More than 700 people attended the first step in what will be a two year-long consultation process concerning the former Rockcliffe air base.
It has been six years since consultations first began concerning the site, when a land claim by the Algonquins of Ontario halted the process. That was resolved in the spring of 2011 and now Canada Lands Company will discuss design plans for the former Canadian Forces Base Rockcliffe with the community. Two presentations took place at the Canada Aviation and Space Museum on Nov. 26.
A total of 750 people came to the event, where Canada Lands’ real estate director Don Schultz introduced the team involved in the consultation and development process and presented preliminary findings and plans for the 136 hectares of land.
“We want you to share your ideas,” Schultz said.
The group said the goal is to ensure the development includes mixed-use development, single family homes, townhomes, low- to mid-level rentals and shops and services.
According to Schultz, the Algonquins of Ontario and Canada Lands have an agreement concerning development on the site, which includes a commemoration of the history of the Algonquin people, participation in all stages of the concept development, land use planning and detailed design, and the use of qualified Algonquin companies for the project.
The first step is the community design plan, which will be handled by MMM Group. Steve Willis, vice-president of architecture and planning for the group, will complete the CDP document. He said Canada Lands will produce a complete CDP, including a document with amendments to the city’s secondary plan, by spring 2014.
The first phase of development, Schultz said, is targeted for completion by 2017 Canada’s 150th birthday.
“That is our best-case scenario, for the homes to be built by 2017,” Schultz said.
The Algonquins of Ontario also have the opportunity to acquire sites defined in the city-approved CDP.
Canada Lands Company is a Crown corporation that manages government properties across the country. Former Canadian Forces bases, Schultz said, is their specialty with two completed projects in Alberta. When it comes to development, the first thing this company does is design and build parks.
Since Canada Lands officially acquired the property in 2011, the site has been closed off to the public. A space rich with trees and paths, some neighbouring residents who attended the meeting asked when the area would be reopened for the public to use again.
“A lot of us loved going on the base with our dogs and want to know when we will have access to the site again,” said resident Deborah Murray.
Willis said the land has been closed for safety, because the company has been removing the last of the military homes.
“We are interested and committed to opening up the access again,” Willis said.
As a former air base, this large development is currently isolated from transit, and some residents who attended the meeting feel more vehicles will come to the area as the development proceeds.
Lindenlea Community Association president Robert Schmidt attended the meeting and as an avid cyclist, he wanted learn more about the impact this new development may have on the surrounding communities.
“They brought up some real challenges for the site relating to transit,” Schmidt said. “The very existence of the site has had an effect on the development around it and unfortunately, the transit model for the city has moved south toward the Transitway further isolating the site from efficient mass transit.”
Schmidt noted he is optimistic that a livable space can be created and said the site could benefit from having its own attraction to drive people there.
“Although it may be controversial, I think destination-type development could be successful,” he said. “(Such as) Sports and recreation facilities that require a fair amount of space could find a home on the site. I’m thinking of something like a soccer stadium for a pro or semi-pro team would be a showcase venue for the site and an opportunity to get people in the area for special events... and to support early commercial ventures.”
Schmidt’s ideas and those of the others people who attended were recorded through a video message centre, a bulletin board or on suggestion forms.
The entire presentation is available on the Rockcliffe development site, at www.clcrockcliffe.ca.
The next consultation will take place in the spring of 2013, when Canada Lands will present planning ideas and conceptual design options which the public will have the opportunity to discuss.