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September 23rd - New Official Plan


Why a New Official Plan

· This is the first brand New Official Plan in Ottawa since amalgamation.

· The Plan will guide growth and redevelopment for the next 25 years and set the stage for Ottawa to become a world city with a population of 2 million people by the end of the century.


5 Big Moves

The New Official Plan has a series of ambitious goals called the 5 Big Moves that go much further than the current OP in moving our city towards being the most livable city in North America.

§ Growth: having more growth through intensification rather than ‘greenfield’ development.

o New OP addresses different scales of development and new housing typologies that can help evolving areas integrate more housing units within buildings that blend in well with established neighbourhoods.

o The New Official Plan introduces policy tools for greater affordability of housing, such as policies to permit inclusionary zoning, new policies for protection of renters in the case of redevelopment, and a new prohibition on zoning provisions that limit where certain forms of communal housing can be established, and effectively, where people who need to reside in those housing types can live.

o Policies are now written into the New Official Plan to guide the evolution of the city not in terms of land use separation as in the previous Official Plan, but rather in terms of land use integration as part of an evolution of built form and placemaking, from suburban to urban, and anticipates this evolution to take place in different ways and at different times based on existing context.


§ Mobility: more trips by sustainable transportation than by private cars, characterizing the city as one of proximities (to the things we need) rather than distance (to be overcome).

o The Plan calls for establishment of ‘complete streets’ where street space is reallocated to people from vehicles, to support a vibrant and safe public realm for people.


§ Urban Design: new design policies for well-designed sites so intensification is done in a sensitive manner, that benefits a street and community.

o New policies emphasize sustainable design interventions in building design, elevating the importance of sustainable design, and connecting features such as green roofs, as positive design elements and also important contributors to a resilient and climate-adapted city.


§ Resiliency: This plan creates policies that bring environment, climate and health considerations to the forefront of planning practice in Ottawa.

o For the first time the New Official Plan recognizes the Climate Crisis and our urgent need to reduce, and eventually eliminate, our carbon emissions.

o For the first time health is one of the core strategic directions of the New Official Plan.

o The New OP seeks to rectify spatial disparities, such as how more marginalized neighbourhoods often have less public and private amenities and good infrastructure through targeted policies for these areas.

o New policies directly address the urban heat island effect, building resiliency in the built environment and our population, and supporting our communities as places for social connection, physical comfort, and health.

o An advancement from prior Official Plans is the efficacy of policies in support of greenhouse gas reductions and the monitoring framework developed for the new Official Plan.

o A new consideration in the plan is gender equity. Policies throughout the plan have been drafted and reviewed through a gender lens.


§ Economy: establishes a strong relationship between land-use and economic development, for example the creation of a ‘Community Planning Permit’ system to benefit businesses with a new flexible and streamlined approach to planning approvals.


15-Minute Neighbourhoods

· This idea is a concerted effort to sustain healthy, inclusive and walkable communities by creating a diverse land-use mix, including housing, services, schools and greenspaces.

· 15-minute neighbourhoods open the door for the incubation of new small, local-serving businesses and services throughout the urban area and in villages.

· The 15-minute neighbourhood helps the New Official Plan move beyond older OPs support of locally-oriented services by prioritizing a wide range of local services and facilities like schools and daycares in both new and established communities.


Transects

The Transect model in the New Official Plan introduces context specific direction on form (height, density and massing) of development.

Shift away from land use planning and towards planning by context, for form and function

§ Transect Policy Areas:

§ Downtown Core

§ Inner Urban

§ Outer Urban

§ Greenbelt

§ Suburban

§ Rural

Each will have objectives, goals, and policies that fit their context.


Engagement Process (see As We Heard It report for details)

· Through more than 140,000 engagements with residents over 150 activities, the New Official Plan received an unprecedented volume of input.

· The extensive feedback has provided a fulsome understanding of community views throughout each phase of development for the New Official Plan.

· Staff are recommending that Joint Committee and Council receive and accept the As We Heard It report outlining engagement on the New Official Plan.


Neighbourhood Tree Canopy

· The 40% tree canopy is an city-wide target. Achieving this in each neighbourhood will be our goal but the target will be set as an urban canopy target.

· We also have to recognize that there will be a turnover in the urban tree canopy, particularly in neighbourhoods already seeing an evolution.

· We have been working very closely with our colleagues in Zoning on approaches that allow us to maintain trees or at least enable tree planting and maintain the urban forest canopy in intensification.

