Windmill plans high-rise residences, offices and a hotel for Domtar lands

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Windmill Development Group’s ambitious plan to redevelop abandoned industrial land on Chaudière and Albert Islands took another step forward on Tuesday, as the company filed a rezoning application with the cities of Ottawa and Gatineau.

By Jacob Serebrin

Windmill wants to create a mixed-use neighbourhood on the old Domtar Lands, one it says would be among the most environmentally-friendly in the world.

“Our rezoning application delivers on the eight design principles we shared with the public and interested parties late last year,” said Rodney Wilts, a partner at Windmill, in a press release.

“We plan to bring new life and energy to this once bustling heart of industry, and to do it through historically and environmentally sensitive redevelopment.”

Those eight design principles include celebrating heritage, connecting the capital and promoting healthy living, along with objectives like creating a “complete community” and supporting innovation.

The company says it wants to give people places to both live and work in the area.

Its goal, according to the master plan released on Tuesday as part of the rezoning application, is that a resident could live there for a month without having to travel more one kilometre.

The company says it wants to attract innovative high tech companies to the area by building a “range of innovative/creative workspaces” and ensuring “best-in-class Internet access.”

The master plan calls for a wide mix of residential housing types, including condos, apartments and free-hold in both high- and low-rise settings.

It also calls for several commercial buildings, along with retail on the ground level of many commercial and residential buildings, in the development. Building a hotel is in the plan as well.

Some of the commercial developments would be focused on the river. Windmill says it wants to build restaurants and bars in an effort to add “vibrancy” to the waterfront.

The company says the project will also open-up new views of the capital, including Parliament Hill and Gatineau, to the public.

The company will build new pedestrian and cycling bridges that will connect the two cities through the development.

Pedestrian and cycling infrastructure, along with public transit, are a key part of the plan and will be prioritized over car traffic in the new development. It’s part of Windmill’s goal to support environmental sustainability and healthy living.

“With relatively low parking requirements, many people will be living and working at the Domtar Lands redevelopment without a car,” the master plan reads.

“Those that do continue to enjoy the use of a car will be encouraged to explore alternatives to the traditional private car, including: car sharing, electric vehicles and shared parking.”

Windmill also says it wants to use waste heat from the neighbouring Kruger plant to help provide energy for the development. The company says its goal is for the whole development to be carbon neutral.

Windmill says history is a big part of the development. The island was home to the first bridge linking the two communities that later became Ottawa and Gatineau.

The company says it’s studying several existing buildings on the site to gauge their suitability for full or partial retention.

Windmill says that, as part of its consultations with stakeholders, it met with representatives of the local Algonquin nation, for whom the site has a historical and spiritual significance.

“Windmill has voluntarily entered into a series of discussions trying to co-develop a new model of cooperation between private-sector developers in the Ottawa Valley and First Nations,” the master plan says.

Organizations: Domtar, First Nations

Geographic location: Gatineau, Ottawa Valley

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