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1.0 Richmond Road/Westboro Today

This Community Design Plan (CDP) for the Richmond Road/Westboro area is a guide to its long-term design and development, taking into consideration land use, urban design, zoning, transportation, existing streetscape conditions, compatibility of new development, and other issues of concern to the local communities. It is based on a collaborative community effort to develop a vision for Richmond Road/Westboro as an attractive and viable place for all who shop, work or live in the area.

The purpose of a CDP is to translate the principles and policies of the Official Plan to the community level. CDPs must therefore conform to the Official Plan. They are to provide an opportunity for the early involvement and discussion by all parties about how future development should occur in a community.

This CDP is also based on the Official Plan 20/20 Guiding Principles. Of particular importance to Richmond Road/Westboro are the Principles promoting:

  • Compact, well-designed, vibrant, safe and less auto-dependent communities;
  • Attractive streetscapes with street trees, accessible open spaces, and other pedestrian amenities;
  • Provision of parklands, recreational pathways and facilities;
  • Protection of natural diversity;
  • Mainstreets with uninterrupted networks of active, mixed-use, pedestrian-oriented uses;
  • Community design plans that provide specific criteria for areas identified for intensification;
  • A choice in housing;
  • Support for a strong, healthy business community.

The CDP is divided into three main sections; Richmond Road/Westboro Today, Planning Strategy and Richmond Road/Westboro Tomorrow. It reflects the recommended framework for CDPs as described in Policy 2.5.6 of the City of Ottawa Official Plan, as amended by OPA Number 28, and as further refined in the Terms of Reference.

1.1 The Planning Area

Map 1

Map 1
Click to enlarge

Richmond Road/Westboro is bounded on the north by the Ottawa River, on the east by Island Park Drive, on the south by Byron Avenue and on the west by the southerly extension of the Ottawa River Parkway as shown on Map 1. The planning area is part of, or is bounded by, several neighbourhoods that are influenced by their proximity to Richmond Road, including Westboro, Westboro Beach, Champlain Park, Hampton-Iona, Highland Park, McKellar Park, Woodroffe North, Woodpark and Carlingwood. The demographic information presented in this CDP is derived from this larger area.

The CDP divides the planning area into nine sectors, as described in Section 3.11, in order to address the distinct issues applicable to each sector. It was a challenge at times to have a full discussion of the broad issues affecting the entire planning area because of its large size and diversity.

1.2 Objectives

The following objectives for the Richmond Road/Westboro area establish the basis for the policies set out by this Community Design Plan:

  • To consider the CDP as the backbone for any significant change in the community, in keeping with the Official Plan and other related urban design principles;
  • To identify appropriate locations for intensification and infill that will be compatible with adjacent land uses, such as in the vicinity of the Westboro Transitway Station;
  • To ensure that infill development is well-integrated and compatible in scale and character with existing neighbourhoods;
  • To create an attractive, pedestrian-friendly built environment;
  • To create a well-designed and vital pedestrian streetscape along the designated Traditional Mainstreets (Richmond Road and Scott Street);
  • To ensure the provision and preservation of public greenspace and linkages to the Ottawa River to meet community needs through such actions as collaborative efforts with the National Capital Commission (NCC) and the adjacent local communities to create greenspace plans;
  • To support City programs aimed at protecting the ecological integrity of the Ottawa River;
  • To recognize of the importance of community involvement and partnerships in building a better community;
  • To balance the transportation needs among pedestrians, cyclists, transit and motorists;
  • To ensure that a collaborative community building approach is integrated into the CDP that emphasizes shared values, mutual obligations and builds trust and responsibility within the community.

1.3 Community Collaboration and Issues

The preparation of the Richmond Road/Westboro Community Design Plan has involved the participation of numerous dedicated people from the surrounding community, representing a wide variety of interests, including the community associations, condominium associations and residents from the surrounding neighbourhoods, the Westboro BIA, and the NCC. All these groups collaborated in the preparation of the Plan and were represented on the Planning Advisory Committee (PAC) under the leadership of City Councillors Shawn Little (2005-06), Christine Leadman (2007-) and Alex Cullen. At four PAC meetings, property developers attended in order to make presentations for specific sites.

The PAC generally supports the recommendations of the CDP. Where the PAC does not agree with the recommendations for an individual property, it is noted in the text, with a rationale.

Prior to the CDP study getting underway, a Richmond Road corridor community workshop was held in June 2005. The workshop established a vision for the future development of the Richmond Road corridor - “mixed-use development at a human scale” - and criteria addressing building heights and setbacks, streetscaping, pedestrians, parking, and land use. The workshop focused on two sections of Richmond – between Tweedsmuir and Island Park Drive and between Sherbourne and Golden. Although the workshop findings contributed to many of the recommendations of the Richmond/Road/ Westboro CDP, it was recognized following the workshop that the CDP would need to look at a larger geographic area than considered by the workshop participants. 

The main CDP consultation events included:

• First Public Open House to introduce the study (November 29, 2005). This open house was held jointly with the Richmond Road Widening Environmental Assessment study (before it was cancelled) and the McKellar Park/Highland Park/Westboro Area Traffic Management Study. Attendance in excess of 500;
• Community Workshop- March 8, 2006
• Second Public Open House (April 3, 2006) to review the preliminary vision and the results of the workshop. Attendance in excess of 300;
• Third Open House (March 22, 2007) to review the draft CDP. Attendance in excess of 200.

