Almost 100 residents wrote to me about the proposed development at 89 to 97 Beechwood Avenue, here is my response to them.
Thank you for taking the time to write to me about the proposed development at 89 Beechwood.
Given that approval of Site Plan Control is typically issued under delegated authority to City staff and considering community dissatisfaction with the revised application, I was willing to withdraw delegated authority in order to elevate this file to Planning Committee to facilitate fulsome public consultation.
My discussions with City staff, along with a large amount of correspondence from the community however has led the Planning Department itself to rescind their delegated authority and send the application to Planning Committee. Consequently, City staff will hold a public information session for residents in September concerning the revised proposed development.
Having taken the time to examine resident comments concerning the proposal, I agree with you that removal of commercial space on Beechwood Avenue at grade is unacceptable. I concur with the community’s assessment that “the elimination of street-oriented commercial space contravenes the City’s Urban Design Guidelines for Traditional Mainstreets; ignores the terms of reference for development along Beechwood Avenue as articulated in the Beechwood Community Design Plan; and contradicts the conditions which staff recommended to Council in 2016 upon which Council approved the rezoning changes.”
I believe we cannot aspire to a revitalized Beechwood Avenue if an entire block of our traditional main street loses commercial space. As a result, I will be seeking to reach an agreement before hand with the developer through a robust conversation. I will be advocating for the three units facing Beechwood Avenue on the ground floor be removed from the revised plan, and for them to be replaced with commercial space for rent, which I believe is vital to the animation of the streetscape.
I understand some residents had concerns regarding the additional units, but I must say that I did not find those changes in principle egregious. I would argue that, intensification in this area is appropriate, given the stance I took against the expansion of the urban boundary (which is available for review at: https://www.rideau-rockcliffe.ca/urban_boundary) and considering that Beechwood Avenue is a traditional main street.
Regardless, my office will ensure that the community will have an adequate opportunity to voice their concerns about this project. If you have not already, I urge you to contact the assigned planner, John Bernier at firstname.lastname@example.org in order to continue to provide comment and monitor developments on this file. I will also be in communication again once the time and date for the public consultation is set and will ensure that you are invited to attend.