Committee approves ‘visionary’ plan for former Rockcliffe airbase (Joanne Laucius, Ottawa Citizen)

The city’s planning and development committee has approved the community development plan for the former CFB Rockcliffe.

Now the real work begins, says Rideau-Rockcliffe Coun. Tobi Nussbaum. The new development, which encompasses 131 hectares, will eventually be home to 10,000 people. It won’t be finished for another 20 years.

“This is a visionary document and a visionary opportunity. The challenge is implementation,” Nussbaum said after a meeting that saw little debate on the plan, which includes a mix of sustainable housing types, retail space, 10 parks, three elementary schools and a cutting-edge “bioswale” system engineered to remove runoff.

The former Rockcliffe airbase is the last development site of this size in the inner core and is bounded by the Aviation Parkway to the west, the Sir George-Étienne Cartier Parkway to the north, the National Research Council campus to the east and Montreal Road to the south.

The plan calls for a mixed-use community that is “walkable, cycling-supportive, transit-oriented and built at human scale.” It will be more dense than the suburbs, but less dense than downtown, essentially a village only a few minutes from the core of the city.

Once adopted, the plan will be used as a “roadmap” for development, with some aspects entrenched in a secondary plan and zoning bylaw amendment. Canada Lands Company, a Crown corporation, will sell serviced blocks of land to developers, who will build homes, retail and office buildings according to Canada Lands’ requirements.

Many more specific details will be coming in the subdivision plan. Shovels will hit the ground to build infrastructure for the first phase of residential development on the southern edge of the property in the coming weeks, says Don Schultz, director of real estate at Canada Lands. He is hoping to have a draft plan for the first subdivision approval next month, with a request for proposals coming soon after.

Schultz hopes that Canada Lands will sell the first blocks of land to builders by the end of March. If all goes according to plan, the first residents will move in in 2017.

CFB Rockcliffe was a functioning airbase until 2004. This is a second attempt at devising a plan for the land. An earlier process ended in 2008 due to an Algonquin land claim for the site. That was settled and the land was transferred to the Canada Lands Company in 2011. A second process began in 2012.

Along the way, there have been 195 meetings with residents, community organizations, neighbouring institutions such as the Montfort Hospital and the development industry to help smooth the way for the project.

“You deserve a medal for that,” planning committee chair Jan Harder told Schultz. “It’s likely that’s why there aren’t large groups of people here today.”

A handful of residents, many of them neighbours of the new development, were at the meeting to remind the planning committee to remain vigilant about concerns that have been raised, including increased traffic, building heights and the effect on the Rockcliffe Airport.

Former Rideau-Rockcliffe Coun. Jacques Legendre said he was happy with the plan.

“The site is an absolute jewel in Ottawa,” he said. But he added that it will also function as a village, which requires retail and employment opportunities, and a transit network with frequent service to Blair Station and downtown.

It is important that there be flexibility in the plan’s interpretation as the years pass, said Schultz. He points out that in the seven years since the first process ended, a lot of things that were once considered “cutting edge” are now established.

Council is to vote on the plan Oct. 14.

Source: Ottawa Citizen