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By Doug Fischer, Canadian Geographic – Published on: April 6, 2016Across Canada, there are old buildings finding new life through modern transformations. But such metamorphoses are complicated. Indeed, for the past three decades, Stratford, Ont. has struggled to decide on what to do with the giant, neglected railway repair shop that sits on the edge of downtown (read my story about it in the April issue of Canadian Geographic, and see photos here).Maybe Stratford’s more passionate residents would benefit from a chat with Jeff Westeinde. He’s the force behind Zibi, an ambitious plan to develop 15 hectares of historic land on two islands and along the shorelines of the Ottawa River on the Ontario-Quebec border between Ottawa and Gatineau.

Almost from its inception as an idea in 2013, Zibi (the Algonquin word for river) has overcome long odds. Conceived to be one of the most sustainable developments in the world, Zibi came together in less than two years — an achievement for any project, but remarkable for one that required the harnessing of views from two municipalities, two provinces, the federal National Capital Commission and numerous Algonquin communities for whom the site represents sacred land going back nearly 1,000 years.

“It was unanimous among our peers in the development industry that we were out of our minds, that there was no possible way this would ever see the light of day,” Westeinde, the executive chairman and co-founder of Windmill Developments Group, told me. “Yet, here we are.”

Site preparation is already well underway, and work will move into high gear this spring. The project, scheduled to be finished over the next 10 to 15 years, calls for the retrofitting and repurposing of historic lumber industry-era buildings in both Ottawa and Gatineau, the construction of new residences and retail and commercial outlets, all to be connected by a network of trails, bike paths and public transit routes. And all within view of Parliament Hill.

One-quarter of the site will be greenspace and parkland, much of it along the river, including by the Chaudiere Falls. The falls, Ottawa’s biggest tourist attraction in the late 1800s and a sacred First Nations site for close to 1,000 years, were dammed in 1908 to produce hydro-electricity and blocked from public sight. The Zibi project will restore them to view, and become the centrepiece of the $1.2-billion development.

In an odd way, says Westeinde, getting the public to embrace a project virtually no one thought was possible was actually the catalyst that pushed the project forward.

“We thought our job, quite simply, was to take the views of everybody else and turn them into a viable plan that would work for everyone,” Westeinde says. “That always starts with the community and works its way up.”

He says Windmill knew in general what it wanted — to be one of 10 One Planet communities in the world (a designation that recognizes both environmental and cultural sustainability, in this case Windmill’s engagement with the aboriginal community). Beyond that, Windmill knew only that it needed the project to make sense financially.

So it called a public meeting to find out what citizens wanted. More than 900 people showed up at that first meeting, many of them disappointed there were no fancy diagrams or scaled models to look over. In fact, there was nothing.

“If we heard criticism that night it was, ‘Why isn’t there anything for us to see? We expected to see plans.’ We told them that we wanted their thinking about what should be in our plans,” Westeinde says.

The meeting led to a consensus on how to measure success through two broad objectives: to build a project that was world class, and to regularly publish “report cards” grading the level of contribution of all the project’s participants: municipalities, provinces, regulatory agencies, planning bodies, the developer.

According to Westeinde, the work done at that first meeting, besides signalling the company’s willingness to listen to the community, “gave us a bit of a moral high ground to work through some of the tough issues.”

Within two years, most of those obstacles had been swept aside and the project had secured its many approvals and financing. There are still issues to be resolved — the Algonquin communities are themselves divided about whether the development is appropriate for a site of such cultural importance — but barring some unforeseen disaster, and given Windmill’s solid track record, Zibi is likely to be one of the capital’s must-see destinations within a few years.

The lessons learned through Zibi can provide a guide for Stratford, even if the communities and situations are different.

“Developers have lots of choices when it comes to these kinds of projects, all through southwestern Ontario and into the states,” he says. “So the developer has to feel like the community wants his project, wants to buy into the vision — a shared vision, of course — but one that is viable and practical.”

