Eye on Development

Demolition, infill and densification

François Bregha

Notwithstanding COVID 19, development proposals continue apace in our neighbourhood. Below are descriptions of two new projects and an update of the City’s latest zoning initiative.

114 – 122 Russell Ave.

At the request of neighbours, Councillor Mathieu Fleury held a public consultation meeting on May 21 to discuss the proposed demolition of three houses at 114, 118 and 122 Russell Ave. and their replacement by two low-rise apartment buildings. In a sign of the times, the consultation was conducted electronically through Zoom.

The developers propose to replace the two wood-frame houses at 118 and 122 Russell first and the brick house at 114 in a second phase. The two new buildings would contain 14 units each, divided among bachelors, one-, two- and three or four-bedrooms. Four parking spots would be provided at the back. In response to previous comments from the community, the developers have made some changes to the exterior of the buildings to add more brick cladding and bay windows.

Action Sandy Hill asked the developer to consider the adaptive re-use of the brick house on the property, as it is one of the oldest on the street and, if torn down, would be the third on the block whose demolition had been approved. ASH also recommended that the exterior design of the new buildings be more closely aligned with its neighbours in order to echo more the character of the street.

The applications are at the Site Plan Control stage and do not require any zoning or Committee of Adjustment approvals. City staff and the developers said they would review the comments made at the meeting.

2 Robinson

This is the property that formerly belonged to the Iranian Cultural Centre close to the Sandy Hill arena; it is roughly shaped like a quarter pie. The developer recently presented preliminary plans to the community that showed four 28-storey buildings along the pie’s circumference (along Lees Avenue) with an L-shaped 9-storey building along the two sides of the pie’s point and a large landscaped courtyard in the middle. This mixed-used development would include some commercial space along Lees Avenue and about 1500 rental units, mostly one and two-bedrooms. There would be underground parking for roughly half the units.

Being situated close to the Lees LRT station, this land is in a Transit-Oriented Development zone that mandates minimum densities and allows high-rise construction. Nevertheless, the developer would require a zoning amendment because the current height limit is 20 storeys. While this development is unlikely to proceed before 2021 at the earliest, as a formal application has not yet been filed, it is likely to proceed in phases. Supporting studies have not yet been completed and the project’s final design could still change.

R4 review

R4 refers to the zoning that covers much of Sandy Hill and Ottawa’s inner neighbourhoods and allows the construction of low-rise apartment buildings. City staff have been updating existing zoning regulations to modernize them and encourage densification in the city’s core. While not opposed to densification, ASH has argued strongly in favour of zoning rules that would support a mix of housing types rather than more of the apartments that have recently been built designed primarily for students (some 2250 bedrooms in both mid- and high-rise rental units added in the past decade with another 650 approved but not yet built). The City’s Planning Committee was originally supposed to consider the staff’s proposals in May but this item has now been pushed back to the fall. You can read Action Sandy Hill’s detailed comments and recommendations at