5. ZONING – 55 MACKAY STREET
ZONAGE – 55, RUE MACKAY
(This matter is Subject to Bill 51)
That Council approve an amendment to Zoning By‑law 2008-250 to change the zoning of 55 MacKay Street from R4S to R4S[XXXX] as shown on Document 1 and as detailed in Document 2.
Recommandation DU Comité
(Cette question est assujettie au Règlement 51)
Que le Conseil approuve une modification au Règlement de zonage 2008-250, afin de faire passer le zonage du 55, rue MacKay de R4S à R4S[XXXX], comme le montre le document 1 et l’explique en détail le document 2.
1. Deputy City Manager's report, Infrastructure Services and Community Sustainability, dated 26 August 2011 (ACS2011-ICS-PGM-0173).
2. Extract of Draft Minutes 19, Planning Committee meeting of 13 September 2011
Report to/Rapport au:
Comité de l'urbanisme
and Council / et au Conseil
26 August 2011 / le 26 août 2011
Submitted by/Soumis par : Nancy Schepers, Deputy City Manager/Directrice municipale adjointe, Infrastructure Services and Community Sustainability/Services d’infrastructure et Viabilité des collectivités
Contact Person/Personne-ressource : Richard Kilstrom, Acting Manager/Gestionnaire intérimaire, Development Review-Urban Services, Inner Core/Examen des projets d'aménagement-Services urbains, Unité du Centre intérieur
Planning and Growth Management/Urbanisme et Gestion de la croissance
(613) 580-2424, 22379 Richard.Kilstrom@ottawa.ca
That the recommend Council approve an amendment to Zoning By‑law 2008-250 to change the zoning of 55 MacKay Street from R4S to R4S[XXXX] as shown on Document 1 and as detailed in Document 2.
RECOMMANDATION DU RAPPORT
Que le Comité de recommande au Conseil d’approuver une modification au Règlement de zonage 2008-250, afin de faire passer le zonage du 55, rue MacKay de R4S à R4S[XXXX], comme le montre le document 1 et l’explique en détail le document 2.
The subject property is located on the south side of MacKay Street between Thomas Street and Charles Street in the New Edinburgh Heritage Conservation District.
This corner lot is one of the larger properties in the neighbourhood, measuring 1258 square metres with approximately 41.3 metres of frontage on MacKay Street and 30.48 metres on Charles Street.
The property faces the grounds of the Governor General’s Residence (1 Sussex Drive) and is located two blocks from the Prime Minister’s Residence on Sussex Drive. The area is predominately a residential neighbourhood with residential homes surrounding the property to the east, west and south.
The property contains a single detached home with a detached coach house which fronts onto Charles Street. The grounds of the property are well landscaped and surrounded by an existing wrought iron fence.
The existing zoning for the subject property is Residential Fourth Density Subzone ‘S’ Exception 900 (R4S), with a Heritage Overlay. The Residential Fourth Density Zone permits a wide range of residential uses ranging from detached to low-rise apartments. The current exception includes a provision detailing that any use that has its only access from an existing lane is the only use permitted on that parcel. The property is currently residential, and is not serviced by a rear lane.
Purpose of Zoning By-law Amendment
The Applicant is proposing to use the existing house as a chancellery for an embassy. A diplomatic mission, which is currently permitted, is defined in the By-law as the residence of the accredited head or member of the diplomatic mission of a recognized foreign or Commonwealth state having diplomatic or official status in Canada, and allows for an office as an accessory use, but not as the main use. Therefore, in order to convert the existing dwelling into a chancellery, the subject site must be re-zoned to add office as a permitted use.
There are no exterior changes proposed to the existing dwelling. No building additions, security huts or new fencing are proposed.
The purpose of this zoning amendment application is to add an exception to the existing R4S zone to permit an “office limited to a chancellery for an embassy” with the provision “An office limited to a chancellery for an embassy is limited to being located in a building existing as of September 28, 2011.” This provision would restrict the ability to expand the office use beyond the space in the existing building, either by addition or demolition. The provisions of the heritage overlay are to remain in place.
Planning Act and Provincial Policy Statement
Section 2 of the Planning Act outlines those land use matters that are of provincial interest, to which all City planning decisions shall have regard. The provincial interests that apply to this site include the appropriate location of growth and development and the promotion of development that is designed to be sustainable to support public transit and to be oriented to pedestrians. In addition, the Planning Act requires that all City planning decisions be consistent with the Provincial Policy Statement (PPS), a document that provides further policies on matters of provincial interest related to land use development. PPS policies indicate that there should be an appropriate mix of uses and densities which efficiently use land, resources, infrastructure and public service facilities, and support the use of alternative transportation modes and public transit.
The proposed zoning allows for a mix of uses, which will efficiently use land and contribute to a balanced community. Staff conclude that the proposal is consistent with the matters of provincial interest as outlined in the Planning Act and PPS.
Introduction (Section 1)
Section 1 of the Official Plan sets broad guiding principles that must be taken into consideration when making decisions. One of the guiding principles is to foster a creative city rich in heritage and unique in identity. The Official Plan recognises Ottawa as a Capital City, which gives the City a national cultural perspective and a window to the world. The Plan also recognises that the qualities that make neighbourhoods special and contribute to their identity are valued in any consideration of a land-use change. There are many embassies, diplomatic missions and diplomatic residences in this part of the city (as shown in Document 3). The proximity of Rideau Hall, 24 Sussex Drive, and the Department of Foreign Affairs contributes to the prestige and symbolic importance of the neighbourhood for diplomatic missions and embassies. These diplomatic missions and embassies contribute to the character of New Edinburgh.
Land Use Designation (Section 3.6.1)
The subject property is designated “General Urban Area” on Schedule B of the Official Plan. The General Urban Area designation permits the development of a wide range and choice of housing types to meet the needs of all ages, incomes and life circumstances, in combination with conveniently located employment, service, cultural, leisure, entertainment and institutional uses. The non-residential uses that are permitted in areas under this designation are aimed at satisfying the local, everyday needs of the residents, and direct those uses that also serve wider parts of the city to the edges of neighbourhoods on higher-order roads, where the needs of these land uses can be more easily met, and impacts controlled.
Compatibility (Section 4.11)
At the city-wide scale, issues of compatibility are addressed in the Official Plan through the appropriate designation of land and associated policies that direct where and how certain categories of land use should be permitted to develop. At the scale of neighbourhoods or individual properties, issues such as noise, spillover of light, accommodation of parking and access, shadowing, and micro-climatic conditions are prominent considerations when assessing the relationships between new and existing development.
When considering applications for a Zoning By-law amendment to permit non-residential uses, other than land extensive uses, City Council will require that potential conflicts with adjacent residential development are minimized through the application of the Official Plan policies relating to Compatibility of Development. Such uses will be directed to locations where anticipated impacts can be adequately mitigated or otherwise addressed, including locations on the perimeter of established residential neighbourhoods. In this regard, existing or proposed building orientation, massing and design may be taken into account.
The proposed development is consistent with the General Urban Area policies. The property is located on MacKay Street, which is on the perimeter of the community. It is across the street from Rideau Hall and is immediately adjacent to residential, with other embassies to the east, south and west. The existing building will be retained and renovated to permit its conversion to a chancellery for an embassy. This process will retain the building orientation, and staff are proposing that as part of the exception, a restriction be placed on the zone to limit the office use to a house converted for the purpose. This provision will not permit the buildings to be enlarged, or demolished and rebuilt, without a further Zoning By-law amendment application.
