LINKED: Stittsville design plan isn’t dense enough, says planner

Stittsville Main Street sign. Photo by Glen Gower.

The Ottawa Citizen published an interesting opinion piece from Charles Lanktree  today about the Stittsville Main Street Community Design Plan (CDP).

He argues that the CDP recently approved by the city’s planning committee is not dense enough, and should have allowed for higher buildings.

In the article, he’s described as a “Registered Professional Planner and resident of Ottawa”, but it’s worth noting that he was also the lead planner for the City of Ottawa on the CDP file until last fall, when Mark Young took over.

Here’s an excerpt:

When we look at the demographics of Stittsville, we see that it is projected to grow from some 27,000 souls in 2011 to well over 70,000 by 2031. As with many of the communities outside the greenbelt, Stittsville is outpacing the rate of growth of the city as a whole.

So one may wonder why its CDP can accommodate only 500 new dwellings. This seems rather low for an area that is supposed to provide for intensification with a more compact, mixed use and walkable environment. But the predominant form of development in Stittsville, as with many other suburban communities in Ottawa, remains the broad expanses of single detached dwellings, extending beyond walkable ranges for most to do local errands. This inefficient development pattern has come to be known as sprawl.

This is where the physical character of Stittsville Main Street provides an opportunity. The former rural village affords very deep lots along the street, many of which are 90 metres deep. This distinguishes them from inner-city Mainstreets with 30 metre-deep lots where taller buildings and more abrupt transitions are occurring. This greater lot depth provides for a more gentle transition of height and use to the surrounding neighbourhoods where three storey buildings are currently permitted. Also, the width of Stittsville Main Street varies from a substandard 15 metres for a short stretch in the old village core to a generous 30 metres to the north and south. In these 30-metre sections, a 20-metre-high, six-storey building wouldn’t seem so tall — and certainly not a “canyon” by any stretch.

Unfortunately, these opportunities were not seized in this plan, with a four-storey height limit that hardly intensifies from the existing three storeys. This, along with a mere encouragement of mixed use and allowance for 50 per cent of a lot to be open to the street, and one is left to wonder what will change with this plan.

Read the full column…


1 thought on “LINKED: Stittsville design plan isn’t dense enough, says planner”

  1. Yes, I saw this piece in the Citizen, and it made my blood boil. These city types seem to have no idea about anything — except for the last person who produced the current plan, who understood more. People moved out to Stittsville over the years, especially in the earlier years, to get away from urban density. We chose to have large lots, fresh air and nature at our doorsteps. Just because the Ontario government forced us to become part of Ottawa doesn’t mean we must be trampled upon. Even the consultants who set up the amalgamation warned against this happening. But the City seems to think that every bit of land within the Greater Ottawa precinct should eventually be paved over, starting with wetlands and farm lands because they’re presumably easier to build on — less rock to blast through. Rural councilors are over-ridden by city ones who still don’t “get” what rural and village mean, and current suburban ones for areas like Barrhaven seem to support the destruction of the rural landscape and villages. Other areas of Ottawa also have large lots and low density, but who sees the city trying to force higher density on areas such as Rockcliffe? As I said, it makes my blood boil.

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