Report of the Planning and Development of the Lindenlea Estate, Ottawa
Ottawa, July 25, 1919
Source: City of Ottawa Archives, Ref no. RGI-3, File#1, Correspondence-Thomas Adams 1919-1920.
[page 1]To the Chairman and Members of the Ottawa Housing Commission.
I have to congratulate the Commission on the fact that they have acquired an estate so well adapted for a housing project as Lindenlea property, at a reasonable price.
The estate as regards natural features and proximity to conveniences of the city is probably the best that could have been purchased within the city boundaries. It will be somewhat expensive to develop in view of the presence of rock over a considerable part of the estate, and owing to the varied contours of the land, but by proper planning this expense will be reduced to the minimums.
In preparing the plan of development, I have endeavoured to avoid putting the Commission and [end of page 1] [page 2]the City to unnecessary expense for grading streets and cutting into rock, to utilize the land which is unsuitable for building on as pars of the street or areas or park area of the scheme. By doing this, the maximum area of good land can be included in the lots, and no expensive lots to develop. I have also given full regard to the need for pleasant surroundings to the homes and for provision for social life and recreation.
Area and Description of Property
I attach a map marked “A”, showing the area and boundaries of the estate and adjacent properties, and also the scheme of subdivision registered at the time of purchase.
The property comprises the square area having the following approximate dimensions on its four sides –
N. 980 F S. 990 F E. 975 F W. 925. F
The reputed area is 22.256 acres. The subsoil comprised clay and gravel, but shallow rock underlies a considerable part of the area. The site may [end of page 2][page 3]be easily drained and is exceptionally healthy in character and situation. There is much fine timber suitably located to enable it to be preserved for shade and beauty. The prospects of the surrounding country are especially fine. The undulations of the land afford scope for interesting and varied treatment of the lots as sites for buildings.
On the south side the estate is bounded by Rideau Terrace; on the west by Springfield Road; on the north by Maple Lane, and on the east by Lambton Road. Rideau Terrace is part of an important highway which extends from the Rockcliffe Driveway, near Government House, to the same Driveway at Victoria Cottage, near the Cloverdale Road terminus. It includes Acacia Road, Butternut Road, and Rideau Terrace, and is an irregular half circle following a ridge of land and a natural contour for a greater part of its length. Being an old highway, it has not been controlled as to its width and having regard to its present and future importance it is too narrow, being only forty feet in width.
On the other hand, it has the merit of following the contour lines, and has a better [end of page 3][page 4]position and alignment than most of the streets that have been artificially laid out. If it were widened to sixty feet, as it should be, this widening should be made by taking ten feet off the proportion on each side of the existing highway. With a view to the ultimate widening on the one side. This ten feet should be acquired by the city, and should be offered to them at 15 cents per square feet, which is value according to the price paid by you for the whole estate.
Springfield Road is also an existing highway which is designed to extend from Beechwood Road right through to Coltrin Road on the north, but at present stops at Mariposa Avenue. Springfield Road also is too narrow adjoining the property. It is desirable that this road should be widened to at least 60 feet, 10 feet being added from properties on both sides. It is proposed to ask the city to widen the road for 10 feet on the part of it which abuts on the Lindenlea property, and to [end of page 4][page 5]offer this land to the City Council at the low rate of 15 cents per square foot. If the City Council does not accept the offer to give the ten feel at 15 cents per square foot, they may ultimately have to pay twice this figure or over to acquire the land.
Maple Lane and Lambton Road should be opened up as soon as development is begun on the property as they will afford access to a considerable number of desirable lots.
Map “A” shows the streets which were proposed to be made under the original scheme of developing the property. This shows three parallel streets running from north to south between Springfield Road and Lambton Road and one cross-street (Montrose Avenue) parallel with Maple Lane.
The number of lots comprised in the proposed subdivision was l18, but most of them were of larger area than those now proposed. In view of the character of the buildings to be erected at the limit which is placed on the cost of the site for any one building, and also in [end of page 5][page 5a]view of the need to avoid extravagance in the form of long vacant frontages on paved and sewered streets, it is necessary to avoid making the lots too large.
The three north and south streets shown on the original plan would have served no purpose of through traffic that is not already served by Springfield Road and Butternut Terrace and as ordinary streets for domestic traffic would have involved a great waste of land. None of these streets would have helped to improve the traffic facilities of the district. What is needed for that purpose are diagonal roads across the property. One of the original streets would have passed across a piece of land with a steep escarpment involving a natural grade of 36 per cent and requiring about 2,000 cubic yards of rock excavations to have made it a practical grade of 5 per cent. The result of making this change in grade would have made very bad for building purposes.