1.3.1 First Public Open House – Issue Identification

The following are the highest ranked issues identified by those who filled out comment sheets from the first open house:

  • Preserve the scale and character of existing neighbourhoods;
  • Preserve, enhance and extend green space and recreational facilities, including Byron Tramway Park as a green buffer and pedestrian link;
  • Provide urban design guidelines;
  • Improve pedestrian/cycle links;
  • Ensure compatibility of new development;
  • Provide a land use plan;
  • Define character, scale and mix of uses for Richmond Road and Scott Street.

1.3.2 Community Workshop and Second Open House – Preliminary Vision

The following were the main comments from the community workshop and second open house:

  • Preserve/enhance green space including all of the Atlantis-Selby and Rochester Field/Maplelawn lands;
  • A range of opinions for the preliminary vision’s maximum building heights, including some reductions proposed in specific sectors;
  • Existing Transitway stations are appropriate locations for intensification;
  • Building form, massing setbacks, shadowing and other urban design issues are important in considering intensification proposals;
  • Avoid creating a wall of medium/high rise buildings that block views to the Ottawa River and overshadow existing low-rise neighbourhoods;
  • Richmond Road is not a traditional mainstreet like Westboro Village over its whole length and each sector has a distinct character;
  • Revise unifying vision/overall strategies/principles by adding statements on liveable communities, enhancing transit, green pedestrian/cycle links, add to/enhancing green space, links to other neighbourhoods, Ottawa River as a unifying community backbone;
  • Need traffic and servicing impact analysis of preliminary vision.

1.3.3 Third Open House – Draft Community Design Plan

 

Comments on the draft community design plan from the third open house and public/technical circulation included the following:

  • Must confirm absolutely the preservation of Atlantis-Selby as green space;
  • Additional greenspace, community parks with active uses should be a priority;
  • CDP proposal for moderate intensification is good and not overwhelming;
  • Intensification should only be allowed if existing roadway infrastructure can support it- no high rises
  • Concern about cut-through traffic on streets south of Richmond;
  • Recognition of the need to increase use of transit, with some concern regarding the feasibility of achieving a 40% transit modal share target;
  • Much improved concept from previous open house;
  • The City should find small pockets of greenspace in this area and work to have these areas zoned so that trees may be planted to enhance the streetscape;
  • Support improved bicycle and pedestrian links and westward extension of Byron Tramway Park;
  • Add CDP as a Secondary Plan to the Official Plan.

1.4 Background History

The Westboro area began as ribbon development along Richmond Road in the mid-late 1800s. (Elliot, Bruce S. The City Beyond, 1991). However, All Saints Anglican Church was built in 1865, followed by the Skead’s Mills post office in 1874 and the Nepean Town Hall in 1896. In 1899 the post office was renamed Westboro and the Ottawa Electric Railway began work on a streetcar line. Development at first was slow, but by 1905 a population of 500 allowed the area to acquire police village status. Development of Richmond Road commercial uses, adjoining residential areas and industrial uses continued in ensuing decades. In 1950 the Westboro area was officially annexed to the City of Ottawa.

During the 1970s City Council adopted the position that citizens should be involved in the shaping of their communities. A development plan for the Westboro area was begun in the late 1970s and was approved by City Council in early 1980. The Plan established land use and zoning provisions as well as transportation and social policies for the area. The Plan’s key principles were included in the former City of Ottawa Official Plan in 1991. However, they were not carried forward into the new Official Plan adopted by City Council in 2003.

This CDP was undertaken because several rezoning applications for substantial increases in maximum building height were viewed by the neighbouring residential communities as being incompatible with the existing character of Richmond Road and adjacent residential uses. Also, the area lacked a vision to guide future development and no analysis had been undertaken on the cumulative impacts of intensification on Richmond Road and the surrounding communities. Preservation of existing green space was another significant community issue. Development trends in other areas in other parts of the city prompted local community groups to work together to ensure that, though the preparation of a CDP, future development would be more compatible with existing uses and green spaces would be preserved and expanded.

1.5 Demographics

The actual population of the planning area is 8910 (2006 estimate, based on the number of dwelling units). However, the Richmond Road/Westboro planning area boundaries do not coincide with the applicable census tracts. Thus for the demographic analysis, a larger area had to be considered, with a population of close to three times that of the planning area (see Table 1).

Table 1 - Demographics - Planning Area and Surrounding Neighbourhoods

Census Year
(Stats. Can.)
Population Age Group Percentages
(0-19, 20-64, 65+)
Dwellings
1976 25,118 Not Available Not Available
1981 23,816 19%, 62% 19% 10,700
1986 23,809 18%, 60%, 22% 10,970
1991 24,145 18%, 59%, 23% 11,420
1996 25,011 19%, 59%, 22% 11,790
2001 25,216 19%, 60%, 21% 12,040
2006 25,536   12,235
2011** 31,967   16,261
2021** 31,625   16,760
** City of Ottawa Projections

The census tract areas are in many respects typical of inner city/inner suburban areas in Ottawa. Since 1976 these are has undergone, and are projected to undergo, changes highlighted by the following:

  • Between 1976 and 1991 the population shrank by 1,309 (5.2%) while between 1981 and 1991 the number of dwellings increased by 720 (6.7%). The decline in population despite an increase in dwelling units is mostly due to declining household size;
  • The percentage of youth, adults and seniors making up the total population did not change significantly between 1981 and 2001;
  • Population projections between 2001 and 2011 show an increase of 5,550 (21%) and then stabilizing, reflecting intensification and infill development that has taken and will take place.