Friday, November 29, 2013

Rockcliffe Lands Redevelopment - Part 5


Ideas, policy and guidelines are all good.  We bandy around the words "sustainable", "green" and "resilient" but how do these words, these principals actually become groundtruthed and implemented?  How do you ensure that once you have interested developers, that they follow your vision and implement a development that reflects green design and construction? 

Many cities may have policy goals around this language to achieve in their Official Plans, Transportation and Greenspace Master Plans and Environmental Strategies but until these policies and values filter into the actual day-to-day operating principals and procedures of a municipality there is no way to guarantee that they will be implemented.

One method of encouraging this is to have these types of policies integrated into land development IMPLEMENTATION strategies.  These strategies will ensure that development can meet goals of 33% tree coverage, 50% green roof and walls, 75% native plant species, etc.  This can be done through Development Review Checklists (with biophilic goals outlined), bonusing and reduced development charges and LEED certification.

Waterfront Toronto development is one example of how this can be done.  The Waterfront Toronto has not only a Sustainability Framework but also Minimum Green Building Requirements which will "ensure that all new buildings along the waterfront are efficient in their use of resources and take advantage of new approaches and technologies to deliver a positive impact on the surrounding air, land and water".  For this development, "Twenty-five percent of the waterfront revitalization area is reserved for parks and open spaces." 

For Rockcliffe Lands, there needs to be as much thought put into a Framework, Guidelines and Implementation as there is for the Design Plan of this redevelopment.  Collaboration with both the City of Ottawa and the National Capital Commission are essential for this redevelopment to succeed.  Incentive programming should go hand in hand with guidelines so that this type of development is attractive to developers.  Specifically, what needs to be considered are:

Municipal Design Guidelines for Rockcliffe Lands:

- Green bus stops for onsite stormwater retention
- Native public gardens with both bee condos and insect hotels
- All public buildings Leeds Platinum with storm water retention onsite
- Natural playgrounds - playscapes (already in Ottawa)
- Dark Skies Lighting (already in Ottawa)
- Green Alleys (potential pedestrian/bicycle corridors)
- Native tree nursery (including Maples, Elms and "Champlain" Burr Oak)
- Bioswales as natural fencing between properties
- Good tree pit design (for trees that are bordered by concrete)
- Better standards for minimum soil volume for street trees

Private Development Guidelines for Rockcliffe Lands:

- LEEDS Platinum for all private development including:
- green paving technology and/or permeable pavement (already in Ottawa)
- green roofs and green walls for onsite stormwater retention and cleaner air
- bird safe building design - as found in Toronto (discourage glass condos)
tree canopy coverage and landscape best practices (already in Ottawa at EQuilibrium)
- supportive by-laws for naturalized gardens

Construction Guidelines for Rockcliffe Lands:

- Current tree protection during construction (from Westside Action)
"No grade change, storage of materials or equipment permitted with this Tree Protection Zone.  Tree protection barrier must not be removed without the written authorization... Urban Forestry Services."

Root damage, trunk/bark damage, soil compaction and other activities from construction such as exhaust fumes from equipment can all compromise the health of a tree.  Even if the tree does not seem to suffer during the time of construction, there may be enough damage that the tree's ability to survive over a longer period of time may be weakened.
- Structural earth for all new street trees (from Westside Action)


This redevelopment includes identifying ways in which the Algonquin presence can be reflected on the Rockcliffe lands. "The history and connection of the Algonquin People with the Rockcliffe lands may be recognized through: installation of commemorative elements design of park spaces naming of streets, etc. Through the Consultation Working Group, Canada Lands Company and the AOO will jointly coordinate public unveilings of these initiatives. CLC recognizes that a commemorative opportunity on parkland overlooking the Ottawa River is of particular significance and interest to the AOO."  A site that honours and protects the native species (both flora and fauna) and allows for them to continue to flourish would be a great way to commemorate the First Nations People.

Involvement with the First Nations (through the Wabano Centre perhaps?) could also include leading the new neighborhood in efforts to connect with the land after the development.  This could include tree plantings, nut-harvests, tracking and living off the land workshops and even managing the tree nursery!

And one last thought - shouldn't the naming of the this new development reflect its aboriginal heritage?  Prior to the 17th century when this land belonged to the Algonquin people was there a name for it or could it be named after a prominent figure in either the Algonquin people's past or someone who should currently be honoured?  This is a great opportunity to ensure that this site will be forever recognized as Algonquin lands.

If you still want to send your thoughts and comments to Canada Lands Company it is not too late. You can find their contact information on the Canada Lands Company Rockcliffe Lands website (, I did not find an email address for the Ottawa office however.

Posts on Rockcliffe Lands Redevelopment:

First blog post: September 2011

Rockcliffe Lands Redevelopment (Part 1): November 2012

Rockcliffe Lands Redevelopment (Part 2) - April 2013

Rockcliffe Lands Redevelopment (Part 3) - September 2013

Rockcliffe Lands Redevelopment (Part 4) - October 2013


Images from: Skyscraper ForumRockcliffe blog,  Honouring SMH Beaver Pond

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