Former CFB Rockcliffe base redevelopment approved by City of Ottawa committee (Andrew Foote, CBC News)

The City of Ottawa's planning committee has approved the redevelopment of the former CFB Rockcliffe air force base just east of downtown Ottawa.

The plans by Canada Lands Company Limited (CLCL) would bring around 5,500 housing units to the property. 

Most of the buildings would be six storeys or fewer, but some mixed-use buildings would be as tall as 20 storeys near Montreal Road and the Sir George-Étienne Cartier Parkway.

About 30 per cent of the 125 hectares of land would be protected, according to the plans, including the area around an approximately 200-year-old oak tree.

POTENTIAL TRAFFIC ISSUES ON RADAR

Rideau-Rockcliffe Coun. Tobi Nussbaum, whose ward includes the area, said the plan was "visionary" and would be the biggest of its kind since amalgamation — but would only be a success if properly realized.

"The key to success here is we have to make sure that people have options to take transit, to get on their bikes, to walk places," he said in an interview.

"If not, and this is important, it's going to exacerbate existing transportation problems. So transportation is key. It could be the Achilles' heel if we don't implement properly."

Ottawa-Vanier Liberal candidate Mauril Bélanger, the incumbent MP running in the riding, was one of the speakers at the committee.

After praising the developers' work, Bélanger asked for a change in the height for some buildings to preserve the sightlines of people living nearby.

He also requested sprinklers in every building, a sculpture garden to honour the Algonquin, and a long-term care home on the property for for aboriginal veterans.

In an interview, Bélanger said he wants to ensure the development is a sustainable jobs creator and doesn't become a place where people live but work elsewhere.

"If there were not a substantial number of jobs it would be a bedroom community and it would jam (traffic) circulation everywhere in the morning and in the afternoon," he said.

"It has to become a sustainable community, one where the environment is a prime consideration. And it is becoming that."

When Kanata South Coun. Allan Hubley asked who would pay for the long-term care home, Nussbaum said a funding request was in the works for one focusing on homeless veterans.

CLCL officials told Hubley that Ottawa builders are "adamantly opposed" to sprinklers in single-unit homes as opposed to multi-unit buildings.

FIRST RESIDENTS ON TRACK FOR 2017

Construction could start in a matter of months, said CLCL officials. The first residents could move there in 2017 and the redevelopment would be completely finished in 15 to 20 years, they said.

 Officials told planning committee that buses would connect the area to future light rail stations at St. Laurent and Blair.

Barrhaven Coun. Jan Harder, the committee's chair, said she would ask the National Capital Commission for direct access from the site to the Sir George-Étienne Cartier Parkway.

The former airforce base was bought by CLCL in 2011. Before the land could be developed, CLCL had to reach a deal with the Algonquin, who had a land claim on the area.

This proposal will still need to be approved by city council.

Source: CBC News