· In the R4 zones and the infill zoning, our Zoning team has taken what they call a “landscape-first” approach to zoning, which makes it the first requirement to provide a certain amount of consolidated soft landscaping - that number is based on the requirements needed to support a mature tree. And that is what we propose to do moving forward, working with our Zoning team and Urban Design team to make sure that we do have space to plant trees and not just replace trees, but we increase our tree coverage in those areas where we see an evolution.


Rationale for Inner and Outer Urban Transect Boundaries

· 1950 is roughly the year where we start to see a different way of building neighbourhoods. In the area inside the Greenbelt, we have mapped the areas generally built before as Inner Urban and everything after as Outer Urban. They are two different contexts.

· Generally speaking, neighbourhoods that were developed after World War II have a more curvilinear street pattern, the street network is less connected, there's less of a connected street grid, it's more of a pattern of development with segregated land as opposed to mixed uses. And it is based on location as well.

· Some Inner Urban areas may have been built slightly after 1950. But they're so contiguous to the Inner Urban that they are logical members of the inner urban transect. And context-wise, you want to look at how all those factors interact together.

· It is not an exact science. It is based on a very detailed level of analysis by planners of maps, historical maps, land use maps, statistics, and a number of other things, including transit maps.


Is there a risk of Intensification being overly concentrated in one area?

· Every part of the city will do its part. As a city, we need to house more people inside the urban boundary to stop expanding into nature and forests and into agricultural land, which we do not want to do.

· The transect mapping lets you look at the city by context, and the Inner Urban density means a different thing because lots are smaller.

· There are a number of things that you can do with smaller lots and a number of things that have to be regulated a certain way because the lots are the way they are.

· In the Outer Urban, it is a different pattern of lots, it is a different pattern of streets, it is a different pattern of land use, they have their targets, but they will have zoning that is germane to the environment and the context there.

· Neighbourhoods that went from Inner to Outer still have intensification targets, still have density targets, and the zoning will provide those permissions.

· The New OP is spreading out intensification a whole lot more. Intensification is not just for Downtown, not just for the Inner Urban. It is for the Outer Urban as well. And it is for the Suburban as well.


Tenant Protection Policy

· The New OP has new rental protection policies.

· They will allow the City to establish a policy framework to ensure that no rental housing can be demolished without requiring that the demolished units be rebuilt and re-rented at the same price to the same tenants if they choose to come back.


Inclusionary Zoning

· The New OP has a policy that will enable the City to introduce Inclusionary Zoning (which is the ability to require a certain percentage of housing units to be affordable) in areas designated as Protected Major Transit Station Areas.


Repealing/ changing/ keeping the secondary plans

· Secondary Plans are legal documents that form part of the City’s Official Plan. As we develop a New Official Plan, we are looking not only at the parent Official Plan document but also at all the existing Secondary Plans.

· As part of the Preliminary Policy Directions document approved by Council in December 2019, staff proposed to repeal or amend a number of secondary plans. This recommendation was based on the fact that some secondary plans are over twenty years old and were intended to guide development that has already occurred. Other secondary plans do not address more current challenges as outlined in provincial policy.

· Where a secondary plan has been repealed, the policies of the parent Official Plan would apply. In some cases, there are neighbourhood-specific policies that have been retained, but they no longer constitute a full secondary plan. Instead they are found in volume 2C – Area-specific policies.


Greenspace

· Greenspace is an essential component of liveable 15-minute neighbourhoods and should be accessible to all urban residents. The New Official Plan carries forward policies that protect and provide access to public greenspaces. It also includes new policies to improve greenspace destinations.

· The draft New Official Plan includes policies to prioritize land dedication for parks, instead of collecting cash-in-lieu of parks.

· In the rural area, the New Official Plan plans for a healthy, connected network of natural areas to support biodiversity, increase resiliency to the impacts of climate change, reduce flood risks, protect drinking water quality, support the rural economy and preserve local character.

· The New Official Plan continues to protect significant wetlands and designated Natural Environment Areas, integrating them into a clearly defined system of core natural areas and linkages.

· Policies are proposed to protect, restore and improve the natural heritage system while allowing for appropriate rural development. These policies include a no net loss approach for wetlands and significant woodlands in the rural area, along with a no net negative impact approach for natural features that lie outside the natural heritage system.

COVID-19 Pandemic

· The pandemic has emphasized that people need access to outdoor physical activity, local services, and the ability to support neighbours and community members within their neighbourhoods, all of which are facilitated by creating denser communities with a range of land-uses.

· People need local sustainable transportation options during pandemics, including safe walking and biking. They need affordable and suitable housing within neighbourhoods.

· Exposure and access to nature and greenspaces are key in promoting physical and mental health in pandemics. They extend our living spaces, promote positive feelings and reduce stress, while offering shade, refuge from extreme heat, opportunities for physical activities and connections with others.

