Planning committee buys time for controversial Southminister church development

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Windmill Development Group and Southminister United Church are proposing to demolish an assembly hall and build four townhouses and a six-storey apartment building beside the church at 1040 Bank St. in Old Ottawa South. Source: Development application

Jon Willing, Ottawa Citizen

Southminister United Church and the Windmill Development Group had a three-metre problem at council’s planning committee on Tuesday.

A single storey is preventing a community buy-in on a development, but that extra floor could protect the future of the church at 1040 Bank St. in Old Ottawa South.

Residents don’t find Windmill’s proposed design offensive.

“It just needs to be rejigged, that’s all,” resident Brian Tansey told the committee.

Easier said than done.

The application calls for the demolition of Memorial Hall, which was built in 1955, and the construction of four townhouses and a six-storey residential building with 14 units. The basement of the church would be renovated to host community events.

(The church was built in 1932 but it’s not a protected heritage building).

Windmill’s proposed six-storey building is the source of the controversy.

The National Capital Commission and Parks Canada don’t like that the building would affect the visual setting of the Rideau Canal. The six-storey building would be slightly higher than the church.

Residents aren’t crazy about that sixth storey, either.

“The dominance of the glass condo draws attention away from the church and even obscures it,” Anna Cuylits said.

However, city planning staff support the application, calling it a “well-designed, modest infill that respects and preserves the existing place of worship building.”

Nearly 400 people submitted comments on the application, with opponents decrying the proposed height of the new buildings, the density and the impact on the views around the Rideau Canal. There were about a dozen delegations at planning committee.

The church approached Windmill about a potential partnership as it faced a financial reality. They came up with a development scheme that would provide the church with critical revenue.

Andrew Brewin, chair of the church’s redevelopment committee, said the future of the church could hinge on the partnership with Windmill. The church needs money for its main building, which also acts as a community hub.

“This proposal allows us to stop the dripping,” Brewin said.

Rodney Wilts, a partner at Windmill, said if the company removed the sixth storey it would need to rethink the entire proposal on a tight development footprint.

“It’s not a viable option to say keep things we love and lop one storey off that building,” Wilts said.

The church will sell part of the property to Windmill for the residential development if council approves the necessary rezoning for what the company wants to build.

The planning committee voted to put off the decision until the Dec. 13 council meeting to let Windmill, city planners and Capital Coun. David Chernushenko figure out if the height of the six-storey building can be reduced.

Glebe mixed-use building draws ire

Melito Investments is proposing to build a mixed-use building at 667 Bank St. in the Glebe. Source: Development application

The planning controversies in Capital ward aren’t ending there.

Also up for consideration is an application from Melito Investments to construct a mixed-use building at 667 Bank St. in the Glebe.

The property, which was once home to a hotel and then a gas station, is currently a parking lot at the corner of Clemow Avenue. A children’s “exploration garden” is just north of the property.

The building would be 16.7 metres at its tallest point, or five storeys. The current zoning allows a building up to 15 metres in height.

There would be no parking spots in the development.

Opponents aren’t happy with the proposed massing of the building.

The planning committee will consider the development application later in the meeting on Tuesday.

Planning budget up for consideration

The planning committee is being asked to approve $56 million in spending next year as part of the draft 2018 budget.

The building code services branch accounts for most of the spending in the planning portfolio, but the department also receives millions in permit and development fee revenue to offset the expenses.

The planning department’s net budget is only $3.4 million when the revenue offsets are taken into consideration. It’s actually a $91,000 decrease from the 2017 net budget for the portfolio.

Council will vote on the 2018 budget on Dec. 13.

Rockcliffe Park residents get another chance to critique proposed addition

The built-heritage subcommittee received an earful from opponents recently about a proposed addition to a house in Rockcliffe Park. Some of those same residents are lining up to address the planning committee on Tuesday.

Daniel Weinand, co-founder of Shopify and the prospective buyer of the Tudor Revival-style house on a bluff at 551 Fairview Ave., wants to build a two-storey addition made of stone, wood and glass.

Rockcliffe residents fear the contemporary design will ruin the heritage charm of the stately community.

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