A View Fit for a Queen

Capital View Development Inc. recently obtained approval to sever the L-shaped lot located at 61 Queen Victoria Street in the heart of historic New Edinburgh. This is the first approval of its kind in over 20 years. The controversial project dubbed ‘a view fit for a Queen’ by the developer includes the restoration of the existing home located at 61 Queen Victoria Street and the construction of a 3-storey, 2509 squarefoot detached home on the newly formed lot located at 112 River Lane. How does “the view” benefit the community and what steps have been taken to ensure that the build enhances the character of the neighbourhood?

The City of Ottawa’s growth management strategy, set out in its Official Plan, includes the intensification of development in the urban area over the next 20 years. However, the Official Plan also notes that introducing new development in historic neighbourhoods requires a sensitive approach and sets out strategic directions to ensure the compatibility of new development in established communities. We at Capital View Development Inc. are sensitive to the concerns of the community. After all, we too are residents of Beechwood Village. The Queen Victoria and River Lane development projects exemplify the efforts of sound urban planning.

The approval process becomes more convoluted due to various factors. City planners have a set agenda, increased intensification. Ward councilors are following the directive of their constituents.

Certain constituents make their voices heard through local community associations, many of whom have differing agendas. A prevailing theme is to preserve the historic characteristics of mature neighbourhoods. Builders and developers cater to the homebuyer’s agenda, which is a moving target. Add on top of that several city approval committees and you have a bottleneck of conflicting agendas.
The Ontario Association of Architects recently completed a thorough review of the province’s site plan control process. They have published their findings which illustrate that the process is most often arbitrary, open to political interference, and fraught with delays that lead to immense costs to developers, homebuyers, municipalities and the general public at large.

The River Lane architectural design was the result of 18 months of planning between Capital View Development, Doyle Homes, Heritage Ottawa and City of Ottawa Planning officials. Community feedback resulted in multiple design changes such as the removal of a rooftop patio and a reduction in square footage from 3250 square feet to 2509 square feet. The President of Capital View Development Mark Larose adds:

“We wanted to design a home that compliments the natural beauty of the New Edinburgh lanes. We are very pleased with how the design came together.”

The controversy over infill projects, such as the one located at Queen Victoria, is not caused by developers, city officials, or community associations. The controversy is a direct result of evolving homebuyer demands! After all, it is the homebuyer that has created a demand for these larger infill homes.

In a recent centretownnews.ca article Alain Miguelez, Ottawa’s program manager for zoning, confessed that his staff has seen an increase in infill applications. He says that from 2007 to 2012, his staff issued permits for 1,612 infill units in Ottawa’s five central wards.

“There’s no question that if you’ve got 1,600 in five years, obviously there’s a demand for them” he says.

Developers and builders construct homes based on the wants of the homebuyer. As long as there is a demand for larger living spaces, attached garages and modern amenities, entrepreneurs will continue to find ways to build homes fitting that description. So what can we do to make this a more agreeable situation?

In order to properly plan and build sustainable communities, developers need to have an open dialogue with homebuyers, neighbours, city planners, politicians and planning professionals. We all have to work together to accommodate change because inevitably, as Bob Dylan wrote, “the times are a changing”.

Developers such as Capital View Development Inc. build homes that are desirable to the consumer. Where there is a demand there will be a supply. Capital View Development Inc. invites and actively considers community opinion when designing homes.

We would like an open dialogue with community friends, neighbours, and colleagues. Please email info@capitalviewdevelopment.com with your feedback and suggestions so we can plan smart and sustainable development in the Beechwood Village.

Top 7 Infill Development Benefits

  1. Making better use of urban land supplies while reducing consumption of forest and agricultural land
  2. Increasing access of people to jobs, and jobs to labour force
  3. Reducing the time, money, energy, and air pollution associated with commuting
  4. Strengthening real estate markets and property values and renewing older neighborhoods and housing stock
  5. Making better use of existing infrastructure and lowering costs of public services such as: transit, sidewalks, water, sewer, school, public safety, police, fire, and ambulance
  6. Adding to socioeconomic diversity
  7. Restoring park land through cash in lieu of development costs

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