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Deal will allow NCC to build embassy row in Mechanicsville

A sign posted outside the lands west of Downtown Ottawa that the National Capital Commission is proposing to turn into a row of embassies. April 5, 2021. (Ian Urbach/CTV News Ottawa) A sign posted outside the lands west of Downtown Ottawa that the National Capital Commission is proposing to turn into a row of embassies. April 5, 2021. (Ian Urbach/CTV News Ottawa)
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A row of embassies will soon be built in Ottawa's Mechanicsville neighbourhood.

Ottawa council approved a settlement with the National Capital Commission to allow the crown corporation to use green space near the Sir John A. Macdonald Parkway for new embassies.

According to a motion approved by council, the future embassy site will have no more than "five principal buildings", parking will be encouraged to be built underground but surface parking will be allowed if its concealed by, or within, buildings, and there will be a new pedestrian corridor.

Under the deal, 24 per cent of the site will remain as greenspace, according to the Mechanicsville Community Association.

The settlement between the NCC, the city of Ottawa and the Mechanicsville Community Association ends more than three years of debate over the proposed Embassy Row in Mechanicsville. 

The city's planning committee approved rezoning in 2021 for the proposed embassy zone, but council rejected the rezoning application.  The NCC filed an appeal with the Ontario Land Tribunal, arguing council didn't follow provincial planning rules for the area.

Kitchissippi Coun. Jeff Leiper told council there will be some "significant disappointment" in the Mechanicsville community over the settlement, but asked council to endorse the settlement.

"I believe it is the most prudent way forward and there are a number of significant gains for the community that I think I can celebrate, including the creation of a much larger park space than the NCC had proposed and some significant new active transportation infrastructure," Leiper said.

In a statement, the Mechanicsville Community Association confirmed it signed an out-of-court agreement for a settlement on the 3.7-hectare piece of land for the embassy precinct.

"We are pleased to see that the NCC is respecting our community’s desire to keep the greenspace north of LaRoche Park as parkland," MCA president Lorrie Marlow said.

"The principles of settlement are in line with the parkland vision set out in 2014 when we develop and endorsed the Scott Street Community Design Plan."

The association says the agreement comes after more than a month of "intense negotiations" with the NCC, and the May 1 tribunal hearing will be cancelled

"Communities like ours are cash-strapped and having to raise $40,000 or more to pay lawyers and experts is a big burden on our working-class residents," Marlow said.

It's not known what countries will occupy the new embassies.

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