It would have been better if the area could have been planned without being hampered by the existing registered streets of Maple Lane and Lambton Road. As however, a number of lots have been laid out, and some have been sold subject to these streets being placed as shown on the map, it has been [end of page 5a][page 6]thought unwise to suggest any alteration in their position because of the delay which would have resulted.
In considering the layout of this estate I have been compelled to have regard to some of the factors relating to the development and briefly draw attention to a few matters that need to be considered in connection with that planning of this portion of the city and of the part of the country which is comprised in the Police Village of Rockcliffe.
Extension and Improvement of Street Car Services
There is no immediate necessity for extending the street car service for the convenience of those who will reside on the Lindenlea property, although to some people it may be an objection that the property is situated eight to ten minutes walk from the nearest street car lines. It is obvious, however, that some extension of the street car lines will have to be made in the near future in the eastern part of the city and it is most desirable that this extension should be made in the direction of Rockcliffe, passing near to Beechwood Cemetery, for the convenience of the residents of the whole of the city. With the building of the new bridge at the end of St. Patrick Street an opportunity will arise for consider- [end of page 6][page 7]ing the proper lines for such an extension. Perhaps owing to the building up of this new suburb the citizens will begin to realize the great charm of the Rideau River on both sides of St. Patrick’s bridge and the misfortune to the city that more care is not taken in preserving the amenities on both banks of the river. Near this point the river is divided into two by Porter’s Island and takes the form of a lake admirably adapted for boating and bathing. The time must come when the island will be converted for some purpose more generally attractive than that of being a site for an Isolation Hospital and lumber pile, and when some park areas will be developed under the Improvement Commission along the western bank of the river. By this means an approach to the eastern part of the city and to Rockcliffe can be made in some respect even more attractive than the approach by Sussex Street, and a comparatively neglected portion of the city will receive its due share of attention.
When the car passes over St. Patrick’s bridge it takes a sudden deflection to the north and goes through New Edithburgh to the line of Rockcliffe cars. It is well known that the St. Patrick cars are always crowded in rush hours from the time they leave the city until they reach St. Patrick’s bridge, but that they thin out [end of page 7][page 8]considerably beyond that point. It might, therefore, be a proper suggestion to make to the Street Car Company and to the city, that there could be two alternative routes provided from the eastern side of St. Patrick’s bridge so as to split up the service at that point into two and thereby justify having additional cars running over the part of the route nearest to the centre of the city. For this purpose I think it would be desirable for a route to be provided along the valley which lies at the feet of the hill which is skirted by Rideau Terrace adjoining the Lindenlea property. It will be much cheaper to make a new broad highway for this purpose than to widen the existing Beechwood Road and I have indicated on plan “B’ the direction which should be taken for such a highway. I believe that land could be acquired and the highway constructed at a comparatively small cost and with enormous advantage to the city. If this were done the residents on Lindenlea and other adjacent properties would have access within a very few minutes of the new street car service, when the estate is completely developed it will have a population of 840, which will provide a considerable addition to the street car traffic on the eastern side of the city. This extension could either terminate at point X on the plan or link up [end of page 8][page 9]in a circular route with the Rockcliffe service as may be found most expedient.
Until this service is provided, or some alternative, the most accessible routes for the residents in Lindenlea to take would be existing service by St. Patrick’s Bridge. This is distant 917 yards from the centre of Lindenlea.
The other route would be by Rockcliffe which is distant 1817 yards from the centre of the property, and is, therefore, a few minutes more walk by more attractive approach. This route is also somewhat nearer to the northern entrance to the estate than the St. Patricks route. The layout of the estate has been designed to facilitate access to the Rockcliffe car route which is the best means of traveling to the city. The lots on the extreme eastern side of Lindenlea would be distant 1,000 yards from the Cloverdale Road terminus of the Rockcliffe car service which is also a very interesting approach to the most attractive car ride in and near the city.
