The longstanding community effort to preserve 21 Withrow Avenue as a community centre and green space will soon hinge on a vote by area residents.
The lushly-treed estate property includes Kilmorie House, a historic home designated in 2016 under the Ontario Heritage Act.
The City of Ottawa has mailed an information letter, ballot and prepaid return envelope to all property owners in the City View, Crestview/Meadowlands and Ryan Farm neighbourhoods.
The move follows a City Council motion passed on February 13 which sees area residents voting on the prospect of a special community levy allowing the City to purchase the property from developer Theberge Homes. The developer has been granted zoning to restore Kilmorie House and build an additional 13 infill homes on the surrounding property.
Built in 1842, Kilmorie House one of Ottawa's oldest stone houses. In 2016, Heritage Ottawa supported the designation of Kilmorie House ’including enough surrounding land to provide adequate setback and context.’’
The City View Community Association and Kilmorie Heritage Society (KHS) have undertaken considerable community effort to find ways of preserving both the house and its lush property for public use as a community centre and municipal park.
The KHS has requested money from Ward 8's "Cash In Lieu" fund, which is specifically identified for parks and greenspace within the Ward. Cash In Lieu is a fee paid by developers upon severance of lots. Forty percent of the fee remains in the Ward fund, while sixty percent goes to the Central fund for all of Ottawa. Money from these funds could be used to help offset the final cost for the property's acquisition by the City of Ottawa.
Joan Clark, president of the City View Community Association and the KHS, has said it's important to protect the property because it’s “the last green space in a community that has the second-lowest ratio of homes to parkland in the city of Ottawa.”
“Once green space is gone, it is gone forever,” she said.
The special levy for properties inside the catchment area would begin in 2021. The annual levy amount for purchase of the property is anticipated to be approximately $128.43 per year for the average home in the area, with an additional $7.85 per $100,000 of 2019 assessed value anticipated for operating costs.
Heritage Ottawa continues to support this community-driven initiative.
UPDATE: Ballots were counted on March 13 and the City Vew Community Association reported a disappointing result: 199 in favour, 1,298 against.
The clear-cutting of the property in preparation for the sub-division construction was underway by April.
For more information about the potential purchase and estimated levy, visit the City of Ottawa website page.
Planning Committee Recommends Approval of New Subdivision at Historic Nepean Estate | Heritage Ottawa, Nov. 15, 2019
Heritage estate to make way for infill in Chiarelli's ward | CBC News, November 14, 2019
‘A devastating day’: Nepean residents upset historic Ottawa property cleared for subdivision | Global News, November 14, 2019