FCA Takes Official Plan Fight To Queen’s Park

This is a release from the Federation of Citizens Associations of Ottawa:

Hon. Paul Calandra, M.P.P. 

Minister of Municipal Affairs & Housing 

17th Floor, 777 Bay Str. 

Toronto ON, M7A 2J3 

 

Dear Minister: 


Bill 150 – Planning Statute Law Amendment Act (2023) 

and City of Ottawa Request for Modifications to its Official Plan 

On behalf of the Federation of Citizens Associations (FCA – representing 73 community  groups in Ottawa) we are writing to you to oppose the City of Ottawa’s request to modify  the City’s Official Plan with regard to height limits in minor corridors. 

Last year Ottawa City Council took enormous pains to engage the public in  developing Ottawa’s Official Plan – the document that is to guide Ottawa’s growth for the  next 25 years. The issues were significant – should Ottawa intensify to meet housing  demand, or expand outwards. The FCA and its members were encouraged to participate  and did participate in the development of the City’s Official Plan. City Council, after  much public input and debate, adopted a hybrid approach in finalizing its Official Plan – supporting intensification established neighbourhoods (example: raising height limits in  minor corridors to 4 storeys) and designating new land outside the urban boundary for  development. 

There was much consternation, however, when, last November, your predecessor Minister of Municipal Affairs & Housing Stephen Clark unilaterally modified the City of  Ottawa’s Official Plan by adding additional lands for urban expansion, as well as raising  height limits from 4 to 9 storeys in minor corridors to allow for more intensification.  Other municipalities experienced similar modifications by the then Minister. 

Following the provincial Auditor-General’s report showing undue developer influence  guided modifications to the City of Ottawa’s Official Plan and official plans for other  municipalities, Minister Clark resigned and you, Minister Callandra, brought in  legislation (Bill 150 – Planning Statute Law Amendment Act (2023)) to walk back these  imposed modifications to official plans, including Ottawa’s. We (the FCA) supported this  move.

However, at its November 22, 2023 meeting Ottawa City Council walked-on and  approved a motion at its meeting asking you as Minister of Municipal Affairs & Housing  to re-instate the higher height limits of up to 9 storeys that Minister Clark imposed over  the 4 storey height limit that Council had originally approved last year, without any  attempt at public consultation on this higher height limit! 

The FCA had participated in the City’s Official Plan process in good faith. When we saw  this walk-on motion regarding higher height limits in minor corridors we wrote to City  Council immediately asking that the motion be referred to the City’s Planning & Housing  Committee for public input. The issue of height limits and intensification in established  neighbourhoods is a major issue to residents and this motion was a significant departure  from what Council agreed to last year. Unfortunately our request was ignored. 

We ask that you reject Ottawa City Council’s request to now increase the height limits in  minor corridors in its Official Plan from the currently approved 4 storeys, for two  reasons: 

1. Council’s request does not follow the procedures outlined in the Planning Act  regarding the initiation and disposition of amendments to Official Plans, in  particular the requirement to give notice of such an amendment and to provide  opportunity for the public to comment prior to a decision being made on such an  amendment. In this case there was no notice and no opportunity for the public to  comment on this unexpected initiative at a Council and/or Council committee  meeting. 

2. The issue of the appropriate level of intensification for the City of Ottawa was  well debated in the months leading up to the final approval of the City’s Official  Plan in 2022. The FCA supported placing more onus in the Official Plan on  intensification to reach the City’s population and housing targets rather than on  urban sprawl. We supported proposals for intensification along major rapid transit  corridors and along major arterials. However, for minor corridors in established  neighbourhoods we supported setting an upper limit of 4 storeys for appropriate  intensification here. This is what City Council approved last year in its Official  Plan. 

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Due process is an important principle in evidence-based decision-making. Thank you for  your attention to our request. 

Yours truly, 

Robert Brinker 

President 

Federation of Citizens Associations

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1 Response

  1. Dan Stankovic says:

    I wonder, if Council is so supportive of intensification and mixed-use developments along corridors and around transit stations, why then were they eager to provide a $1.3 mil property tax subsidy for a typical suburban single-storey, car-oriented commercial strip mall within easy access to the new Trim LRT station not just 2 months ago?

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