Written Submission to
City of Ottawa Planning and Economic Development Committee (26th October 2000)

Approval of the proposal for the Head Quarters building of the Canadian Medical Association
(N.W. corner of Smyth road and Alta Vista drive)

I am a longtime (28 year) resident of the community and a director of the Faircrest Heights Community Association. The CMA proposal calls for the construction of a multi-storey building with a total floor area of 224,000 sq. ft. of office space. The construction is to be carried out in two phases, the first half to be started immediately, with the other half being completed sometime in the next five years.

One inadvertent result of the recent regional traffic study in the area, has been the compilation of just how much development is being proposed in and around the General Hospital campus. The total is more than two million square feet of additional of space. The table below shows a summary of the projected developments in and around the General Hospital campus over the next ten years.

Canadian Medical Association HQ
(N.W. Corner of Alta Vista and Smyth Rd)
224,000 sq. ft.
CHEO & Research Institute 168,000 sq. ft.
General Hospital and Eye Institute 240,000 sq. ft.
Life Sciences & Technology Park, Office & Laboratory; 370,000 sq. ft.
National Defence Medical Centre replaced by office/labs/clinical/retail;
approx. 1,000,000 sq. ft.
Ottawa Children's Treatment Centre 46,500 sq. ft.
Regional Cancer Centre 85,000 sq. ft.
Rehabilitation Centre 27.400 sq. ft.
Rideau Veteran's Site
Office: 60,000 sq. ft.
Residential: 117 Units.
Retirement: 121 Units.
University of Ottawa Educational & Laboratory: 66,000 sq. ft.

Earlier in the year the committee sentenced the community to an unwanted and unnecessary office/residential complex with its approval of the Canada Lands project for the former Rideau Veterans site, with the comment from two members that the project would be "good for the community". No one who lives in the community can identify a single scintilla of benefit to anyone - except the self perpetuating crown agency Canada Lands, and whichever developer is lucky enough to do the construction.

This was particularly galling because the site is crown land (in which all taxpayers and voters have a stake), and it should not have been disposed of without a careful consideration of the public interest issues involved.

We now discover that this project was just the hors d'oeuvres. The entrée is going to kill our quality of life completely. It seems that we can now look forward very soon to weekday construction going on from dawn to dusk . Unless the necessary additional roads are in place, there will be cement trucks and other noisy heavy equipment, puffing out mushroom clouds of diesel soot with every gear-change, chugging back and forth along Smyth Road and Alta Vista Drive, and this will continue for possibly ten years!

The proposed CMA building is a big part of the new development and I understand that it alone will bring in (eventually) 650 new employees with their cars and their needs for housing. Few if any will come off the city welfare rolls - they will be drawn in from other areas, likely outside the region. The same will almost certainly be true for all the other new employees who will be working in the two million square feet of new space. We can therefore look forward to more developments like the Hunt Club/Conroy road in the vicinity, spilling traffic through our community .

The lions share of the new development is on crown land, but most of it is health- related and it would be difficult to argue that it is not in the public interest. The CMA building however is another matter, it is the headquarters for the physicians advocacy group. The Canadian Medical Association is of course primarily concerned with promoting the professional and financial interests of physicians across Canada. The new building will not therefore be a facility dedicated to the public interest. However, since the land is privately owned, the argument cannot be made that this should be a factor in the approval process, nevertheless, the impact on the community in terms of traffic and street parking at the very busy intersection of Smyth road and Alta Vista drive, should surely be a factor.

Without new roadways, the traffic study shows that when all the new development is in place, we will then see the rush-hour traffic on those two existing roads increase from the current sixteen hundred cars per hour, to an estimated forty six hundred per hour, or about three cars every two seconds.

Today we are in a situation where a committee is being asked to approve a major project which will clearly exacerbate the existing traffic and parking congestion in the surrounding communities, when it has only a few days left to serve, and with the future development approval process largely undetermined.

Under the circumstances, I submit that the proper course for the committee now is to put a freeze on the approvals of any of the development in the table above, until the new administration (with a new mandate and a new modus operandi), has had a chance to review the recommendations of the traffic study, chief among which is the putting in place of new infrastructure, primarily roadways which will be adequate to cope with the traffic.

If approval for this project is granted in haste, it will create a precedent and tie the hands of the next committee by triggering a green light for all the other projects to go ahead, with no commitment to budget for the necessary infrastructure.

Plans for infrastructure to cope with traffic and street parking must be made, with funding attached, as a sine-qua-non before any of the above development is approved!

Quentin Bristow