Planning committee OKs controversial Bayshore apartment highrise proposal

Bayshore proposal

The city’s planning committee gave the thumbs-up Tuesday to a controversial plan to build two apartment highrises next to the Bayshore Shopping Centre ​– a proposal that would add hundreds of new units to the city’s growing inventory of rental housing near existing or future light-rail stations.

Bayshore owner Ivanhoe Cambridge is partnering with Toronto-based investment fund KingSett Capital to construct a 27-storey tower and a 30-storey highrise with a total of about 500 apartment units. Located just west of the 47-year-old shopping centre, the two buildings would be linked by a three-storey podium that would include 210 parking spaces for residents and 50 spots for visitors as well as room for 272 bicycles.

Bayshore development
The proposed towers would be constructed on a vacant land parcel west of the shopping centre. (Google Maps image)

Several residents objected to the proposal during a virtual meeting on Tuesday, arguing that the buildings would be too tall for the site, where current zoning allows for heights of up to 12 storeys. A city staff report said most residents who submitted comments during the review process also opposed the project due to concerns about its height and density as well as parking, traffic congestion and the buildings’ design.

But staff said the proposed towers’ height is appropriate given the city’s desire to see more intensification near transit stations.

The developers have also agreed to spend $150,000 to build a nearby park for neighbourhood youths as part of the proposal. They’ve also earmarked 45 of the apartment units for affordable housing for the next 15 years, meaning rents cannot exceed 30 per cent of the 30th income percentile for the City of Ottawa.

The 10 councillors in the meeting voted unanimously to approve the proposal, which full council will consider on Nov. 25.

Ottawa’s second-largest shopping mall, Bayshore typically attracts nearly eight million visitors a year. The retail hub will become home to an LRT stop as part of phase two of the Confederation Line, a project currently slated for completion in 2025.

The proposed apartment towers are just the latest in a wave of new residential development aimed at diversifying land use near suburban shopping centres and light-rail stations.

Toronto-based RioCan got the ball rolling last year with the first phase of its multi-highrise Frontier apartment development near Blair Station and the Gloucester Centre, a partnership with Halifax-based Killam Apartment REIT.

RioCan is now tearing down the aging Lincoln Fields Shopping Centre on Carling Avenue and replacing it with a mix of retail and commercial buildings near a future light-rail stop, with plans to add residential space in the future. 

The firm is also redeveloping several of its other local retail properties, including Westgate and Elmvale Acres shopping centres, adding new retail space and apartment buildings in a bid to find new sources of revenue as more and more consumers abandon local malls in favour of shopping online.

Meanwhile, Ottawa-based Trinity Development Group has several mixed-use projects located near LRT hubs in its project pipeline, including plans for a trio of highrises with more than 1,000 rental apartment suites near the junction of the Confederation and Trillium Lines at Bayview Station.