NIMBY vs intensification: The story of a modest Ottawa project that has attracted public ire and emotions


Ontario Construction News staff writer

The classic conflict between municipal policy (and urban planners’) desire for intensification and the rejection of higher-density development in established neighbourhoods has reared its head again in Ottawa.

Neighbours are fighting a losing battle to stop a project in the Ottawa neighbourhood of Katimavik-Hazeldean, in what had previously been the high-tech western suburb of Kanata.

Developer MG4 Investments Inc. plans to turn a single family home site into two three-storey buildings, each with six two-bedroom units. This is hardly a gigantic high-rise development, but it has certainly stirred the neighbourhood into fury.

The  planned project at 33 Maple Grove Rd. “seems to be more in the style of urban cramming than in the sense of intensification that the city is looking for,” Matt Brearey, vice-president of the Katimavik-Hazeldean Community Association, was quoted by the Ottawa Citizen as saying.

The newspaper indicated that Kanata South Coun. Allan Hubley says he has received upwards of 1,000 emails and phone calls opposing the application.

However, the city’s planning department disagrees with the residents, and recommended that the municipal planning committee and city council approve the development application and zoning change.

“I’ve never had anything like this, ever,” Hubley said, describing some of the comments as displaying a “nastiness” that he has not witnessed before.

The development application is a preview of the uphill battle the city has in meeting a new intensification target, Hubley was reported as saying.

The city’s updated official plan mandates that more than half of new homes to be built in Ottawa over the next three decades will need to be in established areas – and the intensification target will climb to 60 per cent between 2041 and 2046.

“We have to figure out how to intensify these neighbourhoods without destroying why people move into these neighbourhoods,” Hubley said.

Development filings indicate that the buildings would be slightly higher than the current 11 m. height limit (at 11.5 m.). The structures would be designed to complement the surrounding houses and add housing diversity to Kanata South, MG4 says.

City planners agree. “The proposal represents appropriate residential intensification within the interior of a stable residential area and provides a built form that is consistent with the official plan,” the planning department report says.

The community’s views are completely the opposite – reflected by an online petition that has collected more than 1,100 names.

The Citizen quoted resident Kathleen Layne as saying a “community coalition” has crafted a detailed response to the application with 137 households signing on to the objections. The residents would rather see four units in each building, instead of six, or a proposal of townhouses.

“Our concerns have fallen on deaf ears. Nobody is paying attention to what we’re saying,” Layne said.

Despite the community’s objection, the city’s planning committee approved the project on Jan. 14 and Ottawa City Council is likely to approve it on Jan. 27.


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