Love your city, love your condominiums

Anyone in Ottawa who loves their city needs to embrace the current wave of condo construction. Opposing it means you don’t believe Ottawa has a future.

This is one of the few things I took away from my trip to Chicago last week. As most people do when they travel, I invariably compared my hometown to my vacation city. I’m not interested in adopting their policy that no hot dog within the city limits can have ketchup on it. And while I like the idea of solar powered trash compactors replacing garbage cans, I’d like to study the numbers first. But what I am sold on is their can−do attitude toward literally reaching for the skies.

Waiters, hotel staff and people on the street speak passionately about the development around them. One would think that the stomping ground of President

Barack Obama and Rahm Emmanuel would be anti−development, no? That there would be poverty protesters permanently camped outside of every proposed lot. Yet our tour guide spoke with disappointment when explaining how a 150−storey residential tower was sidelined due to financing. People look up−−literally and figuratively−− to the tall buildings that make up the skyline.

Granted Chicago developments have not been without controversy. But there is a marked difference between the general attitudes. If you believe in your city and think it’s great −− as many residents of major American cities do−−you’re not going to be surprised when people want to move there and companies aspire to build.

   
 

These days some Ottawans say the word “condos” with a high−and− mighty snort. Such snootiness is childish. The best recipe to be a small−time city is for its residents to be small−minded. Be careful what you wish for.

Wednesday’s Sun lists the various Ottawa condos that have been met with some degree of opposition. The most common concern is height. For buildings with storeys ranging from 17 to 28. Good grief.

I get that Ottawa is still a low density city, but eventually we need to take off the training wheels, and most of these developments do just that. Here are some truths to keep in mind:

* Don’t pay attention to Ottawa’s poverty protesters, who want condos halted in favour of homeless shelters.

They only focus on the negative and think life is a zero−sum game. They think success for one means failure for another. It’s a sad approach to city living.

* Some people −− I’m thinking of those Glebe residents opposed to the Lansdowne Park redevelopment −−

Love your city, love your condominiums 6 want the full benefits of living in the city (including the increases in property value, added amenities) hand in hand with the benefits of a small town (undeveloped, lacking density). You can’t have it both ways.

* If you think that no developer or no one at City Hall has thought about the required infrastructure upgrades that come with the addition of large buildings, think again. If you NIMBY the building out of your community, you become lower priority for ancient water main replacement.

* Lastly, but most importantly: Development means people believe in your city. There’s a major capital outlay when it comes to starting a development. Most developers heavily research a neighbourhood’s prospects. Most buildings don’t get their financing until a large majority of their units have been pre−sold. That means hundreds of families decided to call Ottawa home. Hundreds of people believe in the future of your neighbourhood.

Sure, there are caveats to all of this that Ottawa’s Debbie Downers will focus on. Unless it’s written in your sales contract, there’s no guarantee your unit will look like it does in the picture.

There’s also the issue of developers heading to the Ontario Municipal Board to overturn municipal decisions.

But these should be dealt with as they arise, not used as easy outs to decry condos entirely.

I believe in Ottawa. Do you?

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If you build it, they will complain

187 METCALFE ST.

Claridge Home’s Tribeca 28−storey project will have a built−in grocery store. In recent months, city politicians heard concerns about ground subsidence possibly linked to the work.

96 NEPEAN ST.

The 27−storey Claridge development came under some scrutiny when the owner of Place Bell worried infrastructure

was being stretched too thin in the core because of the condo boom. Engineers, however, signed off on the plan. The local community association is appealing the development to the Ontario Municipal Board.

LISGAR/CARTIER ST.

Charlesfort Development’s 20−storey condo across from City Hall is called the Merit. It’s one of the more unique designs for downtown condos, resembling New York’s Empire State Building.

203 CATHERINE ST.

Council approved Lamb Development’s 23−storey SoBa project, even though the community wasn’t Love your city, love your condominiums 7 happy about the size.

428 SPARKS ST.

Windmill Development’s 21−storey Cathedral Hill condo will be nestled beside Christ Church Cathedral.

Some residents in neighbouring buildings expressed concern the tower would block their views.

324−328 GLOUCESTER ST.

A 17−storey condo by Lamb Development will be at the corner of Lyon St. and be called Gotham.

Source: Ottawa Sun

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