Read an extended interview with Jeff Westeinde here.

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Windmill Developments is proud to announce that we have reached a partnership with the incomparable Donald Trump to create an iconic 99 story Trump Tower in the heart of Ottawa. “I couldn’t be happier to be partnering with Windmill,” says presidential hopeful Trump, “they represent my brand perfectly – the glitz, the glamour, you have no idea.”

The Windmill Trump Tower is intended to set a new standard for luxury development, including full walk-in refrigerators, immersive monsoon showers, and essential oil infused bidets all standard in most suites.

While final details are still being worked out, a small underutilized area of the Experimental Farm has been identified as the preferred site for this new Ottawa landmark. Units to start at $1m, with a launch date tentatively set for April 1, 2017.

This was all in good fun – APRIL FOOL’S!

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With Zibi and Cathedral Hill sitting on the edge of LeBreton Flats, you could imagine our excitement when the NCC announced it was taking proposals for this seemingly forgotten parcel of significant land. Situated along the river and near Chaudière Falls, this area has been without a community since 1960. Its redevelopment represents a unique opportunity to create a vibrant urban centre that will transform Ottawa.

On January 26 th and 27th 2016, the public was presented with two competitive proposals for the area; Illumination LeBreton and LeBreton Re-Imagined. The ambitious bids include museums, parks, plazas and notably, an NHL arena. Both have a focus on Canadian heritage, connectivity and boast various degrees of environmental conservation. Illumination, with its sustainability plan based on the One Planet framework, is set to create one of the largest and most sustainable eco-districts in North America, if not globally.

 

Illumination
(Photo caption) Illumination LeBreton rendering showing a snapshot of their proposed landscape.


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(Photo caption) Aerial view of the Science & Innovation Pavilion conceptualized by LeBreton Re-Imagined.

LeBreton Flats sits between Cathedral Hill, one of Windmill’s vibrant luxury residential offerings and Zibi, Windmill’s sustainably designed multi-use community set for occupancy in Fall 2017. This central area’s revival means sporting events, concerts and festivals right next door; access to the LRT and other public transit systems; an endless selection of local restaurants and retail; a short walk to museums, cultural centres, a library, and much more. All alongside the Ottawa River.

On a broader scale, increased activity means more jobs for our community and an inevitable rise in the value of nearby condos and townhomes. A recent study has shown that urban properties within 5 km of a stadium and within 500m of a light rail are proven to increase in price by approximately 40%.*. The increase is most dramatic in urban settings, particularly if combined with urban amenities and public space.

The LeBreton redevelopment will no doubt become one of Ottawa’s most cherished ‘hoods and yield great results for Cathedral Hill and Zibi residents, the community and the National Capital Region.

Have your say on the future of LeBreton Flats!

We invite you to consider both proposals and share your comments with the NCC: http://ncclebretonconsultationccnlebreton.environics.ca/

Great things are on the horizon for LeBreton Flats and we can’t wait to see it all come to life, right next door!

 

*Source: REIN (2015, October), The Impact of Stadium Construction on Real Estate Values.

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Ottawa, January 25, 2016 – As part of its bid for the Lebreton Flats redevelopment, the RendezVous LeBreton Group has developed a bold vision for sustainability, one that will see it become one of the largest sustainability-driven urban developments in North America.

RendezVous LeBreton, which is backed by the Ottawa Senators, has developed a sustainability plan based on the One Planet Living framework; the same aggressive standard being used by Windmill Development’s Zibi project located a stone’s throw away on Chaudière Island. Located between Zibi and the Ottawa Centre EcoDistrict, RVLG’s sustainability plan is poised to create one of the largest, and most sustainable, urban districts in North America, if not globally.

Guided by the One Planet Living framework, the Group has created a development plan that is based on ten principles, ensuring the project is sustainable socially, environmentally, and economically. With as much focus on people as the environment, RVLG aims to create a community where it is easy, attractive, and affordable for people to lead happy and healthy lives using a fair share of the earth’s resources.