In preparing the plan of the Lindenlea property regard has been paid to the shortening of the distance from the centre of the property to the street car lines. [end of page 9]
Plan of Estate
The main feature of the street plan of the estate is the diagonal route from Rideau Terrace to Springfield Road, running in a north-westerly direction. Had the Commission been in possession of a little more land on the eastern side of the estate some improvement might have been obtained in the line of approach from Rideau Terrace and a slightly more direct approach to the centre of the property would have been procured. By widening Rideau Terrace, and by entering the new diagonal road called Rockcliffe Way at the same place on Rideau Terrace as Lambton Road, the sudden change in the direction of route is counteracted by making the approach about 76 feet wide. Rockcliffe Way is 66 feet wide the whole of its length. It rises very gradually to nearly the highest point on the estate, has a natural grade of 6 percent and may be designed to fall at an easy grade of 4 per cent to the lower land going on for the greater part of its length on the level.
At a point on this diagonal road a junction is formed with a short connecting road to Rideau Terrace, called “Ottawa Way.” At this junction a view is obtained of the whole of the Parliament Buildings. It happens that on the west side of this short connecting road there is a [end of page 10][page 11]site admirably adapted for tennis courts and bowling green and it has been recovered on the plan for that purpose.
On the upper and northerly side of the diagonal road at the same point, a small park area on the side of the hill is proposed to be reserved, and also a site for a building to be used as an Institute and Library or Family Club erected on the highest point on the estate. From this building the view of the Parliament Buildings on the south and a fine open view to the north-west will be permanently preserved.
On the south-west of Rockcliffe Way there is a piece of land covered with good trees and partly occupied by a pool of water which is proposed to be retained as a children’s playground with a wading pool.
All the proposed three small open spaces on the estate, each reserved for a different purpose, are connected together to form one small park system. They are also intersected by Rockcliffe Way, which is the main road running through the property. Thus the main artery will be an attractive driveway, fringed with open spaces and trees. A considerable part of the land included in these spaces is not useful for building, either because it is too steep and rocky, or because it [end of page 11][page 12]is swampy in character.
At the northbound end of Rockcliffe Way a small square is shown. It is necessary to provide space at this point for the circulation of traffic as there are five streets converging upon it. With suitable treatment of the buildings facing this square it can be made an attractive feature in the approach to the estate from Rockcliffe.
The open spaces on the plan also include a triangular area forming an island in the centre of Rock. Avenue. The most part of this area is covered with an out-crop of rock. The cost of excavating this rock for building purposes would be excessive. By splitting the street in the way shown on the map it is possible to make provision for traffic, and to provide frontages for lots situated on good level land. Although not suitable for building, the rock is adaptable for a very interesting open space and should be specially treated as a landscape feature in the scheme. [end of page 12]
Summary of Open Spaces
The open spaces comprise the following:
(1) Tennis Courts and Bowling Greens ………………………………. 34, 580 sq. ft
(2) Park adjacent to proposed Library and Institute……….….. 19, 400 ¨ ¨
(3) Children’s play-grounds including
boulevard area between Springfield
Road and Rockcliffe Way (and wading pool)…………….….. 43, 700 ¨ ¨
(4) Small crescent area off Maple Lane ..…………..……..……. 3, 260 ¨ ¨
(5) Triangular area on Rock Avenue……………………………. 9, 880 ¨ ¨
(6) Small crescent off Rockcliffe Way………….……………….. 2, 994 ¨ ¨
(7) Open Space at entrance to estate………………………..….. 4, 920 ¨ ¨
118, 734 ¨ ¨
These open spaces have largely been arranged on the principle of using up land that is least suitable for building, some of which it would have been almost as costly to convert into building land as the land would be worth when converted. The site of the tennis courts and bowling green are good building land, but obviously a good level site is needed for recreation purposes. The cost of this site as well as other open space, is merged in the price of the lots.
In considering that the lots are fairly small in size, regard should be paid to the fact that about one- [end of page 13][page 14]eighth of the area is recovered for open spaces. It would not have been possible to have reserved land to this extent for recreation purposes has the streets been made in rectangular form and of the regular width of 66 feet. The design has been prepared in such a way as to comply with the provincial by-laws, but it is so arranged that a good part of the width in the secondary or least important reads will really form parts of the open spaces and not be wasted in unnecessary street area.
A street called Lindenlea runs from east to west along the foot of the ridge which traverses the estate. A diagonal street from the northeast to the southeast corner might have been of some advantage, but it would be undesirable to create two main traffic roads across the estate, introducing cross traffic which might become a danger to the residents.
If at any future time it is found desirable to widen the part of Lindenlea, which is less than 50 feet wide, there will be ample opportunity for doing so by encroaching upon the adjacent open spaces. In the registration plan of the area, Lindenlea is shown as 66 feet in width throughout, and a good part of its [end of page 14][page 15]length should be made as much as seventy or eighty feet if necessary.
