The Merivale Road Secondary Plan Area is intended to continue as a mixture of commercial office, residential, mixed commercial-residential, institutional, recreational and other public uses. The Merivale Road Secondary Plan Area is not a "greenfield area". For the most part, the general type and overall pattern of development within the area has long been established, including the retail corridor along Merivale Road and the adjacent stable, low density residential neighbourhoods that are built-out.
The general type and pattern of development within the Merivale Road Secondary Plan Area currently works well. It is a successful and popular shopping destination with a variety of services related to the adjacent residential communities. As much as the area is successful, however it does have problems which are generally identified by the public as traffic issues and a lack of visual amenity and character.
While the 1982 Merivale Road Secondary Plan included residential areas abutting the commercial sector, the proposed Plan is focussed entirely within the commercial area. Change will likely involve the development of the few remaining vacant commercial parcels, infill projects on under utilized parcels or the redevelopment of existing properties.
This Plan is based upon goals, objectives, principles, policies and designations which will:
- create a visual identity and character to the area;
- provide flexibility in use permissions to allow the area to adapt to the evolving commercial and retail environment and respond to changing market conditions;
- increase the mix of residential uses within the corridor;
- improve the relationship of the physical elements between the residential and commercial portions of the community; and
- balance the needs of transit riders, pedestrians, cyclists and motorized vehicle traffic.
The original Merivale Secondary Plan was premised on Merivale Road being maintained as a retail and service commercial corridor, nestled between two "Activity Centres" located at the north and south ends of the strip. These Activity Centres were intended to define the northern and southern limit of the Merivale Commercial Sector and were to be comprised of mixed-use development planned on the basis of clusters of uses.
The diversification at these centres was intended to inject further vitality into the area by spreading out the peaks in use caused by the dominance of retail uses and the lack of employment unrelated to the retail trade. The clustering of uses at these locations was also intended to provide a visual and functional focus to the Merivale area and "to avoid the more sterile linear form of development". Recognition of existing commercial uses along the strip between the two Activity Centres and limited expansion where appropriate was encouraged by the Plan. The Plan also encouraged improvements to the visual quality of the area, as well as improvements to the transit, pedestrian, cyclist and vehicular access and connections.
The original Merivale Secondary Plan was approved in 1982. The Plan required updating given that approximately 16 years have passed with significant changes, both internal and external to the planning area having occurred and many of the goals of the Plan have not been realized.
1.3 Focus on Design-Related Goals, Objectives, Principles and Policies
The market for a particular commercial good or service is essentially a function of the relationship between the number of consumers of that good and service and the number of suppliers or the quantity of space dedicated to the provision of that good or service. Two different approaches exist to the land uses policies which affect commercial development.
The first approach places limits or restrictions on the quantity of such markets in order to maintain what is perceived as a healthy balance between supply of a particular good or service and the demand for the same. This approach relies on some objectives or assumptions as to what is a reasonable balance. The second approach lets the market play the primary role determining the appropriate uses. With the second approach, the land use policies focus primarily on the "quality" of such environments, rather than trying to quantify them. This approach relies on the philosophy that markets, if left unhindered, will "sort" themselves out and achieve an appropriate balance over the longer term.
This Secondary Plan follows the second approach, primarily allowing the market to "rule", within the not insignificant constraints of land availability and maximum densities. Similarly, this Secondary Plan does not attempt to introduce significant change to the make-up and location of the existing uses in the area, nor does it attempt to introduce significant change to the make-up and location of the existing uses in the area, nor does it attempt to drastically alter or complicate the policy basis applying to the area. The Plan is intended to improve the area as a place to shop, work and live by providing opportunities to create a more pleasant environment, making pedestrian, cyclist and vehicle access better, improving transit access and efficiency and by improving the relationship between the existing and future residential uses and the commercial components.
There are a variety of design principles that are fundamental to achieving these goals and objectives. These goals, objectives and principles have been used to develop the land use policies of this Secondary Plan. This Plan and the process by which it was formulated dealt with development issues from a pragmatic design- oriented perspective. This was done with an understanding that within a Secondary Plan there must be a balance between regulation and flexibility to encourage alternative and innovative design solutions and to respond to changes in the mark over time. In turn, the fundamental design principles developed as part of the Urban Design Guidelines are reflected in the general policies of this Plan.
1.4 The Land Use Concept
The primary focus of the land use concept for the Merivale Planning Area will be to support the ongoing retail function and to encourage a stronger movement to mixed uses including the introduction of residential uses. The Plan intends that the area maintain its role in the regional markets, adapting to meet consumer needs and trends, as it has for the past 16 years.
The Secondary Plan adds policies dealing with built form. The Plan will encourage development and redevelopment of the commercial uses by broadening the existing permissions beyond just retail. In addition, residential uses will be allowed throughout the Area as pan of mixed-use development to support the retail and, service functions. Although the area will continue to be primarily automobile-oriented, the Plan also focuses on the improvement of the pedestrian and cyclist environment to encourage more frequent visits to and within the area by those modes.
Transportation improvements will be implemented through land use policy, public infrastructure and public/private co-operation. Site Plan Control will be used as the primary development control mechanism. In addition, zoning regulations and parking standards will continue to practically regulate the quantity of various uses. The Plan anticipates housing for the achievement of certain design related objectives.
1.5 Role of the Public and Private Sectors
For the most part, it is the responsibility of the City of Ottawa to exercise site plan control, zoning permissions and public infrastructure expenditures to achieve the design goals, objectives and principles outlined in this Plan. These goals, objectives and principles are, in part, related to the type and location of "hard" and "soft" public infrastructure, particularly that which is related to the management or improvement of vehicular, cyclist and pedestrian activities.
The other goals, objectives and principles of this Secondary Plan, in particular, those focussed on the development, redevelopment and improvement of the commercial uses, their character and manner in which they relate to the Merivale Road corridor, as well as their residential neighbours and surrounding community, are more the responsibility' of the developers, landowners and commercial establishments.
It is anticipated that such goals, objectives and principles would most likely be implemented when improvement or redevelopment of the properties takes place, Improvements such as the provision of landscaping screening/buffering, signage and street furniture could easily take place now or in advance of development, redevelopment or infilling, particularly if some form of business association or improvement organization was formed. The policies of this Plan encourage such actions.
The City has jurisdiction over Merivale Road, Clyde Avenue and Meadowlands Drive and is therefore responsible for setting right-of-way protection policy and controlling roadway modification, such as widening, new points of access and traffic signal changes.