Just came back from a meeting at St. George’s church about the development plans for the former site of Canadian Tire on Richmond Road. We had heard at the last meeting with Ashcroft that they planned to build a seniors residence there.

Ashcroft includes Alavida Lifestyles, which will run the proposed new eight-storey building. The idea would be to have two separate lobbies and dining rooms for the seniors: one for those more able-bodied and requiring less assistance, and the other for those requiring assistance. (I guess you don’t want to see the people you might end up being.) At the bottom, there would be a pub (yes, open to the public) and about four small commercial spaces. The design of the building is u-shaped, to take advantage of the green space in front of the Canadian Bank Note building. It’s almost park like setting will provide the seniors a better view than what the condo across the street will have.

Because this building won’t need a percentage of sales to break ground, it could start quickly once all approvals are sought.

Now we get to the contentious part. Ottawa is going through amalgamation of bylaws. The former city bylaws stated an “index” to calculate the density. The new bylaws are more specific and call for setbacks at the fourth floor on taller buildings to minimize the perception of height. The proposed building would be 8 storeys, but only 5 feet taller than the Piccadilly, just down the street. Granted, the Piccadilly got a minor variance for height increase. So the question of the evening is whether we’ll end up with Wellington Canyon.

The interesting part is that the land has a right of way behind the Canadian Tire to the Canadian Bank Note. On the other side of the right of way there is a house that has been used for commercial uses for a number of years. This was also part of the land sold with the Canadian Tire. The plan is to tear down the house and build a temporary sales office. So, of course the question of what would be done after the sales are finished. They didn’t really have an answer, so I suggested turning it into a park for the seniors. That got full support from the crowd. I think they recognize that might ease some fears and show good will with the community.

Quite a few community activists were in the room, and encouraged people to e-mail or write to the committee of adjustments to push for a full re-zoning not just a minor variance. If you’re interested, you can send comments to Fotenn. They’re the planning consultants working on this project. And Christine Leadman wasn’t there so I guess there isn’t another election for a while.

Other gossip I heard in the room is that Tamarak has sold the building that houses the Istanbouli (best shawarma in town!) to Shoppers Drugmart, who plans to build a two-storey drug store. Not a good addition if you ask me. They already have a huge one over at Westboro.

But I’m happy with the idea of a pub, and I’ll explore the Alavida web site with my parents to see if that would be suitable for them, when the time comes. I’m imagining my father living in what used to be a Canadian Tire store that he shopped at from time to time, sneaking down for a pint in a pub located in what is now the parking lot.

And one last thought about the comments tonight. Some people are calling this area a village. I hate to say it people, but you live in the urban core, or just outside of it. If you want to have light rail, you need density. And on that note, I think we may go to the discussion on urban planning tomorrow at Collected Works. It could be interesting. So much to do, not enough time.

Here are the photos of the plans presented.

And one last piece of news, courtesy of a certain neighbour with two kids. Our new neighbourhood celebrity has another celebrity bunking with him while his new house is getting built. Have to spend more time walking the hood for sightings.  And don’t forget to check what Timbit’s been up to.