Trinity’s 59-storey Bayview Station proposal met with concerns by residents, councillors

Trinity Development’s proposal for its Bayview Station highrises flies a little too close to the sun, concerned residents told the group at a public consultation on Wednesday night.

However, the real estate firm said the density is needed to offset the cost of relocating the massive water and sewer pipes that crisscross the site, a feature that’s hindered the efforts of previous owners to develop the property.

The Trinity Station project is located near the corner of Albert and Preston streets, near the future intersection of Ottawa’s two light-rail lines, and would contain the tallest buildings in Ottawa if approved by municipal officials.

This week’s consultation was the first chance residents had to give feedback since Trinity submitted its new development plans last month, featuring the removal of a fourth proposed building and an increase in building heights to 59, 55 and 50 storeys respectively. The development will feature a “podium” with retail and office space below high rises with more than 1,600 residential units.

More than 80 residents from nearby neighbourhoods attended the consultation at Orange Art Gallery, and many expressed their frustrations with the prospect of a 59-storey building.

One resident stood to tell Trinity representatives about the need to balance intensification and the overhauling of the existing neighbourhood, drawing applause from the crowd. She was not the only attendee to voice displeasure with the proposed height.

Trinity development manager Ryan Moore defended the need for intensification in the project, alluding to the $10.5-million cost to relocate water and sewer pipes that lie beneath the site. The size of these buildings, Mr. Moore says, is necessary to offset the costs of this relocation.

“This is a big-ticket item for Trinity,” he told the crowd.

Residents were skeptical of these claims, questioning that since the costs of relocation must have been known when the fourth building was originally proposed, and if it can be removed and supplemented with a few extra stories, how can they be sure what is necessary and what is excessive?

Mr. Moore said the costs had been calculated, but that he couldn’t provide the financial breakdown himself. He added in an e-mail to OBJ that he would need a few days assemble staff to bring this information forward.

Parking, traffic, and context

Height was not the only sticking point for residents. Concerns about designs matching the surrounding neighbourhood, excessive parking and traffic congestion were also expressed.

Coun. Catherine McKenney, who represents the ward that’s home to the proposed development, previously raised the issue of too much on-site parking. Mr. Moore said that Trinity is “looking at ways to reduce parking.”

While Trinity has conducted a traffic impact study, residents, as well as Coun. McKenney and Coun. Jeff Leiper, who represents neighbouring Kitchissippi ward, pushed for a more comprehensive study that would look at the impacts of all of the forthcoming developments surrounding the area on Albert Street traffic.

Coun. Leiper spelled out his concerns: With Zibi, LeBreton Flats, the Innovation Centre, the Trinity project and further development in Mechanicsville coming on line in the near future, the number of people living along the spine of the O-Train Confederation Line will likely increase by more than 30,000 in the coming 30 to 40 years. How the city handles this development, he says, will have lasting impacts on the area.

He, in addition to other attendees, expressed dissatisfaction with the overall design and implementation of the development.

“Right now, I’m a little bit worried that we may be building stores with a condo or apartment tower on top. It has to be a lot more exciting than that,” Mr. Leiper said. Others complained about the lack of originality in the towers’ designs, and concerns that it wouldn’t match the low-rise character of the neighbourhood.

Mr. Moore said that none of the designs are finalized at this stage of the process, and that many of the current plans are “placeholders” while the group seeks approval for its build. He did highlight that since Trinity is part of the group chosen for the redevelopment of LeBreton Flats, that when it comes to ensuring the new development matches what’s to come on the other side of the tracks, “the left hand will know what the right hand is doing.”

Lack of details

In general, residents seemed frustrated with a lack of details available at the consultation. In response to questions about sustainable elements like charging ports for electric cars or availability of affordable housing, Trinity says it was not at the phase of development where it could plan for that.

Trinity, a commercial developer, is still seeking a partner to develop the residential aspect of the property. While he couldn’t say for sure, Mr. Moore said the group is looking at primarily rental units rather than condos in the buildings, but that it would be some kind of mixed-use structure.

Trinity has had to file three applications, each running concurrently, to gain approval for its plans. The group is aiming for the Official Plan Amendment and Zoning Bylaw Amendment (which will determine whether its development can exceed height restrictions) to be approved by mid-2017, with the site plan control (the finer details of the development) to follow. Thus far, no decisions have been made on the applications, leaving room for public feedback to influence the development plans.

Trinity is then hoping to lay the foundations and complete the necessary pipe relocation starting in late 2017, with out-of-ground work beginning in mid-2018 and podium completion in 2019. Following that, each of the buildings would be built in phases, each likely staggered by six months.