In considering the absence of a diagonal road from the northeast direction, it should be remembered that Rideau Terrace is an old highway forming an easy grade and that any slight shortening of the distance which might be secured by diverting the traffic through the Lindenleas estate would have to be set against the facts that it would destroy some of the best building land at the southwest corner, that the grade would not be quite as good as Rideau Terrace, and that the inhabitants of the Lindenlea property would have to bear the cost of maintaining another main traffic road.
Rock Avenue at the top next to Lindenlea is 50 feet in width and at the bottom is 92 feet, but owing to the rocky central space this road really consists of two twenty-one foot roads with an open space in the centre of the fork which they form. It is proposed that these roads should consist of 16 feet of macadam pavement, with no sidewalk on the side next to the open space, and that they should have a sidewalk four or five feet wide next to the building lots. It is unnecessary in such roads to have provision for more than two streams of traffic, one standing and one moving, on both pavements. It is also unnecessary [end of page 15][page 16]to have any boulevard strip on the side next to the building lots, because all the natural furnishing needed by the street is provided by the central open space.
Lindenlea from the point where it leaves Montrose Avenue is 50 feet wide until the point where it deflects into three branches, two of which form Rock Avenue and one the continuation of Lindenlea. The continuation of Lindenlea is thirty feet wide, which should also have sixteen feet of macadam pavement, and one sidewalk.
There are three other narrow roads which require explanation. These are: –
(1) Park Drive, which to the north of Lindenlea can be widened at any future time to 56 feet. At present this portion of Park Drive is supposed to be twenty-one feet wide as in the case of other narrow streets. The upper portion of Park Drive to the south of Lindenlea is a private carriage drive 138 feet long leading to a small square on which the buildings will front, and where ample provision is made for the circulation of traffic. This will be a small private road used only for the purpose of leading to the houses erected upon its frontage
(a) Hillcrest is a narrow road twenty feet wide and 230 feet long, which forms an approach to three houses, and will only be used for the traffic leading to these three [end of page 16][page 17]houses, to the rear of the Institute. In this case no sidewalk is necessary, as it is really a carriage driveway forming a combined purpose of a driveway and a sidewalk leading to three houses only.
The crescent off Maple Lane is about eighty feet wide, but for traffic purposes consists of a driveway sixteen feet wide to permit of the passing of two vehicles with a sidewalk four feet wide next to the building lots. The total street area as at present designed for all purposes that will be necessary for the development of the estate is approximately 4.96 acres. In the original design for the development of the property, the area comprised in streets was 6.26 acres. In the plan now submitted the area included in the open spaces as summarized above, has been shown to be 118,734 sq. feet (2.73 acres). No provision was made in the original subdivision for open spaces. As against the 5.25 acres of the street space in the original plan there are therefore 7.69 acres of streets and open spaces on the plan now submitted. [end of page 17][page 18]One point that may be noted in comparing the original subdivision with that shown on the plan submitted with this report is the greater amount of frontage which is obtained in the latter without adding to the length of the streets. On the original plan very deep lots were shown fronting on Rideau Terrace. These lots has an average depth of 273 feet, and one side abutted on side streets. The whole of this side frontage was valueless, if not injurious, to the lot yet it represented and additional cost per lot of $2047.50 (at $ 7.50 a foot) for local improvements. On the plan submitted to you there are a number of corner lots but few of them have more frontage than can be appropriately used in the situation in which they are designed. Where practicable it will be desirable that these corner lots be occupied by pairs of houses instead of single dwellings and that they should be arranged obliquely between the two right-angular streets instead of having a straight frontage on either street.
Administration of Open Spaces and Proposed Institute
The question will arise as to how sites reserved for open spaces etc., will be financed and administered. As already stated the cost of these spaces has been merged in the price of the lots and therefore, [end of page 18][page 19]the residents on the estate are entitled to their full use. There only arises the question of responsibility for maintenance.
