This letter makes me question whether the Lowertown Community Association really has the ByWard Market's best interests at heart. The project was allowed to go forth because it's replacing a building that already breaks the rules, and that is a total drag for the market's appearance and its tourism. This is a specific case that was considered on its merits - but the association is putting forth a "slippery slope" argument in its letter. If it is true that "The ByWard Market area is the city’s number one tourist destination and generates millions of dollars in annual sales to the city" then the Lowertown Community Association needs to explain how building a new hotel to replace an old ugly building is really detrimental to the market. I appreciate the height restrictions in the market because it does make the market a unique tourist attraction. But Ottawa needs to start building up and condensing - we can't sprawl forever!
Open letter to Mayor Watson & Ottawa City Councillors re Claridge Proposal on Dalhousie & George
Dear Mayor Watson and Ottawa City Councillors,
As you know, Claridge is proposing to add five storeys to the existing 11-storey Union du Canada building located in a Heritage Conservation District to convert it into a hotel, and to construct a 23-storey residential condominium tower on George Street, near the corner of Dalhousie. Both of these buildings, located one block away from the heart of the ByWard Market, would exceed the current maximum zoning heights by approximately 40%. If built, these buildings would tower over buildings in the Market, and would set dangerous precedents for development in the Heritage Conservation District. Density was often stated as the overwhelming benefit of this project, but a project respecting the existing zoning heights would still exceed density targets for the year 2031 by over 1.5 times.
The Claridge proposal was recently approved at Planning Committee, despite issues that we and several delegations brought up. The project is counter to several objectives and policies of the Official Plan and the project would result in negative impacts on the Market. Some of the thinking behind approving the project is questionable – like approving five additional storeys on a building in a heritage district which is already deemed to be too high, or accepting that a 23- storey building is an appropriate transition from the Market's low scale (3-4 storeys) to the high node on Rideau/King Edward (24-25 storeys). Presenters raised these questions at Planning Committee where committee members did not even discuss them.
The ByWard Market area is the city’s number one tourist destination and generates millions of dollars in annual sales to the city. Visitors are attracted to the unique heritage character of the Market. The Market is a fantastic resource that we should all be proud of and work hard to preserve and improve. The LCA requests that councilors implement city policies and by-laws so that both buildings are no higher than is currently permitted. We hope that Council will apply the official plan, which recognizes the unique importance of the Market and commits Council to protecting and enhancing its unique character.
Lowertown Community Association (LCA)
cc. Ottawa Gatineau media outlets
Thanks for the comment Brittney. I think the question is more about how we go about intensifying and whether or not raising the height of the building on this location is the best way to achieve it in the market. I don't know this particular development so I can't say, but I do agree with the Lowertown Community Association that we need to protect the Market from over intensification, or as Ken Gray coined the phrase... "Extremification". I know from personal experience living in Toronto that lively urban neighbourhoods can become sterile if too many skyscrapers are built. It's a question of balance, something we haven't seen from the City in quite some time.
I like the idea of some 25 story buildings in Ottawa. I wish they would build them in my neighborhood. Yes, I'd loose sunshine and greenspace, but it is far better than paving over more of our farmland to build generic townhouse developments. It will also reduce transportation pressures. We have to stop thinking like a small town.
Is it a trade off? Does intensifying in the core mean we're not going to build out to the edge of the urban boundary and beyond? Right now the City is doing both. That's the threat of the Walton International development which looks like it will eventually be approved, if not in this term of Council then in the next.
I don't consider a 25 story project "extremification." What I do find extreme is Ottawa's NIMBYism and aversion to anything new (unless they're parks or festivals)!
I don't think there is a balance here - it's too much on the side of those opposing new developments in our city.