Committee moves to facilitate office-to-residential conversion

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Published on
November 1, 2023
Council, committees and City Hall
Planning, development and construction

The Planning and Housing Committee today approved a set of recommendations that seek to facilitate office-to-residential conversion, encouraging the revitalization of underused office building space.

The report identifies opportunities to streamline the development approval process for conversions. The recommendations anticipate federal government plans to reduce its office space in the National Capital Region. Recommendations approved today would:

  • Define when the planning application fees for Official Plan amendments should be waived
  • Propose language for a forthcoming omnibus zoning amendment to generally permit conversions where no new storeys or additions are proposed, saving applicants between $13,000 and $26,000 in fees and 90 days in processing time
  • Streamline and reduce the fee for the Site Plan Control process for conversions where no new storeys or additions are proposed, saving applicants about $30,000 in fees
  • Explore approaches for stormwater management that would generate significant savings for applicants undertaking conversions
  • Propose the Province consider revising the regulation for Record of Site Condition, which can be a long and costly process

The Committee also directed staff to pilot a financial incentive program for office-to-residential conversions within Somerset Ward. Staff would continue to meet with stakeholders to further explore the potential impact of additional financial incentives and report back to the Committee in the first quarter of 2024.

The Committee approved a zoning amendment to facilitate development of a 19-storey apartment building on Isabella Street, between O’Connor and Bank streets. The proposed building would include 234 dwellings – mostly one-bedroom and two-bedroom units. The amendment would increase permitted height, adding high-rise apartment as a permitted use along with several non-residential uses for the ground-floor commercial space.

The committee also approved zoning to accommodate a four-storey apartment building that would add 18 dwellings on Baseline Road, east of Lexington Street. While the site is already zoned for residential use, the amendment would change the zoning from Residential First Density to Residential Fourth Density to permit the planned low-rise apartment. The amendment would also reduce required resident parking for this property that is well served by transit.

In Riverside South, the Committee approved a zoning amendment to facilitate construction of an industrial subdivision along Twin Falls Place. The amendment would rezone the property from Development Reserve to Light Industrial, consistent with the vision set out in the Riverside South community design plan.

If Council approves, the land-use permissions that the Committee recommended today will help put applicants in a position to build 252 new dwellings in Ottawa. To help address the housing challenge, Council committed to providing home builders enough opportunities to build 151,000 quality market homes by 2031. Visit for a graphic showing quarterly progress towards Ottawa’s housing pledge targets.

Recommendations from today’s meeting will rise to Council on Wednesday, November 8.