I just read The Herald’s Weekender edition and I wish to comment on two articles involving the Ottawa Planning and Codes Department.

Kudos to Wynndee Lee and her staff, as well as Ottawa Fire Chief Jeff Carner, for their efforts in developing a self-inspection checklist for use by owners of the buildings in our historic downtown area. Lee, her staff and Carner are friends of mine. I know their values; I know the quality of their work. It is top drawer.

Having said that, in my opinion, a self-inspection checklist won’t work. It won’t work because the inspection is to be done by the owner. If the owner gave a hoot, the building would be maintained. You don’t need a checklist to have a leaking roof repaired. You don’t need a checklist to know when your wall is losing bricks. What you need is a set of values to protect your investment and neighbors, a telephone to call for repairs and a checkbook to pay for it.

Sorry, guys. In a previous opinion letter to The Herald, I advocated for an inspection system. I really think the only way it will work is if it is mandated, regularly scheduled and enforced.

The other article on which I want to comment concerns the rezoning of the church property at Ninth and Main streets. A potential purchaser of the property wants to take down the church and replace it with a grocery/liquor store.

I was a sitting Ottawa planning commissioner when the rezoning of this property was considered in 2009. For a number of reasons, which are a matter of record, that application was turned down.

The corner where the church stands, plus two other residential parcels on Main Street, were included in the 2009 application. In the interim, the church has been maintained; the residential properties have been ignored. They continue blighting the neighborhood. This week’s Herald did not mention whether or not those residential properties were included in the current application.

Whether they are or not, their existence and condition speaks to Planning Commissioner Jack Maxwell’s concern about mixing newer commercial entities with established residences along the Main Street corridor. I hold that this is a valid concern when those residences are maintained. However, when they are ignored and not maintained it seems prudent to let entrepreneurs restructure the corridor. To prevent the existence of residences that are about to fall down, develop an inspection system with teeth and put a stop to it.

Whatever. It is too late for those homes adjacent to the Ninth and Main corner.

 Face the facts. Ninth and Main is a commercial corner. I strongly encourage the planners and the Ottawa City Commission to approve the rezoning, improving that corner while providing easier access to a grocery market for that segment of our city.

 

— Richard Warren,

Ottawa