Intensification in Kanata with little public consultation

Intensification in Kanata with little public consultation
Posted on November 25, 2013 | Kanata Beaverbrook Community Association | Written on November 24, 2013
Letter type:

The following is what was provided to the City of Ottawa Planner as feedback for a new City initiative presented at a public meeting Nov 18, 2013.

This certainly appears to be a new initiative for the City to add intensification with only minimal consultation. The event was poorly attended as there was minimal promotion of the event and no previous indication of the implication of the ‘study’.

The following is a link to the City of Ottawa web site on the project. Note that the slides from the presentation are not officially posted (can scan and forward to those that are interested).


The City of Ottawa invited members of the Kanata community to a public presentation on Nov 18, 2013 on a City led “Zoning Study on Building Heights in Kanata”.

At the presentation it was stated that the study was being undertaken to address one of the key issues with the current Official Plan (OP), that the OP and Zoning were out of sync. And that this study was to address that issue for the proposed revised OP for Kanata.

It more that a small surprise to find that this type of Zone Study to resolve revised OP/zoning will only be done for a very small number of Communities within Ottawa, which includes Kanata (but not Nepean or Barrhaven, …) . And that the City is seeking additional opportunities for intensification using mid to high rise buildings at Intersections in Kanata.

Having been involved in development proposals with regards to the existing Official Plan (OP) and in involvement on the Community Panel for the current OP review, it was my understanding that areas of the City where growth, and in particular, intensification growth involving mid to high rise buildings, was only done through a Community Design Plan (CDP). So this zoning study as vehicle for additional intensification is not in keeping with spirit of the OP or past practices.

It’s certainly clear that the implication of the study is much more than we understood and that we will be both contacting other community associations within Kanata, the Federation of Citizens Associations and encouraging much more community participation. I will certainly be talking with Marianne Wilkinson to have additional public meetings with more promotion and advertising around the event.

Some key points that were not addressed in your presentation (and that were also brought up by others).

On Zoning

  • Transit proximity justified intensification – how does this apply in Kanata? – a problem with the proposed revised OP is that while it specifies maximum heights as in general as 4 stories and then various heights on main streets, arterial roads and in Town Centres, it is entirely unclear how these rules change when coupled with exceptions like “within 600M/800M/walking distance (too vague) of transit station/stop/…”. Specifically, one could argue the transit exception that very tall structures could be justified within the 600M strip immediately west of March road from the 417 to Carling, which essentially means in the middle of the core of Beaverbrook – a 1 and 2 story community. This rezoning study needs to resolve those competing “rules” unambiguously.
  • Respect for as-built Community development – Conversations with Bruce Finlay at the City is that any intensification needs to be adjusted for the existing community and surrounding structures. The proposed OP has weakened the criteria and consideration of “neighborhood compatibility”, so it remains unclear what specific impact this will have on re-defining zoning for Kanata. Kanata already includes intensive use areas, and through successful design has embraced with these open spaces. The Study should clearly indicate and confirm that the one- and two-storey residential neighbourhoods, some now 50 years old, are recognized as valuable in and of themselves and that a Study criterion be specified: no recommendations will be made in this study to disturb these valued neighbourhoods.
  • We also need confirmation of what will not be re-developed – to attain certainty, communities need to know where zoning will be re-affirmed – particularly in fully built areas. 4 story buildings may be the general height limitation rule, but a 4 story building in a 1 story neighborhood is just as inappropriate as a 30 story building in a 4story neighborhood.

On seeking additional Intensification opportunities:

  • We may lack the infrastructure – The working assumption is that infrastructure in Kanata will be able to absorb additional intensification. There are issues within Kanata both north and south of the 417 where both storm and sewer drainage related flooding has become unfortunately frequent and for which there are strong indications that the current drainage infrastructure needs to be much better understood from overall (vs. development application by application) perspective coupled with a roll-out of infrastructure upgrades required for every XXX residential or office units added to the Community.
  • Transit justified Intensification without the transit – my understanding of the “Transit Oriented Design” approach to managing intensification in the proposed revised OP is that increase in population density can only take place if there is unused public or private capacity, or otherwise is coupled with improved public transit or more road capacity. There are no major road or transit improvements (and then only for March Road) until post 2031. So any additional mid to high rise developments in the immediate future will have to cater to the automobile. This includes providing more parking than would otherwise be required and will immediately impact parking and traffic issues through the community with no relief for the next 20+ years. If we can’t afford additional Kanata transit, we can’t afford the additional intensification.
  • Intersections may not be the best places – the assumption that intersections offer the best place for intensification may not work for Kanata or other similar satellite cities. I would suggest they may well fit with much less impact away from intersections.

On the presentation

  • Goals Slide

    o – where increased building heights will be proposed and also where additional heights are not appropriate.

    o – the Town Centre has a secondary plan and as the designated mid-high rise area for Kanata that is on a planned transit way and is appropriate to review. The “remainder of Kanata” is not a designated intensification target via a CDP or Secondary Plan or any aspect of the proposed revised OP so should be dropped from consideration for additional mid-high rise/intensification.

    · Process Slide – Public consultation — as the OP and TMP have not yet been approved by Council, and recognizing that the preliminary discussion of 18 November and follow up comments may have improved the terms for this project — that a follow up meeting be held with residents to clarify understandings of the purposes, process and limits of the project.

Neil Thomson, Director – Planning
Kanata Beaverbrook Community Association