Use Experimental Farm For High-Rises

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This topic contains 9 replies, has 2 voices, and was last updated by sisco farraro 2 weeks, 5 days ago.

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  • #750976 Reply

    sisco farraro

    The high-rise issue has been a bristly topic on The Bulldog this week for a couple of reasons, 1) the public has not been given sufficient time to comment, and 2) the impact on the current city landscape will have an impact existing neighbourhoods.

    I commented in one of the articles and checked to see what readers had to say. There are a lot of stories concerning this issue, and after searching through them and having no luck finding my comment and other readers’ outrage, I’d like to present this again.

    Cities of the future will grow upward rather than outward. This will make it easier to create a less expensive and more serviceable infrastructure. In the centre of Ottawa a large tract of land exists, the Central Experimental Farm. I propose that some of this land be used as a haven for high-rises. The farm is close to all amenities, pre-existing neighbourhoods will not be impacted, and with proper planning the area will not become the Central Experimental Slum. City planners will ensure the area is aesthetically pleasing and livable and developers will have to ante up to ensure this is viewed as a long-term commitment and not just a chance to make a quick buck.

    If you think this plan has merit, great, if not, come up with another. I don’t think a healthy city is run by hardware, way cool software, Facebook-this, and Twitter-that. A healthy city is run by people who can think.

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    #751071 Reply

    sisco farraro

    Ken. I thought this piece would generate a few more comments. I checked in again and noticed that someone had posted an up thumb, not that I compose my thoughts for the approval of others, I’d prefer a lively debate. I pressed the up thumb on my screen to make sure I hadn’t praised my own work by mistake and the number increased to 2. Unfortunately, I can’t find a way to correct the count back down to one. Perhaps people don’t really care about this issue, perhaps they think my idea is brilliant and nothing further needs to be said, or perhaps they’re so outraged at this proposal they feel it’s best to stay calm and not say anything.

    Anyway, I did bring this proposal forward as a real solution to the issue at hand. I did some additional research and discovered the farm is comprised of 1,055 acres, more than enough space for a “planned” high-rise community. I suggest the high rise area be developed near the southern outreach, close to Baseline Road, although city planners have better insight into the best location so that utilization of the transit system is maximized, and existing roadways don’t become clogged by the introduction of additional vehicles, a problem that will have to be addressed no matter where new high-rises are located.

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    #751076 Reply

    Ken Gray
    Keymaster

    Sisco:

    I thought it was a very provocative topic.

    I believe the problem is that it is Victoria Day and lovely weather. Perhaps people would rather be outside today than trapped inside with their computer. It’s a light readership day.

    cheers

    kgray

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    #751102 Reply

    Ron Benn

    Sisco, I read your forum topic on the weekend and decided to take a couple of days to compose my thoughts, whilst letting my hands work in the garden and yard. Turns out Ken was right, at least as it pertains to me.

    Two thoughts came immediately to mind.

    The first relates to supply and demand. LeBreton has been designated as a high-rise zone by the NCC, the city and Melnyk’s development group. Its characteristics support high-density housing, among other uses. The LRT, notwithstanding its many shortcomings, runs through it. It is a large brown-fields development, so a forest of high rises will have limited impact on the neighbouring communities, save for on-street parking on the nights when there is a hockey game or a concert. As Melnyk mentioned in passing, much to angst in the mayor’s office, the supply of high-rise opportunities exceeds the current and expected demand, to the point where the development will likely take a couple of decades. In short, does the near west end of this city need another forest of high-rises?

    After mulling the supply and demand question for a while, my mind wandered to the concept of “next best use”. I am not convinced that the current use of this large land mass well within the urban centre of the city is its best use. It may have been seven or eight decades ago, when it was actually on the outskirts of the city. The lyrics of the Joni Mitchell song Big Yellow Taxi come to mind. Something to the effect of “Tore down paradise, put up a parking lot”.

    Could this land become a city building opportunity? Could it be “developed” into the Ottawa equivalent of New York City’s Central Park? Would its proximity to the absolutely wonderful Mooney’s Bay-Hog’s Back-Vincent Massey park system put too much open recreational property too close together? Could it be used to develop a zoo and aquarium (politically incorrect by today’s standards, but so am I).

    What we do know is that this is a political nightmare. Given how readily the current set of elected officials, at all levels, wilted when a belicose special interest group created a tempest in a teapot over the offer by the federal government to allow the Civic Hospital to expand its campus to the south side of Carling, I have no doubt that there is not one, and I mean absolutely not one, elected official who has the leadership skills to even consider introducing this as a topic for meaningful discussion.

    In short Sisco, you introduced an interesting topic for discussion. However, that is far as it will ever get in my lifetime.

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    #751236 Reply

    Chaz

    Sisco,

    Be not discouraged.

    Bringing forward an idea is something, in and of itself, worth doing.
    I could not and would not comment on this particular piece of land because I have no geographical knowledge of Ottawa.

