GCA Board Meeting Minutes

Monday, April 29, 7:00 p.m.
Mutchmor Public School

Present: Elizabeth Ballard (proxy for Bruce Jamieson), Bob Brocklebank, June Creelman (proxy for Nini Pal), Rochelle Handelman, Jennifer Humphries, Carolyn Mackenzie (proxy for Elspeth Tory), Carol Macleod, Matt Meagher, Johanna Persohn, Bill Price, Laura Smith, Sarah Viehbeck, Josh Van Noppen

Others: Shawn Menard

Regrets: Colette Downie, Brenda Perras


Sarah welcomed everyone to the meeting and thanked them for attending.


Planning Committee

Motion 1: Initial comments on Bank St. Height and Character Study

Whereas the City of Ottawa is undertaking the above-mentioned study and has invited initial feedback and comments from the community regarding appropriateness of building height, character and transition elements, as well as prioritisation of travel modes on Bank Street;
Whereas the GCA’s Planning Committee has reviewed the vision for Bank Street articulated in ImagineGlebe (2016) as well as almost 90 surveys completed by community members as part of the present study which indicated strong support for maintaining 4 storey height limit with some potential for additional height at northern and southern portions of Bank Street;

Whereas the existing heritage structures are a key part of the character of Bank Street and the outcome of the City’s efforts to create the heritage register which includes many Bank Street buildings should be specifically taken in account in any final study recommendations;
Whereas the GCA promotes appropriate intensification/building height/form and a vibrant Bank Street;
Whereas the GCA values development that contributes strongly to building a community that promotes a livable, sustainable and diverse urban neighbourhood, as reflected in the core comments from both this study and ImagineGlebe;
Whereas the comments that follow are provided with the explicit caveat that they will be appropriately assessed and refined through specific planning studies as part of this overall study so the impacts (including, but not limited to sun shadow, increased density, etc.) can be properly understood;

Motion Part 1:  Be it resolved that within the study area:

The following building heights (see map) may be appropriate, based on the planning studies noted above:


  • Zone A: Village. A maximum height of 4 storeys between Fifth and Patterson Avenue  (the core of the Glebe “village”)
  • Zone B and C: Transition. A maximum height of 6 storeys between Fifth and Holmwood Avenues and Patterson and Pretoria Avenues
  • Zone D and E: Neighbourhood scale gateway. Areas potentially suitable for higher densities and taller buildings (specific criteria to be developed through additional planning and design work as part of this study to ensure compatibility with low-rise residential).


Motion Part 2:  Be it resolved that within the study area:

The building heights as set out in Part 1 should be considered only in conjunction with the following building transitions and appropriate planning studies:


  • To better establish pedestrian scale, any building up to 6 storeys should provide a more meaningful “step back” of a minimum of 2.5 m after the 3rd storey (current TM zoning calls for step back of 2 m after 4th storey). For buildings above 6 storeys, the building step back should be a minimum of 4 m.
  • To achieve appropriate scale with the north side of Central Park (west side of Bank Street), a meaningful building stepback above a 3rd storey of a building that overlooks the park.
  • Building heights/transitions should ensure that Bank Street sidewalks have a substantial amount of sun on their entirety (i.e. no less than 5 hours of sunlight per day between spring and fall equinox and/or X hours during winter months.).  [Note that this may point to different constraints on east vs. west side of Bank Street].
  • Where building height is above 4 storeys, built form MUST respect all other current TM zoning (ie. to include 7.5m rear yard set back, as well as respect for 45 degree angular plane transition down to the rear/residential zone).
  • Consideration could be given to “relaxing” the required 7.5 m building set back to 3 m, but ONLY where a building continues to respect the 45 degree angular plane (this would result in a building being no higher than 2 storeys within 3 m of rear lot line).  If allowed, appropriate amenity space, preferably incorporating [medium to large size] trees, MUST be provided to the rear of the building to provide better transition to residential, provide shade and health/environmental benefits. 

That existing heritage structures are a key part of the character of Bank Street and the outcome of the City’s efforts to create the heritage register which includes many Bank Street buildings should be specifically taken in account in any final study recommendations and that character should be enhanced and promoted by ensuring that:


  • Store widths in buildings should be no wider than the current average storefront, +25% [or equivalent metric to ensure compatibility with existing cadence]
  • Building design itself reflects the existing store width “cadence”, in other words, design must incorporate transitions so that building does not “read” as single built form.
  • Exterior materials should reflect heritage elements.
  • Buildings should contribute to climate adaptability in the overall design, e.g. through green/landscaping and green buildings.
  • That the first storey building height be in keeping with the existing character


With respect to prioritisation of travel and traffic issues:


  • Pedestrian traffic is overwhelmingly seen as needing greater priority. Enhancements to ensure greater walkability/safety is a key issue.
  • Priority should also be given to people taking transit as a strong second priority.
  • The need to slow traffic down has been identified as a priority (vehicular traffic was rated last) 

Discussion: Sarah described the past GCA work on height and character, and invited attendees to provide additional input directly to the City and to the Capital Ward councillor, Shawn Menard. She also summarized the part of the motion that had been passed at the April 23, 2019 GCA Board meeting, and shared some comments that were made that evening about building height.


