Next phase of LeBreton Flats gets green light from city committee

East Flats

The city’s planning committee Tuesday gave the go-ahead for Claridge Homes to build five mixed-use towers ranging from 25 to 45 storeys on the eastern edge of LeBreton Flats, despite concerns from some nearby residents that the buildings are too tall for the area.

Dubbed East Flats, the project would feature more than 1.5 million square feet of residential space along with nearly 230,000 square feet of commercial space on Booth and Lett streets, northeast of the Pimisi LRT station that is currently being built on Booth Street.

The plan calls for a variety of apartment sizes, affordable housing and a child-care facility, as well as a range of commercial uses, including restaurants and a grocery store. Once fully built, the development would include about 1,600 residential units.

Claridge’s blueprint for the 2.1-hectare site also touts a new city-built public park that “celebrates the heritage of LeBreton Flats” and would run along the historic aqueduct as well as “opportunities for cultural and other institutional uses in the building podiums.”

But resident Abe Jacob wasn’t impressed, telling the committee the proposal for a 45-storey tower should be scaled back.

“Twenty to 30 to 25 is reasonable. More than that, unbelievable,” he said. “You show me a place in the world where a city of a million people has that … If you continue like that, you won’t see the Peace Tower any more. The parkway and the grass, all that will basically disappear under all this concrete.”

Opponents of the project submitted a petition to the city with 260 signatures. They’re concerned about the height of the proposed towers and worried the development will increase traffic on surrounding streets, cause parking headaches and negatively impact property values in nearby neighbourhoods.

Claridge has already constructed several residential condo and apartment towers on the eastern edge of LeBreton Flats on land it purchased from the National Capital Commission in 2005. The new project, which is expected to take up to 15 years to build, would require additional zoning amendments.

The developer presented an initial concept to the city’s urban design panel and held an open house for the public early last year.

After the meetings, Claridge agreed to reduce the height of the tallest tower from 55 to 45 storeys. Two other buildings would be 30 storeys, while the remaining two would rise 25 storeys. The developer says the building heights would not violate regulations governing views of Parliament Hill.

Meanwhile, the planning committee also unanimously approved rezoning for the proposed new downtown branch of the Ottawa Public Library at LeBreton Flats on city-owned land at 557 Wellington St. near Booth Street. The joint project with Library and Archives Canada, which is expected to have a total price tag of about $175 million, is slated to open in 2024.

The new zoning will allow for a maximum height of 12 storeys on the library site and up to 25 storeys on lands closer to Booth Street and the Pimisi LRT station.

Full council is scheduled to vote on the amendments on July 11.