1. Support the policy changes to the 2003 Official Plan proposed in Document 1 (as revised), to address concerns related to the forest strategy, and erosion prevention and protection of surface water quality identified by homebuilders and developers in the City of Ottawa; and
2. Direct staff to communicate this position to a prehearing of the Ontario Municipal Board.
RECOMMANDATIONS DU RAPPORT
1. d'appuyer les changements aux politiques du Plan officiel de 2003 proposés dans le document revisé ci-annexé, afin de résoudre les préoccupations liées à la stratégie forestière ainsi qu'à la prévention de l'érosion et à la protection de la qualité des eaux de surface exprimées par les constructeurs d'habitations et les promoteurs d'Ottawa;
2. de donner instruction au personnel de faire part de cette position à l'occasion d'une conférence préparatoire à une audience de la Commission des affaires municipales de l'Ontario.
Assumptions and Analysis:
The City's Official Plan proposes minimum setbacks from lakes, rivers, streams and other waterbodies, where development and site alteration is not permitted. The purpose of the setback is to protect the environmental health of the waterbody as well as protect people and property from hazards associated with slopes, erosion and flooding. The report proposes a modification of these policies to allow for some flexibility in their application, in order to address appeals of these policies in the 2003 Official Plan. The proposed modification would permit the City in consultation with the Conservation Authorities to consider exceptions to the setback in certain circumstances, such as on lands adjacent to minor tributaries. Also, exceptions that would permit lot development within the setback in the rural area are also proposed. Criteria for considering both types of exceptions are proposed.
The proposed modification also proposes other changes. It introduces a reference to the City's Slope Stability Guidelines for Development Applications in the City of Ottawa, 2004 and strengthens the role of watershed, subwatershed and environmental management plans in determining setbacks. It also proposes to delete policy 2 in section 4.7.2 Protection of Vegetative Cover, since this policy duplicates policies elsewhere in the Plan regarding the City's forest strategy and anticipates the outcome of that study.
If the modifications proposed in the report are supported by City Council, staff will communicate this position to the Ontario Municipal Board. As a result, the scope of a hearing scheduled to begin May 9 may be reduced.
Drafts of the proposed modifications were discussed with the Ottawa-Carleton Homebuilders Association and the Conservation Authorities and were circulated for comment to other land developers and the Greenspace Alliance.
Hypothèses et analyse :
Le Plan officiel de la Ville prévoit des marges de reculement minimales en bordure des lacs, des rivières, des cours d'eau et des autres étendues d'eau, où les aménagements et autres altérations des sites sont interdits. Ces marges de reculement ont pour objet de protéger l'environnement de ces étendues d'eau ainsi que de protéger les personnes et les biens contre les risques liés aux pentes, à l'érosion et aux inondations. Le rapport propose une modification aux politiques pertinentes du Plan officiel de 2003 visant à permettre une certaine souplesse dans leur application, de façon à résoudre les appels interjetés à leur sujet. La modification proposée permettrait à la Ville d'envisager, de concert avec les offices de protection de la nature, des exceptions aux marges de reculement dans certains cas, notamment sur les terrains situés en bordure d'affluents secondaires. Des exceptions visant à permettre l'aménagement de lots à l'intérieur de marges de reculement dans le secteur rural sont également proposées. Des critères d'examen de ces deux types d'exceptions sont également formulés.
La modification proposée prévoit aussi d'autres changements. Elle ajoute un renvoi aux lignes directrices de 2004 de la Ville sur la stabilité des pentes relativement aux demandes d'aménagement de même qu'elle renforce le rôle des plans de gestion des bassins et sous-bassins versants et de l'environnement dans la détermination des marges de reculement. Il est également proposé de supprimer la politique 2 contenue à la section 4.7.2, intitulée Protection de la couverture végétale, du Plan officiel de 2003, étant donné que cette politique fait double emploi avec des politiques énoncées dans d'autres parties du Plan concernant la stratégie forestière de la Ville et anticipe le résultat de cette étude.
Si le Conseil municipal appuie les modifications proposées dans le rapport, le personnel fera part de cette position à la Commission des affaires municipales de l'Ontario, ce qui pourrait réduire la porté d'une audience prévue pour le 9 mai.
Répercussions financières :
Consultation publique / commentaires :
La version préliminaire des modifications proposées a fait l'objet de discussions avec les représentants de l'Ottawa-Carleton Homebuilders Association et des offices de protection de la nature de même qu'elle a été soumise pour commentaires aux autres promoteurs immobiliers et à l'Alliance pour les espaces verts dans la capitale nationale.
In the course of addressing certain appeals of the 2003 Official Plan, city staff have worked with appellants on modifications to the Plan that would address the appellant's concerns while maintaining Council's policy on the matter. This report proposes such modifications to policies on the required setbacks from streams and other waterbodies. These policies were appealed by rural and urban land developers and were also of concern to the Ottawa-Carleton Homebuilders Association. Staff agreed with their position that greater flexibility was required in these policies to set reasonable and appropriate setbacks from waterbodies. If the policies proposed in this report are supported by Council, staff will ask the Ontario Municipal Board to consider including them in the Plan through a modification. As a result, the scope of a hearing scheduled to begin May 9, 2006, may be reduced.
