Ottawa

BMW dealership parks plans to pave over neighbouring forest

An Ottawa BMW dealership has reconsidered its parking lot expansion plans after widespread community backlash to an idea that would see the 1.57 hectares of trees of a nearby forest torn down.

Dealership exploring other options for parking lot expansion along Hunt Club Road

Otto's BMW is dealing with space issues and needs more room to park its vehicles. (Celeste Decaire/CBC)

After months of community pushback, an Ottawa car dealership has parked its plan to expand into a nearby forest.

Otto's BMW had requested to extend its parking lot over approximately 1.57 hectares of the nearby forest at 400 Hunt Club Rd. because the dealership was dealing with space issues, and needs more room to store and park cars. 

The dealership has now voluntarily paused its zoning bylaw amendment application, which was set to go before Ottawa city council on Sept. 9, as it assesses other options.

Coun. Riley Brockington, whose ward includes the dealership and the neighbouring Hunt Club forest, says he's grateful the plan has been halted.

"I think you could have had a solution and not created this significant tension and conflict during a pandemic," said Brockington, who has been in talks with Otto's since their application was made public back in June.

Nearby residents have protested, petitioned and posted signs to argue against the paving of the Hunt Club forest. (Christophe Elie/Facebook)

'Struck at people's core'

He says other options have been on the table for a few months, and now those are being seriously considered. 

"When I met with them, I made it clear that there was city land in the vicinity. There's other private land in the vicinity that would meet their needs that would not in any way necessitate the removal of trees for that purpose," he said.

"I see public opposition all the time but this time was different. This really struck at people's core about how offensive this would have been had it proceeded." 

People in the community organized protests, created online petitions and posted signs at the Hunt Club forest pleading to save the trees. 

In an email, a spokesperson for the dealership says Otto's is committed to ensuring the appropriate measures in regards to community and environmental processes, and they are exploring all available options.

The original plan would have seen more than one hectare of trees cut down for a parking lot. (Carolyn Marie Evers/Facebook)

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Celeste Decaire

CBC Reporter

Celeste Decaire is a reporter with CBC Ottawa. She can be reached at celeste.decaire@cbc.ca and on her Twitter account @celestedecaire.

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