· These are all factors that improve livability during pandemics. And these are all characteristics of 15-minute neighbourhoods, which are a foundational building block for building healthy communities through the New Official Plan.


Climate Emergency

· Given that the building and transportation sectors are expected to account for roughly 75% of cumulative emission reductions from now until 2050, the New Official Plan is expected to play a key role in guiding the design of new communities and buildings with a model of urbanization that minimizes the need to travel, lessens the reliance on personal vehicles, and requires built forms that are less energy intensive.

· The New Official Plan also provides opportunities for the development of local energy supplies including renewable energy generation facilities and energy systems infrastructure to accommodate current and projected needs.

· In addition, the New Official Plan responds to the city’s need to adapt and prepare for the local impacts of a changing climate and mitigate the risks to human health and safety, property and the environment.

· Building resilience to climate change includes urban greening to counter extreme heat, protection against more extreme flooding, using nature-based solutions, and protecting our agricultural sector.

· Policies to reduce emissions and prepare for future climate conditions are integrated throughout the draft New Official Plan.


Affordable Housing

· The housing section of the draft New Official Plan recognizes that housing affordability is no longer just a challenge for the lowest income households, but affects a much wider population.

· The draft New Official Plan continues to support subsidized housing for low-income households but goes further in recognizing the needs of other, traditionally overlooked groups.

· These include tenant households; individuals who are not part of a household but cannot afford a whole dwelling unit to themselves; and middle-income households who don't qualify for subsidized housing but still have trouble finding affordable and suitable housing options.

· The New Official Plan supports the full range of housing needs, from emergency overnight shelters to rental apartments to owner-occupied houses, and encourages innovation in housing to meet the needs of the widest possible range of users.

· New policies will, to the full extent enabled by Provincial law, protect existing rental units from demolition and require new developments to house any tenants displaced by such demolition.

· They will also support the production of more rental housing to offset the ongoing shortage of rental units, by making rental vacancy rates an explicit consideration in the review of planning applications. In other words, when someone applies for a zoning amendment or a variance, their proposal will be approved or rejected partly on the basis of whether it will produce the kind of housing units that are most needed in the neighborhood.


Infrastructure

· The New Official Plan outlines where and how much growth will be accommodated in the future. The Infrastructure Master Plan supports this growth by ensuring there is enough infrastructure capacity, in the right areas of the city, at the right service levels, at the right time, to accommodate development and redevelopment.

· In areas where deficiencies exist, there are policies that give direction as to how to address those in a safe way that protects neighbouring properties.

· The City effectively and efficiently maintains its infrastructure through a sophisticated Comprehensive Asset Management program.


Rationale for encouraging increased number of apartment units

· Ottawa has a long-standing apartment shortage that is the direct result of current zoning rules.

· By encouraging more units within new apartment buildings, the City would encourage a gradual increase in Ottawa's supply of apartments, which is a pre-requisite to affordability.

· New apartments are needed to accommodate the growing number of those wishing to live in established inner-urban, low-rise communities.

· Zoning alone cannot make housing affordable, but it is part of the solution.

· Increasing options for housing, transportation and access to services and amenities also increases resiliency.


Mitigating major changes to the nature of established neighbourhoods


· Proposed changes will be introduced in a way that ensure new buildings are compatible with existing neighbourhoods. For example, when Council approved amended rules for R4 zoning, they were to encourage eight to twelve apartments within the same building envelope that is already allowed under current zoning.

· Amendment can also introduce design requirements to help ensure new buildings present a face that is respectful of the existing streetscape.


Growth Modeling:

· Updates to an earlier Fiscal Impact Analysis of different types of development have shown that it is financially beneficial to provide new growth through intensification.

· The work also shows that the relative relationship between the costs of suburban, ‘greenfield’ development, and intensification in existing built-up areas of the City has remained relatively stable over the last eight years.

· As the approved Growth Management Strategy directs increasing rates of growth through intensification over new urban expansion, equating to a 51 per cent rate of growth through intensification over the life of the Official Plan, the City can manage the overall costs of urban expansion given the net financial benefit of growth through intensification.


Tewin Community Design Planning Process and Studies:

· The planning of the new community will require a suite of integrated studies, culminating in a Community Design Plan, a Secondary Plan, and a Financial Implementation Plan. These studies will work to meet the following objectives:

· To address the Plan’s objectives of creating a new 21st century urban community in the Suburban Transect that reflects Algonquin design and placemaking principles,

· makes a national statement about the design of new communities and establishes a North American benchmark for community design based on the principles of the Five Big Moves

· premised on the aspiration to make this a fundamentally different suburban community than those of the late 20th and early 21st centuries,


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