DETAILS OF PROPOSED ZONING
The Zoning By-law amendment amends the existing Residential Fourth Density Subzone S Exception 900 (R4S) to Residential Fourth Density Subzone S Exception XXXX (R4S[XXXX]) zone, which would permit the proposed office limited to a chancellery for an embassy. The details of the zoning amendment are contained in Document 2.
The residential home on the property is an excellent example of Queen Anne Revival style with an estimated date of construction in the late 19th century. In 1997, the City of Ottawa’s Heritage Survey and Evaluation Form classified the property as ‘Group 1’, the highest classification. The classification indicated that the property was of significance and is said to reinforce the heritage residential character of the New Edinburgh community. The property is designated under Part V of the Ontario Heritage Act as part of the New Edinburgh Heritage Conservation District. Any significant alterations to the exterior of the building or the landscape will require the approval of City Council under the Ontario Heritage Act.
The City recognizes that this property is a valuable asset to the New Edinburgh neighbourhood. The applicant is not proposing any external renovations to the building, thereby fully retaining the heritage value of the building and property. As mentioned, if in the future the owner wishes to make alterations to the property including fencing or parking, the changes would be subject to an application process submitted to City Council under the Ontario Heritage Act.
In September of 2006, City Council adopted the Transportation Impact Assessment (TIA) Guidelines as its policy for transportation impact assessment with the intent to ensure its goals and objectives, as present in the Official Plan and Transportation Master Plan, are realized. Section 4 of the Guidelines identifies the benchmarks to determine if a report is required and if so what type of report is required to support a development application. Table 4 of the TIA guidelines addresses the various triggers and conditions that would require a report. In regard to the proposed Zoning By-law amendment for 55 MacKay Street, there are no new units being added, building expansions, safety and/or operations concerns on the road, roadway modifications proposed, or additional traffic volumes generated from this site, therefore a transportation assessment report is not required.
There are no proposed alterations to the physical state of the grounds of the property. As such there is no impact on the current stormwater servicing of the property and the post-development condition will remain the same as the pre-development condition. The existing storm service to MacKay Street will continue to be used as-is.
There are no proposed alterations to the existing water service connection to the dwelling. Demands for the building are anticipated to be consistent (or less) than the existing demands as per the wastewater evaluation. Adequate fire protection exists with the presence of an existing fire hydrant located on MacKay Street directly across from 55 MacKay Street.
The purpose of the Zoning By-law amendment is to add an exception to permit offices limited to a chancellery for an embassy in a R4S zone. The proposed development supports Ottawa’s function as a capital city, by supporting the ability of embassies and diplomatic offices to locate in areas of symbolic importance. The applicant is not proposing any alterations to the state of the property that would negatively influence its heritage characteristics. The proposed Zoning By‑law amendment conforms with the general intent of the Official Plan and the existing zoning in the area, and as such, staff recommend approval of the proposed zoning.
Comments received July 19, 2011
“Peter Clark has visited this site and while the property in question is not designated heritage, it is in heritage designated area and certainly falls under the criteria. Any rezoning has to take into account the heritage building and we have to make sure that this is respected and no major changes occur.”
There are no legal implications associated with this report.
RISK MANAGEMENT IMPLICATIONS
The southwest corner of the property is within the 15 metre buffer of the floodplain limit and is subject to O. Reg 174-06. A permit is required from the Rideau Valley Conservation Authority for any construction, grading or shoreline works within the regulated area.
Document 1 Location Map
Document 2 Details of Recommended Zoning
Document 3 “Offices Limited to a Diplomatic Mission” Locations Map
Document 4 Consultation Details
City Clerk and Solicitor Department, Legislative Services to notify the owner, applicant, OttawaScene Canada Signs, 1565 Chatelain Avenue, Ottawa, ON K1Z 8B5, Ghislain Lamarche, Program Manager, Assessment, Financial Services Branch (Mail Code: 26-76) of City Council’s decision.
Planning and Growth Management to prepare the implementing by-law, forward to Legal Services and undertake the statutory notification.
Legal Services to forward the implementing by-law to City Council.
DETAILS OF RECOMMENDED ZONING DOCUMENT 2
Proposed Changes to the Comprehensive Zoning By-law
Further Permitted Uses
· office limited to a chancellery for an embassy
· An office limited to a chancellery for an embassy is limited to being located in a building existing as of September 28, 2011
“OFFICES LIMITED TO A DIPLOMATICMISSION” LOCATIONS MAP DOCUMENT 3
CONSULTATION DETAILS DOCUMENT 4
NOTIFICATION AND CONSULTATION PROCESS
Notification and public consultation was undertaken in accordance with the Public Notification and Public Consultation Policy approved by City Council for Zoning By-law amendments.
1. I am writing regarding the notification of a Zoning By-law amendment Proposal being considered by the Planning and Growth Management Department for 55 MacKay Street. I do not support this proposal in any way or form.
The property in question, 55 MacKay Street, is a beautiful Victorian house. It is situated one block from the Prime Minister's residence and one block from Rideau Hall, the Governor General's residence. It should remain as it is designated, a residential property. There should be no amendment proposal. The subject property, 55 MacKay Street, is zoned R45  for residential use and should remain that way for obvious reasons. My neighbours are writing to you as well, and all are in agreement that this proposal is totally unacceptable.
The application proposes to add an expectation to the existing zoning to permit "offices limited to a diplomatic mission". This is totally inappropriate. Residential living does not include possible/potential security around the grounds, high fencing around the perimeter, surveillance lighting, extra parking spots, extra people as it is an office, and so many others possibilities that go with "offices limited to a diplomatic mission for potential embassy offices". This is a residential community in a historic part of the City of Ottawa. This proposal is totally unacceptable.
2. We have very strong concerns with the proposed sale and rezoning of the above said property which until now represents a great historical/conservation attribute to the New Edinburgh neighbourhood. Our concerns are as follows:
(1) Paving for increase parking facilities: We fear that the beautiful garden facing MacKay Street will be paved in order to create more parking space. In winter, we have a wonderful view of the garden and the Governor General’s estate from our living room window. If this part of the garden were to be paved, we would be looking at a parking lot which would certainly detract and possibly decrease the value of our house.
construction of a wall for security reasons: we fear that the new owner could
build a wall in order to enhance security. This would be totally unacceptable
to use and would certainly diminish the value and enjoyment of our property.
(3) Lighting for security purposes: Sodium lights around the back of the garden and therefore near our backyard would flood our bedroom window at night. Again an unacceptable situation as it would create a great unpleasantness to us and our neighbours. Such lighting would inconvenience all the neighbours on the block.
The buyer may not have announced at present their intention concerning parking, lighting and other security measures; However, unless the above stated issues are addresses and put in writing, there are no guarantees to the all of us neighbours that high fences/walls, paving and sodium light will not occur after the sale of the house.
Ideally, we would like to see in the rezoning permission clauses that specify:
a) No drive way and paving should be built on the part of the garden facing MacKay Street. The drive way of 55 MacKay Street is off Charles Street.
b) No wall be built around the property and fencing will be kept at an acceptable height to immediate neighbours.
c) No Sodium lighting or high power floodlights for security purposes should be installed. Other, more neighbour-friendly, security devices should be considered.
