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Kanata North might be known as Canada’s largest technology park for now, but one of its largest residents has big plans to expand the park’s reach beyond tech.

Telecommunications company Nokia has proposed to tear down its existing Kanata North campus and replace it with a new 500,000-square-foot office complex and a number of residential highrises. The March Road-based office and R&D hub — which would include two office towers — would cover half a million square feet, with about 35,000 square feet of ground-floor commercial and retail space. 

However, the proposal’s most striking feature includes plans to level Nokia’s existing office buildings and parking spaces in order to replace them with 11 residential towers ranging from 13 to 29 storeys, accommodating 1,900 units and making space for thousands of new residents in one of the city’s fastest-growing neighbourhoods. 

According to planning documents prepared for Nokia by consulting firm Novatech, the company is betting on the tech park’s growth — which already employs more than 30,000 workers at over 500 companies — to draw tech employees in particular to this new residential space.

“It is likely that many of the future residents of the buildings will work in the (Kanata North tech park) and will be able to walk or cycle to work,” said the documents. “Although subject to future Site Plan applications, the amount of residential (space) will allow for a broad range of apartment sizes that will cater to a wide range of people and budgets.”

Given that some of the proposed buildings exceed current height limits of 144 feet and retail businesses are not permitted on the northern half of the site, the development would require a number of zoning amendments in order to come to fruition. Nevertheless, the plan has generated excitement within the Kanata North community, including Kanata North Business Association executive director Jamie Petten, who told OBJ that Nokia’s proposals will play a big part in the tech park’s “necessary transformation” into a mixed-use district with vibrant commercial and residential components.

The addition of amenities like coffee shops and daycare centres, Petten continued, will make the neighbourhood even more attractive, regardless of whether the park’s employees choose to work from home.

“Our daily lives include a lot of other elements beyond just that single use of office space,” she said. “[Kanata North’s] companies are growing faster than ever and the momentum is great, but in order to continue with that momentum, we need to foster an environment within the park that enables talent to live, work, play, learn and innovate.” 

“This proposal from Nokia really supports that,” added Petten.

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