The ownership of the sites on all the open spaces might be vested in the city and dedicated to the use of the residents; or the Housing Commission might continue to act as trustees for the residents, pending the creation of a permanent trust or the transference of the open spaces to the city. The objection to transferring those areas to the city would be that it might be difficult to get the City Council to maintain the open spaces exclusively of the benefit of residents on the estate. On the other hand the residents would have a right to complain if the open spaces were made accessible to a large body of non-residents who had not contributed to the cost of the spaces; although the former would probably not wish to absolutely limit their use to themselves. On the other hand the Commission, which being the best body to take charge of the spaces, may not be able to get from the City Council exemption from taxation and unless they did so it would be a disadvantage for them to hold the land instead of the city. I would suggest, therefore, that the Mayor and Controllers should be approached to find out what would be the best arrange-[end of page 19][page 20]ments to make in the interests of the city, having due regard to the rights of the owners and the desirability of exception from taxation of the spaces in question.
Having settled those matters consideration might be given to the following suggestions:-
1. Tennis Courts and Bowling Green – The money which requires to be invested in leveling and planting the courts and green should be spent by the Housing Commission as part of the cost of developing the estate. A small Club House should be erected. Either the Commission or the City Council should then lease the Courts or Bowling Green to clubs of residents at a rental equivalent to the interest and sinking fund necessary to pay off the capital expenditure. These clubs should undertake to maintain the courts and green in good order.
An alternative would be to hand over the property on a lease to a club on condition that they under took the capital expenditure themselves, in which came a very nominal rent would involved the payment of taxes, the assessment should be based on the value of the land for recreation purposes and not on its building value.
I advise that the best course is for the Commission to lay out the courts and green before leasing [end of page 20][page 21] the area.
2. Small Public Park– This should be laid out with shrubs and walks and maintained so a small park area by the city or Improvement Comission and for that purposes should be handed over to one of those bodies on condition that they will maintain it.
3. Children’s Playground – Either a special Association of the residents should be formed to control the children’s playground by a Committee or else the Ottawa Playground Association should be invited to take over the management of the playground under some special arrangement.
Sites Reserved for Public Buildings
Two sites are suggested for public buildings; one for an Institute or Library or combination of both, on what is practically the highest elevation on the property. It is suggested that when the whole area is built upon the residents will desire to have a place of meeting for social and educational purposed. When the houses are all erected it may be time enough to consider by what means the capital is to be obtained to erect the Institute but for the moment the only important thing is to reserve the site in the right place so as to provide facilities for the erection of such an Institute if and when it is decided to build it. There [end of page 21][page 22]is no question that in course of time when the city is extended in an easterly direction that a branch library will be desirable in this neighbourhood. Some arrangement might be made to start a small library in the near future.
Near the site of the Institute provision is made for a special site in a low position screened by trees for a public garage. The public garage fulfills the same function as the tennis green in that it will help to make up for the comparatively small sizes of the lots. A tennis court or a garage are costly things to provide for each separate home. They may become comparatively cheap things if provided for a number of families in common. If properly situated they may be as convenient and useful as if privately owned, and if properly laid out and designed can be made ornamental instead of destructive of amenity. If any owner wished to erect his own garage he should not be prevented from doing so, subject to the submission of his plan to the Commission and to the suitability of his lots for the purpose. On the other hand some arrangement should be made to have a small garage for general use, established on the site indicated for the purpose, as soon as it was needed by residents, and portions of it rented out. It will be noticed that roads radiate in every direction from the proposed site [end of page 22][page 23] and that a court is left open in front of the proposed building.
No site is reserved for a school. Although it is well-known that Rockcliffe is peculiarly deficient in the matter of public school accommodation it is not considered that this site is the best one for the purpose. It may be desirable, however, for the Commission to approach the authorities in the city and the county with a view to have a school erected in the district under the joint management of the city and county for the benefit of residents on both sides of the city boundary.
Construction of Local Improvements
It will be necessary for the City Council and the Commission to co-operate in regard to the construction of local improvements. Some macadam roadways, sewers and water mains will have to be provided in advance of building operations. As will be seen from the accompanying map “C” the position at present is that Rideau Terrace is the only street fronting on the property which has pavement, sewer, watermain, gas main and electric wiring. Springfield Road has a rough pavement but no sewer or watermain. The sewer, water and gas mains extend up Rideau Terrace to along Butternut Terrace to the boundary [page 23 ends] [page 24]of the city. In regard to the extension of existing facilities, it is desirable that the expenditure of the city should be kept down to the minimum during the present summer consistent with giving facilities for every house that is erected this year. Having regard to the number of applicants for the sites there should be no difficulty in completing the whole of the local improvements on the property next summer, and having the whole of the improved frontage occupied by building. Certain suggestions are made on the map and are prepared with due regard to the importance of carrying out the work on the most economical lines. To do so, means that a definite and complete scheme for the whole area must be settled in advance but the work must be carried out in gradual stages.
