The city's planning committee voted to approve a zoning amendment that would allow for four towers to be built near Petrie Island despite hearing concerns about flooding and environmental impact.
The four towers will range in height from 24 to 32 storeys and include 950 apartments, shops and office space near the Trim Road LRT station.
While it may provide an opportunity for transit-oriented development, it's also right up against a wetland that's been declared provincially significant and that raised environmental questions.
Barbara Ramsay, chair of Community Associations for Environmental Stability (CAFES), raised concerns about construction, runoff and flooding — showing an architectural rendering of the site next to a photo of the 2019 floods.
"This is not climate change as we try to imagine it 20 years from now. This has happened already on this site and really what we have on this site is a wetland," Ramsay said.
John Smit, a retired veteran of the city's planning office who is consulting for the developer, told committee the plan is to build the towers on a platform that matches the elevation of Jeanne-D'Arc Boulevard.
"The structure itself will not be impacted by flood waters in the future. We'll be undertaking appropriate flood-proofing of anything that's below grade," Smit said.
While developments normally have to be set back 120 metres from a provincially significant wetland, city staff said the Rideau Valley Conservation Authority (RVCA) supported the planned 30 metre set back with mitigation measures.
The RVCA has not responded to CBC's request for comment.
Kanata North Coun. Cathy Curry told the committee while she had concerns about the changing assessment of flood risk, she felt the application was strong and other environmental issues could be addressed in the site plan process.
She also said she spoke to local councillor Matthew Luloff, who is not on planning committee, about potential benefits of the proposal.
Miguel Tremblay, speaking for the proponent, said they're still doing extensive studies ahead of the site plan application to identify and address other environmental concerns with the site.
"There are potentially slope stability issues that need to be addressed and studied," Tremblay said.
The vote was carried 7-2, with councillors Jeff Leiper and Shawn Menard opposed.