First Home Owners Move in at Former Ottawa Rockcliffe Airbase

New developments along the Ottawa River
Home owners moved in at Rockcliffe airbase
The first home owners have moved in in October 2017

The first people have moved into their new home at the former Rockcliffe Airbase grounds, now known as “Wateridge Village at Rockcliffe”. Stumbling over superlatives, we read on the website:

Celebrating both the legacy of the former Rockcliffe Lands and the brilliance of modern urban design. Visionary and masterful in scope, Wateridge Village will be home to design-forward residences, retail and office space, unparalleled amenities, beautiful parks, trails and so much more.

“Design-forward residences”? “Brilliance of modern design”? “Celebrating a legacy”?

plan of Rockcliffe airbase
It is hard to figure out the latest version of the plan, but this appears like it is the one. The photos are taken in the yellowish area in the bottom left of the plan. The little green square inside that area is the playground.

Rockcliffe Airbase

The Rockcliffe air base, close to downtown Ottawa, was declared surplus by the Department of National Defence in 1984 and official closed in 2009. The Canadian Lands Corporation  acquired the base from the Department of National Defence. CLC ceased exploratory work on this project in 2007 on what to do with the property due to continuing land claim negotiations between the Government of Canada and Algonquins of Ontario First Nation (AOO).

The airbase from the air. The houses have disappeared already, but the driveways are still visible.

There is another airbase in Ottawa, near the McDonald-Cartier airport:

It shows you how it more or less looked like when you look at Elizabeth Park at Ottawa’s international airport

CLC and the AOO, in collaboration with the Government of Canada, reached a Participation Agreement for the Rockcliffe lands in 2010.  That agreement set the stage for CLC to acquire the Rockcliffe site in 2011. Other than a financial component, the agreement also calls for work experience for First Nations, input from First Nations on several matters and design and co-op work terms or for summer students. You can read the agreement here.

The area were we took the photos of the first redevelopments

The base from ground level:

Airbase photo credit: Alex Luyckx
Avro circle
The AVRO might be at the bottom of Lake Ontario, its name lives on. For now.

Sustainable community

The area is about 310 acres or 125 hectares and should eventually be a sustainable community, with green space, mixed housing (single, detached, mid-rise and even some high rise) and will include a main street, parks and schools.

The playground is ready to go.

Last week, I visited friends who live close to the base and we walked up from Lang’s Road to see the first houses. The photos underneath only show perhaps the first 5- 10% of the development: it is currently a mix of detached, semi-detached and a few row houses (4 max). For my European readers, it also shows you the several stages of how a house is built here.

Note that some mature trees have been saved. Ideally, before everyone buys two cars, you already want to have a bus going through the neighbourhood as soon as possible, although Montreal Road is close for part of the hood.

When walking through the new neighbourhood, we talked to a gentleman who asked if we wanted to buy his house, as he was disappointed how close together the houses were built. 

New house being erected
The walls appear to be built with 2″ x 6″. Our 1965 home was built with 2″ x 4″‘s so thicker walls than in the past. The roof line is somewhat Tuscany European villa style.
Asphalt shingles to cover the roof. Our own house has light grey shingles to reflect the sun. We never run the airco in our 1965 house. Shingles last anywhere between 10 and 25 years. Note how much space the garage takes on the ground floor. wouldn’t you want to have a nice late afternoon sun lit room there? The view from the house on the street is minimal. That is unfortunate as ‘eyes on the street’ make a neighbourhood safer.
Foam panels are being added. Walls are usually stapled together on the spot, other parts are prefab (such as roof trusses sitting in front and on the left of the house) from a factory and are lifted to the higher levels by crane.
Semi detached and row houses
Semi detached and row houses
Avro circle today. A bike and pedestrian path will wrap around the ditch and connect with Lang’s road and on to Montreal Road.
The south end of the airbase near Lang’s road. The water will flow north towards the river eventually. Somewhere in the plans is a waterfall. Note some of the trees on the base have been saved.
The straw along the banks of the ditch are held down by what feels like plastic, but are biodegradable, or so the packaging says.
The straw along the banks of the ditch are held down by stakes that feel like hard plastic, but are biodegradable, or so the packaging says.
A close up of some of the finishing materials

While this may look very much like a typical suburban neighbourhood (and is no different from what is built in Barrhaven), ultimately there should be a mix of housing and even a main street shopping area. I am guessing that plans might change over time depending on market conditions. What is being built now is not really cutting edge if I put it mildly.

I wonder what type of retail can be expected: while everyone dreams of Glebe like street scenes, the retail landscape is changing rapidly and unless it will have somewhat of an attraction beyond the airbase, I think it will be a struggle to survive as a retailer. I expect retail services like dentists and lawyers to move in and perhaps a local pizza or shoarma joint.

Hans

Presentation:

See a presentation (large PDF)

3 Comments

  1. Thanks Hans…your observations are appreciated. We are a long way from building sustainable communities in this country. As a French Royal Algonquin Métis, I cannot begin to tell you my continued disgust at colonialism and the corruption it breeds. Canada Lands Inc. and the ‘fake’ Algonquins of Ontario continue to exploit our land, people and culture. Contrary to what they say and publish, there is nothing here for the Algonquin people, just more of the same disrespect and disregard for honesty, honor, culture, land and human beings. May life teach them a few lessons of morality and ethics.

  2. Hi Hans, just wanted to point out that in the picture of the house being constructed with pink walls. You labelled this as “adding insulation” but in this case the house is being built with insulated foam panels in place of the normal wood sheathing. These foam panels are good for R5 insulation value.

    See this video about how it is done: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U9YXT-KebFI&list=PLqWl6B9kfu7UuctBdes5ISEieKIOp-jSD&index=2

    Also, cranes are normally used to lift up the roof trusses and roof materials.

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