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Zoning For Housing

Jason Burggraaf, Executive Director
Greater Ottawa Home Builders’ Association

This week the City of Ottawa launched discussion papers for public consultation on aspects of its new Zoning Bylaw (


These discussion papers give residents the opportunity to comment on the implementation of the recently approved new Official Plan through the development of a new Ottawa Zoning By-law. Essentially, taking the goals and aspirations of the Official Plan and making them concrete through the zoning by-law.


Well-crafted zoning is critical to providing for “missing middle” housing types, increasing opportunities for housing that’s affordable, and creating and enhancing Ottawa’s urban neighbourhoods. New, intelligent, intense building forms that can be imagined in creative ways by design professionals.


Now is the time to take bold steps to increase density and the variety of infill projects that will be created, and truly push the envelope for as-of-right development.


During the municipal election there was a lot of focus on R1 zoning (referred to as single family or exclusionary zoning). But of course that’s not the only type of zoning that needs attention. While 46% of all residential lots are zoned R1 in the built-up part of the city (including suburbs but not the rural part), R2 (semi-detached homes) and R3 (rowhomes) zoning account for 14% and 29% of residential zoning respectfully. Only 10% of all residential lots allow more than 3-units per lot.


Critical for the new zoning by-law will be how it handles housing along major and minor corridors and within hubs around transit stations (officially called protected major transit station areas). These areas are where the most dense multi-family buildings will be located. It’s also supposed to be where the most affordable housing moving forward will be offered in the city - 1, 2 and 3 bedroom apartments that are close to a transit.


In addition, having an updated Zoning By-law in place in a timely manner is critical if the city is going to achieve its goal of having the majority of new homes built in existing neighbourhoods.


The timeline for developing and implementing a new zoning by-law will greatly affect the City’s ability to achieve its housing goals. Therefore, the zoning by-law needs to be expedited as much as possible.


GOHBA is concerned that the longer the timetable for implementation (right now through to the middle of 2025), the more the City misses a significant opportunity (and critical period of time) to encourage missing middle typologies and support density close to transit.


The City needs to make the Zoning By-law a higher priority in order to ensure that it can achieve its housing goals, especially when it comes to intensification.


But it also needs to hear, through these public consultations, that residents support a zoning bylaw that lives up to our aspirations as a city.

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