To the Residents of Westboro and McKellar Park

10 04 2018

 About Rochester Field: Where We Stand 

As many of you will already know, City Council passed a zoning bylaw on February 14 to allow the National Capital Commission to develop a piece of the Rochester Field property and put up two buildings on the Northwest corner of the property, along Richmond Road.

The NCC has owned this property since the 1950s when it and the adjoining building (now the Keg) and the garden (Maplelawn) were bought from the Rochester family.

The property has served for several generations as a valuable community resource, in all seasons. It has long been expected that the City would enforce a longstanding policy and keep this property as parkland.

Instead, as part of the tradeoff that allowed the new LRT to be buried under the Sir John A Macdonald Parkway, it reached an agreement with the NCC in 2016 that allowed the NCC to develop part of Rochester Field, with the rest being parkland.

The residents of Westboro, and the Westboro and McKellar Park Community Associations, have been fighting against this development of their park since last year. We were able to get the discussion of the redevelopment delayed at Planning Committee, and at City Council.

Our Councillor met with the NCC and with City planners in an attempt to change their plans.

Ultimately the people of Westboro and McKellar Park were unable to prevail against the combined forces of the City and the NCC.

Westboro and McKellar Park community associations, and concerned residents, have been meeting to plan our response. This community resource is too valuable to allow it to slip away from us.

We considered launching an appeal with the Ontario Municipal Board against the decision. Ultimately, our resources, as local associations, are not enough to hire the legal and planning support we would need to launch such an appeal, and experienced people have told us that, even with professional help we would not likely succeed in having this decision overturned.

However, we are not ready to give up on this.

In the coming weeks we will be launching a public effort to affect the political decision-making process, and ultimately the NCC, which now has permission to go ahead and develop part of Rochester Field with multistory buildings abutting Richmond Road.

Among the things we need to consider:

  • An intervention in the upcoming Provincial election. Rochester Field is in Ottawa Centre riding, which is currently served by a Provincial Cabinet Minister, Yasir Naqvi. We will seek to make Rochester Field an issue, and we will expect answers from all candidates. We will do our best, later this spring, to organize an all-candidates’ meeting in Westboro, and we will be asking questions.
  • Similarly, we will be seeking to make Rochester Field an issue in the upcoming municipal elections. Rochester Field is in Kitchissippi Ward, and the sitting Councillor, Jeff Leiper, has been supportive of our efforts. We will want to know how all candidates feel about this issue, how informed they are about it, and what they are prepared to do if they are elected. We will want commitments, not simply nice words. We know how important Rochester Field is. We don’t need to be reminded of this.   We need firm commitments and we will be urging residents to inform themselves of where the candidates stand.
  • Finally, we will want to make Rochester Field an issue in the Federal election next year. The NCC has said that its plans for Rochester Field will take some time to finalize. The current MP in Ottawa Centre, Katherine McKenna, is the Minister of Environment. We will want to know what she, and the other candidates, are prepared to do for us on Rochester Field, in some detail, and we will ensure that all residents know their responses. Again, firm commitments will be expected. We will do our best to organize an all-candidates’ meeting, and we will make Rochester Field an issue.

In theory, in a democratic society, a well-informed community should have some impact on how its elected representatives behave – and what decisions they make.

In the coming months, and perhaps over the next few years, we will begin a process to see if that really works in practice.

We will keep you informed. And we welcome your support. We may need help in organizing meetings, contacting our elected representatives and candidates, working on social media, distributing flyers, contacting the media, and other tasks.

Please let us know whether you support us in this effort, whether you have any other ideas on how to keep this issue alive, and what you are prepared to do.

To begin with, if you agree that Rochester Field needs to be protected, contact your elected representatives and say so:

Jeff Leiper 613-580-2485 jeff@KitchissippiWard.ca
Yasir Naqvi 613-722-6414 ynaqvi.mpp@liberal.ola.org
Katherine McKenna 613-946-8682 Catherine.McKenna@parl.gc.ca
 

Contact Us At:

 

   
Westboro Community Association www.westborovillage.ca hellowestboro@yahoo.ca
McKellar Park Community Association www.mckellarpark.ca mpca.blog@gmail.com
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