DCA Report for Oct 2009

by Ida Henderson, Vice-President, Dalhousie Community Association

The Dalhousie Community Association’s (DCA) Board of Directors met October 7, 2009 at the Dalhousie Community Centre (DCC). Guests included Lori Mellor, Executive Director of the Preston Street Business Improvement Area (BIA); from Cornerstone Housing for Women: Sue Garvey (Director), Rev. Bill Prentice, Jane Ironside, architect Anthony Leaning, neighbour Suzanne Harding; and Linda McQuarrie from Councillor Diane Holmes’ office.

Some of the main items discussed were:

314 Booth Street (former Desjardins IGA/Loeb site)Sue introduced Cornerstone’s plans to build a four-storey apartment building with 42 studio apartments (including kitchen facilities and bathrooms), 20 for senior women and 22 for women needing affordable housing, at Eccles and Booth Streets. (Cornerstone is a Community Ministry of the Anglican Diocese of Ottawa which, since 1984, has been providing emergency shelter and safe, affordable housing for women in Ottawa.) As well as support staff 24/7, the seniors will have services similar to those in most retirement homes, i.e., meals, laundry and some health care supports. The other residents may also access these services if needed. Plans are to demolish the old grocery store and begin construction of a new building in spring 2010, with occupancy planned for spring 2011.

Anthony provided details on the design of building. It is to have a high level of energy efficiency, better than current requirements, to reduce its contribution to green house gases and climate change and also its ongoing life-cycle costs. As well, there will be a high proportion of recycled, renewable and regionally sourced materials used in construction. While the entrance will be on Booth, for zoning purposes Eccles is considered the front yard so a variety of minor variances will be needed.

Jane went through the minor variances (MVs); these may be going to Committee of Adjustment on November 4 next. MVs are required to reduce the backyard setback at the southwest corner of the building which is closest to a residential zone, and to permit a canopy overhang on Eccles to 0,6 m from the lot line. One MV is also needed to allow Cornerstone to continue to use the old Loeb parking lot at 71 Eccles, and to reduce the parking lot ratio from 0.5 spaces to 0.28 per tenant. Since residents are highly unlikely to have cars, this should not cause any parking problems for the neighbourhood.

Board members expressed concerns about the tipping point for a community: when is the number of assisted/sheltered residences in a community too many? Will the residents be a welcome addition or a potential detriment to the area? At this point Suzanne who has lived next door to Cornerstone’s permanent housing unit on Lyon Street since its inception confirmed that Cornerstone’s residents have been excellent neighbours. Other Board members familiar with the facility concurred.

Following the Cornerstone delegation’s departure and further discussion, the Board expressed support for the residential proposal.

Fall clean-upDCA members and anyone else willing to volunteer are to meet at the the DCC at 10:00, Saturday, October 17, 2008 for the fall clean-up sweep of the neighbourhhood

Farmers’ marketLori reported that the Preston Street BIA has had meetings with Councillor Holmes, Mayor O’Brien, federal Cabinet Minister John Baird and provincial Minister Jim Watson about transforming the large federal property west of Preston Street to a farmers’ market should the land become available. A meeting with Member of Parliament Paul Dewar is also scheduled. The BIA agrees with the DCA’s previous position that when/if the land does become available, the northern half should be reserved to expand Plouffe Park west to the train tracks.

City Centre Coalition (CCC)The CCC’s presentation for the October 8th combined meeting of the Transportation and Transit committees (on the impact of Lansdowne Live) was shared with the Board. CCC is urging city council to place appropriate and adequate transportation service, especially location near the core transit backbone, as a higher priority in the selection of a site for a new stadium. The Lansdowne Live proposal for a new major stadium is nowhere near any stops on either the existing or planned transit spine.

Next regular meeting

The Board’s next meeting will be Wednesday, November 4, 2009 at 7:30 p.m. at the DCC, 755 Somerset St. As usual, anyone is welcome to attend.