“Many redevelopment projects tend to focus on environmental issues, such as reducing construction waste, but this team decided at the outset that to create a world-class development we needed a project that people would benefit from, and feel connected to,” said Steve Dulmage of BuildGreen Solutions, the sustainability advisors to the project.

RVLG acknowledges that achieving all principles within the One Planet Framework will be a challenge on a project of this size, particularly zero carbon, but as Dulmage points out: “The history of this site includes innovation and entrepreneurialism, so why shouldn’t we set ambitious targets that will require a similar mindset to achieve them?”

This attitude has already resulted in a number of novel ideas. The project team has identified a potential partner that could see the Event Centre become one of the first net-zero energy stadiums in the world; and a “purple pipe” system will be explored to reduce the amount of precious tap water used to flush toilets.

In addition to pursuing One Planet endorsement, the team’s sustainability plan also commits to meeting the NCC’s mandated goal of Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) for New Construction for all new buildings. However, RVLG has gone a step further and has committed to meeting LEED’s community standard as well, LEED for Neighbourhood Development.

Initiatives demonstrating a commitment to social responsibility include planned affordable housing, vibrant gathering spaces for residents and visitors, recreational opportunities through the Sensplex and Abilities Centre, and programming that will help businesses and residents alike make healthier, and greener decisions. Of course, it all begins by decontaminating LeBreton Flats, and revitalizing a site that can be transformed from a brownfield into a community that adds value to the local economy, and enriches the city’s social and cultural fabric.

About Build Green Solutions

Build Green Solutions Inc. specializes in bringing the principles of sustainability – environmental, social, and economic – to bear on urban land development.

Since 1999, Build Green Solutions has worked on some of the most innovative projects in Canada: green buildings, sustainable infrastructure, and green community projects. By bringing a solutions-oriented and market-based approach, we have helped clients stretch for ambitious yet achievable sustainability goals by incorporating innovative strategies and technologies. These projects have included Windmill Development’s “Zibi”, “The Currents”, and “the Eddy” in Ottawa, “Aqua + Vento” in Calgary, and “Dockside Green” in Victoria.

About One Planet Living and One Planet Communities

One Planet Living is the vision of a world in which people enjoy happy, healthy lives within their fair share of the earth’s resources, leaving space for wildlife and wilderness.
The One Planet Living framework is based on ten easy-to-grasp principles covering areas such as carbon, waste, transport, food and water, and enables us to plan for, deliver and communicate sustainable development. The framework provides a clear, practical route map for a better way to live and do business.

Windmill Development’s Zibi project was recently named the world’s tenth One Planet Community.

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Ottawa, November 17, 2015

Windmill statement regarding Ontario Municipal Board’s decision to dismiss Zibi appeals

Windmill Development Group welcomes the Ontario Municipal Board’s clear and unequivocal decision to dismiss the appeals that were filed following the City of Ottawa’s approval to change the zoning to accommodate the Zibi project.

Windmill looks forward to proceeding with its plans to transform these contaminated and closed-off industrial lands into the world’s most sustainable community, and to making Zibi a place where the culture and history of the Algonquin Anishinabe is not only present, but celebrated.

“We’re greatly encouraged that the Ontario Municipal Board recognizes that the City and Windmill have ‘consulted and engaged with the public and the First Nations and that aboriginal history and culture will be respected and incorporated into the proposed development plans’”, stated Jeff Westeinde, Chair of Windmill Development Groups.

Windmill also looks forward to the opportunity to highlight the long history and industrial heritage of the site, and to providing public access to the islands’ waterfronts and the Chaudière Falls for the first time in almost 200 years.

“This decision clears the way for us to proceed with the great work of developing Canada’s first One Planet Community, a veritable sustainable showpiece, here in the heart of the National Capital Region,” said Rodney Wilts, Partner, Windmill Development. “We know the project is highly anticipated, and we look forward to delivering on our vision.

