Taggart project near Civic Hospital gets green light from city committee

Carling Avenue proposal
Carling Avenue proposal

A controversial proposal to build two high-rise residential buildings near the Civic Hospital campus on Carling Avenue has been approved by the city’s planning and housing committee following debate on the development’s potential impact on the neighbouring Central Experimental Farm. 

Taggart Realty Management applied with the city to build the 16- and 27-storey towers at 1081 Carling Ave., which would include a total of 410 units, from studios to two-bedroom apartments. 

On Wednesday, the committee approved that application 8-2, including a zoning by-law amendment to add high-rise apartments as a permitted land use, while also allowing for additional building height. 

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The Civic Hospital Neighbourhood Association (CHNA), as well as Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC), had both pushed back against the proposal. 

In a letter to city planners, AAFC said there were “serious concerns” that shadows cast by the proposed buildings would disrupt research at the Central Experimental Farm, which is located across the street. 

“The shadowing is a significant risk for AAFC as it impacts our research and jeopardizes our agricultural science and integrity. AAFC has done an internal assessment of the proposed towers development and the impacts/risks to the CEF.”

The CHNA also raised concerns that a recent “shadow study” had not been fully examined and integrated into Taggart’s cultural heritage impact statement to the city. The study found that the new buildings could lead to a decrease of 100,000 minutes of sunlight per year, rendering about 28 hectares of land southeast of the towers unusable for field experiments. 

“CHNA wants to make it clear that we support intensification,” said president Karen Wright in the delegation Wednesday. “(1081 Carling Ave.) is a site that should be intensified. However, it must be a smart and responsible intensification, not an intensification without limits.” 

The association also criticized the height of the development, which creates a larger-than-recommended transition between the towers and neighbouring low-rise buildings near the intersection of Carling and Parkdale avenues. 

“I’m really disappointed our city planning committee chose today not to give the protection of the (Central) Experimental Farm two months of additional thought and instead they voted to approve a tower that is shown to have negative impacts,” said Wright. 

“The 410-unit development is a significant and necessary injection of residential density in the inner-urban area,” Miguel Tremblay, a partner at Fotenn Planning, said during Taggart’s presentation to committee. “These units are aligned with provincial and municipal governments to address Ottawa’s housing shortage.”

Tremblay added that Taggart has made every effort to ensure the proposal was in compliance with all guidelines. 

“From our perspective, we’ve spent considerable time over the past two-and-a-half years ensuring that we’ve been meeting all of the policy requirements and all the necessary studies to satisfy the submission requirement.”

Concerns about the development prompted a motion from River Ward Coun. Riley Brockington to defer the approval vote to the committee’s next meeting in October. While the motion failed, it did spark debate among councillors, some of whom were torn between the need for more housing and the need for climate change research. 

“We know the perimeter around the farm is going to be faced with developments,” Brockington said. “So how do we address shadow impacts? How do we mitigate the ramifications on research? What are the building height limits around the farm? 

“We need to have a better understanding going forward, because other developments are coming and we’re going to do this over and over again and we won’t have answers.”

The Taggart development is one of several high-rise projects proposed along the Carling corridor, raising concerns that the committee’s decision on this project would be precedent-setting for others. 

The majority of councillors, however, supported allowing the development to go ahead, citing the need for more housing in the city. 

Several councillors, including Orleans-South Navan Coun. Catherine Kitts and Bay Ward Coun. Theresa Kavanagh, criticized the AAFC for not appearing in person. 

“I’m not completely convinced that the situation is as grave as has been described,” said Kitts.

Stittsville Coun. Glen Gower, who supported the motion, said that while he understood the concerns, they weren’t worth delaying approval for an additional two months. 

“We don’t perhaps have the perfect tools to assess the effect of shadows in this case, but I do believe staff have used the tools in front of them as they should and I think the recommendation is sound,” he said. “But we do need to have a continued conversation as it may affect future applications.”

The proposal goes to full council for a vote Aug. 23.

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