Report on Community Info Session | Tower Development
There was a strong resident turnout for the Community Information Session hosted by the City of Ottawa on Thursday, September 9 regarding the 26-storey tower proposed for the corner Montreal and Blair Roads.
More than 160 households heard presentations by Fotenn Planning and the project architect, delivered on behalf of the applicant Bertone Development Corp., which did not participate in the Session.
The presentations were followed by comments of opposition by the Ward Councillor. A strong statement of opposition by the RHPOA Chair was next, which concluded with an emphasis on the tower's inappropriate height. From there, the moderator proceeded to the Q+A portion of the Session.
A significant number of residents waited patiently to pose their questions and share concerns, resulting in the Session lasting nearly 3 hours — almost twice as long as anticipated.
Many described the high value they place on the character of their neighbourhood, while listing multiple reasons for the tower’s incompatibility with the surrounding area. Several also emphasized the mid-20th century character of Rothwell Heights, referring to its designated Heritage Conservation District as well as the numerous properties of interest listed on the City’s Heritage Register. The Councillor and the RHPOA echoed these positions.
Design Panel “does not support this height at this location”
At its meeting of September 10, Ottawa’s Urban Design Review Panel (UDRP) reviewed the 26-storey tower application and concluded that it "does not support this height at this location."
The UDRP is an independent advisory panel of volunteer professionals, providing an objective peer review of both capital and private sector developments. The Panel is an important component of the City’s formal design review process, intended to enhance the city’s capabilities in achieving architectural and urban design excellence.
Individual Panel members emphasized that the tower design did not suit the context of the area, with several referring specifically to its mid-century heritage character.
The Panel recommended that the applicant consider a mid-rise development as a potential alternative, and a design more compatible with the character of the surrounding area.
The applicant must now consider how it will respond to these recommendations. Typically, an applicant makes design revisions in response to the UDRP’s comments, and submits revised plans to the City Planner for continued assessment. At this point, it is unknown whether this applicant will make design revisions, or what those revisions will be.
A resubmission received by the City will have a formal two-week period established to notify technical stakeholders and the general public, so that they may review the design revisions and submit their comments.
The City’s Planning Department (formally known as Planning, Infrastructure and Environment Department, or PIED) will then assess the resubmission(s) to determine if they are satisfied with the applicant’s design plan and whether they can move ahead with a recommendation to Planning Committee to approve or not approve. There may be a series of resubmissions and reviews, which may take an unknown amount of time.
While this process is expected to further delay the application from proceeding to the City’s Planning Committee, it does not yet indicate an end to the applicant’s intended development at Blair and Montreal Roads.
The RHPOA will continue to closely track the progress of this proposed development and keep residents informed.