Windmill has conducted over the last few years the most inclusive and robust engagement program by a private developer with First Nations, certainly in Eastern Canada, and possibly in all of Canada, voluntarily surpassing any legal requirement to do so. As part of its award-winning engagement program, Windmill reached out to all of the Algonquin Anishinabe communities, the majority of whom had never been invited to participate, nor asked to participate, in consultations related to national capital regional planning matters.

Windmill is committed to developing Zibi in friendship with the Algonquin Anishinabe, and to making Zibi as beneficial as possible with and for the Algonquin nation and people.

To view the OMB’s full decision: Click here

For more information on Windmill’s engagement program with the Algonquin Anishinabe, see www.zibi-i-site.ca

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Eddy_Aug15-5Ottawa, Ontario – October 29, 2015. The City of Guelph, Enmax Corporation and Windmill Developments were announced as the 2015 winners of the QUEST Community Energy Builder Awards at the annual QUEST Gala Dinner & Awards Ceremony on October 27 in Toronto, Ontario.

The Community Energy Builder Awards are presented annually by QUEST to recognize leadership and innovation in advancing Smart Energy Communities in Canada. Awards are presented in three categories that reflect the key implementing sectors of Smart Energy Communities: Local Government, Real Estate Sector, and Utility and Energy Service Providers.

“Smart Energy Communities are now being recognized as one solution in meeting Canada’s federal, provincial and territorial energy and climate goals,” said Brent Gilmour, Executive Director of QUEST. “QUEST congratulates the 2015 award winners who represent some of the most progressive stakeholders leading the development of Smart Energy Communities in Canada.”

The Winner of the 2015 Community Energy Builder Award for “Local Government” is the City of Guelph, Ontario, for its emerging Guelph Energy Efficiency Retrofit Strategy (GEERS) as a major component of its Community Energy Initiative.

“This award is an honour. GEERS is a critical component of Guelph’s Community Energy Initiative (CEI). With final approval to implement by Council, GEERS will have a critical role is contributing to the targets of the CEI. Thank you QUEST for your valuable support,” said Robert Kerr, Manager of Community Energy at the City of Guelph.

The Winner of the 2015 Community Energy Builder Award for “Utility and Energy Service Providers” is ENMAX Corporation for its plans to integrate Combined Heat and Power (CHP) into its Calgary District Energy Centre.

“ENMAX is extremely excited and proud to have received the 2015 Community Energy Builders Award. The integration of Combined Heat and Power into the ENMAX District Energy Centre is consistent with our strategy of growing our generation and retail portfolios, will benefit Albertans through the reduction of Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions in the electricity generation process, and also demonstrates how powering Alberta’s communities can take many forms,” said Patrick Bohan, Director, District Energy and Combined Heat & Power.

The Winner of the 2015 Community Energy Builder Award for “Real Estate Sector” is Windmill Developments for the Eddy Condominium which offers six storeys of green, urban condos that set new standards for architecture, design and smart, healthy living in Ottawa, and which exceeds energy efficiency standards by 50% and incorporates a geo-exchange heating/cooling system.

“We are incredibly honoured to have received the QUEST award. We like to view The Eddy as a model for green intensification: energy efficient, low carbon footprint, appropriate for the community, stylish, fun and healthy,” said Rodney Wilts, Partner, Windmill Development Group Ltd. “Awards like QUEST’s help incentivize the development community to strive to do better, and recognize those projects that help raise the bar.”

About QUEST

QUEST is a non-profit organization that conducts research, engagement and advocacy to advance Smart Energy Communities in Canada. Smart Energy Communities improve energy efficiency, enhance reliability, cut costs, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. With the help of 8 provincial and regional Caucuses, QUEST brings together key stakeholders from government, utilities & energy providers, the real estate sector among others to transform Canada’s 5400 communities into Smart Energy Communities. Follow us: @QUESTCanada

For additional information

Tonja Leach
Director, Communications & National Affairs QUEST
Tel.: 613-627-2938 x706
E: tleach@questcanada.org

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DecontielogoFirst off-reserve project for First Nations company slated to work at Windmill’s Zibi

Kitigan Zibi, October 8, 2015 – Kitigan Zibi’s only general contracting company, Decontie Construction, has been awarded a $4.5 million contract by Hydro-Québec to dismantle the abandoned Corbeau Hydroelectric Station adjacent to the reserve, which is located near Maniwaki, Quebec.