We urge the City of Ottawa to be fully open to our concerns, which are certainly shared by all our neighbours owning properties on the block (MacKay/Charles/Alexander/Thomas Streets). We hope that the rezoning will contain clauses which will address the potential problems outlined above. All the backyards on our block are connected, thus the potential for serious problems requires that binding assurances be addressed explicitly.
3. We feel this to be a matter of most serious concern for the preservation of the New Edinburgh Heritage Conservation District, its history, current profile and future development. The area is already affected in a variety of ways by its proximity to Foreign Affairs, diplomatic quarters, 24 Sussex Drive and Rideau Hall. Abuse of parking and cross-neighbourhood shortcutting for traffic to and from the Ottawa bridges, on a daily work-week basis, is one of the prevailing disruptions, with negative impact on visitors of all ages to events at Rideau Hall and Stanley Park.
The following comments are respectfully drawn to your attention:
a. The site location at 55 MacKay Street is in the New Edinburgh Conservation District and remains one of the most significant buildings and sites therein.
b. A zoning by-law is grounded in principle and should not, once established in law, be subjected, within reason, to amendment of any kind.
c. It follows from the above, we believe, that there must be a fundamental and clear distinction in law, between the categories of by-law and variance.
d. It is our understanding that earlier precedents, exemplified by the French (outside the district but nearby), South African and Spanish Embassies, preceded the New Edinburgh by-law zoning and heritage designation and are consequently 'grand-fathered.' Similarly, one or two modest commercial enterprises in the district have taken their place in the community prior to designation.
e. The application under consideration requests a Zoning By-law amendment to "permit 'offices limited to a diplomatic mission.'" The term 'offices' in the plural obviously implies consular usage. The impact on the surviving architectural character and site outlay of 55 MacKay Street in the New Edinburgh Conservation District can be anticipated. The R4S zoning is presumably in place, in an area and neighbourhood of international, national and municipal significance, to preserve such buildings and sites for "a range of residential uses," and residential uses only.
4. As a neighbour, I have strong concerns about certain possible outcomes of this proposed rezoning and sale.
At this stage, my concerns relate to two possible/probable aspects of an embassy-type building: 1) interior paving for parking and 2) fencing and lighting. I hope that you and your City colleagues might be able to get these concerns onto the table now, in talks with the intending buyers, with the goal of extracting from the buyers some clarification and even some formal, written, binding commitment, before the rezoning is approved. Furthermore, I believe that other neighbours share exactly these concerns.
(1) Paving for parking. Behind the Spanish Embassy building on Stanley Avenue, the asphalt parking lot was created for the embassy after the building was converted from residence buildings. My concern is that something similar will happen here—that the beautiful lawns and gardens at 55 MacKay Street (to the right of the house as viewed from MacKay Street) will be paved over to create parking space.
I well understand that the buyer has not announced any such intent, but I take no assurance from that silence. Also I take no assurance from what the buyer’s lawyer reportedly told a neighbour, that “they have no plans at this time to create new parking.” I fear that unless we can get the paving-for-parking question onto the table now, as something to be addressed explicitly, then the paving will happen, eventually, after the sale.
Ideally, I would like to hear the buyer promise not to pave, and I would like this to become a precondition of the rezoning permission: that the buyer may not pave. I would urge staff and council not to be content with vague, nonbinding assurances of “no such plans at this time”.
The house’s grounds are a glory to MacKay Street and a complement to the Governor-General’s grounds, across the street. It would be a crime for anyone to put down a parking lot there.
So can you tell me, please, is this paving-for-parking question one that might be taken up by you and your colleagues, prior to your decision on the rezoning and your recommendation to council?
(2) Fencing and lighting. Embassy-type buildings are normally unpleasant to live next to, due to the embassy’s necessary security concerns. The Spanish Embassy on Stanley, for example, has high fencing and sodium lights around its back—which suggests similar apparatus destined to go near my backyard behind 55 MacKay Street.
So, again, can you tell me if this fencing/lighting issue is something that you could take up with the buyer? Are there any regulations or limits that your office can impose—along with corresponding, formal, binding assurances from the buyer—prior to your recommendation being made?
5. It is indeed unfortunate and, perhaps not coincidental, that we were only informed about the Zoning By-law amendment Proposal on June 30, 2011 with a deadline of July 28, 2011 to file our comments. This is a traditional holiday period when many of the residents in the neighbourhood are away. We would like to request an extension to this time period to enable those residents who are on holiday to file their comments when they return.
Like our neighbours, we are totally opposed to this proposal for the following reasons:
1. We feel this to be a matter of most serious concern for the preservation of the New Edinburgh Heritage Conservation District, its history, current profile and future development. The site location at 55 MacKay Street is in the New Edinburgh Conservation District and remains one of the most significant buildings and sites therein. 55 MacKay Street is one of the original four residences built on the block bordered by MacKay, Charles, Alexander and Thomas Streets. The attachment to the listing on the City website claims that the residence is on the periphery of the neighbourhood, which implies that it's separated from it in some way, which it isn't, surrounded by houses as it is.
2. The area is already affected in a variety of ways by its proximity to Foreign Affairs, diplomatic quarters, 24 Sussex Drive and Rideau Hall. Abuse of parking and cross-neighbourhood shortcutting for traffic to and from the Ottawa bridges, on a daily work-week basis, is one of the prevailing disruptions. The application under consideration requests a Zoning By-law amendment to permit "diplomatic offices including an Embassy use." The term 'offices' in the plural obviously implies consular usage. The prospective buyer represents a foreign government that requires visas for all Canadian visitors, which would inevitably lead to increased traffic, not to mention the traffic that would result from the other day-to-day meetings and events that an embassy needs to host and parking requirements of staff. An Environmental Assessment by EXP Services assumes occupancy of TEN staff. This is inconsistent with the traffic-calming strategies recently implemented in the neighbourhood.
3. The prospect of protest demonstrations is a reality.
4. A zoning by-law is grounded in principle and should not, once established in law, be subjected, within reason, to amendment of any kind. It follows, we believe, that there must be a fundamental and clear distinction in law, between the categories of by-law and variance.
5. It is our understanding that earlier precedents, exemplified by the French (outside the district but nearby), South African and Spanish Embassies, preceded the New Edinburgh by-law zoning and heritage designation and are consequently 'grand-fathered.' Similarly, one or two modest commercial enterprises in the district have taken their place in the community prior to designation.
6. The impact on the surviving architectural character and site outlay of 55 MacKay Street in the New Edinburgh Conservation District can be anticipated. The R4S zoning is presumably in place, in an area and neighbourhood of international, national and municipal significance, to preserve such buildings and sites for "a range of residential uses," and residential uses only.
7. The application proposes to add an expectation to the existing zoning to permit "offices limited to a diplomatic mission". This is totally inappropriate. Residential living does not include possible/potential security around the grounds, high fencing around the perimeter, surveillance lighting, extra parking spots, extra people as it is an office, and so many other possibilities that go with "offices limited to a diplomatic mission for potential embassy offices". This is a residential community in a historic part of the City of Ottawa. This proposal is totally unacceptable.
6. I have lived in New Edinburgh for over 60 years and actually lived in 55 MacKay Street from 1958-2000. I have the following concerns with the application before you:
I. Maintaining the grounds and gardens
I understand the applicant Embassy is not making application for increased parking on the property. Perhaps the Applicant thinks there will be sufficient on street parking for its employees and visitors. I can tell you from personal observation that there will be no on street parking for the Embassy.
