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Ottawa, May 26, 2016 – Windmill Development Group and Dream Unlimited Corp. (TSX:DRM) welcome the Ontario Divisional Court’s ruling to uphold the Ontario Municipal’s Board’s decision to allow the rezoning of the Chaudière and Albert Islands and make way for the development of the highly anticipated Zibi community.

“We are looking forward to delivering on our vision to create the world’s tenth One Planet Community in the heart of the Nation’s capital,” said Rodney Wilts, Partner, Windmill Development. “We’ve received overwhelmingly positive feedback on our plans for this new community. Not only will Zibi become a focal point of the city’s eco-district, but with nearly a quarter of the site designated as parks and public spaces, Zibi will restore access to the islands’ waterfronts and the Chaudière Falls for the first time in almost 200 years.”

“With this ruling, we can proceed confidently with our plans to transform a large part of downtown Ottawa’s under-utilized lands into the world’s most sustainable community,” said Jason Lester, Senior Vice President of Urban Development at Dream.

Demolition on the Quebec side of the site has already begun to prepare the site for construction. Windmill signed an agreement to purchase the lands from Domtar in December 2013. The private transaction marked the beginning of the transformation of the lands into a mixed-use waterfront community and sustainability showpiece.

“It’s very unusual for a private developer in this part of Canada, which is all unceded Algonquin territory, to voluntarily consult and engage with the Algonquin-Anishinabe community,” said Josée Bourgeois, member of the Memengweshii Council, an Algonquin advisory body guiding the project on issues of Algonquin-Anishinabe interests. “It’s been refreshing to work collaboratively with the developers to ensure Zibi would not only provide economic opportunities for our people, but reflect our culture in a tangible way. I can’t recall another instance where this has been possible.”

The developers are committed to developing Zibi in friendship with the Algonquin Anishinabe.

To view the Court of Appeals’ full decision click here.

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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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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.


PHOTO_Aerial-view_Vue-aerienne
(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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