Ottawa

Committee OK's subdivision at Barrhaven gravel pit

Ottawa's planning committee has approved rezoning a gravel pit on the edge of Barrhaven to make way for 500 homes, but the subdivision won't go ahead until the mining licence is formally retired by the Ontario government.

Staff had to update report that claimed sand and gravel pit has been exhausted

Ottawa's planning committee approved rezoning land on Borrisokane Road in Barrhaven from a mineral extraction zone to residential to make way for 500 homes. (Kate Porter/CBC)

Ottawa's planning committee has approved rezoning a gravel pit on the edge of Barrhaven to make way for 500 homes, but the subdivision won't go ahead until the mining licence for the property is formally retired by the Ontario government.

Caivan intends to build its development, called The Ridge, on a portion of the property that has been the Brazeau Pit for the past several decades. City and provincial policies protect valuable sand, gravel and rock, barring development on them until the materials are all extracted.

Originally, city planners stated the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry had "confirmed aggregate resources on the site have been exhausted," but CBC reported it had made no such statement, according to a ministry spokesperson.

The committee agreed Thursday to change the wording to say the ministry had "confirmed that the pit licence surrender process has been initiated."

Over two planning committee ​meetings, city staff explained how they'd written to the ministry about the site being exhausted, and said the ministry hadn't refuted that. Staff and Caivan described how the pit is nearly empty of sand and gravel, and what's left could be used in the building of the subdivision.

Outstanding issues

The ministry still has to approve retiring the Brazeau Pit's aggregates licence, however, and city planners said the it's aware Caivan is taking the steps for that to happen. The city also needs to register the subdivision before the home building can begin.

And, while a lawyer with decades of expertise in aggregates told CBC it seemed premature for the city to rezone the land while there's still an active pit licence, staff asserted the licence can't be retired until the rezoning goes ahead.

Coun. Scott Moffatt, who represents the area, is comfortable with the rezoning. He said the report was the city planner's first, and they regretted the misstep. Still, he noted councillors are looking for accurate and plentiful information to make decisions.

"I think we've seen some stuff on the LRT and then in a couple of planning files where maybe didn't have all the information," Moffatt said. "I think we need the full picture on every decision we make because that's what people are expecting of us, maybe moreso now than ever."

Moffatt said he expects future developments on the periphery of urban areas to present challenges because "the easy land is gone."

Coun. Jeff Leiper was the only planning committee member to dissent on the rezoning. He was not convinced the property had gone through enough planning for transportation, pipes and storm water because it was expected to remain a sand and gravel pit when that process happened for that part of Barrhaven.

The Borrisokane Road rezoning still needs full city council's approval.