I know from personal observation that this is not going to be the case. When I leave, prior to 9:00 a.m. and return at 9:35 a.m. there are nine cars parking on MacKay Street between Thomas and Charles Streets, eight more on Charles Street, both sides, between MacKay and Crichton Streets and another eight on Alexander Street. As the City of Ottawa By-law Enforcement Office can document for you these cars are parked there routinely day after day by employees of External Affairs. Notwithstanding that there is a three hour limit on parking those same employees juggle these spaces among themselves mid-day.
I see a real possibility that if the Applicant is permitted to proceed there will be nothing to stop it paving over the property surrounding the building to provide parking similar to what the Spanish Embassy did on Stanley Avenue many years ago and before New Edinburgh was designated as a Heritage Conservation District. I also point out that the Spanish Embassy built a stand-alone consulate; it did not attempt to adapt an existing residence. This cannot be a precedent.
Therefore, if your committee is considering approving the application I would strongly urge you to incorporate a prohibition against allowing vehicles to be parked on the grounds, (other than the existing driveway) with a positive commitment to maintain the grounds as nearly as possible in the manner in which they now exist.
II. The existing wrought iron fencing
I do not know what concerns the Applicant has for security. I think it would be inappropriate to permit the Applicant to replace the existing wrought iron fence with any solid kind of barrier such as a stone or concrete wall. With the exception of the South African Consulate, I do not believe there are any such solid barriers in the neighbourhood; not the French Embassy, not 24 Sussex Drive, not Rideau Hall.
III. Security lighting
Any high intensity halogen or sodium lights would be a major distraction, irritation and annoyance to the occupants of all the houses that abut 55 MacKay Street to say nothing of the negative impact such a nuisance would have on the value of those houses.
There are very few “businesses” in New Edinburgh; those that exist were there before the neighbourhood was designated a Heritage District. It is essentially a residential neighbourhood. I strongly suggest to you that there is no valid reason to depart from the provisions of the prevailing by-laws and I urge you to reject the application for rezoning.
7. I am getting in touch to register my concern with the proposed by law amendment and to ask to participate in the review process.
Our concerns, in brief, relate to:
· Increased traffic volumes;
· Parking issues (already an issue with MacKay Street being used as back up parking for External Affairs plus the understandable demand from visitors to the GGs);
· Heritage issues. The house is in an area designated as heritage and this is one of the key reasons we choose to buy in the area. We are keen to see the character of the area retained.
8. My husband and I purchased our property in 1998, approximately two years before the current owners purchased 55 MacKay Street. We had two very small children, and were delighted to find a home in a family-friendly, centrally-located, well-established neighbourhood with a cohesive community.
We are deeply concerned about any plan to amend the existing zoning to permit “offices limited to a diplomatic mission” as a permitted use of 55 MacKay Street.
1. Office space is currently available in existing business districts. There are many existing business districts in Ottawa where this diplomatic office could be located. In our view, there would be absolutely no need to re-zone a residential property to allow diplomatic office use. The foreign government interested in purchasing 55 MacKay Street could certainly find adequate office space in a district already zoned for business use.
As there is no shortage of available commercial space for lease or purchase in Ottawa, why should a residential neighbourhood be asked to accommodate a diplomatic business usage? We did not seek to live in a mixed use neighbourhood, and don’t see why we should be asked to live in one now. If this zoning amendment is permitted, it may begin a trend that would have a negative effect on the cohesiveness of a neighbourhood comprised of people who actually live there, and so have a major stake in its continued health and well-being.
2. Increased daily vehicular traffic to the offices. Diplomatic offices can result in a significant traffic increase which would be inconsistent with traffic-calming efforts in this area.
If the prospective owner, or a future owner, is the government of a country requiring a visitor visa for all Canadians, there could be greatly increased traffic. Even if the country has a means to allow on-line visa applications as many do, many people would still need to visit the diplomatic office to provide documents or for proof of identity. Additionally, the office would presumably host a number of meetings and other events on a regular basis in order for the country to represent fully its interests.
There would be absolutely no way to guarantee that the prospective owner, and any future foreign government which could subsequently purchase the property, would not use the property to process visa applications. As there are existing business districts that could accommodate this diplomatic office, we see no need to disrupt, or potentially disrupt, our neighbourhood. The impact of increased vehicular traffic on nearby occupants in a business district would be less disruptive than the impact on a tightly packed residential block.
It would not be correct to claim that this property is on the periphery of the neighbourhood. Rather, it is immediately surrounded by other residences and the increased traffic created by visa applicants and other visitors would have an impact on adjoining residents.
Efforts have been made to calm the vehicular traffic on MacKay Street, so it would not make sense to approve a by-law amendment that would result in increased traffic.
3. On-street parking is already a problem in this part of New Edinburgh due to visitors to Rideau Hall and the proximity of the National Research Council and the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade. Because the Rideau Hall Visitor Centre is located directly across from 55 MacKay Street on Rideau Gate Street, the closest parking is on MacKay Street. Many tourists park along MacKay Street (on-street parking on Rideau Gate street is not allowed) and the neighbourhood nearby, as directed by the Rideau Hall website (http://www.gg.ca/document.aspx?id=164). On-street parking along Charles Street on most of the block between Alexander Street and MacKay Street is permitted on both sides of street. Even in summer, two cars cannot pass along this block when cars are parked on both sides of Charles Street because that part of Charles Street is narrow. In winter, snowbanks compound this problem.
The diplomatic office staff and visitors to the proposed office would require parking. If staff are expected to use on-street parking, they will have trouble finding spaces unless they come in quite early. They would also find it impractical to have to move their cars during the day to avoid receiving parking tickets. Visitors arriving later in the day would have difficulty finding a spot and so would have to drive around looking for one, which would add to the traffic volume on these streets and undermine traffic-calming measures.
4. Security arrangements. Why should we and our neighbours have to worry about the possibility that we might someday be living in a place that has the potential to cause concerns about security? Diplomatic business offices should not be located in such close proximity to homes.
The security situation of any country can change extremely quickly. For example, you may recall that there were large demonstrations in May of this year in front of the Libyan embassy on Metcalfe Street in downtown Ottawa. These demonstrations required police intervention and there were injuries; see CBC report (http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/story/2011/05/13/ottawa-libya-protest-embassy.html). As you may know, the revolutionary events in Libya and neighbouring countries this spring were not foreseen, even by experts. No one could have predicted the revolution in Libya, and no one could have predicted the knock-on effect in downtown Ottawa. The presence of a diplomatic office would introduce a large element of uncertainty into the lives of the neighbours of 55 MacKay Street. There is no justification to do so, since appropriate office space is available in existing business districts in Ottawa.
5. Aesthetic value. We are very grateful for the care taken by the current owners of 55 MacKay Street. Our estimation is that a foreign government, whose representatives do not even live there, may have much less invested in the continued, sensitive maintenance of this property and surely the heritage designation that it deserves could be undermined. Rarely would anyone feel as responsible for mere office space, as they would for the home they live in.
Even if the prospective buyer were to provide assurances on lighting, fencing or any other issue, there is no guarantee that future representatives of that government would be able to honour such an agreement. Additionally, for its own reasons, a country might determine that its foreign missions require enhanced security due to increased threat levels, and require all its diplomatic offices to enhance physical barriers and other security features.
