City of Ottawa Residential Growth Management Strategy
UPDATE, February 11, 2021
The City Council approved the draft Growth Management Strategy on February 10, including approval of the proposed Tewin community in the east end. They also approved a motion to do additional study of soil conditions of the prime agricultural land adjacent to Riverside South before final approval of that parcel of land for development.
The MVCA has been advocating for the protection of prime agricultural land in identifying which lands will be designated for future urban development and has called for the reversal of the decision to develop this type of land adjacent to the Riverside South neighbourhood. Councillor Moffatt tabled the motion to test the soil quality as it might have changed since the last assessment to ascertain if this land continues to meet the requirements to be considered prime. After much discussion, Council approved the motion 14 -10.
The challenge for rural residents is to address urban Councillor attitudes that development of small parcels of prime agricultural land is acceptable given we have 93,000 hectares of farmland within the City limits. Sadly once urban development butts up against farms, it becomes difficult for farmers to operate (i.e. they can't drive farm vehicles on rural roads converted to arterial roads and they can't spread manure because the smell is offensive to urbanites) and they eventually cede the land to developers. This is a fundamental issue for rural residents who find themselves constantly fighting against development to protect good farm land and a rural way of life.
In addition, the decision to award the allocation of land for development in the Tewin project will have long term implications for rural residents. Council did take a positive step in directing City staff to report back to Council with confirmation of the financial commitment by Algonquins of Ontario and Taggart to cover all infrastructure costs to link the new development with City services and roads.
Residents still have an opportunity to provide feedback on the specifics of the draft Official Plan before the final version goes to Council in the fall. Deadline for feedback is February 17. For details on the new Official Plan, visit The New Official Plan
Update, February 5, 2021
From Grace Thrasher, President of MVCA
At the recent joint Planning Committee and Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee hearing on the draft Growth Management Strategy (or how to expand the urban boundary), attendees witnessed a complete about-face on Council’s commitment to protect agricultural lands within the City limits.
In May 2020, Councillors voted to ensure that no prime agricultural lands would be developed under the Strategy which would manage development until 2046. Following many submissions and hours of hearings, Council had approved a strategy focused on intensification, limited expansion of the existing urban boundary and a commitment to protect agricultural land and village boundaries. And yet on January 25th, Councillors voted to swap out land that City staff had ranked high for development for prime agricultural land in the Riverside South area.
City staff worked long hours to ensure that the land they proposed for inclusion in the urban boundary met a long list of criteria. The criteria included land close to transit hubs, land close to infrastructure such as water and sewer, land that was not prime agricultural land or land that was outside a 1 km radius of rural villages.
Councillor Meehan, who proposed the motion, said the shift in Riverside South made more sense than the proposed land as it would enable residents to walk or bike to the Trillium Transit station whereas the land further south would not offer that same opportunity. Since the meeting she has stated: “I believe in protecting agricultural land, with this one exception.”
However, making an exception this one time, leaves the door open for future exceptions. This one precedent setting decision has provided developers with a way to leverage additional prime agricultural land into the urban boundary. Once you decide to make an exception, more will follow. And not to mention, the Province has decreed that Cities can only use up land that is considered prime agricultural land if there are no alternatives. In this case, there was an alternative.
Councillor Moffatt made an impassioned plea at the meeting to stand by the decision made by full Council last fall. He noted that in this case “transit trumped agriculture”. Only he and Councillor Lieper voted against the motion. Councillor El-Chantiry, who proposed the motion last fall to protect prime agricultural land, voted in favour of the land swap.
The public had no opportunity to voice any concerns on the proposed amendments as they were tabled after the completion of the public consultation portion of the committee meeting. In essence, Councillors made these amendments without any opportunity for taxpayers to comment.
There are other issues with this process that make it difficult for City residents to provide meaningful input or to understand how this all works. The timing of the release of the draft Strategy gave little time for community groups and residents to review and prepare submissions. As well, there was no opportunity to comment on the Tewin development proposed for the east end. While the City did identify the possibility of creating a new community in the Carlsbad Springs area, the concept of the Tewin project was unknown to the public on the meeting.
According to the City’s schedule, residents will get an opportunity to provide comment when the City holds public consultations this summer about the Growth Management Strategy. Will it change anything? Probably not.
My role as President of the MVCA has enabled me to learn more about planning and development than I had ever imagined. I trusted our elected representatives to do the right thing and ensure that the City develops in a sustainable way and protects agricultural land that is needed to feed our families for generations to come. I was wrong. Only Councillor Moffatt is standing up for the protection of agricultural land along with a few other Councillors.
Full council will make a decision on the amended Growth Management Strategy on February 10. Now is the time for us to let Councillors and the Mayor know they made the wrong decision.
Update, January 2021
In May 2020, the City consulted on a Growth Management Strategy which would outline how the City would provide sufficient land for future growth in Ottawa. Following many submissions and hours of hearings, the Council approved a strategy focused on intensification, limited expansion of the existing urban boundary and a commitment to protect Agricultural Land and village boundaries.
The next step in the process was to identify which land would be added onto the existing urban boundary – a task that proved more difficult than originally anticipated. The result of that work is a proposal that would see the creation of a “Gold Belt” around the existing urban boundary, the addition of some parcels of land adjacent to existing developments and close to transit hubs, and a proposal to further consider the development of a new community within the City limits.
For Manotick residents, these decisions are important, particularly those that impact development in Barrhaven South and Riverside South, our closest suburban neighbours.
