On Wednesday, October 27th, 2021, City Council approved a new Official Plan for Ottawa – the City’s most comprehensive planning document. It marks the first time that Ottawa has adopted a new Official Plan since 2003.
After many years of work, months of consultation, and 25 hours of committee meetings the new Official Plan has now been passed by city council. The next hurdle will be for the province to review it before giving their approval.
In the spring City Council made a commitment to have 60% of our growth of homes within the current urban boundaries through intensification, 40% will be in new suburbs in greenfield areas.
I was pleased to contribute motions and participate in the process from holding community meetings to sitting through the three day long committee meetings.
Here are some of the motions I worked on with my colleagues:
- Saying no to intensification in greenbelt around Moodie Station
- When calculating Neighbourhood Tree canopy require City to separate NCC Greenbelt and the City of Ottawa data.
- Gender and Diversity Equity policy on all planning
- Sherbourne Road Minor Corridor designation removed
I was also pleased to see many progressive amendments from my colleagues to improve this plan.
Here is a brief overview:
The new Official Plan will guide growth and redevelopment for the next 25 years. It is framed around five big policy changes that, together, move Ottawa towards being the most livable city in North America.
- Growth – encouraging more growth through intensification than through new development in undeveloped areas would help accommodate projected population increases in Ottawa’s existing neighbourhoods. The new plan also introduces policy tools to require more housing affordability.
- Mobility – promoting more use of sustainable transportation than private vehicles would make Ottawa a city of proximity, where residents have easy access to the things they need. The new Official Plan also includes polices to encourage complete streets that offer a vibrant and safe public realm for all road users.
- Urban Design – creating policies for well-designed sites will ensure intensification is done sensitively, in a way that benefits the streets and communities involved. The new Official Plan also promotes sustainable design to create a resilient and climate-adapted city.
- Resiliency – bringing environment, climate and health considerations to the forefront of planning will ensure the new Official Plan recognizes the climate crisis and our urgent need to reduce, and eventually eliminate, carbon emissions.
- Economy – establishing a strong relationship between land use and economic development will set the stage for businesses and entrepreneurs to succeed.
The new Official Plan also introduces a framework of six areas, referred to as transects. Policies related to the transect model would define a development based on where it is located – the rural area, suburban area, Greenbelt, outer urban area, inner urban area and downtown core. The aim is to ensure that the height, density and massing of a development fit the context of the areas where they are being built.
The new Official Plan includes policies to help expand the number of 15-minute neighbourhoods – communities where people can live without a car because daily needs are within a 15-minute walk of home. Those policies set the conditions for a diverse mix of housing, services, schools, greenspaces and daycares in both new and established communities.
Ottawa would become a city of connected, inclusive and walkable communities, with greater density of housing, employment and services around rapid-transit hubs and along transit corridors. Policies further encourage new small, local-serving businesses and services throughout Ottawa’s rural villages and the city’s urban area.
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