For several years The Kilmorie Heritage Society (KHS), has been looking for a way to protect this special property at 21 Withrow Avenue. We have also been lobbying the City of Ottawa (City) officials and Councillors for City funds towards this project, to no avail. In late January, City officials met with KHS and advised that they would be prepared to hold a vote seeking approval for a special levy for the communities to purchase the property. The actual vote on the levy would be administered by the City between February 24 to March 13, 2020 and would be limited to one vote per household.
The City calculated what they considered the costs for purchase and maintenance of the property and determined what amount property owners would be required to pay, if they choose to purchase it. City staff prepared a report for the the Finance and Economic Development Committee (FEDCO) for approval and this report was then forwarded to Ottawa Council and approved at its February 12, 2012 meeting.
A summary can be found on this link:
The Kilmorie Heritage Society arranged for a mail-out to all residences, with the help and support of our local MPP, Jeremy Roberts to publicize a public meeting to be held February 6, 2020.
Members of the KHS acquired additional publicity – including the Ottawa Citizen, CBC, CFRA and CTV.
Based on the community feedback that we are receiving we have compiled a list of FAQs regarding the proposed levy.
Stay tuned for more answers to your questions as we continue to receive feedback.
1) Why is the levy amount so high?
The City indicated that an average home in our area is valued at $400k, according to the MPAC. MPAC property assessments are used to calculate property taxes. To calculate the levy amount, the City of Ottawa uses the property evaluations for all houses, and also includes residential and commercial developments. On average, the levy would increase property taxes by $13.32 a month. The KHS is asking the City to provide further information on the MPAC values for the commercial properties to ensure the initial calculations are accurate. MPAC assessments are public information.
2) Will the levy amounts change?
The City has noted – “Should the levy values prove to be insufficient or too high, staff will report back to City Council and request that the special area levy be adjusted accordingly.”
In fact, the KHS anticipates that the levy amount or duration will decrease. There are many grants available through all levels of government and we will actively pursue them. Although we did apply for some, we were rejected because we did not yet own the facility. We have received positive support from our provincial and federal representatives.
We have also received some donations from interested Ottawa citizens and organizations and will continue to pursue additional funding, throughout the levy period.
The City is still collecting ‘Cash-in-lieu of Parkland’ fees when development occurs and allocates 40% of these funds to the Ward and 60% to city-wide projects. Our Councillor Rick Chiarelli has agreed to allocate some Ward cash-in-lieu to this project. He will also help us lobby for allocation of some of the City wide funds towards this project. This cash- in-lieu program is scheduled to end January 1, 2021, and collected funds may have to be dispersed. Perhaps we could be benefactor in this dispersal.
KHS has also received a number of ‘in kind’ donations. These include personal commitments from citizens to donate time and/or expertise to maintain the property. These donations will help to offset the City’s expenses at a much lower rate.
3) Why were Crestview/Meadowlands and Ryan Farm included in the catchment area?
To minimize the effects of the levy for all residents it was decided to create a catchment area that would include the extensive local commercial properties on Merivale Road and Woodroffe Avenue. Since commercial property taxes are much higher and tax rates are nearly double the residential rate, it was hoped that the burden on all residents would be reduced. The KHS was unaware of what the individual levy amounts would be until just prior to the City staff report to the FEDCO, in February.
There is a close association between the Ryan Farm, City View and Crestview/Meadowlands communities. Since both City View elementary schools were closed, our children attend schools across Meadowlands Drive, and we are all friends. We lobbied to support the reconstruction of Crestview outdoor pool, and to preserve the NCC lands to the south – as we consider these communities as part of our neighbourhood.
City View, Crestview/Meadowlands and Ryan Farm share many of the same issues – Merivale Road, boarding houses, student parking on our streets, traffic and speeding, extensive infills and intensification, cut-thru traffic and lack of a community building.
Unlike other communities in Ottawa, there is no community centre anywhere in the catchment area for meetings or programs for our children, adults and seniors – no place for residents to come together. We also lack a community paper and communication.
4) Why is it important to vote YES?
All residents should take the time to visit 21 Withrow Avenue to experience the special feeling that this property exudes. The grounds and historic stone house are very unique. With this property, residents will acquire BOTH a beautiful passive 2-acre park and also a valuable historic building for their community centre.
By acquiring ownership or control, our Communities will be able to ensure that this pristine property will remain as green space. If the City of Ottawa does not have assurance that the Communities are prepared to provide the necessary funding for the acquisition of this property, the developer will remove over 100 mature trees and replace these trees and the beautiful gardens with an 13-house private subdivision development. These grounds are one of the few green spaces left in our area that can be preserved. Once it is gone, it can never be replaced!
This is an important issue for the entire area (not just residents in the immediate proximity to this property.) Our communities have been encroached and eroded by expanding commercial and high-rise development along the Merivale Strip. Algonquin College has rapidly expanded to encompass its entire property with buildings and parking lots. New developments are planned at Merivale Mall and St. Julian of Norwich (old St. Richard’s) church. We cannot afford to lose any more green space in the heart of our community. As the density and traffic in our communities increases due to intensification and infill development, permanent protection of this property will guarantee much needed green space. It will protect some quality of life for current resident families and for generations to come.
