Ottawa’s Official Plan ….and why it matters to you?

On Friday November 8, 2013 the City of Ottawa’s Planning Committee will hold one last public meeting on the review of the City of Ottawa’s Official Plan. Decisions made at this meeting will have a significant impact on the future shape of Ottawa – where we live, how we live and how we get around. Official plans matter a lot to home builders, but we realize that they might not be on the radar for most people. So, what’s an official plan and why does it matter?

What’s an official plan?

An official plan is a long-range planning policy document used by cities to guide growth and manage development. Official plans focus on how we manage land in our cities. The choices we make on how we manage the land in our city are influenced by people’s social, economic and environmental goals. Typically an official plan focusses on a 20 – 30 year time frame.

Why does Ottawa’s Official Plan matter to you?

There are a number of reasons why official plans matter to you, but let’s focus on three:

If you own a home: If you own a home or land and want to make changes to it or build on it, the official plan sets out the policy governing what you can do with your house or your land. All development has to respect the policy direction outlined in the official plan and the zoning bylaws which bring the policy into practical effect.

If you want to buy a new home: The official plan sets the direction for how a city wants to grow. Let’s say you are looking to buy a new home. The official plan sets out the amount of land in a city that is designating for home building (urban land). If the official plan does not increase the amount of land upon which we can build homes and that city’s population is growing, then the cost of existing land will increase. This is not good for new home buyers, because they will face higher home costs.

If you are interested in how your city looks and works: The official plan sets out the policy governing the design and building of homes, high-rise buildings, communities and employment areas. Official plans outline policies on where certain types of buildings will be allowed in a city. Sometimes official plans identify parts of a city where certain types of development will be promoted. They will set the framework for housing densities in certain parts of the city.

If you want to learn more about Ottawa’s Official Plan and what it means for you, you can check the City’s website and/or read the backgrounders. We’ll be sharing our thoughts on Ottawa’s  Official Plan later this week, so please check back.

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