Three new warehouses are a step closer to going up at a busy Ottawa intersection, despite opposition from nearby residents and the two councillors whose wards brush up against the property.
Ottawa's planning committee voted 7-3 Monday in favour of amending the zoning bylaw to permit warehouses on the Manulife-owned site at the intersection of Walkley and Conroy roads.
The decision paves the way to eventually build a trio of one-storey warehouses, each roughly 90,000 square feet or one-tenth the size of an Amazon distribution centre, for an as-of-yet-undetermined business on the 5.7-hectare site.
Warehouses had been excluded as a potential use at that location three decades ago because it was partly designed as a "gateway" to the nearby Ottawa Business Park and a city-owned property on the other side of Conroy, NovaTech's Murray Chown said Monday,
But that never happened, he pointed out, with the city-owned site currently hosting an Esso gas bar, a Boston Pizza, and a combination Tim Hortons and Wendy's.
"With respect, that vision has never been realized and never will be realized on this property," Chown told committee in his pitch.
"We certainly don't think it's appropriate to suggest to our clients that they somehow have to fulfil that vision when the City of Ottawa has failed to do so on the lands that they owned."
Concerns with traffic volumes, cyclist safety
Two community associations tried to sway planning committee to reject the rezoning citing concerns with the lack of protection for cyclists and the potential traffic impacts on residents.
"The key thing with this development is the location of it," said Martin Eley, president of the South Keys Greenboro Community Association.
"It's the injection of a lot of large vehicles into the neighbourhood of the junction, which is already bursting at the seams."
Kathy Fisher, a member of the Hunt Club Park Community Association, noted there was a serious crash in the area recently and three more warehouses will just make matters worse.
"You are increasing traffic and you are increasing frustration," she said. "And so there is potential, I would say, for more accidents."
Novatech said their traffic studies, based on pre-pandemic estimates, suggested the project would add another 45 vehicle trips an hour during "peak" periods. Only five to eight of those would involve heavy trucks, they said.
'Honking big warehouses'
The two councillors whose wards were closest to the site, Alta Vista Coun. Jean Cloutier and Gloucester-Southgate Coun. Diane Deans, also argued unsuccessfully the rezoning didn't make sense.
Cloutier said the warehouses could harm future plans to run bus rapid transit through his community, while Deans drew attention to the dozens of people who'd spoke out against the warehouses in emails and letters, and at a May public consultation.
"I would invite all of you to go out and take a look around, cycle around that neighbourhood. And you will see that three honking big warehouses at this primary corner do not fit," Deans said.
The rezoning application now goes to full council for final approval.