HCA Appealing Somerset Square High-rise Development Decision

The HCA has filed an appeal with the Ontario Land Tribunal. Our objective is to have the OLT overturn City Council’s recent approval that would allow a twelve storey high-rise building that would cover the entire block just north of Somerset Square (961-979 Wellington Street West and 26-40 Armstrong Street).

If allowed, this would be the first high-rise to be permitted since the current policies were set for the Wellington West traditional main street a decade ago. These policies allow only mid-rise buildings, generally up to six storeys with a few specific locations at nine storeys. Allowing this development would set a precedent that would see all our main street developed with high-rise buildings. Our appeal will be a significant undertaking. We are now fundraising with a goal to collect 50 thousand dollars to help finance this effort.

What have we done so far?

  • We sent a response to the City in May of 2021 opposing the plans for this redevelopment. You can read our objections by following the link here:

HCA Response to 979 Wellington St W. Development Redesign

  • We presented our position to City Council’s Planning Committee in September 2021 with local Kitchissippi Councillor Jeff Leiper’s full support. Other delegates also presented to oppose the development. Planning Committee approved the project with a 9-3 vote. Here’s a link to the meeting:

  • We have retained a lawyer.

Why is this appeal so important? 

This appeal is vital because permission for this building to be a high-rise would set the precedent that all of Wellington West traditional main street can be high-rise–ten storeys and higher. If allowed to proceed, the entire block between Wellington Street West and Armstrong from Garland to Hilda would be consumed by a large high-rise building mostly at twelve storeys with 248 apartments and 148 parking spots. Not only is this inappropriate for the block above Somerset Square Park, but it could become the norm all along Wellington West.

Our appeal is based on the position that development of this height and mass goes against what is in the Official Plan, the Wellington St. West Secondary Plan and the Scott St. Secondary Plan. These plans have all had to be changed substantially by City Council to allow the project to proceed, which is what City Council has approved. All these plans had required that traditional main streets in general and Wellington West in particular be capped at mid-rise heights (nine storeys or less).

  • Wellington St. West Secondary Plan calls for mid-rise six storey buildings with a step back at the third story with the possibility of up to nine storeys at certain “gateway” locations. Anything above nine storeys is considered high-rise and is not permitted in the plan. If allowed to proceed, this would be the first development that does not adhere to the secondary plan since it was passed in 2011.
  • The proposed development would set a significant precedent for future development along Wellington West and the other designated traditional main streets in the city, by allowing the development of high-rise buildings in these traditional corridors. There is already a proposal submitted to the City for an 18 storey building a kilometre to the west at Parkdale and Wellington West that will undoubtedly cite this proposal at 979 Wellington West as rationale for doubling the permitted height.
  • The Official and Secondary Plans were the result of hard work by City staff, the community and the development industry. They were the result of extensive consultation and compromise. This decision effectively renders the plans meaningless.
  • If existing development plans are not respected, we may end up in a “Wild West” environment for developers. Hintonburg and other central urban neighbourhoods have already exceeded the City’s intensification targets. Reasonable limits based on the established plans would help ensure our community doesn’t have to bear more than our fair share of the increased density — and the resulting strain on our hard and soft infrastructures. The current zoning already allow the addition of a large number of commercial and residential units by allowing six storeys.
  • The current zoning already allows for the much-needed addition of residential units. The main street is zoned for six storeys and the rest of the residential area of Hintonburg was recently rezoned to allow eight unit or twelve unit apartment buildings on every standard-sized lot. This is sufficient.
  • Recently, David Wise, program Manager, Zoning and Intensification, stated that areas such as Hintonburg are bearing much of the weight of intensification and the pressure on those neighbourhoods is just not sustainable. He says areas such as Hintonburg have more than done their share of taking intensification and it is time for other areas to play their role.

Why are we fundraising?

HCA Zoning and Development Committee members and other association members have been working very hard to achieve a better outcome for Hintonburg and protect the integrity of the City’s development plans and policies while allowing appropriate intensification and trying to encourage affordable housing.

Our members are diligent and knowledgeable, but the developer has engaged high-powered legal expertise. We will need to counter with the best professional help we can secure. This means that we’ve had to already engage a lawyer and we’ll also have to hire an urban planner to make our case at the Ontario Land Tribunal. This professional help comes at considerable expense, and we’re hoping that some fundraising will help us to add the professional expertise we need to level the playing field. Our goal is to raise 50 thousand dollars.

How can you donate to the effort?

Contributions can be e-transferred to the email for auto-deposit. Please indicate that it is for the OLT appeal. Alternately, you can leave a cheque for us at HCA c/o 132 Bayview Station Rd. Ottawa, K1Y 2C6

In the unlikely event that we end up with unused contributions we will partially (pro-rated) refund donations or we can donate to the food bank with the caveat that food bank donations from us do not result in a tax receipt for us but would do so for you.

Please don’t hesitate to contact us via if you have any questions and/or concerns.

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