The Wellington Village Community Association (WVCA) is a volunteer, non-profit community group of local residents that represents over 1,500 households in our neighbourhood.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Reply re: Section 37 Agreements in Wellington Village

Thanks Duff,

Although it is unlikely that WVCA will have a development within their boundaries that qualifies for Section 37 it was something I wanted to ensure I asked each Community Association. Especially with the new West Wellington CDP being strongly adhered to, there won't be the opportunity for a developer to apply for uplift along the main business street. In general development is being targeted primarily by proximity to rapid transit which doesn't leave a great amount in Wellington Village catchment area.

However Sec 37 of the Ontario Planning Act has not been used in Ottawa up until now, and without seeing the draft report about to go before Council, it is perhaps not well understood.

In general it is anticipated Section 37 might affect a maximum of 10 - 15 building projects a year throughout the City. When CDP's are created, like for example at Bayview, that zoning will be set as to what Planning expects to be built. Sites will not be underzoned in order to have Sec 37 apply - what is intended for that site will have been set. Also the City does not have the manpower or funding to consider the Section 37 process for a multitude of applications. The City would have to hire another full time position to do so, as they have done in Toronto. There are requirements for separate accounting streams etc.. as well. So overall there is a great deal of overhead to the City.

The reason why I have asked all the CA's to prepare a list of community benefits they would be interested in if Section 37 were to apply, is because of the time frames involved. Sec. 37 is an independent legal agreement that must be filed with the site plan. The agreement is part of the title.

Hintonburg is a step ahead as they have a list already inherent with its NPI, but if a community wants to ensure any particular benefits are considered, their early input helps guide a discussion the City planner has with the developer early along the planning process, perhaps even before the application is filed and is able to be legally discussed with the public. This is key for a number of reasons, one being the amount of time available in the planning process to complete the agreement given the complexity of the agreement. The benefit may be in a building amenity, not cash, that would make it of use to all in the community, not just those who live in the building. So a choice the community might come up with may not be achievable given the amount that is assessed or the time available to strike the contract. The actual $ amount won't be known until zoning is approved. The developer must agree, as must the Councillor, so Planning advises asking for a list in advance to allow more members of the community the opportunity to input and get a feel for what a community's interests might be should a Section 37 situation come up. It gives some direction for a discussion, since the planner and the developer may not be as intimately familiar with living in the area and may look at proposing something that is not desired by the community.

It is critical to note that Section 37 will not be an exchange for poor planning. And it is not generally a huge amount of money. Diane Holmes was able to secure $1 million dollars for one property downtown, which led many to think that was the norm, but there were a number of different circumstances at play with that particular development and it is certainly not the norm to get that amount.

Please let me know if you need any exact details on how the uplift is calculated, or anything more about what the City of Ottawa is choosing to enact this section of the Ontario Planning Act.

In terms of a square or community space as you mentioned, those types of benefits could be funded by cash-in-lieu of parkland funds for that development or from the Kitchissippi fund. Or they may be provided anyway - aside from the cash in lieu.. City Planners have negotiated this type of benefit via public easements at both the Convent property (with a park and pedestrian/cycling route that flows through from Byron to Richmond) and on Roosevelt (that has one acre of public space alone). That means the public can use the grounds, it is not private property. (Which normally it would be and could be gated). So those types of benefits can be achieved aside from Section 37 and obtained even when Section 37 does not apply. That is normal City planning practice to obtain those benefits on critical sites of importance to the entire community.

Anyhow, I appreciate that you have given this opportunity to input community benefits some discussion, and provided your considered decision in that regard.


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