A controversial waterfront development in Brownsburg-Chatham will not be happening—at least not in the format it was originally proposed.
On December 1, council voted to completely halt the planning and approval process for the project that had been given second reading and approval by council on November 3. That project proposed the construction of six, semi-detached dwellings with four dwellings in one building and two dwellings in an adjacent building at lot V fronting the Ottawa River on property near the corner of Route des Outaouais (Route 344) and Montée Vachon.
The municipal zoning by-law states that the minimum lot width for one house is 150 feet and that a single house must be on a minimum lot size of 43,000 square feet. The proposed development would have placed 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.
The property is zoned for residential development and is designated for urban uses.
The proposal had led to many complaints from nearby residents, and opposition from Councillor Stephen Rowland, who represents the area.
Council had planned to use a loophole in Québec planning policies that allows municipalities to bypass local planning and zoning laws. The policy is called Réglement sur les project particulieurs de construction, de modification ou d’occupation d’un immeubles (PPCMOI)—a regulation for particular changes to construction, modification, or occupation of structures. Brownsburg-Chatham approved the use of this policy to encourage local development in 2019. Council approved the PPCMOI for the proposed Ottawa River development on October 6 even though the Comité consultatif d’urbanisme (CCU) — the local planning committee had rejected it.
However, Québec municipal laws also allow for residents near a proposed development to register their names and force a referendum on a project where neighbouring voters decide if it should go ahead. In an effort spearheaded by Rowland, 79 signatures were gathered for the registry, and that number alone led council to decide to halt the project without it going to a referendum.
If the developer is still interested in constructing the project, they will have to prepare an alternative plan that conforms to existing zoning by-laws and planning policies.
At the November 3 council meeting, Rowland had been refused permission by Mayor Catherine Trickey to ask questions and speak against the proposed development. In response, Rowland contacted the Québec municipal affairs department. The department requested that Trickey apologize to Rowland, which she did at the December 1 meeting.
“Monsieur Rowland, excuse me, I am very sorry,” said Trickey.
“I accept,” responded Rowland.