De­vel­op­ment plan pro­vides test for coun­cil can­di­dates in east-end ward

De­vel­oper de­nies push­ing project while Mitic away

Ottawa Citizen - - CITY - JON WILL­ING jwill­ing@post­media.com twit­ter.com/JonathanWilling

Mu­nic­i­pal elec­tion can­di­dates in an east-end ward are try­ing to show their plan­ning chops on an ap­pli­ca­tion that pro­poses to change a com­mu­nity de­sign plan while the lo­cal coun­cil­lor is on leave from city hall.

The east ur­ban com­mu­nity de­sign plan calls for a low-den­sity res­i­den­tial de­vel­op­ment on the forested land at 2983 Na­van Rd. Now, Tag­gart Realty Man­age­ment wants the city to re­clas­sify the land as com­mer­cial to al­low a retail cen­tre with a gro­cery store, two restau­rants, a drive-thru restau­rant, a gas sta­tion with car wash and other stores.

The coun­cil­lor for Innes ward, Jody Mitic, is on leave, so there’s no ward-elected rep­re­sen­ta­tive watch­ing the file. Coun­cil in June granted Mitic the leave of ab­sence for an un­spec­i­fied pe­riod af­ter he pre­sented med­i­cal doc­u­men­ta­tion to the clerk.

Mitic’s of­fice is still han­dling con­stituency mat­ters and other east-end coun­cil­lors — Stephen Blais, Bob Monette and Tim Tier­ney — have been tasked to han­dle ad­min­is­tra­tive is­sues for the ward.

The pre­lim­i­nary time­line for Tag­gart’s ap­pli­ca­tion has the plan­ning com­mit­tee mak­ing a de­ci­sion on Oct. 23, the day af­ter the mu­nic­i­pal elec­tion. The next Innes ward coun­cil­lor won’t take of­fice un­til the four-year term be­gins on Dec. 1.

Paul Bolt, pres­i­dent of the nearby Chapel Hill South Com­mu­nity As­so­ci­a­tion, is wor­ried the de­vel­oper is try­ing to rush the ap­pli­ca­tion while there’s a po­lit­i­cal vac­uum at city hall. Bolt said Mitic’s staff have done a good job of quickly re­spond­ing to mes­sages, but he won­ders if con­cerns from the com­mu­nity on plan­ning files are re­ceiv­ing the nec­es­sary con­sid­er­a­tion by de­ci­sion-mak­ers.

“This seems to be pushed through be­fore any dis­cus­sion with any leader to guide this through,” Bolt said. He said the plan­ning ap­pli­ca­tion should be pushed ahead to the next term of coun­cil.

Yas­mine Fa­thers, pres­i­dent of Bradley Es­tates Com­mu­nity As­so­ci­a­tion, said res­i­dents are gen­er­ally pleased about the po­ten­tial of hav­ing a retail area that’s ac­ces­si­ble by foot. The com­mu­nity hopes to see pub­lic con­sul­ta­tion so res­i­dents have in­put on the de­sign, she said.

Fa­thers and Bolt said de­vel­op­ment files like Tag­gart’s un­der­score the im­por­tance of plan­ning the western ex­ten­sion of Brian Coburn Boule­vard to prop­erly man­age traf­fic.

Since de­vel­op­ment ap­pli­ca­tions are a key part of coun­cil­lors’ ad­vo­cacy work at city hall, coun­cil hope­fuls are try­ing to en­gage the com­mu­nity on the file while Mitic is away.

Four can­di­dates are fight­ing to suc­ceed Mitic, who’s not seek­ing re-elec­tion: Laura Du­das, Donna Leith- Gud­bran­son, Tammy Lynch and François Tré­panier.

Du­das said vot­ers are telling her the pro­posed de­vel­op­ment would be ben­e­fi­cial since it would be a closer retail op­tion than driv­ing to Innes Road. Res­i­dents want to make sure the retail of­fer­ings re­flect the needs of the com­mu­nity, Du­das said.

She doesn’t think the ap­pli­ca­tion needs to be pushed to the next term of coun­cil.

“We as can­di­dates can play a role in hav­ing the res­i­dents’ voices heard,” Du­das said. “The res­i­dents have been wait­ing for a very long time to have ac­cess to ameni­ties within a short dis­tance from their homes.

“I think it would be to their detri­ment if we were to hold up the process even more so.”

Donna Leith- Gud­bran­son said her first in­stinct was to be con­cerned about the trees and im­pacts to the im­me­di­ate neigh­bours, but as she talked to res­i­dents in Chapel Hill South and Bradley Es­tates, she learned they’re gen­er­ally ex­cited for lo­cal re­tail­ers and restau­rants.

How­ever, feel­ing like the ap­pli­ca­tion was be­ing rushed when the lo­cal coun­cil­lor is on leave, Leith Gud­bran­son said she talked to Tag­gart about hold­ing a pub­lic con­sul­ta­tion and con­tacted Tier­ney and Coun. Jan Harder, the plan­ning chair, about the pos­si­bil­ity of push­ing the po­lit­i­cal de­ci­sion un­til De­cem­ber.

“I just went into ac­tion and called the peo­ple that I know,” Leith- Gud­bran­son said.

Lynch said she also reached out to Tag­gart this week.

“I know a big is­sue res­i­dents have is that trees are so im­por­tant,” Lynch said. “They re­ally want to see a preser­va­tion of trees, es­pe­cially around the pro­posed de­vel­op­ment.”

Res­i­dents also want good pedes­trian and cy­cling con­nec­tiv­ity with a fu­ture rapid-tran­sit stop and park and ride on Brian Cobourn Boule­vard, Lynch said.

Tré­panier is baf­fled that the plan­ning ap­pli­ca­tion would be on track to go through coun­cil be­fore the elec­tion. He be­lieves res­i­dents are split on the retail pro­posal, not­ing as red flags the loss of trees and the de­vel­op­ment’s prox­im­ity to homes on Na­van and Pagé roads.

“I’m not con­vinced it’s a good idea,” Tré­panier said.

Jeff Parkes, vice-pres­i­dent of plan­ning and de­vel­op­ment for Tag­gart, said the com­pany wanted to have an in­for­ma­tion ses­sion be­fore the sum­mer, but it fell through when Mitic went on leave. Tag­gart now wants to have the in­for­ma­tion ses­sion be­fore the end of Septem­ber, or at least some­time in the fall. The com­pany isn’t try­ing to push through a de­vel­op­ment ap­pli­ca­tion while the coun­cil­lor is away, he said.

“We rec­og­nize the ap­pear­ance is not the way we in­tended,” Parkes said.

Tag­gart is will­ing to have the plan­ning ap­pli­ca­tion con­sid­ered af­ter the next coun­cil takes of­fice, he said.

Tag­gart Realty Man­age­ment wants to build a retail cen­tre in a forested area on Na­van Road that was ear­marked for fu­ture res­i­den­tial de­vel­op­ment.

Laura Du­das

François Tré­panier

Donna Leith-Gud­bran­son

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