Ottawa

Planning committee rejects Orléans apartment complex

An eight-building apartment complex on Innes Road in Orléans is just too much, and not in keeping with zoning rules for the neighbourhood, the city's planning committee decided Thursday.

Groupe Lépine's proposal on Innes Road galvanized hundreds to write city

Groupe Lépine's proposal for eight apartment buildings on Innes Road in Chapel Hill has drawn hundreds of comments from residents, about three-quarters of them against the plan. (Fotenn)

An eight-building apartment complex on Innes Road in Orléans is just too much, and not in keeping with zoning rules for the neighbourhood, the city's planning committee decided Thursday.

The committee, in agreement with city staff, voted 8-1 to reject the developer's request to alter the city's official plan to make way for the project. Only Kitchissippi Coun. Jeff Leiper voting against the grain.

The city received written feedback from nearly 400 residents, three-quarters of them opposed to Groupe Lépine's plan for a 1,320-apartment complex on what's long been a driving range.

Lépine​​​​​​ wanted an exception to allow five nine-storey buildings and three highrises of up to 16 storeys. There would be elevated courtyards over parking garages in the centre, with some retail on the ground floor.

[It] has to be in the right place and it has to fit the character of the surrounding community.- Coun. Laura Dudas

The proposal comes as the city is engaged in debate over intensifying existing neighbourhoods to accommodate its growing population. 

"I support intensification. I'm going to be pushing for tall buildings in the east end," said Innes ward Coun. Laura Dudas, whose residents have been fighting the project over the past year.

"It's coming and I'm going to welcome it, [but it] has to be in the right place and it has to fit the character of the surrounding community," she said.

Build near LRT, residents say

Many residents were concerned about a lack of a transit link to the complex, creating the potential for extra traffic.

"Rental units are extremely important and we need them, but it should be somewhere where people can walk to the LRT," said Siyamak Sasani, a real estate agent who lives nearby.

Lépine Corporation is asking for extra height to allow five nine-storey buildings and and three highrises of up to 16 storeys. In total, there would be 1,320 units. (Fotenn)

Linda Qing Lin helped organize a petition against the proposal that has collected more than 700 signatures. She'll soon move into a home in the new Caivan subdivision, where their only exit to Innes Road will be by way of Lamarche Avenue — a main exit for the proposed development. 

"I cannot imagine with those thousand people adding in how we can even get out," she said.

But Tom Lockett, who lives in an Lépine apartment building in Kanata, said it was ironic the city would reject such a dense development at a time when it's calling for greater urban density.

"You can't have it both ways," he said.

Appeal already filed

Worry and apprehension led nearby homeowner Dave Janega to dig into the official plan and zoning rules. He argued Groupe Lépine could have worked within existing requirements, but instead presented a proposal that tries to bend them to the developer's own benefit.

But the builder's representatives, Miguel Tremblay of Fotenn and lawyer Michael Polowin, argued the staff report interpreted some official plan policies inaccurately, and suggested staff do more work and resolve the issues.

 

Councillors were wary about working toward a compromise because Lépine already filed an application to the Local Planning Appeal Tribunal (LPAT) last fall, after the city failed to deal with its application within the required 90 days.

Tremblay said Groupe Lépine was frustrated after waiting for the city to send back its technical comments, and said when they finally came, the comments were "out of sync" with prior discussions between the two.

No date has been set for the LPAT appeal to be heard.

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