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”?
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).
I received several requests for a map of the old base. I found this document (above) but I do not recall where I found it unfortunately.
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 base from ground level:
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.
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.
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.
See a presentation (large PDF)