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Decision on 2 Lonestar Plaza towers expected in January

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City of Ottawa staff have been asked to report to the Planning and Housing Committee by early next year with a decision on whether two towers will be built on Baseline Road, across from the Central Experimental Farm.

The proposed project at 780 Baseline Rd. includes three towers, but while staff have approved building the first tower, the second and third, which would be 24 and 32 storeys, have been paused for further analysis on the potential effects their shadows could have on the research farm across the road.

"Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada stated that Towers B and C in Phase 2 will have a significant detrimental effect on the ability to carry out research on those plots of farmland in shadow," a staff presentation to the committee said.

Marie-Claude Guérard, assistant deputy minister of AAFC's corporate management branch, told committee that the federal department was happy that there would be more study on the possible effects of the second and third towers.

"We do not have the same concerns about the first phase of the development, which we believe will only have a minimal impact on the farm," she said. "Our concerns will always be rooted in the impact of any future development on the integrity of our research activities, which remains at the core of our work at Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada."

Guérard said AAFC remains open to work with the city and other parties to find "creative solutions" that facilitate increasing housing supply while protecting the farm's critical role.

The applicants said they hoped to have all of the towers approved, but are willing to work with staff on the second phase of the project.

"We are disappointed that staff are still assessing the shadowing impacts," said Miguel Tremblay with Fotenn Consultants. "We'll continue to work with staff… I would encourage the committee to approve the zoning bylaw for Phase 1."

Joey Theberge, of Theberge Homes, said the original construction timeline was to begin construction of the second tower by 2027, but any pause would interrupt that.

"By holding Phase 2 and 3 back, I believe it is delaying me," he said.

A motion moved by Coun. Catherine Kitts called on staff to present their recommendations for Phase 2 and 3 no later than the Jan. 31, 2024 meeting of the Planning and Housing committee for consideration.

Committee approved the motion and the approval for the first tower at the site unanimously. It will rise to city council on Dec. 6 for final approval. 

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