Thu. Aug 18th, 2022

The city’s planning staff in Ottawa recommends authorizing the National Capital Commission to proceed with a plan to re-regulate its vacant land along the Sir John A. Macdonald Parkway to five new embassies.

The plan has been thwarted by nearby residents and city council member for the Kitchissippi department, who argue that the development would cut off residents from the green space they use every day when open space in the city center is increasingly threatened by intensification.

The NCC changed its original plan to request five parties for diplomatic missions, down from the six originally proposed. It has also nearly doubled the size of the federal park to be created to 0.66 acres.

There is no timeline for construction, according to NCC, and no country has expressed a desire to build a new embassy on the ground. The federal Crown company explained that it needs to keep a bank of federal sites available to meet demand, and the parkway location was chosen for embassies during consultations over the past decade.

In the report, which will be submitted to the Planning Committee on September 23, the staff writes NCC’s proposal to prepare the site with a conversion marks all the planning policy fields.

The plan would develop underutilized land and be part of Ottawa’s role as the capital, where diplomatic missions and other functions take place, according to city staff.

The National Capital Commission revised its application for future embassies in Mechanicsville after talks with city staff and the community. (NCC / Fotenn)

Councilor, the residents are still against

Coun. Jeff Leiper urges his colleagues on the Planning Committee to reject the application next week.

Maps produced by the City of Ottawa show Mechanicsville has less than one acre of parkland per acre. 1,000 inhabitants, although the city’s goal is to have more than two acres for so many people.

Residents are already skeptical that the city will protect the wooden screen or find ways to create new parks, even though it allows denser and taller buildings under the new official plan, Leiper writes in his comments attached to the report.

“Allowing occupancy of existing green spaces for a use that can be accommodated elsewhere to privilege diplomats over residents will only confirm to residents their existing suspicion that the council does not even intend to try,” Leiper writes.

Jeff Leiper says the plan would remove valuable greenspace for residents who are already dealing with a limited supply. (Ahmar Khan / CBC News)

Daniel Buckles of the Greenspace Alliance of Canadas Capital calls staff recommendations a “complete capitulation to supervision.” The development not only removes trees and wildlife near a coastline, he said via email, but residents remain concerned about security risks associated with international missions.

It was among dozens of questions and concerns the city drafted from residents during public consultations that ended in May. The city heard from 117 people who opposed NCC’s re-regulation, while two supported it.

NCC’s consultants at Fotenn have said that policies do not prohibit embassies from being located in the city’s residential areas. They wrote in a resubmission to the city in May that diplomatic missions have long been “woven into the fabric” of neighborhoods in central Ottawa.

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