Rare Double Rejection at Planning Committee of Development Proposals at Kanata North, Rockcliffe Park

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Two development applications for housing projects on opposite sites in the city failed to pass the rally during the planning engagement on Thursday.

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Negative votes are the exception, rather than the norm, for a committee that has granted approval to applications collectively proposing thousands of new homes this year alone, often in the face of refusal from some neighboring residents.

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The 10 planning committee members present for the vote on Thursday were unanimous in their recommendation that council deny a request by Smart Living Properties to demolish a handful of homes on Beechwood Avenue, in an area of ​​the former village of Rockcliffe Park known as the panhandle, and build a low-rise apartment complex. The land is for two buildings, totaling 94 units, on either side of Carsdale Avenue.

Smart Living requires council approval because the project site is within a designated heritage conservation district. City staff or the built heritage subcommittee have recommended denial, with staff explaining in their report on the case that they have no issues with the proposed use of the apartment or the addition of density on the site, but says the proposed buildings « were not designed to preserve the cultural heritage values, attributes and character » of the Rockcliffe Park Heritage Conservation District.

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The applicant made some changes, they said, but not enough to adequately address what they described as significant staff and community concerns « with the proposed mass, compatibility with the Beechwood streetscape, lot and development pattern, and the opportunity to retain the significant park-like setting through soft landscaping on the lots.

However, Smart Living has chosen to continue its application. Speaking on their behalf, Novatech Kayla Blakely told the committee that they don’t think the staff gives enough importance to “the distinct character of this area being a more transitional and eclectic neighborhood” as well as the identity of Beechwood Avenue as the main street.

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Although the planning committee has sided with staff and the built heritage sub-committee, it will be up to council to grant – or not – the permissions requested by the developer. If council refuses, Smart Living can appeal to the Ontario Lands Tribunal.

It was a much closer vote on the second draft that got the committee’s official thumbs down on Thursday, and it was largely planning issues where concerns were centered, with no heritage considerations involved.

By a slim majority, the committee voted against the rezoning required for Brigil Construction to build a 258-unit, four-storey apartment complex in Kanata North on a site currently zoned for business park/industrial use.

In this case, it was a departure from the recommendation of staff, who felt that the proposal for 100 Steacie Dr. represented good planning and appropriate scaling up.

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It was not a view shared by residents who spoke to the committee — a cohort that included former Kanata North councilor Marianne Wilkinson. They raised concerns about transit and traffic issues, impacts on the surrounding community, and access to area amenities. One speaker, Andrew Carran, predicted it would become a « failed development that would require the city to do things to improve it ».

Regional Councilor Cathy Curry urged her colleagues to reject the rezoning request. “We’ve approved so many units in Kanata North, and we don’t oppose them for no reason.

While other councilors shared his concerns about the development ahead of infrastructure such as lanes and transit improvements that would support it, the vote was ultimately 6-5 against rezoning, with councilors Jean Cloutier , Laura Dudas, Allan Hubley, Catherine Kitts, Tim Tierney and Curry in the majority.

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« I don’t want to say no to housing, » the Kitchissippi ward councilor said. Jeff Leiper, one of the « yes » votes. Although he expressed concern about the development’s potential contribution to greenhouse gas emissions, « if you have a car you can live here and it’s a pretty nice area. »

Three other planning applications for sites in Kanata North won committee approval on Thursday, paving the way for a 30-story apartment to be connected to the Brookstreet Hotel; a mixed-use ‘innovation district’ development by tech giant Nokia on March Road; and a six-storey building with 234 units in the downtown area of ​​Kanata.

All applications must reach council on Wednesday.

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