And, the prospective buyer may subsequently sell the re-zoned property to another foreign government, which would certainly not feel beholden to any previous assurances.
6. Role of the seller. The current owners of 55 MacKay Street have been exemplary members of the community. We are grateful for the energy and time they have given to many community activities. However, it is simply not fair if the immediate problem of one neighbourhood resident is solved by creating possible long-term problems for many other neighbours. While the current owners would be advantaged by this sale, those of us left behind would be disadvantaged.
We trust that the City of Ottawa will place more priority on the rights of multiple neighbours, and well-being of Ottawans and established neighbourhoods, rather than cater to the wholly unnecessary request of a foreign government and the interests of an individual seller.
While I am not enthusiastic about the proposed change I would consider it an acceptable evil if (and only if) there was an absolute commitment by the City to ensure that the property was protected:
· that the current buildings be retained with modifications only as per the HCD Guidelines and approved by New Edinburgh Community Alliance (NECA);
· and that the garden/yard not be turned into parking lots (not now not ever).
If the above conditions cannot be guaranteed (built into the by-law amendment) than I request that the amendment proposal be denied.
7. Any change in New Edinburgh from a residential use is a matter of great concern to us.
We do not agree with the change from residential use for the following reasons.
Approving this proposal is poor planning.
We sincerely hope that New Edinburgh citizens' objection to this zoning amendment proposal change is not an exercise in futility and that the granting of the right to object is not a mere formality. As tax-paying citizens in a neighbourhood in which we choose to live and about which we feel passionate – for ourselves and future generations – it would be distressing and alarming to discover that the granting of this zoning change is, in fact, a foregone conclusion!
8. You've heard from many of our neighbours in the area surrounding 55 MacKay Street regarding the proposed zoning amendment.
This letter is to formally add our objection to theirs to any such proposal. To re-zone the lot to allow for such business premises can only open the door to other similar applications, and what was once a residential neighbourhood will all too soon become something entirely different. It will hardly be to Ottawa's credit to interfere with the heritage character of the neighbourhood to its obvious detriment.
The question of security is particularly troubling, and given that both 24 Sussex Drive and the Governor General's residence are in close proximity to 55 MacKay Street, we're more than a little anxious about the ramifications that a potential embassy office space might impose on the area.
9. I strongly oppose the proposed Zoning By-law amendment Proposal for 55 MacKay Street.
The proposed amendment to 55 MacKay Street will turn this property from a residential property to a commercial one - given that the use stated will be for 10 offices for a diplomatic mission. This would establish a precedent for allowing other residential buildings to be used for commercial purposes in what is a strong residential community.
There are additional concerns with respect to parking - 10 offices requiring parking, and the increased traffic that a diplomatic mission would generate in a residential community.
55 MacKay Street is located in the New Edinburgh Heritage Conservation District and the home itself has a heritage designation. To turn this into a commercial venue would defeat the purpose of having established this area as a residential conservation area.
I have lived in the community since 1980 - for 31 years - when I bought what was a former school house. I have supported many changes in the neighbourhood and opposed others where I believed that they were detrimental to the design and character of New Edinburgh. I sincerely hope that the proposed amendment is not approved as this would allow for additional changes in the future and irrevocably alter the residential character of the neighbourhood.
10. I strongly object the proposal to amend the zoning by-law; RE 55 MacKay Street Reasons: Said property is located in a residential heritage area and turning it to a commercial building would set a precedent, and potentially change the character of this area, negatively, with something this community doesn’t approve of. Parking would definitely be a different and disturbing issue.
11. Our objections are as follows:
a. The neighbourhood context of 55 MacKay Street is that the property "serves as a prominent historical gateway" to one of the most significant areas in the City of Ottawa. To allow "offices", whether diplomatic or other, will destroy the residential harmony of the area.
b. Diplomatic offices will result in increased vehicular traffic in an area already congested during the business day by street parking. In addition, with the increased need for street parking, the City of Ottawa will be tempted to install parking meters, thus forever destroying the neighbourhood.
c. Diplomatic offices will result in increased usage of the two closest OCTranspo bus stops (corner of Charles Street and Creighton, and corner of Charles and Alexander Streets). These two bus stops are currently littered by food products, soft drink containers and discarded newspapers. My neighbours and I do not wish to increase our cleaning-up duties, which will certainly as a result of an increased usage of these two bus stops.
Furthermore, the security of our homes and property is paramount. Allowing diplomatic offices into our neighbourhood challenges our sense of peace and security. The recent events in Norway are a reminder that a peaceful neighbourhood can easily become a target for demonstrations (and, unfortunately, more).
12. Without some significant assurances, I do not support the proposed amendment. I have two concerns:
I. The impact of the amendment proposal on the local residents.
II. The impact of the proposal on the 55 MacKay Street properties and the New Edinburgh Heritage Conservation District.
Impact on Local Residents
New Edinburgh (other than the Governor General grounds and stretches along Springfield and Beechwood) has evolved into an almost entirely residential neighbourhood. There may be many home-based businesses but these businesses do not impact significantly on the related houses, streets, neighbours. The proposed change of the zoning at 55 MacKay Street would bring problematic changes in the form of significant traffic, parking requirements, security fencing and lighting. Parking is already a problem as many New Edinburgh streets are essentially parking lots for Foreign Affairs workers. However my concerns regarding parking and nuisance lighting pale compared to my concern for the beautiful 55 MacKay Street property and the New Edinburgh Heritage Conservation District. (See discussion below).
Impact on an Important Property and on the New Edinburgh Heritage Conservation District
55 MacKay Street (both the building and the property) are exceptional. They are important in their own right and are outstanding components of the New Edinburgh Heritage Conservation District. The property was nurtured by generations of the Edwards/Bogue family and by the current owners Joe Cull and Ian Engelberg. The proposed zoning change for the property is almost certain to lead to alterations to the building (exterior as well as interior) and to paving of the wonderful property to provide parking. The changes to the property would be unfortunate and the harm to the NE Heritage Conservation District (HCD) would be serious. The NE HCD is not just of value to its residents. It is a resource to be enjoyed by Ottawa residents and visitors more generally. Many NE residents consider themselves as stewards of this heritage resource.
New Edinburgh is a residential area which includes some long standing "businesses". There is no compelling reason to alter zoning by-laws to allow other non-residential property uses. This is particularly the case for 55 MacKay Street as the problems caused by the proposed change in zoning will exacerbate existing traffic and parking problems; and because the property is exceptionally wonderful and important to the NE Heritage Conservation District.
While I am not enthusiastic about the proposed change I would consider it an acceptable evil if (and only if) there was an absolute commitment by the City to ensure that the property was protected:
If the above conditions cannot be guaranteed (built into the by-law amendment) than I request that the amendment proposal be denied.
