The Next Step Forward for the Booth St. Complex

Newly installed fencing on the southwest corner of the Booth St complex. This portion will be the first to be developed to create a new city park.

By Sue Stefko
(Appeared in the Glebe Report, February 2020)

The Booth Street complex site has seen much more activity in recent weeks than it has in many years. In December, Canada Lands Company retained contractor Demolition Plus to complete remediation work in preparation for future land sales to private developers. Fences started going up around the property, with staging activities continuing to take place. While the actual work had not begun at the time of writing of this article, actual remediation work is set to start in late January or early February and is expected to continue until approximately November 2020.

A number of things will occur as part of that work. The buildings will be stripped down to the exterior brick walls, and all hazardous materials will be removed by the contractor, who will also be responsible for replacing the roofs on the buildings that have a recognized heritage status from the City. Most of the buildings on the site will be retained as part of this City designation, while three are planned to be fully deconstructed/removed. Buildings being fully retained include 550 Booth, 552 Booth, 562 Booth and a portion of 568 Booth, 405 Rochester, building E and the Central Heating Plant (which includes the iconic smokestack).

Canada Lands Company has included a waste diversion program that anticipates a minimum of 85% of construction material being diverted from landfills, including concrete, brick, steel and glass, which will be re-used or recycled. On completion of the building deconstruction, site remediation will be performed, including removing the subsurface soils contaminated through the prior use of the property, including fuel research and storage.

With this work underway, Canada Lands Company is preparing to begin its marketing program to the development community this spring. The eventual purchaser(s) will be obligated to respect the various commitments made during the rezoning process.

While much activity, both on and behind the scene, will soon be underway, actual construction won’t begin before 2022. Even after a developer is found, a number of studies are required as part of the developer’s site plan approval process. These have yet to be determined but may include a transportation impact assessment, environmental assessment, wind study, landscape plan, parking plan, etc. A developer’s site plan must go before Canada Lands Company, the Urban Design Review Panel, and city planners for approval before obtaining building permit(s) for construction.

However, there is one part of the development that is expected to be able to move out faster than the rest – the development of the small city park at the south end of the property. CLC intends to have another public consultation this spring, where it will confirm what local residents want to see in their new park – including play equipment, park amenities, fencing, colour schemes, materials, etc. Based on this feedback, Canada Lands intends to construct the park and have it accessible to the public by the end of 2021.

Some question the viability of this ambitious plan, which encompasses 6.5-acres and one million square feet of new development – a number of condominiums in the area have been approved by the City but have not proceeded due to insufficient demand. Mary Jarvis, Canada Lands Company’s Director of Real Estate, is more optimistic. The site is unique in Ottawa and is often compared to Toronto’s distillery district. She points out that the surrounding area is changing quickly, which is exciting to see, and she is confident that people will want to live here. While time will tell, the site seems to be garnering much attention and has captured the imaginations of many Ottawans in the nearby neighbourhood and beyond.

Photos: Katherine Constantine, Canada Lands Company

Activity on the Booth St Complex – workers, trucks and staging materials on site in preparation for remediation work.