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Staff report highlights strong local economy and healthy employment rate

September 12, 2017
Council Updates

Ottawa continues to have a strong economy with a healthy supply of jobs and general economic stability, according to the planning department’s 2016 Annual Development Report – an overview of demographic and economic statistics.

The City’s Planning Committee received this report today, along with a presentation from City staff. Among the report highlights:

  • Ottawa’s population grew 0.8 per cent in 2016 to an estimated 968,580 residents.
  • Migration was an important factor in that growth, with more than 5,800 people moving to the city.
  • Buoyed by increases in construction rates of semi-detached homes and row-houses, Ottawa saw construction begin on more than 5,000 houses, to help accommodate its growing population.
  • The City has substantially exceeded its intensification target over the last five years, with 51.4 per cent of all newly built units located within established urban and suburban areas. The target was 38 per cent.
  • Ottawa’s unemployment rate remained unchanged at 6.3 per cent, which is lower than the 6.5-per-cent provincial rate and the seven-per-cent national rate.
  • Average resale house prices in Ottawa rose 1.7 per cent in 2016 to $371,000.

To help minimize delays and costs around flood recovery, the Committee approved Zoning By-law changes to eliminate the need for minor variances when repairing or rebuilding structures damaged during May floods. These changes will make it easier for owners who may wish to rebuild at a higher point on their lot. Small increases in building height will also be permitted, to accommodate flood-proofing measures. City Council will discuss these changes at a meeting on Wednesday, September 13.

The Committee also approved an omnibus amendment to the Zoning By-law, which includes a new definition for payday loan establishments. The revised definition is consistent with recent provincial legislation, and will differentiate these establishments from other financial institutions, such as banks.

Provincial legislation scheduled to take effect in 2018 will give municipalities more authority to establish conditions for payday loan establishments. A review is already underway about how best to regulate these establishments. Once complete, City staff will introduce a framework to be considered by Community and Protective Services Committee. Any changes to the Zoning By-law arising from the staff review would be considered by Planning Committee.

Other changes in the omnibus amendment considered today by Planning Committee clarify wording, correct minor errors, such as mapping errors, and harmonize inconsistencies between sections of the by-law.

The Committee also approved the addition of properties to Ottawa’s Heritage Register. All properties are located in the neighbourhoods of Old Ottawa East and Old Ottawa South.

City Heritage staff are completing the Heritage Inventory Project: an inventory of all properties across Ottawa that have cultural heritage value. This is the second batch, following the 237 properties within Lowertown and Sandy Hill that were added in April.

By establishing a comprehensive and up-to-date Heritage Register, the City aims to create more certainty for property owners, community associations and developers, and to raise awareness about Ottawa’s rich cultural heritage. Owners of properties on the Register must give the City 60 days’ notice of any demolition, but are still free to undertake alterations.

In approving the additions, the Committee directed staff to look at reducing the amount of time needed to review applications to be taken off the Register when a property owner wishes to demolish their house. Staff will also take a closer look at any proposed additions that have been disputed by their owners and will bring a recommendation on those properties back to Built-Heritage Sub-Committee, Planning Committee and Council.

Except where noted, items approved at today’s Planning Committee meeting will go to City Council on Wednesday, September 27.

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