Who we approve, and who we don’t

The other day, the Planning Committee decided to delay a decision on the proposed development at Southminster United Church in Old Ottawa South. The proposal went up one storey too high and was about 3.5 M too tall. The community was against it. The NCC and Parks Canada worried about the views from the canal (a rather frivolous concern).

Windmill Developments, who is the church’s developer for this project, said they needed the extra height to make the development (financially) worthwhile.

That wasn’t enough. The church’s need to do something with the land wasn’t enough. The Planning Committee has decided the parties involved should collaborate a bit to come a compromise and, thus, a better plan.

Okay, fine, whatever. I don’t have the strongest feelings on this.

I’ve written (probably too much) about the proposal at 890-900 Bank Street. There, a private corporation wants to build a tower housing groundfloor retail and a retirement/nursing home. The proposal goes up two storeys higher than is zoned, and about 10 M. It also comes out to a greater square footage than is supposed to be built.

The developers (and their representatives) repeatedly lied at public consultations.

The developers, like Windmill and the church plan, say they need the extra height to make the project profitable.

Like the Old Ottawa South case, the community almost unanimously rejected the proposal. Individuals, the Community Association, the councillor…all came out against it. The developers made small tweaks, but never addressed the main issues.

The proposal was passed by both the Planning Committee and council. There were no demands to take some extra time and collaborate with the city and community.

It’s interesting, isn’t it? When a charitable organization seeks a zoning amendment, they’re sent back to try to work out a compromise. When a for-profit corporation–that has repeatedly lied to the community–seeks a significantly greater allowance, it flies through council.

When it’s just the community that is concerned about a proposal, council pays them no heed. When a federal government department complains, suddenly it is incumbent on the developer to acquiesce.

So, this leads to two questions: Whose voice does city council deem important? And for whose benefit is city council working?

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