New 1010 Somerset development preserves Plouffe Park

The City of Ottawa's final concept plan for the 1010 Somerset development (small version).
The City of Ottawa’s final concept plan for the 1010 Somerset development. Click on the image to see a larger version.

This story was updated May 16 to include comments and information from Somerset Ward Councillor Ariel Troster. Look for comments from community associations in separate story shortly.

Alayne McGregor

Plouffe Park will be preserved in the revised City of Ottawa concept plan for the empty area near Somerset and Preston.

The new 1010 Somerset plan places the new École Louise Arbour school in the middle of the development, between Plouffe Park to the east and the new one-hectare sports field to the west. The French-language public school will be just north of the new Ottawa Community Housing (OCH) Gladstone Village development.

A three-storey recreational and cultural facility will be built on Somerset Street West, just west of the current Plant Recreation Centre. Plans also include a childcare facility, an artists’ hub, and a district energy plant.

Further west on Somerset residential buildings are planned, possibly also replacing the current commercial buildings there. The concept plan shows both a high-rise and a mid-rise building.

The new plan can be seen at https://engage.ottawa.ca/1010-somerset. The city promises a virtual engagement session over Zoom for the public to comment on the new plan, but has not yet given dates and or how to register.

It went live May 15, just as the latest issue of The BUZZ was being delivered by our printer. The city had presented the plan earlier to stakeholders, including the École Louise Arbour school council and the P4X Coalition of community associations for their comments.

The previous 1010 Somerset draft concept plan (summer 2023) (Hobin Architecture)
The previous 1010 Somerset draft concept plan (summer 2023) (Hobin Architecture)

Previous revision meant Plouffe Park lost to the community for almost a decade

The initial draft of the plan, released last June, placed the new school in the current location of Plouffe Park, with the park lost to community use for almost a decade. This prompted strong opposition; 1,260 people commented on the Engage Ottawa page.

The first plan was eventually withdrawn, and city staff were told to conduct a full review with the issues raised by residents taken into consideration.

Somerset Ward Councillor Ariel Troster praised the revised plan as “quite an elegant solution.”

“After a year of really thoughtful intense public consultation, I am thrilled to see a new plan that I think represents the best possible plan for this site for the community at large and also for the children who will be attending Louise Arbour school.”

She said she thought the plan met “as many of the concerns as possible. … It’s a relatively small piece of land with a huge number of demands on it.”

School access a stumbling block

On the Engage Ottawa page, staff said that there were “insurmountable functional and operational issues with placing all buildings in the north half of the site to preserve the park corridor in the southern half.”

Instead, the new school will be placed between the current Plouffe Park and the new sports field. Troster said this would allow the students to use the park at recess, and use gyms in the recreation centre.

A new lane from Somerset to Oak Street will only allow bus access to the school. The plan also includes a drop-off area for parents on Oak Street which staff say will minimize “traffic impacts in the area.”

Next steps

The next step in the process will be an amendment to the city’s Official Plan to support the concept plan and federal government requirements. Troster expected that by the end of 2024 or early 2025, followed by site plan approval for different sections of the project. She said the top priority was approval for the school location and access, so the French public school board could go ahead with its planning.

Troster said there would continue to be consultation on the detailed plans for the recreation centre, park/greenspace, housing, and site access. The concept plan will determine where the elements are placed, she said, “but everything else can be worked out in detailed design. And there will be detailed consultation, constant consultation for every component. The parents will be working with the school board to design the school that they want.”

In the works for years

The city bought the land – adjoining LRT Line 2 from Somerset Street West to Gladstone – from the federal government in 2021 in an agreement that required that 70 percent of the site be allocated to “public uses” and that 150 units of affordable housing and 150 units of market-rate housing be built there. The land had previously contained federal storage and warehouses.

OCH was allocated the southern part of the tract for Gladstone Village, which will eventually include 1,100 new homes. Phase 1 near Oak Street is currently under construction.

The city’s Corso Italia Secondary Plan, approved in 2021, envisioned the northern half including a new 1.2 ha sports field, improved recreation facilities, affordable housing, and the new school building (replacing the current old and inadequate school facilities on Beech Street).

Other issues

One issue not mentioned in the new plan is that Plouffe Park is currently a temporary stormwater/flood retention basin to handle overflows during heavy thunderstorms. Previous plans had envisioned a new storm sewer eventually replacing this use.

It’s also not clear whether the primary target audience for the new recreation facility would be local residents or people from across Ottawa.

With many new developments now underway in Dalhousie or over the bridge in Hintonburg, Troster expected “in the range of 10,000 new residents moving into the neighbourhood” in the next decade.

Dalhousie is already the neighbourhood with the lowest proportion of green space per capita in the National Capital Region, she said.

See also

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