As already stated Springfield Road and Rideau Terrace are only about 40 feet wide although they are much more important thoroughfares than any which will intersect the property. It is important that before further local improvements are laid down in these roads there should be a definite arrangement made with the city regarding their widening to 50 feet as recommended. Under the Ontario law it is necessary to plan every new road or street 66 feet wide without regard to its importance as a traffic thoroughfare or to any question relating to the height and [end of page 24][page 25]density of buildings. However absurd this rule may be it only becomes a real hardship when it applies to such as development as is contemplated at Lindenlea. If it were carried out literally on such a property it would add greatly to the expense of development without any useful purpose being gained.
Prior to 1918 streets could be laid out almost any width. The subdivision plans of streets abutting on the property were registered in 1906 and were not governed by the existing law.
Of the existing streets which are being retained Maple Lane is shown to be 50 feet wide and Lambton Road 60 feet wide. As a through thoroughfare Maple Lane is at least twice as important as Lambton Road. The former is in a direct line for through traffic between the extreme eastern and western parts of Rockcliffe, and latter is unlikely to be more than a street required for domestic uses. Had these two streets been laid out with due regard to traffic conditions, Maple Lane should have been 70 feet and Lambton Road 40 feet wide, if the present total width of the two roads is accepted as sufficient for both. On the other hand Rideau Terrace which is 40 feet wide should be twice as wide as Lambton Road, if the relative [end of page 25][page 26]degree of traffic likely to be carried out were the consideration.
Of course there is also the question that wide streets are required for the purpose of securing adequate air space between buildings. This again, however, is effected by the height and set-back permitted under building regulation. For two-storey buildings, such only as can be erected in Lindenlea, a street would be more adequate if made 24 feet, than 66 feet in streets where high office and apartment buildings are erected. This does not mean that 24 feet is enough, but that it is relatively better than 66 feet under certain conditions.
Unfortunately in Ontario we have not yet come to realize the interconnection between the different problems of land development in our legislation dealing with town planning. On Lindenlea, e.g. we are subject to the same rules that apply for office and apartment districts in the city or to potential office and apartment districts in the suburbs. One of the effects of this in time will be that the law will encourage denser and higher buildings for the purpose of paying for the excessive width of streets. This effect is already being experienced in Toronto where it is a contributory factor in the high price of land.
This question has a bearing on the cost of local improvements. Within the area itself I have endeavoured [end of page 26][page 27]to lay out the streets so as to provide adequate facilities for all probable future traffic and at the same time keep down the expense of construction to the maximum.
While the law of Ontario requires streets to be 66 feet wide it does not require them to be opened up or constructed in any special way so long as the area is reserved. As a matter of fact the law is defective in that it does not do more than insist on the space being left and is not followed up by any system of inspection as to how it is used. This enables the law to be defeated where lanes are shown and in either ways which are injurious.
On the Lindenlea property I am proposing that we should provide open spaces along the edges of the comparatively narrow streets so as to use the land to the best advantage and so that if at any future time it is necessary to widen the streets to land which is in the open space can be added to the streets.
Only in the case of four streets is it proposed to have a street reservation of less than 66 feet. These two streets are: –
(1) The short part of Lindenlea which connects with Lambton Road. [end of page 27][page 28]
(2) The whole of Elmdale between Rockcliffe Way and Lambton Road.
(3) A short part of Rock Avenue.
(4) A short connecting street between Elmdale and Maple Avenue.
If the City and the Railway and Municipal Board insist upon these streets [sic] being widened to 66 feet, it can be done subject to the Commission retaining the 10 feet it proposes to give to the City for widening Springfield Road and Rideau Terrace. I feel sure, however, that the public advantage is so much to be served by widening Rideau Terrace and Springfield Road, and also by keeping the four streets I have mentioned down to 50 feet in width, that there should be no difficulty in getting the approval of the authorities. The alternative is to leave Rideau Terrace and Springfield Road at their present width, which would be a serious injury to the neighbourhood.
It will be noted, however, that no houses are permitted to be nearer to each other on the opposite side of any streets than 66 feet. Having regard to the power of the Commission to enforce a condition of this kind in its contracts, and to the fact that a building line is shown on the plan all the objects of the Ontario [end of page 28][page 29]Law will be effected.
