Wildlife group worried tree cutting in Kanata will endanger animals

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Tom Spears, Ottawa Citizen

A wildlife coalition in Kanata says tree-cutting by developers should be delayed until fall to lessen the danger to wild animals.

KNL Developments, a joint venture from Richcraft and Urbandale Homes, is clearing forest between Goulbourn Forced Road and Terry Fox Drive. Opponents of the work say they realize the development will go ahead, but argue Ottawa shouldn't allow it in winter.

The developers recently began cutting trees on about 175 acres.

Donna DuBreuil of the Ottawa-Carleton Wildlife Centre says the rule book — a protocol at city hall for the protection of wildlife during construction— "is not being adhered to at all."

The protocol sets out the "best practices" for clearing land before construction. In large forests with a lot of animals, it's best to cut trees in fall, Dubreuil said. She said cutting in winter destroys their homes in trees or dens, and takes away their stores of food, at a time of year when they have nowhere else to go.

"It's a very special natural area with a lot of species in there, and we're really dismayed that the city has given this permit. They could have waited until next fall. This thing has been in the works for years.

"The city's story is: Oh no, the animals just move on. Well they don't ... Where are they going to move to?"

Dubreuil said she is more upset with the city than with the developers because the city is failing in its role as a referee.

Opponents brought a petition with about 2,500 signatures to Ottawa City Hall in mid-January, asking to have it presented to Mayor Jim Watson.

A spokesman for KNL said the home builders have no intention of delaying the work.

"We've received all the permits and all the approvals necessary to do the work we are undertaking," said Jack Stirling, a consultant on the project.

"This is a group that has really quite frankly done nothing but attempt to delay this development," he said. "We really don't have much desire to listen to this group."

The developer's own consultants have said winter is a better time than fall to do the work.

He said KNL has a "very limited window" to do the tree-cutting, since it must finish by April 15. It's not allowed to work on the site in spring when birds are nesting and Blanding's turtles are coming out of hibernation.

Coun. David Chernushenko, who heads the city's environment committee, said the city's own experts feel there is no contravention of the protocol.

"Our own experts and the people who developed the protocol have assured me that there is nothing about doing it now in January that is worse than other times of year," he said.

"Everybody has know it was coming for a long time," he said.

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New student residence approved for the Glebe

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The luxury 12-storey apartment building will be located at 770 Bronson and aimed at students attending nearby Carleton University

By Haley Ritchie, Metro

A new student residence in the Glebe was universally approved at planning committee on Tuesday morning.

The luxury 12-storey apartment building will be located at 770 Bronson and aimed at students attending nearby Carleton University.

Carolyn Mackenzie, who presented to committee on behalf of Glebe Community Association and the Dow's Lake Residence Association, thanked developer Textbooks Suites for listening to the community.

She raised concerns about the number of parking spots — 17 residential spots and 21 visitor spots for 172 units — especially if the building could one day house non-students.

Mackenzie said the city's attempt at a compromise – requesting bike spaces that could be converted into more parking down the road – was appreciated and pleased residents.

"I'm raising this issue today – more as a request to the city – that we be cautious in approving variances sought by developers based on assumptions that could very easily change," she said.

Area Coun. David Chernushenko noted that the original proposal for more student housing had residents raising fears about frat parties and garbage in the early phase of the project, but said little community opposition remained.

"This is more akin to a hotel than a 'seven people stuffed into an old home not kept up by the landlord' student house stereotype," he said.
"If we can't build resident housing, with very little parking, there where can we?" he said, adding that the building is close to bike routes and transit.

Chernushenko added that projects like this will mean the city may have to consider increasing bus service on the number four bus route.
"In the end, it's a building that is a little taller than I would have liked there, but has done a lot to address the shadowing effect," he said.

Feedback on library might get loud; is Ottawa council listening?

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Metro's Steve Collins argues city council will need to hear from the community more on the plan to move a library out of the core.

By Steve Collins, Metro

City council meetings have rules and procedures that sometimes seem aimed at insulating public officials from too much unfiltered public input.
You could immediately tell the difference between those and last week's open house on the central library. Andrew Haydon Hall was packed, for starters.

Council attendance skewed 100 per cent urban (downtown councillors Catherine McKenney, Jeff Leiper, Tobi Nussbaum, Mathieu Fleury and David Chernushenko). Judging by a show of hands, the vast majority of public attendees came from downtown as well. After all, the main library is their local branch.

Instead of city staff, an expert panel (University of Ottawa's Elizabeth Kristjansson, Ecology Ottawa's Graham Saul and retired architect Tony Griffiths) was on hand to talk about the social role of the library, the importance of its accessibility to pedestrians, and how it should fit into the city’s fabric.

Griffiths got applause — another phenomenon actively discouraged at regular city meetings — for rejecting the library's currently recommended site at the eastern edge of LeBreton Flats as too far from the city core. He instead favours Confederation Park, which was never in active consideration, chiefly because the National Capital Commission owns it.

Unlike at committee meetings, where members of the public can register to speak but not to ask questions, the open house heard lots of good ones.

One woman asked, how is the library still a free service if she'll have to pay a transit fare to get to its new location? Another wanted to know — since most of the sites between Bronson and the Rideau Canal had been rejected as too small — whether the proposed partnership with Library and Archives Canada had inflated those space requirements. Had anyone considered the steep slope down to and back up from the proposed site and what it might be like to get there with say, a wheelchair or a stroller?

The recommended site got dismal marks from those in attendance, but key decision-makers conspicuously weren't there to hear it. So, how much effect will their input have on upcoming committee and council votes?

"I would not have invited 200 people out here tonight," Coun. McKenney said afterward, "If I didn't think there was some hope."

Bronson Avenue tower, Westboro side-street apartment closer to reality

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Ottawa's planning committee approves 2nd try at developing corner of Bronson and Carling

Coun. David Chernushenko did not object to the two new buildings on Bronson and Carling avenues that were approved by the city's planning committee on Tuesday. (Andrew Foote/CBC)

By Andrew Foote, CBC News

Plans for a large building at the intersection of Bronson and Carling Avenues passed through the city's planning committee with little opposition Tuesday morning, while approving a smaller building on a Westboro side street brought a bigger backlash.

Members of the committee approved a proposal for a 12-storey off-campus residence targeted at university students on the corner where interest in a previous condo development fizzled under a different owner, according to the area's councillor David Chernushenko.

Chernushenko said it will be more like a hotel than the stereotypes of "parties, frat houses, problems, problems, problems," that some people hold about student housing.

He said he's on board with city staff who said most of its underground parking should be dedicated to bicycles, with only 38 parking spots for residents and visitors to put their vehicles.

Questions about parking spaces

"If we can't build rental housing with very minimal parking in this location, where can we?" he said during the meeting.

"It's on Bronson Avenue with the number four bus route, for mobile students it's not that far from a rail station [and] although I don't recommend cycling up Bronson all you have to do is deke out the back and [go] down onto Queen Elizabeth Drive."

Some residents have said that's not enough parking. Though they heard the city staff response that students don't own vehicles as much as the general population, some residents at the meeting wondered what would happen if the general population started moving in.

A proposal for a different 15-storey building next door was approved after being scaled down to just six stories.

Chernushenko said opposition to the proposals were "extremely minimal" because the developers worked with the community.

But he said the city will have to look into more buses because, once complete, these two buildings and another proposal there that's "likely coming very soon" could bring 800 to 1,000 new residents on the corner.