Making sense of Ottawa’s 2013 Official Plan

On Friday November 8, 2013, the draft of Ottawa’s Official Plan (OP) was presented to the City of Ottawa’s Planning Committee. As landowners and builders of homes and communities, Ottawa’s home builders must balance the development policies outlined in the OP with the demands of new home buyers. In this sense, home builders are tasked with bringing the policy to practice. Given this, we wanted to share our thoughts on what the OP means for the City of Ottawa and for its residents.

What can we expect for Ottawa?

When it comes to the Official plan, in its current draft form, here are four things that residents can expect over the next five years.

1. More development in Ottawa’s urban core and mature neighbourhoods;

2. new intensive development around LRT stations and major transit hubs;

3. detailed design guidelines for buildings and homes; and

4. no new land supply for housing development.

More Development in Ottawa’s Urban Core

Fostering development in the urban core and inside the Ottawa’s greenbelt has been City of Ottawa policy since the last review of the Official Plan (2003). Urban planners refer to this policy as intensification. Building homes and revitalizing communities in the urban core has been a positive for Ottawa, and Ottawa’s homebuilders support the City’s intensification efforts.

Intensification has revitalized Wellington West, Hintonburg and Westboro – bringing new restaurants, shops and businesses to communities. Great urban neighbourhoods add to the vibrancy of Ottawa, making it easier for business to attract people and to create jobs.

The revitalization of Lansdowne is an example of an exciting project that is helping revitalize our mature neighbourhoods – while contributing $500 million to the local economy and employing thousands of people in the building and construction trades.

Helping Manage Intensification

As homebuilders we understand that intensification means changes to our existing neighbourhoods, whether infill housing or new larger-scale development and that change causes concern for some community residents. We are working with Ottawa’s community associations to find ways to work together and to help people understand why these changes are happening in their communities.

The City has a role to play in helping communities understand the changes brought on by intensification, and we want to work with the City on this as well. As Ottawa intensifies, Ottawans can expect to see more collaboration on intensification between homebuilders, community associations, residents and the City.

Next up – thoughts on the Official Plan policies in support of development around transit hubs and LRT stations.

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