Surroundings of Dwellings
In considering the layout of land for housing purposes, it is just as necessary to pay regard to the surroundings as to the building of the dwellings. These surroundings require consideration, not merely in the immediate locality of the site of any dwelling, but for some distance on all sides of it. The orientation, opportunities for obtaining light and air, privacy, shade and garden space, with public open spaces reasonably accessible, are all necessary. It does not require any argument to show that a constructive scheme, such as is contemplated at Lindenlea, is eminently more satisfactory than a series of restrictive legislations. If proper regard is paid to health and convenience in the general layout of an area, to simplicity and economy of design of buildings, and to the preservation of light and shade, no strained artificial methods are needed to give any particular property variety, interest and attractiveness. When the necessities of our climatic conditions are properly regarded, and space for light, air and recreation is preserved, we will find that consideration of utility, [end of page 29][page 30]produce all the beauty that is needed in home surroundings and that these are not a matter of sentimental consideration.
In planning land for the purpose of residence, any forced artistic presentation is undesirable. Of course it has to be realized that the picture presented by any plan or paper can only be understood by anyone who can visualize the effect of the scheme when it is completed, and the merit or demerit of a scheme can only be understood when the houses are built and occupied.
First Sites to Develop
It is suggested that the first houses to be erected should be built on the frontage of Rideau Terrace so that there will be no delay in obtaining local improvements. While these are being built, steps should be taken to construct extensions of the sewers and watermains and to lay down macadam roadways so as to open up the property for complete development next summer. With a small estate of this kind it is hardly necessary to consider the question of constructing such local improvements as sewers and macadam roadways in any piece-meal way. It is almost a certainty that the whole estate will be taken up for building purposes immediately and there is no risk in [end of page 30][page 31]laying down the sewers, roadways, etc. in the way that proves most economical for the whole property. Whatever form of constructing other local improvements, such as permanent pavements and sidewalks may ultimately be decided upon will depend largely on the wishes of the residents. They will have to pay for them in the form of local improvement taxes and will have a voice in determining when they should be provided and what they should consist of.
Personally, I am convinced that asphalt pavements and concrete sidewalks will be unnecessary on this property for many years and that it would be an excessive burden to the inhabitants if they have to meet the cost of what are called permanent local improvements, in addition to the cost of building their houses. The size of the lots and their wide frontage will enable us to have a comparatively cheap form of paving for most streets. Through traffic will be largely limited to Rockcliffe Way and Maple Avenue.
I suggest that a simple form of macadam roadway should be provided in all streets forthwith. This should vary from 14 to 18 feet wide. On Rockcliffe Way it should be 18 feet wide and be constructed of well-consolidated macadam, surfaced over with [end of page 31][page 32]bituminous material. Some simple form of gravel sidewalk might be provided for most of the streets where sidewalks are necessary. If however, the land and the streets are well drained it will not be necessary to have sidewalks on the streets where through traffic is not likely to occur. The charm and utility of some Rockcliffe roads, which have no sidewalks, and have their frontages occupied by buildings should be obtained where possible, and the saving in expense would be a big consideration.
Whatever kind of roadway will be laid down at the expense of the city will depend on the City Council. The Commission will have to be content with whatever is the customary practice. It is, important, however, that something be done at once to lay out, grade and make the streets in a form suitable for immediate traffic needs on the most economical principles. I am not in a position to make any definite recommendations as the matter is one for the city to decide. So far as the Commission is concerned I would advocate that they should be prepared to spend something in addition to what the city spends in laying out the streets. The sewers will be constructed as local improvements and charged against the property while the water mains and electric wiring will be [end of page 32][page 33]provided in the ordinary way without cost of the installation.
Schedule of Areas and Prices, Sixes of Lots etc
Accompanying this report is a schedule of areas and prices of lots. You will observe that the lots are divided into eight sections – A, B, C, D, E, F, G, and H, and comprise a total of 168 residential lots and two lots for public buildings.
In considering what should be the sizes of these lots, I had to take into account two main factors. First, consideration had to be given to what was the width of frontage desirable to obtain proper convenience, amenity and healthy conditions for the building of the houses at reasonable cost. Secondly, it had to be kept in view that $600 was the maximum price which could be asked for any lot and that it was necessary for the Commission to obtain from the sale of the lots a sufficient sum to meet the capital cost of the site, plus any loss from interest which may accrue in future, any taxes for which they may be liable, and expenses of surveying, laying out the ground, etc.