The Ottawa-Carleton Homebuilders, Minto and Tartan have substantially withdrawn on their appeals of the 2003 Official Plan in anticipation of a resolution of their concerns with setbacks and other matters. They will be continuing to work with staff on a review of urban land requirements in 2008. Del Corporation, Brookfield Homes and Sunset Lakes Development Corporation have appealed all or part of the current policies on setbacks and have also reduced the scope of their appeals in various matters following discussions with staff.
The Official Plan contains policies on establishing setbacks required from rivers, lakes and other waterbodies, where development and site alteration may not occur. The setback is created in order to ensure the environmental health of the waterbody as well as to protect individuals and property from potential damage from erosion, slope and flood hazards. These policies are applied in the review of development applications in the urban and rural areas and in each area, must respond to a variety of circumstances. For example, development proposals adjacent to creeks with incised banks generally need to address matters of slope stability and erosion control, whereas development proposals adjacent to creeks with shallow banks generally need to respect the flood plain. In both cases, fish habitat must be protected and streamside vegetation maintained to buffer impacts from runoff and maintain water temperature.
As a general approach in the Plan, the setback is defined by layering the requirements arising from various criteria--i.e., flood plain, erosion control, access to an unstable slope, protection of fish habitat--and selecting the greatest setback.. Minimums are also set: 30 metres from the normal high water mark or 15 metres from an existing top of bank. Watershed, subwatershed, and environmental management plans provide the most comprehensive analysis of setback requirements, taking into account the characteristics of the stream channel, ecological functions, and the cumulative effects of proposed development. The setback is implemented for individual properties as part of the development review process.
City staff agreed with the Ottawa-Carleton Homebuilders Association that the current policies in the Plan require clarification and do not provide sufficient flexibility to address the variety of circumstances where setbacks must be defined. In particular, the policies may require too large of a setback than is needed to meet environmental and other objectives in certain circumstances, particularly when considering minor, man-made or natural watercourses with limited ecological function. Further, flexibility with respect to lot creation within the setback in the rural area is also warranted. Thus, the proposed modifications seek to provide exceptions regarding the size of the setback and lot creation within the setback in the rural area, and criteria for determining when such exceptions may be considered by the City in consultation with the Conservation Authority.
The modification in Document 1 attached proposes the following changes:
In addition to the proposed modification regarding erosion prevention and protection of surface water quality, the modification also proposes to delete policy 2 in Section 4.7.2 Protection of Vegetative Cover. The policy states:
"2. The requirements of the tree preservation and protection plan and a landscape planting plan may be amended upon completion of the forest strategy as described in Section 2.4.5. In particular, where forest loss occurs as a result of development, it will be offset by plantings and compensation elsewhere on the property, or through contributions to the forest enhancement program, which may include compensation on alternate sites, owned by the applicant or the City. The forest enhancement program will be implemented through guidelines to manage and protect forests."
This policy repeats provisions of policies 9 and 10 in Section 2.4.5 Greenspaces, such as the need to develop guidelines for tree planting and preservation and a policy on loss of forest as a result of development, and anticipates the outcome of a forest strategy that will include such guidelines. Community organizations, land developers and other interested parties will be consulted on the forest strategy and other work described in 2.4.5 as it progresses.
The proposed modification introduces flexibility in the creation of lots within villages and country lot subdivisions. The proposed policies will permit the city and landowners to negotiate the best configuration of lots in response to the circumstances presented in each application.
The proposed modification was discussed with the Conservation Authorities, the Ottawa-Carleton Homebuilders, and representatives of Del Corporation and Brookfield Homes. Drafts of the proposed modification were circulated to the Ottawa-Carleton Homebuilders, Minto and Tartan, as well as to the appellants Del Corporation, Brookfield Homes, and Sunset Lakes Development Corporation. No response was received following a circulation of the proposed modification to Greenspace Alliance, which had appealed other environment-related policies in the Plan.
As part of the consultation, clarification was sought regarding the need for an Official Plan amendment if an exception to a setback was requested and approved by the City in consultation with the Conservation Authority. Staff confirmed an amendment would not be required, since such an exception would be in keeping with the proposed policy in the Plan.
One appellant stated the City should not be seeking setbacks from roadside ditches and asked for an exemption for certain municipal drains. Staff responded that the policies are not applied to ditches and noted that the proposed modifications provide for consideration of alternative setbacks for municipal drains, where these can be considered as minor tributaries. Staff also noted that where municipal drains provide fish habitat, a setback is required to protect that habitat and comply with the federal Fisheries Act.
