The Carlington Summit

Ottawa and regional governments say they will block any further approvals for Central Park until its developer submits a master plan for the community.

Regional councillor Wendy Stewart and Ottawa councillor Karin Howard made the promise to about 30 residents that turned out to a October 8 public meeting to discuss Carlington's newest community. The meeting was organized by a new organization calling itself the Central Park Concerned Citizens Group.

Residents say they have several concerns with how the development is progressing, and it seems they're not alone.

Stewart said the region has repeatedly asked the builder -- Ashcroft Developments Inc -- for detailed information on everything from traffic studies to a master plan for recreational facilities. For example, a concept plan for the community shows the soccer field located just north of Laurentian High School, on land owned by the federal government. Ashcroft has received no written permission to use the property.

Frustrated by the lack of response to its requests for more information, the region has put a freeze on any future approvals until its concerns are met.

"He (Ashcroft owner David Choo) cannot get approval for anything beyond what he already has registered, without meeting a lot of planning requirements," said regional planner Roger Hunter. "We have data and design deficiencies that have to be addressed to the satisfaction of the region, and until we do, he's not going anywhere."

Stewart agreed. "Both the city and the region have said to (Ashcroft) that we want to see what your planning for this entire parcel of land. We want to get this nailed down before we give the developer any more approvals. We need to know what we're dealing with."

Topping the list of concerns is road access into the new development. The City of Ottawa, the Regional Municipality of Ottawa Carleton (RMOC) and even the Ontario Municipal Board have said that the 57-hectare community needs three main intersections -- two from Merivale Road and one from Clyde Avenue. Local governments have yet to get that assurance from the developer.

"Now (Choo) is suggesting that there would be no access at Clyde which means all the traffic would go to Merivale Road," said Hunter. "We want traffic impact studies, but have received none to date. As far we are concerned, the Clyde access point is the only other access point." He added that emergency vehicles and OC Transpo also require an eastern and a western entrance into the community.

Ashcroft has already received approval for Phase 1 of the development -- the 37-hectare parcel of land closer to Merivale. Now it's seeking approval for the remaining 20 hectares on the western side of the property, near Clyde and Maitland. When completed, Central Park will house nearly 4,000 residents. There are about 300 people living there now.

Stormwater pond

Another sticking point is the region's requirement for a stormwater treatment pond on the site.

"The pond must be constructed and in operation to our satisfaction before the Region will register any subsequent phase of this development," the RMOC states in an August 6 letter to a firm representing Ashcroft. The letter also notes that if the stormwater pond can't be finished this year, the region will stall Ashcroft's construction plans until next May or June.

The design of the stormwater pond hasn't been finalized. Stewart explained that the pond could be made large and shallow, which would create a park-like setting in the community. "Or we could have a stormwater crater with a 10-foot fence around it," she said. She encouraged the community's views on the design before a final decision is made.

There is still time for residents to make their views known on the Central Park development plan. Howard say an open house will be scheduled soon to discuss options for recreational facilities in Central Park. "We will have a list of potential recreational facilities and you can indicate which you want," she said. The City of Ottawa's planning committee will also be meeting to discuss Central Park, although no date has been set yet.

Stewart added that the RMOC will schedule a meeting as well to review any planning or environmental concerns with the development.

Howard also agreed to look into other complaints concerning property standards and alleged subdivision infractions. She said she would table a motion with council asking that an inspector be devoted "full-time" to study any complaints.