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Highrise complex pitched for Carling Travelodge site

Planning rationale for development includes proximity of LRT stations that haven't been approved

City councillors on Ottawa's planning committee will vote next week on a plan to replace the Travelodge Hotel on Carling Avenue with a highrise development that would include three buildings taller than 20 storeys — more than twice the height currently allowed in the area.

Holloway Lodging Corp. wants to redevelop a stretch of land it owns on the south side of Carling, between Merivale Road and Kirkwood Avenue, which includes the Travelodge and a parking garage. The property used to include the Talisman Hotel, a modernist structure built by Bill Teron that the city's urban design panel pleaded with councillors to save, but it was torn down earlier this year.

The plan calls for 900 units in three highrises of 20, 22 and 20 storeys along Carling, plus two more eight-storey buildings on the south side of the site, next to single-family homes. As many as 2,000 new residents could move into the area.

'Let's not kid ourselves'

Coun. Riley Brockington concedes the plan has been improved since its inception. It now includes a 1,424-square-metre public park along the western edge of the property, to be added during the second phase of development. The owners have also promised to incorporate an existing Japanese-inspired pavilion — formerly a steakhouse — into the park.

Still, Brockington isn't impressed with the application.

"Let's not kid ourselves, this is a large development," he writes, under the "Comments from the ward councillor" section of the report.

"Local residents are not opposed to development, nor are they opposed to development at this location. They oppose the sheer height of the buildings and quantity of expected new residents."

Last year, council approved another highrise redevelopment for the site of the current Westgate Shopping Centre, across the street from the Travelodge property, leading some critics to argue the local transportation network cannot support the planned intensification.

What future LRT stations?

Under city planning policy, Carling Avenue is known as an "arterial mainstreet," which usually call for maximum height limits of nine storeys.

However, councillors can consider higher buildings in special circumstances, which the city's planning staff is recommending in this case.

One rationale for the extra height? The property "meets locational criteria for intensification and highrise development" because it is within 600 metres of two future LRT stations, at Carling and Kirkwood, as well as one at Carling and Merivale.

But those future LRT stations are purely theoretical at this point. A Carling light rail line has not been approved in any way. According to the city's current plans, a Carling LRT could be in the works sometime after 2031.

This proposal has taken longer than usual to wind its way through the city's planning process. The owner has already appealed the zoning because the city has not made a decision within the prescribed 120 days.

If the planning committee approves the current proposal at is meeting next Tuesday, staff would ask Holloway to withdraw its appeal.

Site Plan Application Rationale

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