9. My wife and I are completely opposed to the granting of any change to the existing zoning designation for Number 55 MacKay Street, New Edinburgh, Ottawa. Our reasons are several. Some of the more significant follow: 1) Charles/MacKay Streets are premier streets in the Heritage Designated area of New Edinburgh. This is the main reason we bought our residence on this street in the first instance. To allow offices (diplomatic or otherwise) as is proposed would be a complete violation of the existing Heritage zoning and a travesty to people, such as ourselves, who retired here because the street is in the city but not a in a commercial area. 2) To site the proposed offices at the corner of MacKay and Charles Streets presents major problems, particularly regarding parking. At present the number of cars parked on Charles Street is exorbitant. Cars park on both sides of the road and it is often impossible to turn safely onto Charles Street from MacKay Street. During the week, employees of External Affairs and The Governor Generals Office park here. On weekends, the area is swamped (to overflowing) with casual visitors to the Governor Generals residence with their cars as well as with tourists buses. Given this situation it is courting disaster (i.e. accidental deaths and injuries) to cram more cars and people into such a limited space. 3) The streets here in New Edinburgh are designated Heritage: this is for a reason. Mainly to maintain an area which exhibits something of Ottawa’s and Canada’s past. To allow changes to this designation would provide a precedent for other developers to try to follow suit. This would represent a complete lack of concern for existing residents and a great imposition on their time and energy. 4) The potential diplomatic occupants of the proposed offices themselves could present problems. The potential for future political demonstrations could be high. Crowd control, noise problem and riot policing activities, could be necessary and thus expensive and disruptive to the residents. 5) Finally, the notice of intention regarding this zoning change was given in the middle of the summer when many residents are on vacation. The time period allotted for comment was short not enabling sufficient discussion of these proposals.
10. Adding an expectation to the existing zoning to permit "offices limited to a diplomatic mission" is totally inappropriate. A zoning by-law is grounded in principle and should not be subjected to amendment. Specific and practically, the proposed zoning amendment would severely and negatively impact an area and neighbourhood of international, national and municipal significance. This is a residential community in a historic part of the City of Ottawa and the proposal is totally unacceptable.
11. I wish to submit my objection to the proposed Zoning By-Law amendment Proposal for 55 MacKay Street.
This area of New Edinburgh has a long residential history which I believe would be adversely affected by the addition of offices for diplomatic or any other commercial use.
12. We wish to register our objection to the proposed zoning change to 55 MacKay Street.
In the past 15 years it has become impossible to park in front of our house, for even a short time to unload groceries, as all parking spots on the street are filled from 8:30-9 am until 4:30-5pm especially during spring, fall and winter months by employees (we assume) of DFAT. We do not object to short term parking by visitors to Government House. To zone the above property for office use resulting in the need for more parking is unreasonable and on these grounds we object.
13. I regret to inform you that I am inextricably opposed to a change in zoning which would permit an embassy office on the adjoining property.
I am afraid that I cannot agree to an embassy office with its parking and security needs in our small residential neighbourhood.
The request for re-zoning must be turned down.
14. My partner and I are opposed to the granting of a Zoning By-Law amendment, your file No. D02-02-11-0047. The property in question is one of the finest residential properties in New Edinburgh, and has been designated by the New Edinburgh Heritage District as a Group 1 property. This is the highest category, and such properties are deemed “of considerable significance”. The rational for our opposition is summarized below.
1. To rezone or amend the by-laws as proposed would severely impact the very special characteristics of New Edinburgh that are supported and protected by: the current zoning by-laws; the New Edinburgh Heritage Conservation District Plan; the Planning Act, R.S.O.1990,C.P.13 as amended; the Provincial Policy Statement, 2005; and the City of Ottawa Official Plan.
2. The existing “Embassies” located in the New Edinburgh area, as stated in the Gibson Project Planning Inc “Planning Rational. dated June 2nd, 2011” have been in existence before any of the current relevant legislation was in place. Embassy of France since 1932, India High Commission since 1974, Embassy of Spain since 1993, and the Embassy of South Africa prior to 1990 (date uncertain). They have not been granted a special amendment under the current relevant legislation or zoning by-laws.
3. The Planning Rationale and personal opinion stated in Gibson Project Planning Inc. is basically a personal opinion to support the agent. The logic put forward that the City has approved several exceptions to the zoning by-law in New Edinburgh is incorrect, as all of the existing Embassies presence predates the current zoning by-laws. A possible exception may be the temporary location of the Ghana High Commission in an existing commercial office building at 29 Beechwood Avenue. In fact, they moved there offices in March of 2011 to Clemow Avenue. Further, the City of Ottawa should note the relationship between the Agent, and the principal of the Gibson Project Planning Inc. This makes the “Opinion” stated very subjective.
4. The creation of an Embassy Office will create additional traffic and parking problems in an area already stressed by the presence of visitors, tourists, and employees of DFAIT. The presence of the proposed Embassy will also add the possibility of demonstrations and other activities that will severely impact congestion in this residential area.
5. The opinion stated by Trow/EXP will, I suspect, be thoroughly reviewed by City staff, as it seems very simplistic in its assumptions and conclusions. Water and sewage estimates seem very, very conservative.
6. The proponents state that the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade has granted conditional permission to purchase the subject property, PROVIDED THAT it does not contravene any applicable local laws, by-laws, etc. As the current zoning by-laws do not support the proposed use, the permission is in abeyance. I doubt that the objective of DFAIT is to have local laws changed to suit each application it receives. This would not be very desirable precedent.
In conclusion we are very much opposed to the proposed Zoning By-Law amendment. Changing the use of this property as requested by the purchaser/agent is NOT in keeping with the intent and integrity of existing relevant legislation. Changing or amending existing relevant legislation/by-laws would set a very serious and damaging precedent that future applicants would use to gain similar “amendments”. It would facilitate any of the existing Embassy Residences in Rockcliffe, New Edinburgh, and other parts of Ottawa to seek similar zoning by-law amendments. This possibility is very real as countries around the world are in difficult financial times, and consolidating their physical properties would significantly reduce their operating costs and investment
New Edinburgh is one of the most significant historical and heritage districts in Ottawa, and possibly in all of Canada. This rich history must be preserved. Creating office buildings in such a fine, historic neighbourhood is not acceptable.
15. We would like to let you know that we are opposed to the requested zoning by-law amendment proposal for 55 MacKay Street.
SUMMARY OF PUBLIC INPUT
The public comments that were received as part of the public consultation can be summarized into three main categories:
The proposed change to 55 MacKay Street will not generate a significant increase in traffic. The City uses Transportation Impact Assessment (TIA) guidelines to determine whether a traffic impact study is required. City of Ottawa Transportation staff determined that a traffic impact study was not required due to the nature of the proposal.
The Heritage Overlay provides a parking exemption for all Category 1 and 2 buildings in the New Edinburgh Heritage Conservation District. The prospective buyers have not indicated any need or desire for increased parking on site. Currently, there is a generous paved area at the entrance off Charles Street and the applicant has indicated that the Coach House can accommodate up to five vehicles. Any changes to the property that involve alterations to the property, including the addition of parking on the property would be subject to an application under the Ontario Heritage Act.
3. Heritage/Landscaping/Site Design
The property is designated under Part V of the Ontario Heritage Act. A property designation under the Ontario Heritage Act does not regulate the use of the property. Alterations to the property including grounds, parking and fencing would be subject to an application which would be reviewed by the City’s Heritage Staff. The Heritage Staff at the City of Ottawa have confirmed and informed the applicant that a proposal to replace the existing wrought iron fencing with new and/or higher fencing would not be supported.
COMMUNITY ORGANIZATION COMMENTS
New Edinburgh Community Alliance (NECA)
These comments are submitted on behalf of the New Edinburgh Community Alliance, an incorporated non-profit organization with a mandate to make representations on matters affecting this community and its residents.
