Warning...this is me at my grouchiest.....
Progress in Kitchissippi?
For many Ottawa residents, it feels like we are losing our neighbourhoods, one painful death at a time. This thought struck me as I came across a bulldozer, demolishing yet another house in my neighbourhood in Kitchissippi ward. As with a long illness, I had known the end was coming. The beautiful home, in the middle of a treed lot, had been sold a while back. We all knew it would go, but to see its actual destruction...well it felt like a deathbed scene.
I had the same feeling a couple of weeks ago, while walking along Byron Avenue behind the former Visitation convent. We knew that Ashcroft, the developer, would be killing that huge willow tree. It was doomed, just like all the living things on that block. Even with the knowledge of its impending demise, I was shocked when I first saw the huge pile of rock that now sits in its place. Future historians will find it hard to believe that west end Ottawa had a beautiful, ready-made park at the convent site and allowed it to be destroyed for the erection of condos.
This is a sad time to be a resident of Kitchissippi ward. It’s hard to know which is worse: the destruction of perfectly fine houses or the erection of condo after condo along Wellington Street and Richmond Rd., resulting in the loss of many independent businesses that cannot afford the astronomical rents. With this new status as a hot neighbourhood, comes traffic gridlock and the largest tax hike in the city.
When we returned to Ottawa, in 1988, we selected our neighbourhood because there were plenty of big trees, front and back lawns for families to play in and porches where folks could socialize. The solid brick houses were all about the same height and size.
Now, all of us who want to remain here live in fear of our neighbours putting up their homes for sale. They are bought for the lot, not the house. Builders raze the original house, fill the entire lot, build within 4 feet of the property line, put up a 3 story, flat roofed double, cover it in corrugated steel, add a roof top patio and then....look down on the single, 2 story, sloped-roof brick home beside them, blocking their sunlight and invading their privacy.
Although we are now called West Wellington Village, it is less like a village every day. There is less opportunity for folks to interact because new home owners pull up to their front yard garages, and disappear inside their gigantic houses. It’s hard to have a conversation with your neighbour if he is looking down at you from his roof top patio.
There seems to be no sense of vision, no regard for our quality of life. Yet most people grumble quietly, without protest to their elected officials. Why are we being so polite as our city is being transformed into something we hardly recognize?