Ashcroft Homes' July 30 concept plan for its Central Park development is finally in the hands of the City and Regional planners who must approve it, but both are dodging the question of when the public can have its say.
"We want to resolve some of the (engineering and recreation) issues before we get into public consultation," said City of Ottawa planner Patrick Legault. "We wanted a reasonable product... we don't usually put out something that we're completely dissatisfied with, because it wastes everyone's time."
For example, City parks staff are adamant that they want to ease future maintenance costs by grouping all the recreation facilities in a central park. This would save the City money, but it requires Central Park Drive to take a bigger loop into the development than that shown on the current plan.
While Legault pointed to the Region as the approval authority which should lead any public meetings, the Region's planner Nigel Brereton was more concerned about consulting agencies such as Ottawa Hydro and City and Regional technical staff. All the technical agencies got a copy of the concept, and have until September 15 to critique it. At that point Brereton expects another staff-only meeting, similar to one in June which scrutinized an earlier draft plan.
Both Brereton and Legault claimed that the public doesn't have to have a say at this stage. "There's no statutory requirement for any public meetings, because it's a subdivision," said Brereton. "Technically we don't have to bring anything to Council because for a subdivision, authority is delegated to the Commissioner of Planning," said Legault. "But once a concept is drawn up to address the (technical) concerns, I see the plan being circulated to the community association for comment."
The public would legally have a voice when smaller parcels of the land are rezoned for development. However, much may be cast in concrete by that point. Legault admitted that he foresaw staff could approve even decisions like redrawing the streets to exclude the formerly planned intersection at Clyde and Maitland. This would leave all the traffic from the development exiting on to Merivale at the two lights for Central Park Drive.
Only the western side of the development, the former Assaly lands, had its plan approved at the Ontario Municipal Board. Once this new concept plan "gets some kind of nod," said Legault, "Ashcroft will go back to the OMB to withdraw that application and submit a new plan of subdivision to the Region. Basically they'd be starting over."
At issue for the western side is whether Ashcroft will actually buy the Department of Communications property which sits at Clyde and Maitland. The land, which is exactly where any intersection would have to be built, went up for sale August 15, although the developer has claimed in the past that it couldn't afford the federal government's asking price.