Ottawa

Here's the skinny on the top 4 hotly contested sites for a new Civic campus

The Ottawa Hospital and local politicians are voicing their own opinions about possible sites for a future Civic campus, but here's how four of the leading sites stacked up in the National Capital Commission's formal review.

In the week since the National Capital Commission's board announced its choice, surprised Ottawa Hospital officials and local politicians have been vocal about why they find Tunney's Pasture to be unworkable as a future site for a new Civic campus.

So, how did the NCC settle on Tunney's Pasture, anyway?

It started a review at the end of June at the request of the federal Liberal government, which was under pressure to conduct a process that included public consultation.

The NCC spent the summer going over what the hospital wanted out of a site: a central location that's ideally 24 hectares and square or rectangular, with good road and transit access and about 10 hectares for parking.

The NCC developed its own list of 21 criteria to evaluate a dozen sites, adding how the federal government plans to use its land, heritage and environmental interests, and how the sites integrate with the fabric of the city. It heard from more than 7,000 people in public consultations. A panel of NCC board members, architecture experts and others scored the sites.

Here, for the record, is the NCC's list of pros and cons for the most hotly debated of the 12 sites.

Site 1: Tunney's Pasture

(National Capital Commission)

The NCC looked at the western half of the public service complex, which has several parking lots. It said the federal government intended to sell off this section anyway as part of its 2012 Tunney's Pasture master plan

The goal back then was to make a profit by selling the land to developers for office and residential space, which would involve moving the 4,000 public servants who currently work there.

Size: 21 hectares. The NCC does not deem the land of national interest, nor does it need it for long-term federal plans.

Key strengths Key weaknesses
  • Ideal parcel shape and size.
  • Adjacent to Phase 1 LRT station.
  • Adaptive re-use of a developed site.
  • Good potential for active transportation.
  • Great city-building potential; highly integrated into existing urban fabric.
  • Closest site to urban core.
  • Good road access.
  • Good access to Highway 417.
  • Potential synergies with Health Canada research assets.
  • Potential cost to federal government (value of land).
  • Some displacement of offices.
  • Requires reconsideration of Tunney's Master Plan redevelopment scenario.
  • Potential costs of demolition.

Site 9: Central Experimental Farm, at Carling and Holland avenues

(National Capital Commission)

This is the site that former Conservative cabinet minister John Baird offered the Ottawa Hospital in a surprise announcement in November 2014, and it overlaps with Site 10.

Size: 22 hectares. The NCC deems the land of national interest, or needs it for long-term federal plans.

Key strengths                   Key weaknesses
  • Ideal parcel shape and size.
  • Very good road access.
  • Very good access to Highway 417.
  • Proximity to existing Civic Hospital would facilitate transition.
  • Low cost implications for federal government.
  • No known physical vulnerabilities.
  • Irreversible impact on the experimental fields and shelterbelts, views and cultural landscape elements identified as having national significance as part of the Central Experimental Farm National Historic Site.
  • Displaces agricultural plots subject to research.
  • Does not conform to federal planning framework for the site (ie. Plan for Canada's Capital and NCC's applicable master plans).
  • Not in close proximity to transit; oriented development or future urban intensification.
  • Poor connectivity to rapid rail transit.

Site 10: Central Experimental Farm, central parcel

(National Capital Commission)

The middle of the three sites on the experimental farm houses three federal buildings used by Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada and overlaps with Site 9. On Nov. 30, the department confirmed the portion along Carling Avenue can't be used for scientific research because the soil has been made poor by road salt.

Size: 26 hectares. The NCC deems the land of national interest, or needs it for long-term federal plans.

Key strengths Key weaknesses
  • Ideal parcel shape and size.
  • Very good access to Highway 417.
  • Proximity to existing Civic hospital would facilitate transition.
  • No known physical vulnerabilities.
  • Irreversible impact on buildings, experimental fields, views and cultural landscape elements identified as having national significance as part of the Central Experimental Farm National Historic Site.
  • Displaces agricultural plots subject to research and federal offices.
  • No obvious alternative arterial road access other than Carling Avenue.
  • Does not conform to federal planning framework for the site.
  • Poor connectivity to rapid rail transit.

Site 11: Central Experimental Farm, former Sir John Carling building

(National Capital Commission)

This site would take in a parking lot often used by skaters walking over to the Rideau Canal, as well as a field on the other side of Ottawa's Trillium line. The site has a hill of trees behind which the Sir John Carling building used to stand before it was demolished in a spectacular explosion in 2014

The boundaries of the site were reconfigured so that the Dominion Observatory, a classified federal heritage building, would not be part of a hospital site.

"The Sir John Carling site, which is site 11, is a very good option for us and it wouldn't interfere with any research going on at the experimental farm," Ottawa board chair Jamie McCracken told CBC's Ottawa Morning on Nov. 30.

Size: 20 hectares. The NCC deems the land of national interest, or needs it for long-term federal plans.

Key strengths Key weaknesses
  • Within 400m of existing rapid transit station.
  • Very good road access.
  • Very good access to Highway 417.
  • Proximity to existing Civic hospital would facilitate transition.
  • Good potential for active transportation.
  • Low cost implications for federal government.
  • Great city-building potential.
  • Site topography and configuration could generate great design.
  • Impact on cultural heritage due to intrusion into boundary of Central Experimental Farm National Historic Site, proximity to Rideau Canal UNESCO World Heritage Site and presence of heritage buildings.
  • Moderate geotechnical challenges.
  • Site topography and configuration could create design challenges.
  • Does not conform to federal planning framework for the site.

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