I understand that the total cost of the ground is about $66,000. To this there will have to be added the additional expenses referred to. The Commission should have [end of page 33][page 34]a margin of $15,000 to cover these expenses. This would mean a total sum of about $ 81,000.
In deciding what price to recommend to you as reasonable to charge for the lots, I had to keep in view this aggregate sum, and the limit of $600 per lot. I had also to consider what would be reasonable in view of the prices charged for the adjacent property in the past. I came to the conclusion that 15 cents per square foot was the maximum price would should be put on the lots, and that these should be graduated from this price down to 10 cents per square foot. You will find therefore, that the approximate price per square foot is 10 to 15 cents, and that the average price over the whole property is only 12.8 cents. This gives you a prospective return of $81,238 for the 170 lots. I take it that this sum will be spent on purchasing and developing the property and therefore used for the benefit of the purchasers. It comprises $76,771.50 for the lots, $833.20 for the site for the garage, $757.80 for the site for the Institute and $2,875.50 for the street widening on Rideau Terrace and Springfield Road.
If the site for the garage is not required, for that purpose, it can be divided into lots, and sold at from 12 to 14 cents per square foot. In that case Lots [end of page 34][page 35]No. 60 and 61 should also be increased in price by 2 cents per square foot, as they have been kept down to a lower figure because of their proximity to the garage. Therefore if the garage is excluded it will provide you with an additional income. At the same time it must be recognized that if the garage is left out, the loss to the whole estate might be much greater that if three or four lots are kept down in price because of proximity to the garage.
There is less question about the Institute than the garage, and I think nothing should be permitted to prevent this site being reserved for this purpose. The value of the site is at 15 cents per square foot is unquestioned, and no doubt the residents will in time be willing to take it over and have the Institute or Club erected.
The lowest priced lot is $340, and the highest (exclusive of local improvements) is $595. In the case of all the lots fronting on Rideau Terrace, there has been added to the price of each lot, a sum of 75 cents per foot front, representing the value of the local improvements already paid for per lot. These local improvements have been paid for by a tax which has been in existence for the past ten years, and the amount paid is the equivalent of more than 75 cents proposed to be charged. The lots [end of page 35][end of page 36]fronting on Rideau Terrace are valuable and well worth the listed price. It would not be fair to the purchasers of the other lots to make them pay a local improvement tax for the cost of the sewers payable in taxes, which giving the frontagers on Rideau Terrace the benefit of improvements on which ten years payments have already been made.
You will observe that the lots are varied in size, and within the limits named, provide all sorts of alternatives with regard to prices. It is an advantage to have varied sizes of lots because each person can get the garden space they need and not what is forced upon them by stereotyped planning of lots of the same size. Everyone’s needs in this respect are not the same, and there are natural conditions which also operate to require different sizes. Some lots are occupied by trees which need to be preserved and require wider frontages than others without trees. Other lots are on rocky ground and are unsuited for gardening and therefore should be kept small. The lots in the valley are made comparatively large on the whole because the land is excellent for gardening purposes.
It should be a condition of the contract with the purchasers that the land included in the tennis courts, bowling green and the children’s play ground together with the park area shown around the Institute and between [end of page 36][page 37]Hillcrest and the site for the garbage, should be dedicated for public use.
It will be noticed that the total price per lot in some cases included a few cents, and in a few cases of corner lots it is probable that these would be much more valuable if this were an ordinary real estate development. By that I mean that if the purchasers were in a position to use them for the erection of stores they would be able to pay twice the figure shown on the schedule. Under the scheme, however, it is intended to prevent any house being converted into a store, and the purchase price has to be fixed with due regard to this condition.
The fact that an ordinary real estate operator might obtain larger prices for the corner lots, does not mean that he would get better value. If we were to sell the corner lots for stores, we would depress the values of the other lots much more than we would gain form a special sale of the corner lots. [end of page 37]
[page 38]One strong reason for keeping the price within reasonable limits and for putting all the figures frankly before the purchasers as has been done in this report, is that it will only be by these means that the property can be sold rapidly to avoid heavy carrying charges. There have probably been more financial tragedies in Canada due to attempts to make high profits from the conversion of land into building lots than in any other form of speculation.
I venture to suggest that as every purchaser of the lots on this estate will get good value, as well as protection of his surroundings, it will not be necessary for the Commission to carry any portion of land any longer than it wishes.
Reproduced from a carbon copy of a document marked “Lindenlea Meeting Tuesday July 29th, 1919.”
Held in Library and Archives Canada. [page 38]