Committees to recommend council expand urban boundary

OTTAWA – In a joint meeting today (May 19), the city’s Planning committee and Agriculture and Rural Affairs (ARAC) committee approved a growth management strategy that would add between 1,350 and 1,650 gross hectares of residential land and strategically located employment land to Ottawa’s urban area.

The city wants to have a growth management strategy in place before it can develop its new Official Plan, which will guide development and growth in Ottawa until 2046. The city’s goal is to minimize the need to expand the urban boundary by making efficient use of land already within the area. The committees agreed some expansion is needed to meet housing demand as Ottawa’s population grows by an estimated 400,000 new residents within that timeframe.

In a 10-1 vote, the committees approved a balanced approach to growth – one of three scenarios city planners studied. The balanced scenario pairs a moderate expansion of the urban area with a requirement that 51 per cent of new dwellings be built in already developed areas. That intensification target would rise to 60 per cent by 2046. That scenario would provide greater housing diversity within built-up areas as well as sufficient housing supply outside the greenbelt.

The committees also approved criteria that would limit expansion to areas near existing or planned transit hubs.

“This compliments the city’s goal to expand the number of 15-minute neighbourhoods in Ottawa – communities where people can live without a car because daily needs are all within a 15-minute walk of home,” city staff released in a statement today.

 To ensure protection for prime agricultural lands, the city would exclude from consideration any lands in an Agricultural Resource Area. Such lands could not be included as part of any expanded urban or village settlement area. This was a motion that ARAC chair Coun. Eli El-Chantiry forwarded and it was approved unanimously.

The approved growth management strategy will guide the policy framework for the new Official Plan to achieve council-approved targets to reduce emissions by 100 per cent by 2050, as set out in the city’s Climate Change Master Plan. If city council approves the strategy on Wednesday, May 27, staff will update the Energy Evolution model when the draft Official Plan is tabled. Council approval would also enable work to proceed on the Infrastructure, Transportation and Greenspace Master Plans necessary for implementing the Growth Management Strategy and Official Plan policy direction.