February 4, 2021

At the February Board meeting we also approved the motion that we supported the principles that the FCA provide in its response to the plan . The wording of the motion (Kris was the mover, Raylene the seconder) was · The Riverview Park Community Association hereby endorses the themes and principles in Federation of Citizens Associations (FCA) response to the draft Official Plan.”

Submitted on behalf of the RPCA Board

There is “good” intensification/regeneration going on that fits the fabric of neighbourhoods, that doesn’t provoke community opposition, and that has been taking place for many years in Ottawa.

While the Riverview Park Community Association (RPCA) Board has been on record in favour of the planning concept of 15-minute neighbourhoods, this support does not constitute giving carte blanche to intensification without limits, nor development that does not preserve or recognize the importance of the existing tree canopy. Riverview Park already includes many features of a 15-minute community with access to recreational greenspace, amenities such as shopping and public transit – and we support efforts to aid the evolution of Riverview Park into a more complete and inclusive 15-minute community, including enhancing the existing tree canopy and tree-planting in commercial areas.

In terms of intensification/regeneration, it must respect the community context, not overload existing infrastructure, and include meaningful community input in design and planning. This community involvement should be as early as possible in the process – it should not be tacked on towards the end when the design plans have by and large been completed and community consultation is merely pro-forma, with little opportunity to effectuate substantive change.  

The Official Plan should also implement principles that are consistent with the City Council’s 2019 decision to recognize a Climate Emergency.  Projects such as expansion of the Alta Vista Transportation Corridor (AVTC) – which will only encourage additional vehicle traffic and increased Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions – should be removed from the Official Plan.  For the record, the AVTC should not be considered a “green transportation corridor” as it only serves as link to the Ottawa Hospital and is not going to be a major public transportation route (unlike say the BRT planned for Heron Road and Baseline).  Furthermore, it currently only has a Multi-use Path within the part of the AVTC south of the existing Hospital Link. Calling the AVTC a green transportation corridor is a misnomer.

The RPCA Board supports Intensification in keeping with Transit Oriented Development (TOD) that is adjacent to the Light Rail System in terms of actual walking distance as opposed to “as the crow flies.” This planning feature will encourage active transportation and use of public transit – which is consistent with efforts to reduce GHG emissions.

The 400-metre special planning distance set out in the draft Official Plan from a transit hub should take into account natural and human made barriers (E.g., the Via Train Tracks) which cannot be traversed on foot or where no active transportation links (e.g., pedestrian overpasses or underpasses) are planned.For example, the distance from Hurdman Station should be calculated according to the twists and turns of the actual pathways, rather than “as the crow files.” There are other examples of hubs or potential hubs to which this the 400-metre special distance should not be applied across the Via train line since the tracks cannot be traversed by pedestrians without a detour and since no overpass is planned.

Note that within the Riverview Park boundaries, the proposed high-rises on Steamline meet the TOD criteria as the planned overpass between Terminal Avenue and Tremblay Station will make the LRT at Tremblay readily accessible to pedestrians. Expediting funding for and construction of this overpass and similar links to LRT stations should be a priority and are consistent with the City’s admirable goals of reducing GHG emissions by encouraging the use of active transportation and public transit.  

In terms of specific comments on the Alta Vista/Faircrest Heights/Riverview Park Secondary Plan, we offer the following recommendations to amend the material set out below.  For the reasons above, we believe that categorizing the AVTC as a “green transportation corridor” is a misnomer and we call for the AVTC to be removed from the Official Plan since it is virtually impossible to reconcile additional construction of the AVTC with the City’s stated goals of reducing Greenhouse Gas emissions. 

From Presentation on Alta Vista / Faircrest Heights / Riverview Park Secondary Plan https://engage.ottawa.ca/the-new-official-plan/widgets/36458/documents

Page 2 – to ensure that neighbourhood development complements the scale, density and openness of the existing low-rise neighbourhhood, which is predominantly detached dwellings. b. To promote the retention of the parks, green transportation and utility corridors and natural areas, to be enjoyed by the community, in accordance with the objectives and policies set out in the Official Plan and the Parks Master Plan.

Thank you for considering our comments.

Addendum (March 12, 2021):

Concerns over timing – Good planning practices dictate that the Official Plan should be delayed: The Transportation Master Plans should be updated in tandem with this new Official Plan. The pandemic has made updating the TMP difficult; given uncertainties related to COVID, it is questionable or even unlikely that an Origin/Destination study can still be meaningfully undertaken in Fall 2021 planned. Accordingly, these circumstances dictate that this OP process be delayed for two years to allow longer and more meaningful citizen engagement with officials and the mayor and councilors during an election, rather than rushing to complete it before an election.  Elected officials’ views of their vision for the City should be part of a campaign to make it more meaningful.  (See Feb 17, 2021 Motion from the Federation of Citizen’s Associations on this issue)

15 Minute Neighbourhood – The RPCA has endorsed this principle but to make it workable, additional criteria and metrics need to be developed and “one-size fits all” approach does not apply.  Clearer explanation needs to be provided and some communities will be harder to transform into 15-minute neighbourhoods, so incremental progress should be encouragedwhere true 15-minute walkability may not necessarily be feasible in the short- or medium-term.  Building in allowances for short safe bike trips to reach destinations should be factored into this approach – and be accompanied by the necessary infrastructure to make this a reality.  New subdivisions and developments (including the Tewin development that Council approved in February) should be mandated to meet 15-minute walkability guidelines in terms of access to retail, local business and other amenities.

Transects – the delineation of transects is not well-explained and is arbitrary.  It also undermines the notion that suburbs should have a larger role in Ottawa becoming a denser city, (even though they are newer parts of Ottawa.)  The residential section of Riverview Park between Industrial Avenue/Coronation and Smyth Boulevard should be considered the same as other residential areas of Alta Vista that lie south of Smyth and west of Othello in terms of densification, and is arguably Outer Urban.  Densification should be concentrated adjacent to Light Rail.

Character of Neighbourhood and Tree Canopy protection – New dwellings should respect the existing character of the neighbourhood and maintain existing tree canopy.  Any new trees that end up being planted should match as much as possible the size and ”arboreal footprint” of those they replace.  Given the importance that trees play in absorbing cardon dioxide which otherwise contributes to climate change, it is imperative that tree loss due to development be minimized.

Insufficient evidence provided to support City’s growth projections – as another submission noted, “the public should be provided with methodology and results of the City’s modeling of increased densities, demonstrating that they are needed to achieve the overall objective of accommodating population growth to 2046 within the land constraint.”

Accountability Framework – We echo calls for the City to draft an Accountability Framework document to accompany the new Official Plan. Without clear baseline data of where we are now, and specific metrics to map and measure progress and address any potential shortcomings in future years, the City is more unlikely to meet its goals. 

Better meaningful public engagement to address inequities and undue developer influence -The development process should engage local residents before the developer invests a lot of money and time in an inappropriate design. The process should engage neighbours earlier in the process, where meaningful changes can still take place – so that developments are not perceived as being “rubber-stamped” during the “consultation process.”  There are numerous egregious examples of community design plans being ignored – perhaps none more odious than the decision to allow at 65-storey building at 900 Albert (Lebreton Flats) when the local community had worked hard and in good faith compromised to have a 30-storey limit. Again, there are fears that intensification in residential neighbourhoods will be done in a manner that gives developers carte blanche – safeguards to protect against this need to be in place.

Respectfully submitted on behalf of the RPCA Board by 

Kris Nanda

Immediate Past President, Riverview Park Community Association (RPCA)

Chair, RPCA Planning and Development Committee