Windmill finds T.O. partner for Domtar project

David Sali
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Windmill Development Group is partnering with a major Toronto builder to help finance its ambitious plan to turn the former Domtar lands into a mixed-use community.

An artist's rendering shows part of Windmill Developments' proposed $1-billion plan for Chaudiere and Albert islands.

Windmill managing partner Jonathan Westeinde said during a public consultation for the project this week the firm has brought Dream Developments, formerly known as Dundee Realty Corp., on board as a major investor in the $1-billion plan.

The Toronto-based company is best known for helping transform that city’s historic Distillery District into a pedestrian-only arts and entertainment village.

“They bring a lot of strengths to the table, along with the capital, to sort of shore up our strengths and weaknesses, and have a fair bit of experience also in these community-scale type developments,” said Mr. Westeinde.

Windmill also announced the proposed Domtar development has been named one of seven EcoDistricts “Target Cities” by Clinton Global Initiative America. The projects, which are highlighted for their commitment to sustainable urban growth, are also found in Atlanta, Boston, Cambridge, Denver, Los Angeles and Washington, D.C.

The Domtar plan includes retrofitting and repurposing buildings on Albert Island. Windmill is planning two buildings on the Gatineau side of the river, which will be primarily residential. Both cities will be connected with bike paths and public transit, and the area will feature shops, restaurants, parks and a hotel.

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

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

Mr. Westeinde said the company has written a 20-year action plan for making the project carbon-neutral in the hope of being endorsed by One Planet Living, a global non-profit initiative dedicated to building greener neighbourhoods. One Planet has endorsed only nine communities worldwide, and if approved the Domtar project would be the first in Canada to earn the distinction.

“The philosophy of One Planet Living is pretty simple,” Mr. Westeinde said. “If everyone in the world lived the way we did, you’d need five planets’ worth of resources. That’s not sustainable. If we can’t create demonstration projects like this, we’re never going to find a place where we’re actually at some point living in balance with the planet.”

Windmill said it is looking at a number of energy-saving measures for the site, such as funnelling waste heat from the neighbouring Kruger paper plant into its buildings and collecting and reusing storm water.

The company also said it hopes to balance the number of jobs on the site with the number of residents to create a place where people can live, work and play without needing a car.

Mr. Westeinde said the action plan even calls for community tool sheds.

“Instead of everyone going out and buying their own screwdriver sets, there is a shared facility that has screwdrivers,” he said. “It’s a fairly integrated web.”

Another consultation is planned for Gatineau this fall. Ottawa and Gatineau are expected to vote on the rezoning for the development later this year, and if all goes well, Mr. Westeinde said, construction could begin next spring.

The entire development could take up to 15 years to finish.

– With files from OBJ staff


Organizations: Domtar, Dream Developments, Dundee Realty Corp.

Geographic location: Gatineau, Atlanta, Boston Cambridge Denver Los Angeles Washington, D.C. Canada Ottawa

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