of water being pushed into the existing Elm Crescent inlet and will be managing stormwater with inlet control devices to manage the flow concerns that come with tying into an existing established system that is already under stress.
The R1-R3 zoning has yet to be approved, however I anticipate that it will be once the draft plan of subdivision is approved. The community asked that lots adjacent to existing homes be restricted to R1 (single-family dwellings), rather than townhomes. The houses adjacent to the Fernbank Road properties will each have four semi-detached homes.
When we asked for single storey (bungalows) on the lots adjacent to existing homes we were told that they could not deliver this as they would never be able to sell the lots with this restriction. If the lots remain unsold, it could mean that existing adjacent homes could look out over the aggregate parking lot (undeveloped land) for years.
The engineering firm and developer has assured us that the majority of the houses will have a lower finished grade that will meet the existing grades of the rear-yard existing lots. While the homes may rise up to two stories above some of the smaller homes on Elm, the rear-yard grades will meet. All existing homes will have wooden fences installed at the perimeter of the new development.
On October 15 the three parties will go back to the OMB with their expectations going forward. The community maintains that this development should not go ahead and that the land should be restored to its original natural function. However, it is my impression that there is nothing in any of the required reporting to the City Planning division that will prevent the City from granting permission to the developer to start site development.
I am asking the Community at this time to bring me any concerns directly related to their property before Monday October 19, 2015 so that I can present them to the City and the Developer. You can contact me via firstname.lastname@example.org
Residents need to know that we fought this development. We went before the OMB and defended our community. We lost, but not completely. Residents will certainly be impacted by this development. Not all impacts will be negative. We need to hear from residents about requests they have to minimize the impact of the construction.