Ottawa’s Building Owners and Managers Association is appealing the city’s official plan to the Ontario Municipal Board.
© Kane Van Ee
Ottawa City Hall
By Jacob Serebrin
The group said that the plan, adopted at the end of November, doesn’t give developers enough leeway when it comes to the height and appearance of buildings.
“If you study the official plan, you’ll see that it’s quite different from the last couple,” said Dean Karakasis, executive director of BOMA Ottawa. “It’s very prescriptive.”
He said that while the city maintains having a set approach ensures certainty, he doesn’t see it that way.
“This won’t create certainty – this will create confusion,” he said.
According to Mr. Karakasis, the recent debate over a condo development on Wellington Street West that was rejected by the city’s planning committee despite widespread community support is a good example of how “sometimes you try and provide certainty, but it goes against what people want.”
The committee voted 6-3 earlier this month to reject Mizrahi Developments’ proposal for a 12-storey building because it is three storeys higher than the area’s community design plan calls for. The developer plans to appeal the ruling to the OMB.
While the city wants new developments to have similar characteristics to surrounding buildings, BOMA said that could rule out some “creative” variations.
“Sometimes you need someone with a vision to make a change for the better,” Mr. Karakasis said. “We’re suggesting that there needs to be flexibility to review projects on their own merits.”
The group also has concerns about secondary plans, which Mr. Karakasis said “have never been able to keep pace with the market.”
Despite the filing, BOMA isn’t taking issue with the way the plan was developed. Mr. Karakasis said the group has been invited to meet with the city and has had experts present during consultations.
“They’re really good about the process,” Mr. Karakasis said. “It’s a difference of opinion.”
With the appeal still in the early stages, the city isn’t saying much.
“The city has not yet received copies of the appeals and therefore will not be making any comment at this time on the appeals to the official plan, which has recently been approved by the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing without amendment,” John Moser, the city’s general manager for planning and growth management, said in an e-mail. “The city will work with any appellants and the Ontario Municipal Board to address appeals.”
Mr. Karakasis said he’s not exactly sure what the end result of the appeal will be, though he hopes BOMA’s issue will be resolved before it goes to a hearing.
“It’s hard to know where the compromise will be,” he said.