    I understand the basic concept of slapping high-rise buildings in neighbourhoods with single family homes. I understand the mindset of developers. I understand that up may be better than out (sometimes). I understand NIMBY. I also understand that some people love condos as a lifestyle choice while others want backyards.

    If the folks at city hall made efforts that didn’t appear to be so dictatorial, then maybe things could be resolved in ways that worked better. Some neighbourhoods should be totally off limits for high-rise development and all vacant land should be considered with regards to best uses.

    My kid has absolutely zero interest in inheriting my acreage and I have zero interest in condo living. How can these two attitudes be reconciled? Perhaps, they can’t.

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    #751272 Reply

    sisco farraro

    Chaz. Thanks for your encouraging words. I really don’t think many of our politicians at any of the 3 levels listen to what the general populace or an individual has to say unless they can take advantage and spin the idea as theirs. Also, I have noticed that family generations vacillate from urban areas to rural areas to urban areas, that is mom and dad grow up in rural areas, their offspring live in the city, their children the move back out of the city, etc. Human beings still maintain a strange nomadic-like existence.

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    #751554 Reply

    K.A.

    I agree with Ron the current and expected demand for high-rise development is above the supply, and greater intensification won’t happen overnight. There are new condos sitting empty, and there’s land that developers have bought waiting for demand to catch up before they put in more high-rise in the core (e.g.: there are plans for the lot where the Metro currently sits on Rideau st near King Edward to eventually build 3 high-rises).

    I think part of the problem is that high-rise development in Ottawa hasn’t been appropriate for what Ottawa needs. Each developer is looking to maximize their profits on each project, but together these projects have created an excess supply of very small condo units that young buyers outgrow quickly and that are too small even for older buyers looking to downsize. This is maybe along the lines of what Chaz is saying. For many people, the main reason for not getting a condo is because they are just so small. I know of one major Ottawa developer that re-configured floorplans to increase space because the small units they had originally designed weren’t selling. But we still have too many 400-500 sq foot condo units, and I wonder if they’re not building bigger condos because the market doesn’t exist for them, or because it’s just not as profitable as tiny apartments. And there is city hall and those who advocate for more high-rise development and more bike lanes as if that will make us more like Europe, but then they aren’t actually interested in what the market has to offer, which are tiny apartments.

    Okay I’m done rambling.

    On the Central Experimental Farm. If high-rises are what’s needed then great, though I wonder if we can building something that adds more to the city than just condos. Let’s also not just hand over the land to developers to make a quick buck at the public’s expense like Lansdowne. In any case, I can’t see the political will to re-develop the farm anytime soon.

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    #751560 Reply

    Ken Gray
    Keymaster

    K.A.

    The long-term demographics don’t bode well for condo ownership at all. At least that’s what demographer David Foote says.

    cheers

    kgray

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    #751652 Reply

    Chaz

    K.A,
    I know I am too old to change all my attitudes to fit the modern world. I do recycle and I closed off the fireplace, insulated better, stopped using fertilizer and pesticides and fully returned my land to natural vegetation ( yep, plowed all yard grass under years ago) . I am from a time of big everything. The bigger the better. That is not good but it’s how I grew up and it is how I still live. Our master bedroom is 400 square feet so I can’t imagine my wife and I in a 500 square foot condo.

    Okay I’m done rambling too. 🙂

    Sure, conservation of resources is a noble issue but, I do think that many people are forced into tiny condos because the price of a house is darn right out of control. No matter what the planners forecast – do people really want to live in tiny boxes – – I think not.

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    #751753 Reply

    sisco farraro

    K.A. Regarding small units, like you I feel people have a misconception of their overall value/popularity. The Japanese have adapted well to living small. They live in a small country with a large population, much of which lives in a few very large cities. Living small has become en vogue for young Canadians in, say, their 20s and maybe 30s. It’s easier to do this than it was in the past because the consumer products they cherish are all getting smaller and smaller – computers, cameras, stereo systems, automobiles, etc, etc. However, their window for living in a home that is 400 to 500 square feet has a limited timespan, perhaps a few years at most. After that the “appeal of small” is gone and these units will lose their appeal until these people are thinking about retirement. In the intervening timeframe who will want them? You would think there’d be a high turnover but because there are be so many available it will be difficult for owners to grow their equity for so they can move to a larger home. The only other people to whom these units will appeal, the target audience, will be those in their mid- to late-60s and beyond, and there will be a growing number of them in the next 20 to 30 years.

    The Japanese have taken decades to shrink their world. If we’re going to do the same in Canada it will likely take decades as well. But there is another factor working against this paradigm. The total population of Canada is roughly 36 million and we live in the second largest country by land mass on the globe. The one thing we do have in this country is lots of room. Canadians hear the “live big” message more often than the “live small” one (check out TV beer ads) and aren’t going to want to live in domiciles in which we sleep in tubes. Moving forward I believe Canadians are going to want lots of elbow room.

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