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Canada

Consultations on 25-year plan, 'five big moves' to begin this fall

The public will soon be able to share their thoughts on five preliminary directions for the city’s new 25-year plan, a document that city staff call “the blueprint for how we’re going to grow” as a city.

The plan won’t be finalized by city council until spring of 2021. After that it will have to go to the province for approval.

The city’s planning committee and agricultural and rural affairs committee held a joint meeting on Thursday to speak with speak with city staff about the “five big moves”, policy directions that will serve as themes for the plan and to centre discussion around the upcoming consultations.

The new master plan will guide decision-making and growth between 2021 and 2046, during which time staff expect the city population to reach 1.4 million. This new plan is supposed to prepare for that shift by broadly designating how that growth will be spread out, and how it will impact different parts of the city.

After this fall’s public consultations, city staff will be back in December to present an update.

Don Herweyer, the city’s manager of development review, called the plan “a significant (and) exciting opportunity” for the city. Staff told the committees on Thursday that the objective in this initiative is to make Ottawa the “most liveable mid-size city” in North America.

The five policy directions, or “five big moves” are, in summary:

Given the wide scope of the plan, Thursday’s vote was preceded by a long list of public delegates who wanted to give their feedback to the committee.

Many of the delegates advocated for a strong environmental focus in the upcoming plan. Paul Johanis, chair of environmental organization Greenspace Alliance for Canada’s Capital, told the committee he supports some of the sustainability measures outlined in the big moves but that he will continue engaging in the process to make sure the city follows through once the plan is actually drafted.

Other delegates advocated for the plan to have more of an emphasis on affordable housing.

While much of the focus of the document is on shaping urban areas, staff say the plan is also an opportunity to define the identity of Ottawa’s rural communities.

“It’s time for us to have this conversation in Ottawa: maybe it’s time for us to designate buffers around our villages so that Carp and Stittsville don’t grow together, so that Manotick and Barrhaven don’t grow together,” said Stephen Willis, general manager of planning. “What is the condition of those villages? Do they still exist as separate identities? The decision we make now could actually affect that.”

There was some hubbub over a phrase in the document that ponders a scenario where the city’s urban reach would expand into the Greenbelt. But city policy planning manager Alain Miguelez said that this was only included in the report for the sake of including all possible options, not as an actual recommendation.

About a hundred members of city staff wrote the big moves document after processing previous public comments and analyzing “the effectiveness of the current policies,” as stated in staff’s report to council.

Planning Committee approves new developments

The planning committee also met on its own to approve several new developments across the city.

One of these developments, at 1950 Scott St., was approved, but not without the dissent of Kitchissippi Ward Coun. Jeff Leiper, the neighbourhood’s representative.

“We could do a lot better,” Leiper said of the 21-storey building. Besides saying that a purely residential building doesn’t contribute to the pedestrian character of the street, he said the planned tower has too much parking. “It is right across from Westboro transit station. We should not be approving buildings right across from some of our busy LRT stations that encourage everyone to come with a car.” The building has 169 parking stalls for 141 units.

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