Column: What's going on with Dickinson Square?

As many of you know, there is a Zoning By-law Amendment proposed for the properties in Dickinson Square, which include the Ayres Building, Weaver House, Dickinson House, Carriage Shed, and the property at 1131 Clapp Lane.  We have scheduled a meeting to discuss the proposal for August 2 at the Manotick Arena from 6:30 to 8:30pm.  I will elaborate further on the proposal shortly.

I first need to address a disappointing newsletter than was issued recently by the Manotick Village Community Association.  Unfortunately, the MVCA did not verify any statements and released a newsletter which implied several things which are just not accurate in any way whatsoever.  First, they stated that I was in support of the zoning amendments being put forward.  In reality, I have neither supported nor opposed the amendments as we have yet to hold a public consultation on the matter.  As promised to the MVCA at their June 12 AGM, I am hosting that meeting on August 2.  In fact, I directly stated at that AGM that I would NOT support a change the community was not in support of.  Secondly, the newsletter refers to a 5 storey building.  Again, this is inaccurate.  The current zoning sets a maximum of 11 metres which is a 3 storey building and the proposed amendment goes one storey higher to 13.5 metres.  Now, let me explain the rationale behind the proposed zoning amendments.

To begin with, the mandate of the Manotick Mill Quarter Community Development Corporation includes the following: “Upon transfer of properties from the City to the MMQCDC, the Corporation shall repay to the City all costs associated with acquisition and holding ($2.44 m) and enter into a heritage easement agreement.”  This was approved by City Council in 2009 and to date; staff are working under that direction.  This previous Council direction and subsequent MMQCDC mandate has led to this proposed amendment and, as I did in May, I’m coming back to the community with a public meeting to discuss and obtain feedback.

The zoning amendment can really be divided into two parcels; the heritage properties and the Clapp property.  The heritage properties (Ayres Building, Weaver House, Dickinson House, and Carriage Shed) could see a change in allowable uses only.  This change would be consistent with the Manotick Secondary Plan, which was approved prior to amalgamation.  That Secondary Plan “seeks to establish commercial tourist and heritage type uses relating to the Watson’s Mill demonstration museum and surrounding area in order to create a more dynamic mixed-use environment for this central core area of the Village”.  Therefore, the zoning amendment for the heritage properties seeks to expand the uses within the buildings to reflect that statement.  There are no proposals to alter the exterior of the buildings.  The only alterations that could be made are set out by the pre-existing heritage designation and no changes are being made to that.  Furthermore, the MMQCDC has put in place a “public access easement” which protects all the space in between these buildings to ensure their ongoing use for the great public events that take place in the Square.  If approved, the permitted uses of the heritage buildings would include bed & breakfast, small batch brewery, artist studio, community resource centre, restaurant, museum, etc.

The amendment to 1131 Clapp Lane would allow for the same uses as the heritage properties and would also include a maximum gross unit area of 1291 square feet.  This will place restrictions on the size of commercial space inside any potential building.  The intent is to focus on boutique type commercial entities in keeping with the feel of the village.  The biggest change, of course, is the proposal to allow for a higher building, from 11m to 13.5m, or 4 storeys instead of 3.  The rationale behind this can be derived from the mandate of the MMQCDC which is to seek a return on the original investment, as directed by Council in 2009.  In essence, increasing the value of the Clapp property could lower the required return on the heritage buildings.

As Councillor for Rideau-Goulbourn and Chair of the MMQCDC let me be clear, I am not currently supporting it or opposing it, I am asking for your input on these proposals.  If you are unable to attend the August 2 meeting, feel free to contact me by email or phone or come out to the events listed later on in this column and let me know your thoughts.  This issue is no different than the Dickinson Street issue.  You overwhelmingly supported the two way status quo version of the street and it will, therefore, remain as such. Please do not hesitate to contact me on this important issue.

North Gower Farmers' Market Celebrity Cook-Off

The North Gower Farmer's Market will be hosting a Celebrity Cook-Off Challenge on August 4th which will pit Mayor Jim Watson and CTV Ottawa News anchor Carole Anne Meehan against yours truly.  Each team will be working with ingredients provided by Market vendors.  We will each be paired with a local chef, namely; George Ebrahim, a retired chef who is a favourite of customers to the Market for his middle eastern fare; Steve Moffatt, co-owner and head chef at the Marlborough Pub and Eatery and, coincidentally, my brother; and Pam Collacott, a local cookbook author. I’m told communication skills and a sense of humour will be definite assets so I’m hoping this serves me well in my attempt to become the North Gower Farmers’ Market Top Chef!

The challenge gets underway at 10:00 so come out and cheer us on. Of note, my brother is being paired with the Mayor so I’ll have the satisfaction of defeating the Mayor and my brother all at the same time.

The market is also pleased to support the sale of “Buns in the Oven” cook book by Pam Collacott that day.  All of the proceeds from the sale of the books will be go to the Buns in the Oven, a prenatal nutrition program for pregnant youth.

The North Gower Farmers' Market can be found in the Big Red Barn in the village of North Gower.  This authentic country market has more than fifty vendors selling everything from produce, meat and eggs and all kinds of homemade baking to cutting boards, pottery and jewellery along with a great café offering both breakfast and lunch.  The Market is located at 2397 Roger Stevens Drive and is open from 8:30 to 1:00 every Saturday until Thanksgiving.  For further information please visit our website at www.ngfarmersmarket.com  or call 613-489-9794.

Watson's Mill Quiz Night

On Tuesday, July 31, The Mill Tavern's Quiz Night starts at 7pm, with all event proceeds to the Watson's Mill "Raise the Roof" campaign.  This is a great activity for adult family members, team building in the workplace, or just a fun time with your friends and neighbours! Great people, great atmosphere, and LOTS of great prizes! I have being going to the Mill Tavern trivia night for a year now and I can tell you it is a lot of fun.  My team has also finished first the last two months so come out for a fun, friendly competition and try to take us down!

Please contact me at Scott.Moffatt@ottawa.ca or by phone at 613-580-2491 should you have any concerns, comments, or inquiries.