Former Domtar lands: Ottawa on-side with Windmill

18 October 2014

Laura Mueller’s article in this week’s Metroland editions (page 27 of —  it’s not yet posted as a web article) sent me back to what happened on October 2 at Planning Committee.

Windmill came forward with its Official Plan and Zoning amendments for the Ottawa side of its planned “Isles” development on the former Domtar lands.

Five hours were devoted to this one item.

Rarely has Planning Committee seen 38 delegations opposed to a proposal, plus 72 written submissions, all pleading for respect for William Commanda’s vision of these lands.

It made no difference.  All Planning Committee did was make some technical amendments to the zoning proposal (if past practice held, these would have been proposed by staff itself — afterthoughts, or errors that didn’t get caught when the report moved forward; some Councillor is then asked to please move these changes…)

Joanne Chianello devoted her column on Oct 3 to what happened at Planning Committee, “Planning committee approves Chaudière, Albert islands rezoning despite objections” — Citizen published an article by Peter Raaymakers on Oct 5: “Fulfill Commanda’s vision at Chaudière” —  It was followed up by a letter from Cathy Remus, on Oct 9: “Free Chaudiere Falls, develop on LeBreton Flats” —

Again, it made no difference.  On October 10, Council endorsed Planning Committee’s decision.  From Council’s Agenda:





  • 42 delegations, 38 opposed, 4 in support & approx 72 submissions in opposition.
  • Approx 5 hours spent on receipt of presentation, public delegations, Q&A to staff and delegations, and Committee discussion / deliberation

CARRIED as amended by technical motion to details of recommended zoning.

Position of Ward Councillor: “Councillor Holmes is aware and supports the transformation plan for the islands and the Zoning By-law and Official Plan amendments required to allow for the transformation plan to be implemented.”

Position of Adv. Ctee:  Not applicable


That Council approve:

1.         An amendment to the Lebreton Flats Central Area Secondary Plan to allow for a mixed-use community at 3 and 4 Booth Street (Chaudière and Albert Islands), as shown on Document 1 and detailed in Document 5;
2.         An amendment to Zoning By-law 2008-250 to change the zoning at 3 and 4 Booth Street from Parks and Open Space to a Downtown Mixed-Use zone to allow for a mixed-use development and Major Leisure Facility zone on new park lands, as shown in Document 1, detailed in Document 6 (as amended below), and set out in Documents 7 and 8; and
3.         That Document 6, Details of Recommended Zoning, be amended by:
i.          Inserting a new 3.b) as follows and renumber the subsequent provisions accordingly:

“3.b)   In Column III – Additional Land Uses Permitted add the text, “- marine facility, – post-secondary educational institution, – parking lots only permitted to provide accessory parking to permitted uses, – a standalone parking garage is only permitted if at least 75% of parking spaces are located below grade and provides accessory parking to permitted uses”

ii.         By adding the text, to the newly numbered 3.d), “-Section 193 (2) does not apply to residential buildings, – the site is subject to the maximum number of parking spaces permitted provided in Table 103, – At least 50% of the provided parking is to be provided below grade.” following the text, “In Column V, add the text,”.


For an extract of the draft Minutes of 2 Oct 2014 (showing the names of all the intervenors), go to that Agenda of Council of 10 Oct —, scroll to Item 11 and click on it.  Then click on the PDF icon for “PC Minute Extract.” (You may also get there by using the link in the extract above.)


Expect a similar process soon for official plan and zoning changes on the Gatineau side.

Comment:  What a defeat for Jonathan Westeinde’s strategy. His company has been consulting with the Algonquins of Ontario but that such a huge delegation showed up in opposition demonstrates that there is another stream of opinion that has remained untapped. Putting the blame on the feds (Diane Holmes: “They should have bought the lands”) does not absolve the City either; instead, it shows that our municipal government is there simply to facilitate development; it cannot handle vision.  Rhetoric notwithstanding, these plans have all the looks of a development like anywhere else, be it one with lots of feel-good environmental features (on One Planet principles).  We will eventually be able to view the Chaudière Falls, however, be it distorted by the dam.

John Almstedt is the designated GA contact for this development.


P.S.: The other heritage attached to these lands — Ottawa’s industrial past — was documented by Bruce Deachman in a long read (with lots of pictures) in the Citizen of August 28 — .  On Oct 5 that theme was picked up by Randy Boswell (now teaching at the Journalism School at Carleton) — .


18 October 2014


On January 26, 2016 the Greenspace Alliance sent a letter to federal Ministers co-signed by the Ottawa Field-Naturalists’ Club and the Ottawa Valley chapter of CPAWS.  Go here for more.


October 19, 2016

Lindsay Lambert, a historian, wrote a letter to Ellen Fry, ombudsperson for the National Capital Commission, detailing the history of the Chaudière islands.  Conclusion: They all remain Crown lands, transfers to the private sector have all been special-purpose leases.

January 2017

Dominion Magazine published an article entitled The spirit of Asinabka rises as Algonquin First Nations assert land rights in Canada’s capital city, by Debra Huron with lyrical text by Albert Dumont:

Jason Arbour posted Kana:tso Mohawk Indian Reserve, Chaudière Falls to Unpublished Ottawa, providing documentation for the existence of an Indian Reserve in Hull in the 19th Century:

For more information, visit