Office of Councillor Jeff Leiper, Kitchissippi Ward, Ottawa | (613) 580-2485  |
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Modified Rochester Field proposal passes Council

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Yesterday, Council voted – including me – to approve a modified version of the Rochester Field development concept. The concept continues to foresee two mid-rise buildings clustered at the south end of the field, but with some changes.

As recommended for approval by Planning Committee, the proposal would have seen two six-storey buildings on Richmond, with a setback and with a gap between them of roughly 15 meters.

I was concerned and also heard from many residents that that this offered too little gateway between Richmond and the soon-to-be-constructed SJAM park.

Before that proceeded to a vote at our Council meeting two weeks ago, I was successful at getting a pause put on the process to see whether there was any further improvement that could be achieved. My thanks go to Councillor Harder, the Mayor, and the NCC’s Dr. Kristmanson for helping achieve that second look.

Coming out of that meeting, we got a wider gap by around 4m to roughly 19m to serve as that park gateway. That gap/gateway is now the equivalent width to Byron Linear Park. To compensate the NCC for the lost density, the building on the east side of the site is proposed to have seven storeys instead of six.

It was a difficult decision to support this. I thank the many people from whom I sought advice. As I told Council this morning, this is not everything we were seeking. However, the additional gap between buildings is, I consider, meaningful. And, again in my view, the addition of a seventh storey – with a 5m prescribed stepback from Richmond – won’t significantly affect the building’s overall impact in this particular geography.

There is no actual development proposal for this property, and there isn’t likely to be for many years. The zoning is subject to a holding provision that means it won’t be in effect until there are more specific details available about which we in the community will have the opportunity for further consultation. Today’s effort was not the last chance to effect change in the concept, and we’ll certainly continue efforts with the NCC to do so. Just because this is the zoning that the NCC has been submitted does not mean they’re obligated to build to that footprint. I will be seeking assurances from the NCC that future asks won't exceed the permissions they've now been given.

At the end of the day, a proposal that would have seen much of Rochester Field developed has been whittled down to less than 20%, and the park concept has generated significant excitement on the part of many. With an eleventh hour re-visit made possible by your notes and support, we’ve achieved a better design than was on the table two weeks ago. With these considerations in mind, I cast my vote in favour. I look forward to continuing to work with you on further improvements as the opportunities arise.

Posted February 15, 2018