Get engaged! Dramatic changes being proposed

The Alta Vista Community Association is writing to you to make you aware of the some of the issues arising from the City of Ottawa’s upcoming proposed bylaw changes (Infill II) and how they relate to the Alta Vista neighbourhood, particularly splitting certain lots into two smaller lots upon request. The public comment period on these changes closes next Friday February 27th.

In 2013 the City of Ottawa began an extensive study and consultation on proposed changes to height, massing and setbacks for all wards within the greenbelt. Then at the end of January of this year, the City released for comment a new proposal in the draft bylaw which, we feel, could have a dramatic and potentially devastating effect on the character of our neighborhood. And they have only allowed until February 27th for the public to submit written comments. The proposal bylaw will be considered by City Planning Committee in April.

Briefly, under the proposed bylaw, many corner lots greater than 665m2 – say, 60′ by 120′ – could upon request be “severed” (split into two) as a right, and a separate detached house be built on each new lot. It is not clear from the bylaw whether there would be any need for notification to or consultation with any of the surrounding neighbours. This could affect over 250 lots in the Alta Vista neighborhood. Each resulting lot would typically be half the size of any nearby lots, and in fact smaller than most lots in the Alta Vista Ward.

The City is also proposing allowing decreased “setbacks” from the property line to the house structure, to allow smaller yards and thus a bigger structure to be built on these smaller lots. We feel one inevitable result would be the construction of maximally-sized, flat top buildings to provide the most possible living space, with the addition of a rooftop terrace to make up for the absence of any spacious front or rear yard. The resulting lot size and building structure would be dramatically out of character with other houses in our neighbourhood.

We feel the best approach for the City is to defer proposal of this particular aspect of the proposed bylaw, to allow time for a thorough and proper consideration of how best to accommodate more housing within the city boundaries WITHOUT destroying the fabric of our existing neighborhoods. This was the theme of the City’s last (2008) revision of the bylaw, which was much more sensitive to the existing inner urban neighborhoods and had as an explicit goal “your street sets the pattern for future development”.

The best way to get this proposal deferred to is write the City: the planner in charge of the project, our councillor, the head of the planning committee, and the mayor. You needn’t say much – in fact, it would be sufficient to send an email such as:

==============================

To:
jean.cloutier@ottawa.ca (our councilor)
steve.gauthier@ottawa.ca (the planner leading the project)
alain.miguelez@ottawa.ca (head of the city planning department)
jan.harder@ottawa.ca (chair of the Planning Committee)
jim.watson@ottawa.ca (Mayor)

I am a resident of Alta Vista, Ward 18. I feel the introduction of the proposed bylaw change to allow corner lot severance by right is too hasty – not enough consideration has been given to possible options or alternatives to increase housing density in established neighbourhoods in the outer urban area, nor has there been adequate time or notice to consider the impact of such a proposal on the character of our existing community.

I strongly urge you to postpone consideration of this particular part of the Infill 2 project to a separate study, one which would develop goals and thoroughly investigate options, with a clearly expressed goal to increase densification without materially affecting the character of existing neighborhoods in the outer urban area.

Yours sincerely,
(your name)
(your address)

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You could also reach these people by regular mail at:

Ottawa City Hall
110 Laurier Avenue West
Ottawa ON
K1P 1J1

However, given the short time frame to respond, we feel email might be preferable.

If you do decide to contact any city representatives – in favor of or against the proposal – we ask that you consider copying judy.korecky@hotmail.com. Judy is tracking the City’s ongoing development of this proposal.

Also, if you are not a member of the Alta Vista Community Association and would like to participate in our activities to maintain and improve the Alta Vista area, please consider joining us.

You can view the full, though complicated text of the proposed bylaw here: http://ottawa.ca/en/city-hall/public-consultations/low-rise-infill-housing-study-phase-2

PLEASE PLEASE CONSIDER COMMUNICATING WITH THE CITY TO SUPPORT OUR POSITION.

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