Office of Councillor Jeff Leiper, Kitchissippi Ward, Ottawa | (613) 580-2485  |
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CHIN radio re-zoning for Wellington

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This week, I'll be asking by way of motion for our planning staff to bring forward a recommendation on re-zoning 1391 Wellington West to allow a "broadcasting studio", facilitating a move by CHIN Radio into our community. Under the current Traditional Mainstreet zoning for the area, a broadcasting studio isn't a permitted use. I understand the planning rationale for the prohibition, but believe strongly that technology has evolved to the point where CHIN is being held up by a lack of meaningful definition.

I'm excited to have a very community-minded broadcaster such as CHIN in the heart of Wellington West - if this re-zoning passes, I can foresee working with that team on a multitude of contributions to Kitchissippi.

With staff, I've explored multiple options to allow this use. I'm uncomfortable with allowing broadcasting studios to pop up willy-nilly without much greater definitional clarity. To that end, if passed, this will be a site-specific re-zoning. I'm looking forward to hearing your comments.

My comments to the staff report that is coming forward with my motion were as follows:

In recent months, the owners of CHIN Radio have approached me to seek permission to operate a new radio broadcasting facility at the subject property. Currently, a “broadcasting studio” is not a permitted use in this TM zone. Allowing a change in permitted use on this TM where there is a community design plan and a secondary plan requires careful consideration. On balance, this change will permit a dynamic and community-minded business to begin operations to the community’s benefit, and I am fully supportive.

Under the current zoning rules, a “broadcasting studio” (defined only as “a radio or television broadcasting studio”) is not a permitted use. However, questioning the land use planning rationale for this prohibition in this instance seems warranted.

A “broadcasting studio” can encompass everything from the Bell Media building in the Byward Market with dozens of employees, large production spaces, and large satellite dishes and antenna masts, to the cubby hole from which CKCU broadcasts in Carleton’s University Centre, to Councillors’ offices when they livestream on YouTube a Q&A for residents.

Technology has obviated the need for most of the infrastructure associated with what might have been thought of as “broadcasting” in past. In this instance, CHIN will be delivering its “signal” to transmission towers via an internet connection similar to that of an IT company.

The studio space will have no more traffic impact than a doctor’s office or driving school, which are either currently existing or permitted, but with significantly more streetscape animation. The site will have its own parking for staff, and it will generate far less parking demand than the retail and restaurant uses around it. I am cognizant that the TM zone is intended to foster pedestrian-friendly streetscapes, with noncommercial uses removed from at-grade. However, I am confident it will be a net contributor to Kitchissippi’s street and cultural life with a unique contribution not contemplated by planners or the community.

I firmly believe that the inclusion of CHIN Radio on our streetscape will accomplish the Traditional Mainstreet Zone’s purpose to “accommodate a broad range of uses including retail, service commercial, office, residential and institutional uses, including mixed-use buildings but excluding auto-related uses, in areas designated Traditional Mainstreet in the Official Plan.

Posted July 5, 2015