Comments on Ottawa Draft Official Plan (OP)
The Woodpark Community Association Inc. (WCA) appreciates this opportunity to comment on the Draft Official Plan - and looks forward to further engagement with the City of Ottawa (the City) on this important matter.
Urban Transects The use of transects is an interesting and positive way to help divide the city into regional blocks and create some continuity of rules. The challenge is that it does not reach down directly to the community level.
Woodpark is an unplanned community east of the Sir John A MacDonald Parkway situated between the corridors of Carling, Richmond and Woodroffe, and will have two LRT stations on its borders, including the Lincoln Fields hub. It currently has a tremendous mix of households and built forms, including large apartments along Carling and mostly single family and semi-detached homes within its interior. The transforming neighbourhood overlay will completely transform Woodpark to a density and urban form unseen in any area in Ottawa today.
The WCA supports this transition but would prefer it be managed so that it does not completely disrupt our community. Ottawa has many secondary plans that support transit or rural villages, but only a small number that support neighbourhoods and enhance communities. Neighbourhoods and communities are the basic building blocks of our City, and they need to be fostered.
The urban west transect is a high growth area and is often considered to be an attractive place to raise a family and enjoy urban amenities. The OP should be a positive force to help build these communities. One of the challenges is the people who choose to live in the eclectic unplanned community of Woodpark, under the dramatic growth recipe of the Draft OP probably will not want to live in such a dense urban form.
We need secondary plans that align with the boundaries of communities in a transect to ensure what has made communities and Ottawa attractive in the past continues to build social fabric into the future.
Communities need a metric to measure regeneration and ensure all areas are receiving growth in an equitable and balanced manner.
There should be limits to intensification – how many units is too much for a neighbourhood? The development of an intensification trigger point policy that can apply to each neighbourhood so that the appropriateness of intensification policies can be reviewed.
Inclusionary zoning should be used to ensure that intensification provides a range of affordable housing within neighbourhoods.
Where cash-in-lieu of parkland is used, these funds should be spent within the community from which it came to provide needed parkland.
As fewer driveway cuts are to occur, then it would be optimal to have piped services running beside the driveways to ensure that the front yard has the soil to support a tree.
As the Stage 2 LRT project shifts from construction to use, the Lincoln Fields Orchard adjoining Lawn Ave needs to be made a City public park.
The increase of buildings on lots will mean diminished backyards and gardens. We recommend that public community led gardens be made a common amenity in public parks and greenspaces.
Hub Growth Areas
Clarity needs to be provided between the various documents within the draft OP and the pending Lincoln Fields Station Secondary Plan Study. Annex 6 of the draft OP clearly shows the Woodpark community along Carling Avenue from Richardson Avenue to the Lincoln Fields Orchard and from Carling Avenue to Midway Avenue are contained in the study area. The City of Ottawa’s project website has a different map as the study area for the Lincoln Fields Station Study area with a much smaller portion of Woodpark in the study area.
The WCA supports the vision shown in ‘Schedule B2 - Inner Urban Transect’ of the OP, with only the area along Carling as having a hub designation, and the interior of Woodpark using the Transforming Neighbourhood overlay.
The WCA is strongly opposed to any up-zoning or further intensification in the interior region of Woodpark identified in the Lincoln Fields Station Secondary Plan Study area. Designating it as a hub area would be disastrous to the community.
15-Minute Community The WCA supports the goal of achieving 15-minute communities. In some mappings, Woodpark is considered to be a 15-minute neighbourhood. Woodpark possesses many attributes consistent with such a designation, but lacks some.
We are close to grocery stores and a mix of service and retail shops, although pedestrian safety is a major concern within the community.
The community lacks sidewalks to connect to these amenities and transit services. The streets in Woodpark are narrow, poorly paved and have ditches.
The speed of traffic is a perennial concern as Woodpark is a prime cut through neighbourhood to avoid congestion on Richmond Road, Woodroffe and Carling Avenues.
Additionally, there is no recreational complex within a 15-minute walk of the community. The closest is Dovercourt, which is over capacity.
Woodpark has very limited park and greenspace controlled by the City.
The only space with programs within the 15-minute benchmark is the Public Library.
In our view, Woodpark falls short of the basic requirements for a 15-minute neighbourhood designation and a plan to address the above noted deficiencies is required.
There needs to be a clear definition of what services/amenities are needed to qualify for a 15-minute neighbourhood designation. As well, there needs to be scope within the definition to accommodate diversity.
There needs to be recognition of how the 15-minute neighbourhood is derived e.g. for seniors, for the disabled, for families, etc. Such measurements should include factoring in winter conditions, and availability of safe walking and cycling infrastructure and connectivity.
There needs to be a mapping to identify which communities already fit the 15- minute neighbourhood concept, and which do not. This should be done in consultation with each community.
The City will need to develop metrics to ensure that access to amenities and services grows with intensification in each 15-minute neighbourhood, and a strategy to deal with deficiencies in neighbourhoods that do not meet the 15- minute neighbourhood standard (e.g. access to parks, safe pedestrian pathways etc.).
Transformative communities need more amenities to support these new growth pressures and active transportation. For instance: warrants to support new sidewalk construction need to be made easier; sidewalks need to be built wide enough for the safety of all users; sufficient recreational facilities need to be provided.
Greenspace Greenspace is recognized as an important feature in our communities, both through parks and through the tree canopy. There is concern among WCA members that as intensification continues our existing tree canopy will be further diminished. Rather, our members want to see more, not less green space in our communities. Realizing this goal requires establishing standards and metrics to measure progress.
The City develops a standard for the provision of park space across the city, so that neighbourhoods that are deficient in parks can see their needs addressed as intensification occurs.
The City develops a tree canopy inventory and standard in order to measure which neighbourhoods are deficient in tree canopy, so that investments can be made in trees to eliminate these deficiencies. Where intensification occurs in a neighbourhood, the City shall ensure the provision of trees in that neighbourhood according to the OP standard.
The City develops appropriate and effective enforcement tools to ensure that existing trees are safeguarded and that new and replacement trees are provided in the neighbourhood when and where intensification happens.
The City needs to provide protections for large trees. It takes too long to grow a significant tree and site redevelopments seem to allow for tree removal without considering other options to preserve the tree.
Pinecrest Creek: A Unique Natural Feature The Woodpark has access to a couple of special natural areas - the Ottawa River and Pinecrest Creek. The National Capital Commission is the lead public agency for both spaces.
The WCA and Woodpark residents appreciate the focus on Natural Heritage Systems and the protection of unique natural features and its ability to provide environmental services and well-being within the City. Pinecrest Creek warrants and needs protection as an oasis area that will see increased usage resulting from a substantial population inflow due to regeneration as the Carling corridor and surrounding areas are developed.
WCA appreciates that we are one of many communities in a new storm water study and hopes that the tools put forward by the City will moderate the flow into Pinecrest Creek.
Designate Pinecrest Creek as a unique natural heritage area in the OP and include in the schedules for Natural Heritage Systems or Protected Urban Green Spaces.
In the Lincoln Fields Secondary Plan study, mandate the development of more detailed plans for the portion of Pinecrest Creek within the study area.
Work with the National Capital Commission to protect and enhance the area around Pinecrest Creek before intensification happens.