Suburban v. urban: Stittsville subdivision gives rise to height debate

A 24-hectare plot of land in Stittsville will officially be home to a controversial 400-unit subdivision.

But the development discussion has given rise to another debate: building heights in suburban-versus-urban wards.

At the last council meeting, councillors voted in favour of the Potter’s Key development on the condition that only single-family homes can back on to existing single-family homes.

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Previously, developer Minto wanted a block of the 138 townhouses to abut single-family homes. Several neighbours opposed this idea, arguing that townhouses won’t look nice in their backyards.

While the amendment to the plan was seen as a compromise by some neighbours, three urban councillors said it could set a bad precedent for other areas of the city.

Without naming names, Kitchissippi Coun. Jeff Leiper said council often deals with high-rise towers in low-rise residential areas.

“I couldn’t support this change at council given that so little regard is often given to compatibility issues in the core when we’re dealing with 15-, 20- and even 30-storey towers next to or very close to our low-rise residential areas,” he later wrote in his weekly newsletter.

Capital Coun. David Chernushenko agreed with Mr. Leiper and Somerset Coun. Catherine McKenney, who also voted against the plan. But Mr. Chernushenko flipped his reasoning and voted in favour of the motion, in the hopes that residents in his ward would be offered the “same protection” against non-compatible development proposals. 

The thing is, the city “supports intensification throughout the urban area,” according to the official plan. Councillors Jan Harder and Stephen Blais touched on this point.

“There is a difference between Centretown and the suburbs,” said Mr. Blais.

Michael Powell, president of the Dalhousie Community Association, drew parallels between the Stittsville proposal and Tamarack’s nine-storey condo development proposed for Norman Street in Little Italy. His association recently lost an appeal battle with the Ontario Municipal Board over this plan, which is slated for a neighbourhood of four-storey homes.

“It’s too easy to have urban versus suburban battles,” he said. “Ultimately, we all live in the same city and I think we should all be working to make sure that it’s a liveable place anywhere.”

This article originally appeared on on March 28.

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