Will Amazon Fulfill Economic Aspirations for East Ottawa?

Amazon’s first fulfillment centre (FC) was a modest 93,000 sq. ft. warehouse built in 1997 in Seattle, Washington where the company started 3 years earlier (a fulfillment centre is a 3rd party, in this case Amazon, logistics warehouse where incoming orders from ecommerce vendors are received, processed and shipped). The company has been aggressively expanding its fulfillment space over recent years in proximity to population centres to meet growing demand for fast delivery. Today, Amazon operates 6 FCs in Canada, 2 in the Vancouver metropolitan area (Delta and New Westminster) and 4 in the Greater Toronto Area (Mississauga – the first FC in Canada opened in 2011, Milton, and 2 in Brampton). Another 2 FCs are to be added – one in Balzac just outside Calgary, Alberta to be completed in Q3 2018 and one in Ottawa scheduled for completion by Q3 2019. Continue reading


Trading Tim Hortons For Cummings Store: Revitalization of Vanier’s Traditional Main Street

During the latter half of the 19th Century and until about 1920 Cummings Island was a vibrant commercial hub on the Rideau River between Janeville (one of three settlements that eventually formed Eastview which later became Vanier) and Ottawa. When the City of Ottawa bought the island in 1923 and built a new bridge bypassing the island slightly north of it, the store was moved to a new location now occupied by Tim Hortons at the intersection of Montreal Road and Vanier Parkway. The new site was to become the entry point for what was to be Eastview’s downtown and Vanier’s traditional main street and French Quarter. Continue reading

Three New Homeless Shelters in Three Canadian Cities, Three Different Approaches and Outcomes of Community Engagement

The announcement of a new emergency shelter in a neighbourhood, perhaps more than any other land use, most often leads to emotionally charged opposition from residents concerned about rising crime, falling property values and the overall decline of the community’s quality of life. Such opposition is often described, usually by shelter supporters and civic advocates, as Not-In-My-Backyard or NIMBY reactions. Of course, NIMBY responses are not just limited to emergency shelters – they are widespread to almost any new type of development in established communities such as a high-rise condominium building or new alignment of truck routes (think bridge over the Ottawa River). Continue reading

Salvation Army’s Proposed Emergency Shelter in Vanier: A Community Hub or Community Fortress?

There is a very brief reference on pages 16/17 in the planners’ November 14, 2017 report dealing with the proposed Salvation Army shelter in Vanier to a subject matter known as Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design or CPTED. Simply stated, CPTED focuses on the proper design and the effective use of the built environment or form that can lead to a reduction in the fear and incidence of crime and an improvement in the quality of life. As I noted in my previous blog, the fear of increased crime is a main concern of communities with respect to homelessness. Continue reading

Homelessness, Crime Trends and the Fear of Crime in Rideau-Vanier

There is one common issue underlying community opposition to the presence of homeless or homeless shelters in a neighbourhood in any city in Canada – the fear of rising crime. The level of fear also appears to be correlated by the size of shelters and/or the concentration of homeless people in a community. Such concerns about community safety are often expressed in terms of undesirable or illicit behaviour most commonly associated with homelessness – loitering, panhandling, trespassing, petty theft, burglary, public intoxication, drug dealing, prostitution etc. From a business owner’s perspective, the concentration of homeless in a commercial area potentially drives customers and tourists away and adds to business costs for things like security and cleaning. Continue reading

Was the Planning Act Used as a Stratagem in the Case of Vanier and the Salvation Army’s Proposed Shelter Complex?

It was over 50 years ago when Jane Jacobs wrote in her famous The Death and Life of Great American Cities published in 1961 that “cities have the capability of providing something for everybody, only because, and only when, they are created by everybody.”

Following the lead of Jane Jacobs, the City of Ottawa prides itself as being a leader in community engagement and community building. One of the strategic directions in the City’s Official Plan is “building liveable communities”. According to the City’s web site, the Plan

proposes to create more liveable communities by focusing more on community design and by engaging in collaborative community building, particularly in and around the Mixed-Use Centres and Mainstreets that have a great potential for growth.”  Continue reading

The Salvation Army’s Vanier Development Proposal: Who is the Real Applicant?

When applying for amendments to the City’s Official Plan and/or Zoning Bylaw, applicants are required to submit several technical reports as supporting documentation which are then used as part of the review on the part of appropriate City staff (not just planners). These documents include, for example, environmental site assessment, transportation/traffic impact, geotechnical investigation, building elevations and site plan and, planning rationale. Document requirements can vary depending on the complexity of the application. All of the technical documents for the Salvation Army proposal are made available to the public on the City’s web site. Continue reading