The benefits of green space are well documented and far-reaching. Proximity to green space benefits our mental and physical well-being. Green spaces help reduce pollution and provide habitat for wildlife. Yet, our Merivale sector has been identified in City reports as deficient in green space, and well below the provincial standards of 2 ha. per 1,000 residents and City of Ottawa targets of 4 ha. per 1,000 residents.
This catchment area is locked between major roads and vehicular routes, pavement and parking lots and extensive commercial development. The trees on this property help to mitigate the effects of the extensive traffic in our area by reducing the overall concentration of greenhouse gases. A tree can absorb as much as 48 pounds of carbon dioxide per year, and can sequester one ton of carbon dioxide by the time it reaches 40 years old. If these 100+ mature trees are removed over 4,800 pounds of carbon dioxide per year will not be absorbed.
Trees also clean the air by removing particulates. They contribute to our environment by providing oxygen, improving air quality, climate amelioration, conserving water, preserving soil, and supporting wildlife.
5) What will the house be used for?
This home has so much cultural heritage and history that it should be preserved for our enjoyment and for future generations. It was built in 1842 for William Scott, and is one of Ottawa’s oldest surviving stone houses.
Also, a renowned Confederation poet, William Wilfred Campbell, lived there in the early 1900’s and he named it “Kilmorie”. The Poets Pathway has put a plaque on Colonnade Road near Campbell’s beloved Kilmorie, that details one of his poems, ‘Down the Merivale Road’.
The farm was eventually divided into roads and garden lots in 1913 and today, the house sits on only 2.1 acres of land. It was bought in1951 by Dr. J David Roger, a well known cardiologist/internist and radiologist. Dr. Roger and his family lived there for over 60 years.
The house, with all its grandeur, will be used as a Community Centre for residents of City View, Crestview/Meadowlands and Ryan Farm. Every resident will become a member. Members will have special privileges and discounted prices for events held on Kilmorie Estates.
6) What are the benefits of Kilmorie?
- Save a piece of Ottawa’s heritage, Canada’s heritage
- Gain a park and gardens, access to nature and peace
- Gain a Community Centre with welcome, room, and events
- Gain a meeting place
- Gain meeting rooms for our communities
- Gain a library
- Enjoy and/or work in heritage gardens
- Contribute to Community Centre planning
- Add to the monetary value of your home
- Add lustre and dignity to Ottawa’s arts
- Involve Algonquin students
- Involve new Indigenous programmes
7) What is the Kilmorie Heritage Society (KHS)?
KHS is a not-for-profit organization. It was incorporated in March 2019. It has an Executive Board of eight members. Its Executive Members include citizens from around Ottawa and representatives from the Poet’s Pathway, Heritage Ottawa and the City View Community Association.
KHS was formed when it was realized that interest and importance in the preservation of Kilmorie went well beyond the immediate area and saving it would benefit the entire City, and, because of its historical importance, the entire Country.
The purpose of the organization is the acquisition and preservation of Kilmorie Heritage Estate, located at 21 Withrow Avenue, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.
The Kilmorie Heritage Society will manage and operate Kilmorie Estate in agreement with the City of Ottawa. Community members’ input and suggestions will be welcomed.
8) Important Facts
- When a Special Levy is used, the City of Ottawa must buy the land and thus own it
- The Kilmorie Heritage Society will manage it. They will seek input from the residents, if the levy is successful and approved
- All residents will naturally become members and the heritage house will be OUR community centre.
- The rental of facilities to outside people/agencies would produce some revenue.
- Any additional building in this area, (such as infill and new businesses on the west side of Merivale etc.) will decrease the debt of the levy.
- If the debt is decreased through grants, revenue donations, or the addition of more taxable properties, the levy amount per household will be adjusted.
- Commercial properties in this catchment are contributing to the cost. They pay a higher rate than the residential properties
- The Operating Levy is the projected cost of running the house as a community centre. However, there have been no actual contracts or arrangements worked out with the City. We need to own this property before we can present a Business Plan. This levy should be decreased through revenue opportunities.
- The Provincial and Federal Governments have many different grants to bring a dwelling up to City standards for public use and for the Arts. There are also heritage grants. And the City of Ottawa has Arts grants and community grants. Again, these cannot be accessed until the property is purchased.
- Jeremy Roberts, our MPP, has shared his support. Our MP, Anita Vandenbeld, has been very enthusiastic with her support and has also looked into grants for us. Again, the City must own it.
- The vision and ideas for programs and events that all may enjoy are numerous.
- We have been working with the Nepean, Rideau & Osgoode Community Resource Centre (NROCRC) situated in Emerald Plaza. They have many grants, especially focused on seniors. To access this partnership, we need a place to run these government sponsored programs. We understand that this levy will be a financial burden for many, but we hope that the benefits of a community centre and access to resources will alleviate some of the burden. We will work tirelessly to bring down your costs.
Please send any more questions to: firstname.lastname@example.org