The creation of a “Gold Belt” is good news for the Village. In essence, it creates a buffer around the current suburban development that protects Agricultural Land, natural environment areas such as wetlands, and aggregate resource areas (gravel pits, etc). It will limit urban expansion until the end of the century. It will include all of the land surrounding Manotick north of Century Road, east to Rideau Forest and west to the 416 as part of that horseshoe around existing suburban areas.
The report also indicates a number of additional parcels of land to be added to the urban boundary near Manotick. These include land north of Barnsdale adjacent to the existing Barrhaven South development between Borrisokane and Prince of Wales Drive and an expansion of Riverside South further east around Bowesville. These are defined as Category 1 lands because they are located near municipal services and transit hubs.
However, these lands do not provide sufficient land to meet the requirement for a fifteen-year supply of land as required by the province. Therefore, city staff provided three options to identify additional lands for future development. Option one looks at Category 2 lands which require servicing and further investment in infrastructure. These include a small parcel between Barnsdale, Prince of Wales and Longfields with other parcels sprinkled in other areas around the current boundary.
The second option is to do further study on three potential new community sites in south March, Riverside South (Bowesville and Mitch Owens area) or Leitrim East/Carlsbad. Each of these sites has challenges and require further study before a decision could be made. Some of those challenges are outlined in the Growth Management Strategy report.
The third option is to only focus on a proposed Leitrim East/Carlsbad community as it has the fewest challenges in providing for more development. This would be located at the Boundary Road and Highway 417 area.
The City report also notes that three developers have filed an application with the Superior Court to challenge the City’s decision to not expand the urban boundary into Agricultural Land and also to provide a one kilometre buffer around villages. The three developers are Richcraft (Ottawa based), Cardel (Calgary based) and Generation4 Inc.
The proposals are all going to a joint meeting of the Planning Committee and the Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee on January 25 where it is expected there were will be many presentations on the options. Following the approval of the joint Committees and City Council, staff will circulate details on the options to the public for input as part of the draft Official Plan. You can find the draft Growth Management Strategy at https://engage.ottawa.ca/the-new-official-plan/news_feed/new-official-plan-growth-management-strategy
Update: May 27, 2020
Click HERE for the City's update
Excerpt from Councillor Moffatt's newsletter (May 29, 2020):
Ottawa’s population is expected to grow by 400,000 new residents by 2046. To meet the increase in housing demand, City Council approved a growth management strategy to expand Ottawa’s urban area by 1,281 hectares of new residential lands and to have 60 per cent of new dwellings be built in already developed areas by 2046.
A decision on adding between 69 and 369 hectares of employment lands has been deferred until staff complete the required studies.
This balanced growth scenario will provide greater housing diversity within built-up areas, particularly near existing or planned transit hubs, along with sufficient housing supply outside the Greenbelt. This complements 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.
The strategy will inform the new Official Plan, which will guide development and growth in Ottawa until 2046.
Update: May 11, 2020
Click HERE to read MVCA's submission to the City Committees on this topic
One of the most important discussions around the future direction of the City happened over two days at the joint Planning Committee and Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee virtual hearing on May 11 and 12. The discussion focused on how the City will meet future housing needs of Ottawa residents through a Residential Growth Management Strategy.
No decision was made on the Strategy as Committee members had to gather additional input from City staff as a result of questions raised during the presentations. For example, Councillors are looking for some indication of costs associated with the options before making a decision.
The committee will be making a decision before the May 27 Council meeting as well as voting on a series of amendments proposed at the Committee meeting.
For Manotick and area residents an important amendment is one that will ensure that prime agricultural land will not be used to develop future neighbourhoods. We are also expecting confirmation that we continue to have a 1 km buffer around the Village protecting us from urban boundary expansion.
What is the Strategy about?
The Growth Management Strategy is a key part of the City’s Official Plan and will address housing needs in the future. The City has determined the population will grow by 402,000 people by 2046 and this growth will require the provision of an additional 195,000 residential units. City staff have recommended a Balanced Scenario that would include an increase in intensification, some growth in the urban boundary and continued growth in rural villages that have the necessary infrastructure.
The focus will be on development close to existing transportation nodes, limiting the need for new infrastructure and creating walkable neighbourhoods. Intensification is expected to be a mix of high-rise close to transit and smaller 3-4 unit buildings integrated into existing neighbourhoods. Most of the growth in rural villages is already accounted for in existing development plans such as Manotick’s Mahogany Development.
The future expansion of the urban boundary would be based on several criteria, some of which could change following the recent hearing. The criteria include how close the parcels are to existing development, how close they are to transit, what infrastructure already exists in the area, and more. Full details of the draft Strategy are located at https://engage.ottawa.ca/the-new-official-plan
The Committees received over 1000 written submissions by the May 8 deadline and over 100 individuals, including developers, community groups, planners, activists and ordinary citizens, appeared before the virtual Committee hearing.
Presenters talked about the need to expand the boundary to be able to provide affordable housing, the need to ensure that amenities and infrastructure are in place prior to development, the need for walkable communities, the need for affordable housing in urban areas for a variety of groups, the need for protection of agricultural land and the need to provide housing suitable for a variety of demographic groups including seniors and multicultural family units.
The presentation by MVCA called on the City to:
protect agricultural lands
maintain the 1 km buffer zone around rural villages
ensure sufficient green space is included in any new development, particularly high rise developments close to transit.
adhere to the Manotick Secondary Plan, which outlines the key components of our walkable community
develop more 15 minute walkable communities throughout the City
In addition, we asked the City to consider the possibility of future pandemics and their impact on housing in the development of its Strategy.
City of Ottawa's Official Plan information can be found at:
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