New Edinburgh residents fight plan to build embassy

Building for unidentified country would occupy one of last green spaces
New Edinburgh residents are angry over plans for a new embassy. 2:16

New Edinburgh residents are gearing up to fight a proposal to build a new embassy on the grounds of one of the neighbourhood's last public green spaces.

Bore holes were drilled two weeks ago in the area to test soil conditions.

Officials with the National Capital Commission won't divulge which country wants to build its diplomatic mission at the location on Sussex Drive, across from the French Embassy.

But even the mere mention of constructing a large building on the patch of land has upset community members.

"It's our contention that this is not part of the international precinct, it should be part of our national precinct," said Joan Mason, president of the New Edinburgh Community Alliance. "It is the approach to Rideau Hall and 24 Sussex Drive, and it's the north face of the Heritage Conservation District here in New Edinrbugh."

The area is bounded by some of the city's oldest houses and the first school in New Edinburgh.

Residents said they object to the stark architecture of the embassy buildings that have sprung up along Sussex Drive, and don't want to sacrifice what they claim to be their last treed park to another such building.

Francois Lapointe, vice-president with the NCC's planning department, disagreed with the residents' description of the green space in question as a park.

"It's an open space that the community has been using for their purposes," Lapointe said. "But in our plan it's part of the Confederation Boulevard, the international precinct, and part of the use that could be contemplated for the area is a diplomatic mission or international organization."

The NCC said that if the unidentified embassy is eventually built, the commission will strive to ensure it's something the community will be happy with.