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Early History and Street Names

Excerpts copied directly from the book:

The City Beyond: A History of Nepean, Birthplace of Canada's Capital, 1792-1990 by Bruce S. Elliott

Nepean builder, Larry Armstrong had received tentative CMHC approval in 1954 to build Merivale Gardens. It was outside the area recommended for the greenbelt by the OPAB in 1947 and it was understood that the CMHC ban was not to apply to developments proceeding under a registered plan. Armstrong had proceeded with his plans for a 500 house subdivision. After a year of negotiating the requisite planning approvals with the school board, Nepean Council, the Ontario Department of Planning and Development and Ottawa Planning Area Board, he had registered a plan of subdivision in November 1955. CMHC gave final approval for a first phase of 147 houses and Armstrong began construction in December. In the spring of 1956, after 40 individual loans had been approved, CMHC suddenly announced a freeze on all loans in the greenbelt. Frantic pleading secured approval of another 45 loans, but CMHC was adamant that no further applications would be approved. The NCC was unsympathetic. Though the boundaries of the greenbelt had not been fixed, they took the position that the idea of the greenbelt had been around for a long time and that Armstrong had taken a chance and been caught.

Armstrong, of course, did not see it that way. He had proceeded in good faith with the blessing of every planning body of every level of government. The banks had earmarked $1,250,000 for the 1956 building season. He had spent $10,000-$15,000 on survey fees and $20,000 to $25,000 grading roads, paid commissions on house sales and made supply commitments. Labour and materials were on hand. The separate school board had bought a site and was about to begin construction. Buyers were concerned that they would find themselves alone in a pasture. Senior levels of government had asked that Phases 2 and 3 include a central water system at a cost of $150,000 and Armstrong had spent $8,000 on engineering plans. Another firm had bought expensive new equipment in anticipation of installing the system. Armstrong’s solicitors wrote the minister of public works and appeared before a joint committee of the House and Senate but to no avail. Late in 1957, Armstrong built another 34 houses and then slowly sold off the rest of Phase 1 to individual purchasers who contracted for their own houses. Phases 2 and 3 were never built. Other sub-dividers had proposals halted at various stages in the planning process by the abrupt federal action.

There were a lot of conflicting opinions regarding the greenbelt. In 1955, Richard Bell prepared the Nepean township’s brief to the NCC arguing that the greenbelt would not solve the problem of orderly development, that it was an invasion of property rights, that it was repressive and contrary to Canadian traditions, and that it would create problems outside its limits beyond what currently existed. He predicted that development would leap-frog over the greenbelt and begin again beyond it. The risk of the federal government having to sell off the greenbelt bit by bit and become the principal speculator in land. 

The greenbelt zoning froze the values of farmland if not actually depressed them and took from the farmers the right to sell their land to developers at enhanced value.

The greenbelt was intended to prevent ribbon development, to rationalize servicing costs by forestalling urban sprawl and premature subdivision, to reserve sites for public and private uses requiring large amounts of land and to prevent a proliferation of secondary roads from obstructing limited access highways.

The greenbelt has come to be regarded by the public as a conservation zone, but this purpose was initially regarded as subordinate to controlled development. A more accurate term would be low density development area for the greenbelt was to include not only agricultural land and nature preserves but also institutional commercial and industrial operations on approved parcels of more than 10 acres.

NCC bought land from farmers intending to build a new National Defence Headquarters but released the land to developers at the site that is now Centrepointe.

Provincial planning regulations of the late forties dictated that lots in un-serviced areas by large, 15,000 sq ft with a 100 ft frontage to minimize contamination of wells by septic tanks and tile beds. The only requirement imposed on sub-dividers in this period was that they bear the cost of building the gravel streets. 


Street Name Origins

Information from a May 2018 email exchange between Margaret Ault and Jonathan Harrington (the grandson of Larry Armstrong, the builder of Merivale Gardens):
  • Vaan - named after Jonathan's mother Victoria Ann.
  • Rongail - named after Jonathan's mother's cousins Ron (now living in Edmonton) and Gail (now living in Arnprior).
  • Arco - named after Armstrong Construction, the company that built Merivale Gardens.
It is also generally thought, but unconfirmed, that Revol is "lover" spelled backward. 

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