It's too damn big !

No doubt you have seen the youtube clips of the guy running for office in the US of A whose tag line is "the rent's too damn high".  That is the way we feel about the proposed church worship hall aka gym aka community centre proposed for Bell Street. The Chinese Alliance Church has bought two narrow house lots running at right angles to their current Eccles & LeBreton Street property. They propose to demolish the houses and put in a honkin' big box building. They are asking, and no doubt the planning committee will give them, exemptions from all residential and commercial setbacks. In addition to being too damn big, it will have its handicapped entrance on Bell, which is little more than a lane, which means a single para transpo van making a winter pick up or delivery will block the entire street. I remain amazed that the fire marshall has signed off on this mega building, given its negligable side access.

The community association previously asked the church to at least build some shallow residential units on the Bell Street end, to preserve the residential nature of the street. They did this by adding an additional floor to the front of the building, making it even larger. In the interests of reducing the mass of the building, we conceeded that the housing could be foregone, but then the church apparently expanded the hall to fill up the previous residential space. Can't win ...


755 Somerset Street West, Ottawa, Ontario, K1R 6R1

5 October 2012

Councillor Peter Hume and members of Planning Committee
City of Ottawa


Re: Proposed Re-Zoning, 50 and 54 Bell Street (9 Oct ’12)

This proposal shoe-horns an oversized high-school-sized gym/500 seat hall into a tiny plot of land in a small fragile residential neighbourhood. Such a large a facility needs sufficient ‘elbow room’ to interface with the adjacent residential use, and sufficient ‘elbow room’ to accommodate the large numbers of people and vehicles coming and going. This proposal has neither.

The proposal disregards the setback standards of both the Institutional and Residential zones’ which are intended to provide space, air and light between buildings. (Both Institutional zoning’s 7.5m sideyard and 4.5m rearyard setbacks, and Residential zoning’s 7.5m rearyard setback are ignored.) The result is a devastating to the abutting residential rearyards. By-laws are to some extent a covenant between a community and the municipality. In this case, one in which residences benefit from a contiguous shared open space created by abutting rearyards. This proposal, by filling in that open space, breaks that covenant.

The planning report neglects to review the effect of a single Para-Transpo vehicle stopping at the accessible entrance on Bell St. Also missing is any analysis of the effect of persons being dropped off or picked up on Bell Street. Bell St. is basically a laneway with no room for anything except pedestrians to pass a stopped vehicle.

The planning report, despite considerable discussion about the height, neglects to include a height limit. Based on the planning report, and the by-law definition, the proposal has a height of 9.7m. The I1A zone has a truly an inappropriate 15m height limit. Please amend this!

This proposal is basically much too large for the two small lots on Bell Street to accommodate. The hall is an inappropriate, overdevelopment of the site, the street, and the neighbourhood.

We recommend this proposal be turned down.

Yours truly,

David Seaborn

Chair, Planning & Development Committee

cc: Councillor Diane Holmes