a peek inside the fishbowl

11 Feb, 2011

Searching for equilibrium

Posted by andrea tomkins in: - Westboro|Yaktivism

“Equilibrium: a state or situation in which opposing forces or factors balance each other out and stability is attained.”

I’ve been thinking a lot about the topic of infill. Has Westboro reached a tipping point? Or have we passed it already?


Who gets to decide what a neighborhood looks like?

  • The people who live there?
  • Elected politicians? (And what if they win by a slim margin? Do they truly represent the community they serve if they are voted in by a fraction of able-bodied voters?)
  • The (non-elected) Planning Department?
  • The developers? a.k.a People who are driven by money to be earned here?

I’m sensing a lot of despair and hopelessness mixed in with an equal amount of anger and frustration about how this neighborhood is growing. It must grow – that’s a given  – but why can’t we manage to find a way that works?

Here’s an article about infill that was written by Tudor Robins and published in Ottawa Magazine a few years ago. I am linking to it with her permission. Funny how some things haven’t changed.

5 Responses to "Searching for equilibrium"

1 | Melissa

February 11th, 2011 at 10:16 am


We have something proposed for the 1/2 lot across the road I want to object publicly to it, but at the same time feel hopeless, as I see these hideous infill things getting stuck in little spaces everywhere here in Hintonburg. My opinion isn’t going to matter to the people who will decide it’s going in. Ugh.

2 | Hilary

February 11th, 2011 at 10:58 am


Haha, has someone really written that? Good for them. (Was it you? ;) That is quite a small lot with a really inappropriate design going in.

Quite honestly, in this case isn’t it partly the homeseller who gets to decide what the street will look like? She’s the one who agreed to split the lot on selling and sell to a developer with plans for a too-big (and ugly) house. But in the case of moving away from the area and being in the position to make a killing on a double lot, wouldn’t many of us do the same? It’s tricky.

3 | andrea

February 11th, 2011 at 11:12 am


Melissa: I was talking about this with someone yesterday. Public objections and petitions don’t seem to be cutting it anymore. As she said: “People around here just don’t get mad enough!” I’m not advocating that anyone lie down in front of a bulldozer but I think she has a point.

Hilary: I was not responsible for that sign. :)
You’re right, it is partly the homeowner that is deciding what the neighborhood would look like.

For what it’s worth, we live on what amounts to be a double lot too. In fact, the first thing the real estate agents told us when we looked at our place was that we can split it and make some $$ off it. But here’s the thing… I could never do it! Never.

4 | Javamom

February 11th, 2011 at 1:16 pm


You know it appears these types of things are not isolated. Here in our SW Toronto neighbourhood, where many little bungalows sit beside monstrous cardboardbox-type infill McMansions, it boggles my mind too.

The people who purchase the mansions are attracted to the neighbourhood because of how the neighbourhood looked BEFORE they built the large house, yet they won’t go live in Suburbia where large houses like that exist side by side with all the others. Why do they move here? What attracts them to our little neigbhourhood? And when they do come, why do they insist on changing the look and feel of its current state?

And have you ever been inside those infill type houses? They layouts are terrible…they have these huge empty spaces filled with staircases, and tiny rooms around the middle which function for…what exactly? The master bedrooms are massive yet the kids rooms are tiny…

Enough said. We have it here too…

5 | Nadine

February 12th, 2011 at 11:40 pm


What troubles me is the certainty that this “castle” will be occupied by a family of no more than 4-5…

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My name is Andrea and I live in the Westboro area of Ottawa with my husband Mark and our dog Piper who is kind of a big deal on Instagram. We also have two human daughters: Emma (20) and Sarah (18). During the day I work as a writer at The Royal Ottawa Mental Health Centre. I am a longtime Ottawa blogger and I've occupied this little corner of the WWW since 1999. The Fishbowl is my whiteboard, water cooler, and journal, all rolled into one. I'm passionate about healthy living, arts and culture, family travel, great gear, good food, and sharing the best of Ottawa for families. I also love vegetables, photography, gadgets, and great design.

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