PHOTO: Construction equipment in front of the Bradley-Craig barn. Photo by Dan Pak.
The citizens of Ottawa spend considerable time and money defining the type of community we want to live in through things like the official plan, zoning by-laws, heritage designations and green space conservation strategies. Yet often developers spend just as much time and money to justify projects which contravene the City’s plan.
We often hear developers complain about how long it takes and how expensive it is to get anything done. But often this is because they are using expensive experts to prepare a rationale to be exempt from the controls set out by the City. Recently there have been several prime examples of this in the Stittsville area.
First is the Bradley-Craig barn. The City gave the farmstead (farmhouse and barn) heritage designation to protect it as prime example of the early agricultural history in the region. The developer who didn’t want it, asked to dismantle and move it. Although staff and the Built Heritage Sub-Committee voted against the request to move the barn, the Planning Committee and Council voted in favour of the developer.
Second is the clearing of 6279 Fernbank Road. The site is one of the last large nature area providing a home and refuge for wildlife. Through the “Protocol for Wildlife Protection during Construction” the City defines a number of best [ractices to minimize the impact on wildlife during construction. Regarding removal of trees and wetlands, it states that clearing should not take place in the winter (mid-October through March to protect overwintering wildlife). Yet contrary to the City’s own definition best practices they gave the developer a permit to remove trees this winter, starting February 1.
Third is the approval for the expansion of the landfill on Carp Road at the 417. Throughout the long approval process the City repeatedly prepared reports and passed motions listing environmental and community impacts. There were also concerns that more landfill capacity might impact long term waste reduction strategies. In this case the developer went above the authority of the City using the Provincial environmental assessment process. Since the province has little skin in the game it was easier for the developer to get approval and thus pressure the City to comply with rezoning and site plan approval.
So it seems that no matter what measures the City and the community put in place to direct development in a healthy way that leads to a city we want to live, work and play in, developers manage to get approval to develop a City that gives them the best bottom line.
Harold Moore, West Carleton