Carolyn provided some background to the Bank St. Height and Character Study and work that the committee has done on this. She reiterated that input could be provided directly to the City.


In response to questions:


  • Carolyn described the membership of the working group (i.e., representation from the GCA, City of Ottawa Planning Committee, developers) and said that they had met once to review the process. After receiving input (including from the GCA), the City will present the draft recommendations to the working group in May, and will then continue to refine them to present in June at a public open house. In response to a comment, Carolyn said she would be happy to pass on a name of someone to sit on the working group who would bring a heritage perspective to the conversations.
  • Carolyn confirmed that there is no change in the status of development on Bank Street (i.e., no moratorium) during this process.
  • Carolyn and Matt confirmed that they have not seen studies about the potential effect of densification on Bank Street traffic through the Glebe.
  • Carolyn clarified that the current zoning requires a two metre stepback after four storeys.
  • Carolyn clarified the traditional mainstreet exemption allows for a maximum of 15 metres (roughly four storeys). Elsewhere, it is a maximum of 20 metres (roughly six storeys).
  • Bill and Johanna said that there is only one heritage building on Bank Street – Abbotsford House. There are several more addresses being recommended for heritage designation. There may be some addresses at the north end of the neighbourhood that were once on the heritage list but no longer are (and we are not sure why). They clarified that to protect the area, the City would need to create a heritage preservation district.
  • Shawn said that this process is meant to give the rules ‘teeth’ and to bring certainty.
  • The ‘transition’ zone would allow for mid-rise, middle-type housing (which is currently needed). At the south end of the Glebe, a ‘transition’ zone already exists. At the north end, Chamberlain is currently zoned as “arterial”, which permits more than six storeys.



Comments presented at the meeting included:


  • The Glebe was not identified as needing more densification.
  • The height recommendation resulting from ImagineGlebe should be used.
  • Height should be kept as low as possible, and the Glebe should be treated as a whole neighbourhood (not split).
  • We should not be reconsidering the current four-storey limit.
  • The City should not allow exceptions to the current four-storey limit. The GCA should continue to fight any additional exceptions that are given.
  • We should ask the City why the limit was changed from six to four storeys in the 1980s.
  • The motion presents a strong position for the GCA, proposing a conservative position relative to the position of developers.
  • We should be preserving the traditional mainstreet nature of Bank Street in the Glebe.
  • The proposal strikes a balance of preserving the character of the Glebe and enabling the creation of affordable housing that could help to address the housing crisis in Ottawa.
  • Laneways help to mitigate parking issues, and serve as psychological breaks.
  • Accommodations above shops should be maintained.
  • As most of Bank Street in the Glebe is two storeys, a stepback should be required after two storeys.
  • The GCA should be aspirational in asking for what we want.
  • The requirement for sunlight is not just for sidewalks but also for people who live in buildings on Bank Street.
  • There are going to be additional development pressures, and it may be strategic to find places where we could compromise.
  • Developers have already received a lot; we should not compromise any more.
  • The GCA should wait for the City’s proposals before passing any resolutions.
  • Housing near the 417 could be a public health issue.
  • There should not be tall gateway buildings at entrances to the Glebe.



As a result of the discussion, friendly amendments were made to add two ‘whereas’ clauses:


Whereas the City of Ottawa’s planning staff stated at a February 23 open house about this study that, “the Glebe is a vibrant traditional main street… we don’t need further intensification in the Glebe, the density is already here;


Whereas the Glebe has a Traditional Mainstreet zoning exception where buildings are to be a maximum of four storeys, but is characterized by primarily two storey buildings and includes many laneways that create a particular cadence to the street;


The motion was also amended slightly to divide it into two parts instead of three:


  • Zone A: ‘village’ zone – from Pretoria to Holmwood – a maximum height of four storeys
  • Zone B: ‘transition’ zone – south of Holmwood and north of Pretoria – some flexibility on greater height be offered, to a maximum of six storeys, to provide a transition to the village zone.



Vote 1: Zone A


(Carolyn / Jennifer) Carried


Vote 2: Zone B


(Carolyn / Josh) Carried


Accordingly, the Board agreed to remove the reference to buildings above six storeys in Part 2:


  • To better establish pedestrian scale, any building up to 6 storeys should provide a more meaningful “step back” of a minimum of 2.5 m after the 3rd storey (current TM zoning calls for step back of 2 m after 4th storey). For buildings above 6 storeys, the building step back should be a minimum of 4 m.






The meeting adjourned at 9:15 pm. (Jennifer / Rochelle)