Several residents have asked us about the status of the “village green” for the Fernbank area. Here’s the latest status:
In city planning, a “village green” is defined as “a civic gathering place and passive public open space for residents.” (To get a better sense of what a village green can look like, you can visit Kavanagh Green which is located at the corner of Stittsville Main Street and Hazeldean. This blog post from Stittsville Central has a picture of the area.)
The land located between the Trans-Canada Trail and Bobolink Ridge along Robert Grant Avenue is made up of several parcels, and all are zoned “AM” for Arterial Main. This zone is meant to permit a broad range of uses, from high density residential to commercial. The Fernbank Community Design Plan (CDP) – the master plan for the area developed by the City of Ottawa – does not specify what should be built on these lands. It could be all commercial, or all residential, or a mixture of both.
The City can permit and prohibit certain uses but within what is permitted, the City cannot compel a landowner to build one specific thing. As the different landowners bring forth their plans for the land, the City planning department will make sure that enough space is dedicated to the village green and that plans to that effect are included in the applications.
At this point, one parcel (closest to the Trans-Canada Trail) is owned by Lépine Apartments. Lépine is planning to build a residential complex made of several apartment buildings. So far there are no applications for the remaining portions.
So far none of the property owners have submitted plans for the kind of low-rise commercial and retail space that residents of Fernbank are hoping for. I have seen promotional material by homebuilders in Fernbank Crossing showing greenspace and retail for that area, but no one can compel the owners to build specific kind of amenities within a certain timeline. These promotional materials are not exactly misleading but they only show a selective view of what is possible in that location.
So far Lépine is the only landowner who has submitted a plan for their property. I have encouraged them to include local retail service such a coffee shop, hair salon, fitness studio, etc. however they still have not finalized their plans.
In summary: the space for the village green is guaranteed but the timeline is uncertain. Local retail and services would be a real benefit at this location, but there are currently no plans for this from any of the landowners, and no timelines.
In my opinion, this part of the Fernbank area should have included land zoned either exclusively for neighbourhood retail, or with a requirement for neighbourhood retail on the ground floor with housing on top. That was a real miss in the 2009 master plan. To not have any local shops or services developed in this central part of the community would be a lost opportunity to create a more walkable and healthy community.