Staff agreed with the land developers generally that the determination of setbacks is complicated and that the definition of "minor tributary" is challenging. Staff propose to develop a guideline on how to implement the setback policy in consultation with the industry, environmental groups and other interested parties later in 2006.
Planning and Growth Management will prepare Watercourse Setback Guidelines to assist with implementing the policy.
1. Delete policy 2 in Section 4.7.2 Protection of Vegetative Cover and renumber the policies accordingly. Policy 2, proposed for deletion, is as follows:
“2. The requirements of the tree preservation and protection plan and a landscape planting plan may be amended upon completion of the forest strategy as described in Section 2.4.5. In particular, where forest loss occurs as a result of development, it will be offset by plantings and compensation elsewhere on the property, or through contributions to the forest enhancement program, which may include compensation on alternate sites, owned by the applicant or the City. The forest enhancement program will be implemented through guidelines to manage and protect forests.”
2. Delete the preamble and policies 1 to 5 in section 4.7.3 Erosion Prevention and Protection of Surface Water, and replace them with the following:
1. Except as otherwise provided for in this section, Council will establish minimum setbacks from rivers, lakes, streams and other watercourses in watershed, subwatershed and environmental management plans and in these plans identify any additional studies needed to refine the setback through the development review process as well as any site-specific measures needed to protect the setback.
2. Where a Council-approved watershed, subwatershed, or environmental management plan does not exist, the minimum setback will be the greater of the following:
a) Development limits as established by the regulatory flood line (see Section 4.8.1);
b) Development limits as established by the geotechnical limit of the hazard lands;
c) 30 metres from the normal high water mark of rivers, lakes and streams, as determined in consultation with the Conservation Authority; or
d) 15 metres from the existing top of bank, where there is a defined bank.
3. No site alteration or development is permitted within the minimum setback, except as otherwise provided for in this section. Site alteration is defined as activities, such as fill, grading and excavation, that would change the landform and natural vegetative characteristics of a site. Development is defined as the creation of a new lot or the construction of buildings and structures requiring approval under the Planning Act or the issuance of a Building Permit under the Building Code Act. Exceptions to this policy are:
a) activities that create or maintain infrastructure within the requirements of the environmental assessment process or works subject to the Drainage Act;
b) alterations necessary for recreation, environmental restoration, or slope stability works that are approved by the City and the Conservation Authority.
4. Exceptions to the setbacks in policy 2 will be considered by the City in consultation with the Conservation Authority in situations where development is proposed:
a) On existing lots where, due to the historical development in the area, it is unreasonable to demand or impossible to achieve minimum setback distances because of the size or location of the lot, approved or existing use on the lot, or other physical constraint;
b) Adjacent to a minor tributary that serves primarily a surface water function and that may have only an intermittent flow. This provision includes situations where a watershed, subwatershed or environmental management plan exists but does not provide guidance on a minor tributary;
c) Adjacent to an existing top of bank where the regulatory flood line and the geotechnical limit of the hazard lands are within 15 metres from the existing top of bank.
5. Where an exception to the setback is requested, an alternate setback will be considered by the City in consultation with the Conservation Authority on the basis of a study that addresses the following criteria:
a) Slope of the bank and geotechnical considerations related to unstable slopes, as addressed in Council’s Slope Stability Guidelines for Development Applications in the City of Ottawa, 2004;
b) Natural vegetation and the ecological function of the setback area;
c) The nature of the abutting water body, including the presence of a flood plain;
d) The need to demonstrate that there will be no negative impacts on adjacent fish habitat.
6. Notwithstanding policy 3, lot creation by subdivision may be considered which includes land within the required setback in Villages adjacent to a minor tributary that serves primarily a surface water function and that may have only an intermittent flow, subject to the following criteria:
a) Where slope stability is an issue, the lot area outside the geotechnical limit of hazard is sufficient to meet the required minimum lot size and Council’s Slope Stability Guidelines for Development Applications in the City of Ottawa, 2004 are satisfied; and
b) The lot area outside the setback is sufficient to accommodate all structures and water and wastewater services.
7. Notwithstanding policy 3, lot creation by subdivision may be considered which includes land within the required setback in the rural area outside Villages, subject to the following criteria:
c) Where slope stability is an issue, the lot area outside the geotechnical limit of hazard is sufficient to meet the required minimum lot size and Council’s Slope Stability Guidelines for Development Applications in the City of Ottawa, 2004 are satisfied; and
d) The lot area outside the setback is sufficient to accommodate all structures and water and wastewater services.
8. Notwithstanding policy 3, a lot created by severance in the rural area may include land within the required setback provided the criteria in policy 7 are satisfied. The new lot created by severance in the rural area should be located outside the setback to the extent possible.
9. Where development is proposed on private services, no septic tank or distribution piping may be located closer than 30 m from the normal high water mark of a river, lake or stream or other watercourse unless an alternative setback has been permitted by the City in consultation with the Conservation Authority, for example, as may be required for existing lots in the rural area.”