There is much interest being expressed by our community about new commercial growth in Barrhaven. With construction starting and City planning signs going up in areas like the Marketplace Mall, the Citigate mall and the new development at the corner of Highbury Park and Greenbank Road, residents are curious about what new stores and services are coming and also wondering how we are going to manage all of this new growth.
Barrhaven’s lease rates are among the highest in the City. As long as there is a demand, this will continue. It is not an ideal situation for owner-operated businesses. The BBIA produces market studies that identify gaps in retail and services and areas of over-saturation, but at the end of the day, there is no “approval” process for what stores come and where they choose to locate.
The application for the new pads in the Marketplace Mall was approved by the City in December 2017. The parking lot that has been in existence for the Loblaws grocery store since it was built was providing many more than the required number of parking spaces based on the City of Ottawa Zoning By-law. The reduction in parking to allow for the new retail pads has not taken away any of the required parking spaces from the grocery store: there will still be 515 spaces maintained. The applicant would have been obligated to produce a traffic and parking study as part of their City planning submission last year.
The City makes a general development plan for the over all community and then a plan specific to certain areas, in this case the Barrhaven Town Centre. That Marketplace mall has always been planned for infill as the community grows. It is considered the start of “downtown” Barrhaven where we will continue to see significant intensification over the coming years as a greater number of higher density housing developments continue to be built (new seniors and retirement homes are going up soon beside that mall, as well as mid rise apartments and mixed-use buildings behind the Walmart this year and, eventually, Loblaws). The City is required to meet certain density targets.
Developing Employment Within Barrhaven
As you can appreciate, Barrhaven is larger than many Ontario municipalities with almost 90,000 people, and growing. For decades, the central area has been planned for future development with a dense and more urban-like core/hub that encourages better use of public transit, walkability, etc. and includes urban public meeting space, a main street concept and the cultural hub that Barrhaven is still missing. This is the start of that intensification.
Barrhaven has more than 87,000 residents. To provide some context, eastern Ontario cities like Belleville and Cornwall each have less than 50,000 people. Kingston is slightly more populated at 123,000. For anyone that has visited these cities, you will know that they have thriving hotels, multiple corporate, franchise and small businesses. We have more than enough population and density to support the current retail-commercial businesses in Barrhaven with room for continued growth in this sector. The growing pains experienced by our local businesses are not due to a lack of consumers but rather to a lack of employment. These other cities do not have tens of thousands of residents leaving every day for 9-10 hours, 5 days a week. This, in part, has a huge impact on the retail and service habits of our residents and in turn, our businesses.
We desperately need employment here, which the BBIA is working hard daily to attract. Attracting employment is one of our prime objectives in our effort to support local businesses. A large prestige business park, Citigate, is already serviced and shovel-ready in the area that runs from Borrisokane to the 416 (behind the new Strandherd Road car dealers, Costco and Tomlinson). Employment growth in Barrhaven is a long-term goal and one that takes time and perseverance. Barrhaven needs a true support local movement over the short-term if we wish to retain the smaller, owner-operated places and thereby encourage more to come. Perhaps local Community Associations and Councillors might work with small businesses to start a grass roots “locally-owned and operated” campaign? There are a great many franchisees in Barrhaven and many believe them to be corporate stores. They are actually owned and run by your neighbours. Supporting businesses like these has a huge impact on the local economy as the owners reinvest in the community.
In closing, we have some opportunities to work together on very important issues that impact both Barrhaven businesses and residents:
- Bringing employment to our community
- Improving transit options within Barrhaven; encourage ridership to our commercial centres
- Making sure infrastructure keeps pace with growth- ie. Road/traffic flow improvements
There is strength in numbers. Pulling together to advocate for our community is our best chance for success. We would be pleased to hear your ideas on the above. Please visit us on FACEBOOK. We encourage you to start using the #MyBarrhaven hashtag so we can all join in the conversation!
Executive Director, Barrhaven BIA