The project, which is the company’s first off-reserve project, will create 20 new jobs for Algonquin Anishinabeg tradespeople.  Positions include carpenters, labourers, truck drivers, shovel operators and security personnel.

“Kitigan Zibi, like many reserves, has a very high unemployment rate,” said Andrew Decontie, President and founder of Decontie Construction. “We’re very proud to be able to bring new opportunities and work to our community.”

Because of existing systemic barriers, on-reserve Algonquins and other First Nations experience difficulties in obtaining trade certifications and securing work off-reserve despite having the necessary schooling and work experience.  Until now, Algonquin tradespeople from the community have been limited to working on construction projects within Kitigan Zibi.

Given the proximity of this project to the reserve, and the fact that the land on which the hydro station sits is in the process of being retroceded to the community of Kitigan Zibi, a special administrative zone was created by la Commission de la construction du Québec (CCQ) to enable Algonquin Anishinabe workers to be employed on this project.

“This is an unprecedented opportunity for our company to create real jobs outside the reserve,” said Andrew Decontie. “With this contract and work at the Zibi redevelopment project about to get underway, we’re building momentum for our People.  It’s a concrete example of self-determination in keeping with the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.”

The Corbeau demolition project is expected to begin immediately and to continue until the spring. Unique to this project, Decontie Construction is the lead contractor and will be engaging two non-First Nation companies – Milestone Environmental Contracting and DemoPLUS – to conduct specialty services such as the decontamination work and asbestos and lead removal.

The three companies will also work together on the Zibi redevelopment project about to start in Ottawa and Gatineau, which will follow the same model of recruiting, hiring, training and certifying an Algonquin workforce.  A similar special administrative zone that will be used at Corbeau is currently in discussion with the CCQ.

Ottawa-based Windmill Developments announced this summer it has partnered with Decontie Construction on the Zibi project. In addition to remediation and construction work on this 15-year, $1.2 billion project, Decontie will have the specific mandate of assisting interested Algonquin workers in obtaining the necessary training and certification to ensure they meet all of the required labour regulations and standards to be able to work off reserve.

“Together, we’re working on initiatives that will bring tangible and lasting benefits to present and future generations of Algonquin Anishinabe,” said Jeff Westeinde, Chairman of Windmill Developments and a director at Milestone Environmental Contracting.  “It’s more than the creation of jobs — which in itself is a big deal.  It’s about creating a sustainable model of employment and self-determination that other companies can emulate.  Industry needs a rethink.  We want to prove that it’s advantageous to collaborate with the Algonquin community. ”

About Decontie Construction Inc.

Decontie Construction Inc. is licensed as a General Contractor (Level 1.3) under the Régie du bâtiment du Québec, allowing the company to construct any type of development, residential or commercial, on or off-reserve.  Its founder Andrew Decontie, a First Nation Algonquin Anishinabe from Kitigan Zibi Anishinabeg, has worked in the construction sector for over 20 years.  His passion for the construction industry and the betterment of his People originates from a legacy of family and community members who were forced to leave Canada in the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s to find work throughout the United States.

 For more information or to request an interview:

Wanda Thusky
Algonquin Liaison Officer
decontieconstruction@hotmail.com
819-441-6243

Annie Boucher
613-863-3702
boucher@fusecommunications.ca
@aboucherfuse

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September 1, 2015 – Ottawa, Ontario, Canada – Windmill Developments and the Canadian Automated Vehicles Centre of Excellence (CAVCOE) have teamed up to conduct a feasibility and planning study for the demonstration, trial and deployment of fully automated, electric mini shuttle buses at Zibi.

