The City of Ottawa’s Planning Summit took place on April 26 and provided an opportunity to talk about today’s planning challenges. The Summit was just the first step in the review of the City’s major planning policies, including the Official Plan, Transportation Master Plan and the Infrastructure Master Plan.
Participants at the Summit represented a variety of perspectives and included residents, community and business organizations, the building and development industry, and professionals working in all areas of planning and design.
Address from the Mayor
The Summit began with Mayor Watson announcing the City’s plans to foster smarter development growth and identifying six areas that require focus in order to build a better city:
- Containing urban expansion
- Promoting transit-oriented development
- Retrofitting existing suburban neighbourhoods, and encouraging development in new suburban areas to create complete neighbourhoods
- Creating complete rural villages
- Ensuring that planning initiatives contribute to a stronger city economy
- Delivering greater predictability and certainty when it comes to development in our City.
Read the Mayor’s speech.
Address from Councillor Peter Hume
Councillor Peter Hume outlined several initiatives to bring greater clarity to the planning process and improve relations with the community:
- Commission a study of tall buildings that will result in specific guidelines for where these buildings should be placed
- Review selected community design plans to ensure that zoning is up to date, thus permitting a quicker development-approvals process and making clear where larger buildings are not permitted
- Form a Zoning SWAT Team to be assigned to controversial zoning files and produce proposed solutions quickly
- Create a Neighbourhood Connection Office. This office will work with Councillors and neighbourhood leaders to implement projects in their neighbourhood that will help to build complete, livable communities. Projects will improve cycling, walkability, address traffic-calming and improve access to green space
- Support developments that conform to City development policies as set out in documents such as the Official Plan, the Transportation Master Plan and the Provincial Policy Statement which guides development in Ontario
- Provide guaranteed timelines for certain minor development applications.
Pamela Blais – Suburban Development
Pamela Blais is the author of Perverse Cities: Hidden Subsidies, Wonky Policy and Urban Sprawl, which was shortlisted for the 2011 Donner Book Prize - awarded for the best Canadian public policy book of the year. In the morning, Blais made a presentation, Building Better Suburbs: Harnessing Pricing to Support Planning, based on her book. Her presentation showed how key financial instruments (for example, development charges, user fees and parking charges) could be redesigned to reshape the suburbs, with examples from other jurisdictions where this has been done.
Jeffrey Tumlin – Transit-oriented Development
Over the past 19 years, Jeffrey Tumlin has led station area, downtown, citywide, and campus plans, in 20 U.S. states and five other countries. In the afternoon, Tumlin made a presentation, Greener Ottawa: Seven Free and Low-Cost Steps Ottawa can take to Leverage Rail Investments and Grow Healthier and Wiser, which explored typical municipal policies and the linkages between active transportation and community and mental health. His seven steps on how Ottawa should plan for the areas around our future Light Rail Transit stations included:
- Transportation performance measures – measure what matters
- Make traffic analysis smart
- Fix travel demand models
- Adopt the right street design manual
- Plant trees
- Bike investments = economic development
- Manage parking
Since the Summit, the Planning Committee and Council moved immediately to approve the funding necessary to implement two of the initiatives that were announced. These funds will allow us to perform rapid reviews on selected existing Community Design Plans (CDPs) and Secondary Plans to ensure their consistency and clarity related to zoning and other development policies. The funding will also allow us to move immediately to create the promised “SWAT Team” that will work with neighbourhoods and developers on specific concerns as a result of development applications.
Staff also prepared a report to Planning Committee for its May 22 meeting that provided a summary of the discussions at the Summit’s breakout sessions and strategic directions. You may access this report online.
Thanks again for your participation!