Sounds to me like a request from the Ottawa-Carleton District School Board to reserve land for a public high school at 195 Huntmar Drive has really put a wrench into the developer’s plans.
About 30-40 residents were at a public meeting on Wednesday night to hear about Shenkman/Cavanagh’s new plan of subdivision. The original plan, submitted in 2016, called for nearly 1,200 housing units. The planners had to do a major re-think after the OCDSB asked for 7.6 hectares (about 14% of the land) for a future public school.
The revised plan shrinks the number of housing units down to 671 from 1169 in the original plan.
The school boards can – and often do – request parcels of land within new developments for future school use. The board has seven years from the date when the subdivision is registered to buy the land from the developer, but it’s up to the province to provide funding for the school.
“I’m apprehensive about the school site,” said Councillor Shad Qadri at the meeting. “But they’re (the school board) telling me due to the population they need to build it.”
The planners had to get creative to fit the school site within the boundaries of property, which is not only oddly shaped, but straddles three distinct land use areas as per the official plan (general urban, mixed use, and employment).
My impression tonight is that the planners (from City Hall and the developers) are still not quite done with the plan. I expect we’ll see more significant revisions before it’s finalized.
I brought up two concerns. One was around density. The original plan called for some low-rise apartments and stacked townhomes; the new plan does not. That seems like a missed opportunity, especially with the proximity to a (possible) future light rail station. There is a serious shortage of affordable rental units in Kanata-Stittsville and I’d like to see developers take the initiative on sites like this one to fill the gap.
I was one of several people who had questions about road infrastructure. We’re already seeing serious strain on roads like Huntmar and Maple Grove from expanding development. There is no clear timeline for the completion of Robert Grant Avenue from Abbott Road to Palladium. It’s imperative we get that built before adding hundreds of new homes to the area.
Some of my notes from the meeting:
- The OCSDB is also looking to acquire land for a high school in Kanata North in the KNL lands. That would be three new public high school sites in Kanata-Stittsville, including the existing land in the Fernbank area.
- The revised plan currently calls for 544 townhomes and 127 single detached homes, for a total of 671 units. The lots are planned with the same depth, so those numbers change – more townhomes or more singles (or vice versa).
- The lots sizes are slightly deeper than in nearby Fairwinds, which will “probably” fit two cars in the front driveway.
- The site would be built in phases, and likely the car dealerships would be the first things built. It’s likely development would move from west to east, since the west side is already serviced.
- The revised plans include a re-alignment of Palladium Drive, much to the chagrin of the owners of the current Palladium Auto Park. A planning consultant representing the auto dealerships politely complained that the new road configuration and location of the high school and district park will mess up their site plans for future car dealerships. (I don’t think he got much sympathy from residents in the room.)
- There were several comments from neighbours in Fairwinds North with concerns about privacy, noise, and compatibility of the future development across the street.
- The car dealerships would be zoned to allow for a wider variety of uses than just car dealerships. (That’s good, but there’s still too much pavement and too many auto dealerships concentrated in this area.)
- By my count there were roughly 30 residents there and 15 people there representing the City of Ottawa and the developer. In my books anything better than a 2:1 ratio of residents to planners is a good turn-out.
- I had to laugh at one of the display boards, showing a rough concept of how the high school and district park could be configured. There’s a field house, baseball diamond, soccer fields… and 16 portables next to the high school!
You can send comments before January 31 to the planning lead, Louise Sweet, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 613-580-2424 x27586.