Zibi is the highly anticipated re-development of the industrial lands linking Ottawa, Ontario and Gatineau, Quebec. It is being developed in a partnership between Windmill Developments and Dream Unlimited Corp. (TSX:DRM) and aims to become the world’s most sustainable community. This waterfront community will be inclusive of shopping, dining, recreation and entertainment in support of a vibrant and healthy social life.

The concept being studied for transportation at Zibi is the use of fully automated, electric mini shuttle buses to transport people both between locations at Zibi and between Zibi and transit stations in Ottawa and Gatineau.

Jonathan Westeinde, Chief Executive Officer of Windmill Developments, said: “We are very excited about exploring the options for automatic vehicles and shuttles on the Zibi site to help reduce car traffic and assist us in achieving our goal of being one of the most sustainable communities in the world”.

Barrie Kirk, Executive Director of CAVCOE, added: “We at CAVCOE are pleased and proud to manage this project in association with Windmill and Dream. If successful, this trial, the first of its kind in Canada, will give Canada and many Canadian stakeholders an opportunity to learn first-hand the details of deploying and operating automated vehicles.”

About Windmill

Windmill is a visionary company dedicated to transforming conventional development practices by ensuring that exemplary ecological, social and financial returns are achieved in all their projects. Every Windmill development is conceived, designed and constructed to protect and enhance the local community and our ecosystem. Windmill is the only developer in North America to have achieved LEED Platinum on all its mixed-use projects. Completed projects include The Currents, a performing arts centre and modern condominium tower in Ottawa’s Wellington West neighbourhood, and Dockside Green, a model sustainable community in Victoria that was named one of 16 Clinton Climate Initiative Climate Positive developments.

About Dream

Dream (TSX:DRM) is one of Canada’s leading real estate companies with approximately $15 billion of assets under management in North America and Europe. The scope of the business includes residential land development, housing and condominium development, asset management for three TSX-listed real estate investment trusts and one TSX-listed diversified, hard asset alternatives trust, investments in and management of Canadian renewable energy infrastructure and commercial property ownership.  Dream’s development projects include Toronto’s Distillery Historic District as well as the 2015 Pan Parapan American Athletes’ Village.  Dream has an established track record for being innovative and for its ability to source, structure and execute compelling investment opportunities.

About CAVCOE

The Canadian Automated Vehicles Centre of Excellence (CAVCOE) is dedicated to helping public and private sector stakeholders prepare for the arrival of automated vehicles.  CAVCOE’s clients include two major Canadian cities, and companies involved in transit, transportation equipment, fleet management, and technology. CAVCOE recently teamed with the Conference Board of Canada and the Van Horne Institute to prepare a report on Automated Vehicles: The Coming of the Next Disruptive Technology.  A free copy is available here.

For more information:

Jonathan Westeinde
Chief Executive Officer
Windmill Developments
613-820-5600 exn 158
JonathanW@windmilldevelopments.com

Barrie Kirk
Executive Director
CAVCOE
613-271-1657
bkirk@cavcoe.com

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Windmill Development Group and Build Green Solutions are looking for small entrepreneurs with a “green” focus who are interested in sharing workspace in our new studio at 401 Richmond Street West, in Toronto. We currently share the space with TABC, the Architects Builders Collaborative and have additional space available for 3 or 4 individuals whose practice is grounded in a sustainable, healthy approach to design, building, energy modeling, marketing, finance, or development.

Shared facilities include use of boardroom, kitchen, wi-fi, and a creative co-working environment that could lead to collaborations on future projects. The building at 401 Richmond is itself a creative hub of professional offices, social enterprises, artists, and non-profits with a café, daycare facility, and green roof terrace.

Cost is $525 per month for a dedicated desk space. Available July 2015.

If interested, please contact Alex Speigel at alex@windmilldevelopments.com

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