Ottawa's planning committee has rejected a report from city staff that would have prohibited the Salvation Army from building a church near the Ottawa International Airport.
The committee voted nine to one to allow the church and community centre proposed for 102 Bill Leathem Dr. — even though it would be inside what's known as the Airport Operating Influence Zone (AOIZ), an area that bans "noise-sensitive" development since aircraft fly low overhead.
The Ottawa International Airport Authority had said its operations are too loud to accommodate the facility, which would be about 2½ kilometres from its busiest runway.
The zoning rule excludes developments like schools, places of worship, daycares and retirement residences.
The Salvation Army has said it would use building materials that would mitigate any noise from airplanes overhead, and that the property was the only site they could afford for the one-storey centre.
"For the good work the Salvation Army does in our community, I'm going to give them the benefit of the doubt," said Kanata South Coun. Allan Hubley.
Both the Salvation Army and the airport authority have previously said that — if they ended up on the losing side of the city's decision — they would be willing to take the fight to the Ontario Municipal Board.
Airport spokeswoman Krista Kealey told the committee that the authority was not specifically targeting the Salvation Army but rather trying to ensure public health and protect its own opportunities for economic development.
She suggested noise complaints could eventually lead to an "operating curfew" that would limit airplane movements during certain hours — potentially "affecting our ability to connect Ottawa with the rest of the country and the world."
"We support their mandate. And we appreciate the good work they do in our community," Kealey said. "[But] any proposal to develop land in a similar fashion within the AOIZ would be met with similar opposition."
Alta Vista Coun. Jean Cloutier was the lone councillor to vote in favour of the staff report.
Westgate mall, former Trailhead developments get approval
The committee also tended to other business Tuesday, including approving the proposed redevelopment of the Westgate Shopping Centre, Ottawa's oldest mall.
Retail developer RioCan received the green light to build five mixed-use highrise towers on the site of the mall at Carling Avenue and Merivale Road.
The mall opened in the early 1950s.
The committee also approved a 22-storey condo and retail tower for 1600 Scott St., on the site of the former Trailhead outdoor equipment store.
That proposal pitted a neighbourhood's community development plan (CDP) against what the city has called its transit-oriented development plan.
Concerned residents argued the proposed height and density far exceed what the community and the city had agreed on in developing the CDP.
However, planning committee chair Jan Harder countered that the CDP doesn't match the reality of 2017, particularly as the city prepares for the launch of a light-rail service.
The priority, said Harder, is to ensure the first phase of light rail becomes a success, so it can one day be expanded to serve the entire city — including her own Barrhaven ward.
Given that the Trailhead site is just a block from Westboro station, Harder said the city should approve the proposal to encourage densification and increase the chances of light rail succeeding.
The planning committee approved the proposal by a vote of seven to three.
New farmers markets
Committee members also rezoned three sites to allow for farmers markets.
If approved by full council, Stittsville would get a new market in Village Square Park on its main street. The market would have 10 to 20 vendors setting up on Friday afternoons.
A new market could also be coming to the Riverview park-and-ride in Riverside South, with 20 to 50 vendors expected to hawk their wares on Sundays from June through October.
The third re-zoning was a retroactive move, as the Byron Street market in Westboro has been operating for five years without the proper zoning in place.
All of Tuesday's items will go to city council for final approval on April 12.