There’s a mini-controversy in Ottawa right now. There’s a proposed condo development in Chapel Hill that is getting some heat from neighbours. These appear to be stacked townhouses and they would be built within a neighbourhood of single family homes. The development aligns with the city’s intensification policies, but does it really align with the spirit of intensification?
Density isn’t good in and of itself. It is good because it tends to limit sprawl, lower commuting distances and times, and help the environment. Chapel Hill isn’t a particularly central area. Intensification in such a community just shoves more people into a bedroom community, creating an even greater dependency on cars and buses.
Yes it’s better than building further and further out, but it’s not as good as building closer to the city’s core. There are a lot of areas that could benefit from intensification more than Chapel Hill. Hell, to get to Chapel Hill, you have to drive through the greenbelt, a rather useless zoning initiative, itself.
Better still, intensification works best when combined with mixed-use zoning. If we’re going to get more people living in Chapel Hill, we need more commerce in the area. There are business parks in the east end, but there isn’t the mixture that we see in older neighbourhoods.
Let’s open up zoning restrictions so that more people will not only live in Chapel Hill; they’ll live, work and play there.