A possible waterfront development along the Ottawa River in Brownsburg-Chatham is receiving opposition from one local councillor and others in the community.
On October 6, Brownsburg-Chatham council approved bypassing existing planning laws for a development on vacant land fronting the Ottawa River near the junction of Route 344/Route des Outaouais and Montée Vachon. It would include six semi-detached units composed of two buildings on a 250-foot-wide property. One building would contain four units and the second building would contain two units. According to the by-law, the minimum lot width for one house is 150 feet. Municipal by-laws require that a single house must be on a minimum lot size of 43,000 square feet. The proposed development would place six dwellings in two buildings on approximately 250,000 square feet of land, including the portion that is underwater. Additionally, zoning laws do not permit semi-detached homes on the riverfront.
Under Québec planning policies, municipalities are permitted to approve developments that bypass local planning and zoning laws. Brownsburg-Chatham approved the use of this policy to encourage local development in 2019. Council approved the proposed Ottawa River development even though the Comité consultatif d’urbanisme (CCU) — the local planning committee had rejected it.
“I just think it ruins the waterfront,” said District 6 Councillor Stephen Rowland, who was the only councillor to vote against the development, and was shouted down by other councillors during the meeting when he spoke in opposition to motion to advance the project.
“Council total totally disregarded the advice of the CCU,” Rowland said.
Under Québec law, a municipality can create a registry for residents within the vicinity of a proposed development to sign and request a referendum. Rowland is planning to make this request at the next Brownsburg-Chatham council meeting on November 3.
“I will do everything I can to stop this,” he said.
Rowland has notified all neighbouring property owners in writing about the proposed development and has urged them to support his request for a referendum registry.
Council had a special meeting on October 13. Rowland said that he again voted against the proposed development at that meeting when council approved proceeding with the next step in the planning process. He also alleged that the town did not give adequate public notice of the meeting before it was held.
The municipality held a public consultation on the proposed housing on October 22 that was attended by approximately 20 people. According to a source who was at the meeting, someone complained that the proposed development would make the Ottawa River shoreline in Brownsburg-Chatham look like St-Sauveur. The Laurentian resort town is home to many densely developed residential areas.