The subject property is an impressive late Victorian mansion located in the New Edinburgh Heritage Conservation District, across from the grounds of Rideau Hall. This area is subject to the Heritage Overlay (Section 60) of the Ottawa Zoning By-law.
The proposed zoning amendment has been examined by NECA’s New Edinburgh Heritage & Development Committee. Our objective is to ensure that change is managed sensitively and avoids adverse impacts on the character of the neighbourhood and the quality of life of residents. In the course of our review we identified several potential concerns associated with the proposed change in permitted use. We have raised these concerns with City staff and the agent for the applicant, who have in turn provided additional information, clarifications, and assurances. We wish to document here our concerns and our understanding of how these are being addressed. This provides us with the basis for determining whether or not to support the proposed zoning amendment.
1. Heritage Character of the House and Grounds
The property at 55 MacKay Street is classified as Category 1 in the Ottawa Heritage Reference List, i.e., the highest level. The residence, built at the end of the 19th century is a fine example of the Queen Anne Revival style, and is accompanied by a restored coach house and large, landscaped grounds. This heritage property, in a conspicuous location near Rideau Hall and 24 Sussex Drive, is a valuable asset for Ottawa. NECA could not support any zoning amendment that would result in changes being made to the physical appearance of the house and its grounds.
However, we note the present application does not propose any changes other than adding the new permitted use. Indeed, the report by “exp” specifically states, “There are no proposed alterations to the physical state of the grounds of the property”. Furthermore, City heritage staff has confirmed that any subsequent alteration of the building or property would require approval under the Ontario Heritage Act. NECA would vigorously oppose any such approval.
2. Perimeter Fence
There is concern that approval of the proposed zoning amendment could lead to the creation of an alienating “fortress” at this location caused by increased security measures for the diplomatic offices. At present, the property is pleasantly but effectively protected by a modest metal railing fence. NECA would oppose this being replaced by higher fencing, resulting in the residence being screened and cut off from the sidewalk. However, City heritage staff inform us the applicant has been advised that a new, higher fence would not be supported; NECA believes this clarification should be indicated in the approval document.
3. Light Encroachment
Another potential “fortress” concern relates to possible changes to the illumination of the property. Some, though not all, diplomatic missions employ offensive and intrusive security lighting. Clearly, 55 MacKay Street is located within a residential setting, where such lighting is inappropriate and potentially problematic for neighbours. NECA would oppose such an intrusion. However, City staff has confirmed the applicant must comply with municipal by-laws regarding light trespass. NECA believes this should be indicated in the approval document.
Currently there is on-site parking for three or four vehicles. There are two concerns re parking.
(i) The possibility that the landscaped garden would be paved over in whole or in part in order to provide additional on-site parking.
This concern is related to heritage preservation. The landscaped grounds are an integral component of the heritage character of the property. Introduction of additional parking would significantly detract from this and would be opposed by NECA. However, City staff note that no new parking is being requested and, as noted above, the “exp” report states, “There are no proposed alterations to the physical state of the grounds of the property”. Furthermore, City heritage staff has confirmed that the Heritage Overlay provides a parking exemption for all Category 1 and 2 buildings in the Heritage Conservation District, so that the owner is not obliged to increase the parking beyond that which is currently available on site. Also, any proposed alteration to the grounds would require approval under the Ontario Heritage Act. NECA would oppose any such approval.
(ii) The possibility that the new permitted use would increase demand for on-street parking in an area where parking is already under pressure.
This concern is prompted by the proposed change of use from private residence to diplomatic offices. The assumption is that parking will be required by the increased number of occupants, and by visitors to the office. The application does not provide information on what this parking requirement will be, or whether it is significant. However, we do take note that, even without the proposed zoning amendment, the present zoning would permit the use of 55 MacKay Street as an apartment building, retirement home, bed & breakfast and other more parking-intensive uses than its present use as a private residence.
Similarly, there is concern that the proposed change in use to diplomatic offices would introduce additional traffic into an already congested part of the Heritage Conservation District. Again, the present application does not provide information on the anticipated impact on local traffic. However, City staff believes the proposed new use will not generate a significant increase in local traffic. The City’s planning department uses the Transportation Impact Assessment Guidelines to determine whether a special traffic report is warranted; we are advised that the proposed change of use does not trigger such a report. Also, the applicant has described to NECA the Embassy’s own modest use of private vehicles and the limited number of on-site visitors, further suggesting that the change of use is unlikely to result in local traffic and parking problems.
Position of NECA
NECA recognizes that change is part of a lively neighbourhood. Change should be managed sensitively. Each proposal affecting zoning must be carefully examined for its potential negative impacts. Existing safeguards must be confirmed, and effective mitigation measures identified and implemented. This is particularly the case in the New Edinburgh Heritage Conservation District, where there is also the extra responsibility for protecting Ottawa’s heritage resources.
NECA is aware that the current zoning already permits more intensive use of the property than as a private residence, perhaps generating a similar list of concerns. Nevertheless, our task is to focus on the particular application before us.
Evidently, the zoning amendment proposed in this application gives rise to several substantive concerns. NECA is also aware of similar concerns being raised by many of the immediate neighbours. The President of NECA has met with representatives of the applicant to explain these concerns and to obtain additional information.
In this submission, NECA has identified the main issues and has reviewed these in light of applicable regulations, guidelines, and assurances from City staff. It is the view of NECA that the existing legal safeguards, staff directives, and working assumptions of staff go a long way towards eliminating or reducing our concerns. We also believe it is important these legal constraints and staff positions are understood and accepted by the applicant. Given the sensitivity of the proposed amendment and the particular location of the subject property, this would provide a further measure of reassurance to concerned residents and to NECA, and reduce the risk of future misunderstandings. Consequently, we recommend that these be documented in a formal letter that accompanies approval of the zoning amendment. This may not be the typical procedure, but we believe it would be a useful initiative in this instance.
Under these circumstances, NECA would not object to the present application.
ZONING – 55 MACKAY STREET
ZONAGE – 55 RUE MACKAY
That the Planning Committee recommend Council approve an amendment to the City of Ottawa Zoning By-law 2008-250 to change the zoning of 55 MacKay Street from R4S to R4S[XXXX] to permit “office limited to a chancellery for an embassy” as shown on Document 1 and detailed in Document 2.
Committee received the following written submissions, copies of which are held on file with the City Clerk:
· Petition signed by 364 residents of New Edinburgh, objecting to the proposed re-zoning.
· Letter dated 25 August 2011 from Barbara Laskin and Tim Plumptre
· E-mails dated 2 September and 8 September 2011 from Heather Borquez
· Letter from Heritage Ottawa to the Vietnamese Ambassador.
· Letter dated 12 September 2011 from Rosemary Shepherd
· Comments dated 13 September and August 24, 2011 from Katherine Arkay, David Sacks, Joan Monahan, Martine Cappon and Paul Cappon
Bliss Edwards, Planner, provided and overview of the application and staff’s rationale for recommending approval. A copy of her PowerPoint presentation is held on file with the City Clerk. Committee then heard from the following public delegations:
The first five individuals spoke to a joint PowerPoint presentation in opposition to the recommendations as presented, on behalf of themselves and other neighbours. They argued the New Edinburgh Community Association (NECA)’s position on the matter was not informed by consultation and thus did not reflect that of the broader community. Specific points are outlined in their presentation held on file with the City Clerk, and summarized below. The above group also submitted to Committee and Council the above-noted petition in opposition to the proposed re-zoning.
