The City of Ottawa’s planning committee is set to consider a detailed and ambitious blueprint for redeveloping the former Rockcliffe military base to accommodate thousands of new homes over the next 20 years, making it the largest residential development inside the Greenbelt in a generation. Matthew Pearson explains.
CFB Rockcliffe, which was a functioning military base up until 2004, is a 131-hectare site roughly bounded by the Aviation Parkway to the west, the Sir George-Étienne Cartier Parkway to the north, the National Research Council campus to the east and Montreal Road to the south.
Most of the land is now owned by Canada Lands Company (CLC), a federal Crown corporation, but a small sliver belongs to the National Research Council.
The last remaining development site of its size in Ottawa’s inner core, the plan envisions a “contemporary mixed-use community that is walkable, cycling-supportive, transit-oriented and built at human scale.”
Expect about 5,300 new homes to accommodate nearly 10,000 residents. Another 2,600 people will work there. It will be more dense than the suburbs, but less dense than downtown, and the variety of housing types will include single-family homes, row houses and apartments.
This is a second attempt at devising a plan for the lands. An earlier process was halted in 2008 due to an Algonquin land claim for the site, which was eventually settled. The land was transferred in 2011 to the Canada Lands Company and the community design plan (CDP) process began again in 2012.
The Algonquins of Ontario will be an integral partner throughout the development. An area will be set aside for Algonquin commemoration at a ridge overlooking the Ottawa River and, subject to further consultation, street naming, public art and commemorative signage will be used to celebrate the association of the site and the region with the Algonquin peoples. The site’s military heritage will also be recognized through street and park naming, public art and commemorative signage.
ROADMAP FOR REDEVELOPMENT
Once adopted by the city, the plan will act as “the roadmap” for development, with some aspects entrenched in a secondary plan and zoning bylaw amendment.
Canada Lands will sell serviced blocks to multiple developers who will construct housing, mixed-use, retail and office buildings according to design requirements established by the CLC.
“Builders will have to follow architectural guidelines so that the land use and design vision is realized,” the plan says, noting Canada Lands will monitor this, as opposed to the city.
There will, however, be “some flexibility” in interpretation, provided the general intent of the policies and principles are maintained, the plan says.
There are many significant trees and tree stands on the site, including a Burr Oak that is estimated to be more than 200 years old. Development will need to account for the location of these features, the plans says.
SCHOOLS, TRANSIT AND OTHER STUFF
The plan calls for three elementary schools, four big parks, five small parks and one town square.
There will also be segregated cycle-tracks and new OC Transpo service. Four bus routes currently travel within a 10-minute walk of the site, but the development proposed will be sufficient to warrant the introduction of a transit route to serve new residents who move onto the site.
WHAT TOBI THINKS
Rideau-Rockcliffe Coun. Tobi Nussbaum says he’s happy with the plan — on paper.
If it is followed, success could mean an “exciting paradigm shift” for building new communities in Ottawa, with a focus on active transportation and convenient transit options.
“It’s going to be critical that implementation respects the intent and spirit of the CDP,” he said.
Council will vote on the plan Oct. 14. Groundbreaking could be as early as next year.
Source: Ottawa Citizen