Mayor foils Lansdowne Park height limits

A bid to restrict the height of buildings at a redeveloped Lansdowne Park has failed, with the help of a vote by Mayor Larry O'Brien.

A bid to restrict the height of buildings at a redeveloped Lansdowne Park has failed, with the help of a tie-breaking vote by Mayor Larry O'Brien.

Nearby residents and other opponents of the redevelopment plan wanted the city's planning committee to reject zoning changes that would allow for tall buildings that critics say are out of character with the neighbourhood.

They also wanted to save a strip of green space along Holmwood Avenue in the Glebe.

But it appears the changes will go through, with Mayor Larry O'Brien playing a major role in the decision.

Ottawa councillors picked sides in the Lansdowne debate a long time ago, and on Tuesday they stuck to them.

The city wants to rezone Lansdowne Park to allow two residential towers — 17 and 20 storeys high — on Bank Street, as well as a row of four-storey condos, with 30-metre buildings set just behind them, along Holmwood Avenue.

That would obliterate the strip of grass and trees known as Sylvia Holden Park.

Committee split

Four councillors on the planning committee, including Michel Bellemare, spoke out against the rezoning.

"It is over-intensification, not compatible with the character of the area. It is not how we should be building Ottawa," Bellemare said.

But four other councillors opposed any attempt to reduce the height of the buildings.

The rezoning would have failed on a tie, but halfway through Tuesday afternoon, O'Brien showed up to break the stalemate.

O'Brien isn't a member of the committee, but as mayor he's allowed to cast a vote. That frustrated Kanata South Coun. Peggy Feltmate.

"I know that I'm going to be on the losing piece of it and what-not, and you know we brought the mayor in. He never comes and votes, but here he is today. Thank you very much for showing up," Feltmate said.

It also disappointed Holmwood Avenue resident Robert Martin, who said he may now be looking across the street from his home at a 30-metre-high wall.

"[It] speaks to the fact that they just want to ram this through. It's devil-may-care, they're not interested in any community input. They just want to ram it through," Martin said.

The rezoning proposal will go to council for final approval next week and it's expected to pass.