Barbara Laskin,* resident of MacKay Street, argued that the process leading to the proposed Zoning By-law amendment was flawed and that notice and consultation had been insufficient. She proposed that the recommendations were biased, lacked balance and put the onus on the neighbours to defend the current by-law. She requested adjournment of the matter to a later date. As no motions to adjourn were forthcoming, the remaining speakers addressed the substantive points of the application.
Guy Legault,* resident of Union Street, spoke to heritage considerations of the subject property, noting it was a significant heritage property in the New Edinburgh Heritage Conservation District (HCD), and its designation was pending. He argued re-zoning would significantly undermine the intent of the HCD. He proposed that the property was at the heart of the community, not at the edge of the community on a higher-order road as indicated in the report, and thus not an appropriate place for the proposed use.
Tim Plumptre, * resident of MacKay Street, spoke to the potential implications of turning the building into diplomatic premises. He expressed concern that, as a result of the Vienna Convention, the City would lose jurisdiction over the property. He argued the City’s ability to protect the exterior of the heritage property was seriously weakened if sold to a foreign power. He argued the ability to protect the neighbours from oppressive lighting, fencing and noise pollution would be similarly limited, giving examples of other embassy properties where such problems and others had occurred.
Leslie McKay,* resident of MacKay Street, spoke to the residential character of the neighbourhood, proposing the rezoning would compromise that character. She noted the area was primarily residential, with non-residential uses focused on satisfying the everyday needs of local residents. She feared the re-zoning set a bad precedent for other residential buildings to be used for commercial purposes. She also expressed concern about parking, arguing the new use would exacerbate the existing on-street parking problems of surrounding streets and/or result in the paving of the garden for parking. She expressed further concern with increased traffic volumes as a result of the chancellery use, arguing a transportation impact assessment should be required.
Mark Cawley,* resident of MacKay Street, argued that, notwithstanding all the reasons against the rezoning, there was no reason for a chancellery in that location. He noted there was no obvious economic reason for new employment in new Edinburgh; the building was not uniquely built for the purpose; and it was not a vital location for the chancellery, nor even a particularly convenient one. He suggested the re-zoning would be of no benefit to the area.
In addition to the above, the following individuals also presented:
John Bogue, former resident of the subject property, was also opposed to the rezoning. He referenced the land-use designation in the Official Plan (OP,) which states that the permitted non-residential uses are aimed at satisfying the local, everyday needs of the residents. He argued that the proposed chancellery did not fit this definition. While the OP states that uses serving wider parts of the city be directed to the edges of neighbourhoods on higher-order roads, he argued that MacKay street was not such a road, and the subject site was not at the periphery of the community.
John L. Nesbitt spoke in opposition to the application. He was present on behalf of his daughter, Heather Borquez, the immediate neighbour on Charles Street.* He expressed concern that the proposed use would exacerbate the existing parking and traffic concerns in the area. He noted the subject property was immediately adjacent to his daughter’s, and expressed concern with noise impacts and the potential for future use of security fences and lighting. He suggested a commercial building would detract from the residential character of the neighbourhood and was contrary to the HCD. Further concerns are outlined in Ms. Borquez’s written submissions, which are held on file with the City Clerk.
Katherine Arkay, * resident of MacKay Street, was present on behalf of herself and two other households, in support of the proposed rezoning. While she preferred to see the site zoned residential, she felt a chancellery was an appropriate use. She proposed that wording be added to the Zoning By-law amendment that specifically refers to the requirement for compliance with the Heritage Overlay By-laws and the New Edinburgh HCD. A copy of Ms. Arkay’s presentation and written submission is held on file with the City Clerk.
Gyde F. Shepherd, who grew on MacKay Street near the subject property, opposed having a chancellery/ office without the ambassador in residence. He suggested having an office use would not have the same contribution to the community as an ambassador’s residence where a family would be integrated into the neighbourhood. He suggested the requirement for re-zoning indicated that a residence and chancellery use were indeed quite different. If this was not the case, he proposed that the amount of opposition in the community indicated that the process and the communication of the change had been flawed.
Gyde Vanier Shepherd, Resident of MacKay Street, argued the subject property, (including interior, exterior and gardens) should be designated immediately as heritage. He suggested it was poor planning to undermine the previous planning of the HCD and mixed residential zoning. He suggested it was also poor planning to recommend amendment of zoning without intensive review by the Ottawa Built Heritage Advisory Committee and City Heritage staff. He further objected to re-zoning a property in a location of such national, municipal and political and strategic importance without review by the National Capital Commission (NCC) and Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP.) He expressed concern with the property’s sale to a foreign buyer, given its location in a residential neighbourhood in close proximity to important Canadian residences such as that of the Prime Minister and Governor General. He maintained that the property should remain residential and remain in Canadian hands.
Barbara Mendel, resident of MacKay Street, spoke in opposition to the proposed re-zoning. She referred to the definition of “diplomatic mission” in the Zoning By-law, which states that is may include an office “accessory to and in conjunction with the diplomatic residence.” She believed this wording allowed for a single office with emphasis on the residential use, and questioned why it was not being interpreted that way. She argued that the impact of the proposed office on the neighbouring home was greater than that of a residence, noting the residence would have fewer visitors and the potential for increased security would be less for a residence. She advised that the residents wanted to keep their neighbourhood residential and did not want to see an office use.
Thomas Shepherd spoke in opposition to the proposed rezoning. He argued the definition in the existing zoning was clearly intended to be for the residence of the head of a diplomatic mission with the office being the ambassador’s personal office, and suggested what was proposed was fundamentally different and contrary to the intent of the Zoning By-law. He argued the separate office space should be located in an area zoned for offices. He proposed that the application be rejected given concerns by the residents and the lack of rationale in favour of the proposal.
David Jeanes, Heritage Ottawa* was present in support of the rezoning, as outlined in Heritage Ottawa’s written submission held on file.
Ann Young, resident of Stanley Avenue, was present in opposition. She suggested the process had been unfair and rushed and notification had been insufficient. She expressed concern that authority over the property would be given to a foreign government, and asked Committee to reject the staff recommendation.
D. Kenneth Gibson, Gibsons LLP, was present on behalf of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam in support of the application and staff’s recommendation. With respect to the change in use, he proposed that a government or business had the means to maintain the heritage property, while the costs were prohibitive for ordinary families. He noted the property had been on the market for two years.
He emphasized that there was no intention to compromise the heritage property, noting the Ambassador’s residence at 85 Glebe Avenue was well maintained, and indicating that similar care would be taken at this location.
With respect to traffic and parking concerns, he noted that only the maintenance family would be present on the property 24/7, and chancellery staff lived together off-site and came to work together by van or on foot. He further noted that there would be little visitor traffic given attendance at the chancellery was not required to obtain visas or other documentation. He also noted that the existing zoning would allow for a more intensive use than what was proposed. Mr. Gibson maintained that the process and notice had been appropriate, noting signs had been up on the property since June.
Rosemary Shepherd* was also present on behalf of Chris Edwards, in opposition. Victoria Henry also registered her opposition, but was unable to remain to speak.
*Presentation or Written Comments held on file with the City Clerk
The report recommendation was put to Committee and CARRIED, as presented.