The provincial district court overturns the city’s refusal of storage facilities

“We have a vision of what we want our society to be, and this just does not fit.”

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The county’s county court says Ottawa City Council was misled in its attempt to “save” the Merivale Triangle area by rejecting a new Dymon storage facility on Clyde Avenue.

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The court has dismissed the city and approved the development, which includes a six-story building with retail on the ground floor, boardrooms and office space and a separate restaurant.

By reversing the January 2020 Council decision to remove the proposal, the Court called the Dymon project an innovative mixed-use development and “an important step towards the development of this area.”

Marjorie Shaver-Jones, president of the Copeland Park Community Alliance, said she was “incredibly disappointed” with the court’s decision. She characterized the new development as a “sterile warehouse.”

“It’s not something we want,” she said Thursday. “We have a vision of what we want our community to be, and this just does not fit. We want wide sidewalks with lots of pedestrian activity and businesses creating that activity.”

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Marjorie Shaver-Jones is the president of the Copeland Park Community Alliance.
Marjorie Shaver-Jones is the president of the Copeland Park Community Alliance. Photo by Errol McGihon /Postmedia

Steve Creighton, senior vice president of the Dymon Group of Companies, said the tribunal’s decision reflects the recommendations of city staff and the city planning committee.

“I think what the court recognized is that we have become an extension of people’s homes and businesses,” he said. “The city is focused on intensification, and Dymon is helping it achieve that: You can live in a smaller apartment or home, or work in a smaller space and use Dymon as your overflow.”

In its decision, the Ontario Land Tribunal said it could find no basis in the land use planning for the council’s decision to reject Dymon’s request for a zoning exemption. The court said the project, on a 1.1-acre plot near the corner of Clyde Avenue and Baseline Road, is in line with the city’s official plan and a secondary plan for Merivale Road.

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The Merivale Triangle is a three-sided piece of land bounded by Clyde Avenue, Baseline Road and Merivale Road. It is now home to several low-rise shopping malls and other commercial buildings.

The city told the court that the Dymon development was inappropriate as a “gateway space” to the Merivale corridor.

However, the court concluded that the Dymon settlement is suitable for an arterial road and supports planned housing growth in the area. It said the project will improve the area’s streetscape, public area and “sense of place.”

The development represents a huge improvement over the existing runways and their parking spaces next door, wrote the tribunal’s Vice-President Sarah Jacobs, adding: “The proposed development, by introducing a six-storey, attractive building together with a one-storey restaurant, improves determined the property in question and will introduce positive urban design elements to the corridor. “

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The city planning staff had recommended approval of Dymon’s application in November 2019. The planning committee also approved the project, but the council rejected it by a vote of 14-8, though city planning attorney Tim Marc warned that Dymon could appeal the decision.

Suggested Dymon Storage at 1375 Clyde Ave.  The architect is TACT.
Suggested Dymon Storage at 1375 Clyde Ave. The architect is TACT. Photo by TACT /jpg

The city council said the proposal did nothing to promote a sense of community, encourage pedestrian traffic or add to the housing composition.

grev. Keith Egli led the indictment against the development, saying the place was ill-suited for a warehouse and was not furnished for one. “I urge you today to say that Merivale Road is not a lost cause,” he told the council.

grev.  Keith Egli led the indictment against the development, saying the place was ill-suited for a warehouse and was not furnished for one.
grev. Keith Egli led the indictment against the development, saying the place was ill-suited for a warehouse and was not furnished for one. Photo by Errol McGihon /Postmedia

In an email Thursday, Egli said he was disappointed with the district court’s decision. “I think this decision makes it necessary to look at opportunities for a better way to engage and incorporate community feedback in planning decisions and especially appeals,” he said.

Shaver-Jones, who attended the online hearing, called it a frustrating experience. She was able to make a written statement, she said, but was not allowed to speak. “I felt from the very beginning that society had no voice at all in this,” she said.

Dymon has 11 warehousing facilities in Ottawa and four more in various stages of development. Construction is expected to begin on the Clyde Avenue site this spring.

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