I like my headline better than the one in the Ottawa Citizen. I find it interesting that the NIMBYs aren’t quoted. It must have been part of the hush deal: no talking to the media. Anyway, here’s the full article from today’s paper:

Ashcroft makes deal on Westboro convent project

OTTAWA — Ashcroft Developments can forge ahead with its 600-unit project planned for former convent land in Westboro after inking a settlement with opposition groups that saw both the construction company and community groups drop their appeals with the Ontario Municipal Board.

Part of the settlement includes a $200,000 donation by Ashcroft to a community trust fund to “be used to advance the interest of the immediate community,” according to a statement released by Ashcroft early Wednesday morning.

In April, the developer approached the Hampton-Iona Community Group, the Westboro Community Association and Sylvano Carrasco — who were all appealing the development to the OMB — in hopes of coming to a mediated settlement, which occurred on the weekend.

Ashcroft purchased the 2.2-hectare piece of land near the corner of Richmond Road and Island Park Drive from the Soeurs de la Visitation religious order for $12 million, with plans for residential, senior-oriented, and retail buildings. Nearby residents argued that the nine-storey heights for some of the proposed buildings are too high, especially south of the convent building itself — the main complaint of the three community appellants who filed their complaint to the OMB on Dec. 29, 2010.

But Ashcroft had filed its own OMB appeal in October 2010 asking for a maximum height of 12 storeys — that’s three storeys higher than Ashcroft’s proposal currently in front of the planning committee calls for — which was closer to the construction company’s original proposal for the former convent site that called for more than 700 units.

It was the fear that Ashcroft would win its appeal for even more height and density for the site that led the community-based appellants to settle with the developer.

“You see the history of what happens when a developer goes to the OMB,” said Lorne Cutler, president of the Hampton-Iona Community Group. “When we went into negotiations, our belief was that we could get more out of mediation than out of an appeal.

“Ideally, it’s not what we would have wanted, but we think it’s a best-case scenario at this point.”

The community groups and Carrasco will form a non-profit corporation that will administer the $200,000 for community uses. In addition, Ashcroft has indicated that it is open to leasing the former chapel space to the city for a community use for a minimum of 10 years.

Although there could be some issues to iron out during the site plan proceedings, the settlement lays to rest a highly controversial process that pitted hundreds of residents against the developer and the city. A planning committee meeting last November saw residents argue against the development for three days straight. And an ultimately failed proposal for residents to buy back some of the site from Ashcroft through a local levy created further discord in the community.

And while Ashcroft is not discounting the idea of an access road through the Byron Linear Park on the south side of the site — a highly contentious issue with nearby residents — city council has confirmed that no road will cut through the park.

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