Community Association calls for balanced approach to intensifying Little Italy

Community Association calls for balanced approach to intensifying Little Italy
Posted on July 7, 2014 | Dalhousie Community Association | Written on July 4, 2014

Dear Councillor,

I am writing to you in support of a motion to amend the Preston-Carling Secondary Plan that will be considered by Council next week. Specifically, we support a motion introduced at Planning Committee that would treat Norman St. similarly to other low‐rise residential streets, with a maximum height of four stories. We believe that there are a number of reasons why Norman St. should be treated similarly and maintain its existing zoning:

  • The original planning exercises for this area treated all side streets as the same. The original recommendations from the design charette and the Strategic Directions report suggested that, absent additional roads (or “mews”), additional height on these streets was not appropriate.

While a motion by amended the Strategic Directions report to remove reference to additional roads while maintaining provisions for 9-story developments, this was not something originally recommended by the city’s planning staff or consultants.

  • The final secondary plan has otherwise recommended that these narrow streets should remain at their existing zoning, accepting the logic of the original planning reports. This protection of the neighbourhood's character – a goal of the secondary plan process – will be undermined by a Norman St. Exception that is very much out of character and scale with the rest of the community.
  • There is nothing that differentiates Norman St. from the other small side streets in the area. Other streets are similarly close to a transit station and similarly connected to the O‐Train multi-use path. While the proposed 9-story zone on Norman backs onto a new traditional main street, a mid‐rise tower does not serve any real function to provide transition to that height, nor are similar transitions used elsewhere in the city.
  • It is important that there be a consistent zoning approach to these streets through the corridor, less further planning uncertainty be created in the neighbourhood.

Already, we have seen a motion to “upzone” another side street to 9-stories. Secondary plans must provide a clear planning certainty, we fear that unless amended this one will not.

  • Even with this change, the Secondary Plan will allow for substantial increases in density in the neighbourhood. Condo development along Rochester, Carling and Champagne will see some of the largest buildings in the city built where there are currently none. Preston St. and Beech will allow for development of up to 6-stories, including housing and commercial uses. Even on the residential side streets, the existing R4T zoning will allow for a doubling or tripling of density as the largely two-story housing stock is gradually replaced.

The Preston‐Carling Secondary Plan has been long‐gestating and the community is happy to see it finally coming to a close. Our focus in this process has been to protect the low-rise residential heart of Little Italy while allowing for room for the community to grow along Rochester, near the transit station and in the former industrial lands along Champagne Ave. The low-rise portion of the community in question is really only six blocks long, and so it is very important to protect all of it. We would appreciate an opportunity to highlight our concerns as to how this will affect the neighbourhood directly.

If you are interested, we would be happy to give a very brief tour (10 minutes) of Norman St. to highlight our concerns. Recognizing your busy schedule, we are happy to accommodate any time that you may have.

Please feel free to contact me directly at 613-797-7313 or by email at


Michael Powell, President
Dalhousie Community Association


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Dalhousie Community Association's picture

The Dalhousie Community Association - DCA - represents residents of the former City of Ottawa's Dalhousie Ward, in the area bounded by:

  • Bay Street to the east;
  • Bayview Station / O-Train line to... More


Laurent Beaulieu

So this is the new battle, Lansdowne took decades to get off the ground because of a few people in a neighbourhood who tried to stop a project for the common good. Now it's little Italy, no development and lets keep things as they are. Because this is the real message and the real goal, to stop all development. The new LRT and O Train make no sense economically if you do not increase the number of people living in the area. Currently a few families live on Norman street and it does not justify having a Station in the area. Change is good in this case because it will profit everyone and it is needed. Special interest groups should revise their thinking and see the big picture.

I find it disappointing, despite the increased rhetoric from City Hall on the need to respect the existing nature of individual communities, the planning department still ignores this important aspect in the Official Plan.

Little in Italy in Toronto for example, one of my favorite locations for a fun night out, does not have nine story buildings on its side streets. Nor does it have four story buildings for that matter. Residential homes can be found behind either side of College street.

Despite this lack of over-intensification, Little Italy (Toronto) is still a wonderful place to go.

Little Italy in Ottawa is no different. I always enjoy a night out in Little Italy whether its at an Italian restaurant or a pub.

I applaud the reasonable approach the Dalhousie Community Association is taking on the intensification of Little Italy, and hope that the City will get the message that residents who care about the future of their communities see the hypocrisy between what the City says and what it actually does.