Council approves new urban boundary land, scraps Gold Belt

CITY HALL – The Gold Belt idea went over like a lead balloon with rural residents but Ottawa city council is moving forward with adding new land to the urban boundary.

When council adopts a new Official Plan before the end of the year, it will extend Ottawa’s urban boundary – the line that divides suburban and rural Ottawa – by including 1,281 hectares of land for new neighbourhoods. Council approved where those lands would be located, along with policy direction to help protect sensitive lands from future urban expansion during today’s (Feb. 10) council meeting.

Those lands for new neighbourhoods include 445.35 hectares in a new satellite community called Tewin. The Tewin lands are located east of Leitrim and west of Carlsbad Springs, some of which are owned by the Algonquins of Ontario.

“Staff will work with the Algonquins of Ontario to identify specific lands and recommend them later this year when the Joint Planning committee and Agriculture and Rural Affairs committee consider the draft new Official Plan,” city staff released in a statement today. “The city needs to add enough land for new neighbourhoods to comply with provincially mandated 15-year land supply requirements.”

Last May, council approved selection criteria for determining which lands should be added to the urban boundary. At the same time, they approved higher intensification targets in existing communities that will lead to 60 per cent of new units being delivered through intensification between now and the end of 2046.

“Coupled with rules requiring minimum densities in new neighbourhoods, the new lands approved today by council will mean Ottawa has reasonable alternatives for growth to the end of this century without requiring further urban expansion,” staff said. “That will help protect important agricultural lands outside the urban boundary.”

The proposed Gold Belt, an idea city council proposed to protect agricultural land, will not go forward.

“Over the past week Ottawa’s rural councillors heard loud and clear from residents the idea of a ‘Gold Belt’ wasn’t idea,” Coun. Eli El-Chantiry released in a statement today.

City general manager Steve Willis told council he received more communications on the Gold Belt issue than any other Official Plan issue.

He congratulated newly appointed Agricultural and Rural Affairs committee vice chair Catherine Kitts for her motion addressing the issue which was also approved by council.

The motion states “the idea of the Gold Belt was not specifically discussed with rural residents and land stewards or the agricultural community, and there remains much confusion and concern on the purpose of the Gold Belt.”

The motion directs staff to focus on “reviewing exiting rural policies of the Official Plan to ensure they are consistent with the Five Big Moves and the Provincial Policy Statement 2020, and not introduce the concept of a Gold Belt in the draft Official Plan.”

 Council briefs

Ottawa will see up to 1,500 shared electric scooters rolling on streets and pathways starting this spring.

Council approved piloting shared e-scooters once more, from as early as April through November, with at least double the number of scooters as last year deployed in a larger central area. Up to 300 e-scooters can also be used for a satellite pilot in a suburb. qualified operators can partner with a ward councillor, a business improvement area or a business association outside the greenbelt to recommend a location. Last year’s pilot saw 72,720 unique riders take more than 238,000 trips.

To mitigate concerns about improper parking and users riding on sidewalks, operators will have to provide a way to report improperly parked e-scooters in their app, monitoring and moving them rapidly as needed, and warning or removing riders for parking violations. There will also be some designated parking areas, with operators providing incentives to park in them.

Council also approved waiving the city’s option to repurchase lands around the Carp Airport for $4.4 million. The City sold the Carp Airport in 2011 to West Capital Development, which will continue to operate the airport and implement an economic development plan for the surrounding lands.

“The city will negotiate amendments to the existing agreement so the developer can better carry out the plan and generate more economic activity in rural Ottawa,” staff said.

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