Note: This study has been completed and has been adopted in the Zoning By-law as By-laws 2020-288 and 2020-289 as of October 14, 2020. These amendments are now in full force and effect, and the online version of the Zoning By-law has been updated to reflect these changes. The planning report recommending these amendments can be read here.
Update January 2020
Following receipt of comments on the Addendum, the proposed idea of introducing one front yard parking space, on properties in the Mature Neighbourhoods Overlay where attached garages and carports are not the dominant character, will not be advanced. Council direction on the prohibition on front yard parking has been consistently upheld since the 1980’s.
As part of the Ontario Municipal Board mediation in 2015, agreement was reached as to the circumstances under which legally-created front yard parking may be permitted. These include the review of air photos to determine whether spaces existed in 1965 and have continued to exist, around the time that the former Ottawa’s Zoning By-law AZ-64 was adopted, as well as whether spaces were permitted through rezonings to any of the Ottawa Zoning By-laws, or through minor variances. Where legally-created front yard parking spaces are the dominant pattern on a street, a new space may be permitted. This longstanding policy against front yard parking continues to be a primary concern expressed by stakeholders across the inner urban neighbourhoods, particularly in neighbourhoods designed and built prior to the introduction of the automobile in the 1950s.
To advance the idea that mature houses designed prior to the automobile are different in nature and look with all of the first storey consisting of habitable space, with wide windows, often with wide porches, staff will recommend against the introduction of front-facing garages or carports on those streets where the homes do not have these, within the Mature Neighbourhoods Overlay.
Instead, where the minimum interior side yard is at least 1.2 metres, a notched out space located on the first storey along a portion of the exterior side wall of the dwelling unit will be permitted, as shown in the illustration below. These spaces will be limited to no more than 1.8 metres in width and must be at least 5.2 metres in length, allowing a car to be parked partially within the interior side yard and outside of the front yard. Storeys above the first one may be cantilevered partially over the surface parking space subject to meeting the minimum yard setbacks applicable, provided no column, pillar, pier or post is used to support the cantilevered gross floor area above. This will ensure that the design does not become a front-facing carport on streets where these are not the dominant character.
The result of this design option will be that the entire front face of a dwelling will consist of entranceways, windows and porches providing a greater floor area available within the dwelling, rather than homes whose facades consist mostly of an attached garage with a larger indoor space lost to attached front-facing garages, many of which are not used to park the car but rather for indoor storage. This notched-out interior side yard parking space provides a more compatible look than blank garage doors and cars parked in the front yard, by maintaining the look of dwelling front facades without garages and carports.
A notched-out space is one of many car parking approaches that would be permitted instead of a front-facing attached garage or carport, including surface side yard or rear yard parking, detached rear yard garages and attached rear-facing garages.
Update September 2019
Following the public circulation of the Proposed Zoning Changes to regulate Low-Rise Residential Infill in the General Urban Area Strategy Paper [ PDF 2.2 MB ] in April 2019, staff reviewed the comments received from stakeholders, including the Federation of Citizens’ Association and the Greater Homebuilders Association. Based on their comments, staff are proposing one significant change to the proposed zoning regulations that will affect new and existing detached and semi-detached dwellings in the Mature Neighbourhoods Overlay, as detailed in the Addendum to the Proposed Zoning Changes to Regulate Low-rise Residential Infill in the General Urban Area Strategy [ PDF 501 KB ]
In the April 2019 Strategy Paper, it was proposed that on those streets within the Mature Neighbourhoods Overlay (MNO) where attached garages and carports are not the dominant character, as determined through a Streetscape Character Analysis (SCA), that no new attached garage or carport may be developed. Stakeholders, including the Federation of Citizens’ Association and the Greater Homebuilders Association, suggested that in these cases, a front yard parking space might be an appropriate option in lieu of the attached garage or carport and driveway, or a side driveway that leads to rear yard parking. The Addendum to the Strategy Paper [ PDF 501 KB ] details the conditions under which one front yard parking space may be permitted solely in the case of detached and semi-detached dwellings on MNO streets where attached garages/carports are not the dominant character, based on the advantages that such design will offer, including:
- The front yard parking space would be in place of a driveway, not in addition to.
- There is more front yard area available for soft landscaping, where such would be ‘front and centre’ in the middle of the original lot in front of the entrances,
- the parking space would be restricted to not being in front of the dwelling, other than where a secondary entranceway might be located to the side of the dwelling,
- The dwelling’s front façade will not be obstructed by driveways and parking;
- the façade will be more visible and appealing, with 100% of that part of the first floor facing the street being habitable space, with a window rather than an attached garage door;
- It would allow for wider front porches,
- It would result in the first floor being located closer to average existing grade, with fewer steps to the landing and entry unless there is a significant grade change or a secondary dwelling unit proposed in the basement,
- It would take up less land than if there were a driveway, particularly one located down the interior side lot line leading to a rear yard parking area, leaving such lands primarily softly landscaped,
- The extra lands left softly landscaped would increase the permeability thereon, which is beneficial for on-site stormwater management,
- The extra soft landscaped yards would increase the availability of soil volume to enable a tree, either within the right-of-way or on-site,
- The smaller front yard parking space surface would take less land than a driveway would because the length and width would be restricted to that required for a parking space; and
- Once the parking space is no longer needed, it would be simpler to reverse the surface to soft landscaping rather than in the case of a long side yard driveway.
Some of the proposed front yard parking regulations would include:
1) the front yard parking space would only be permitted when the minimum required soft landscaped area in the front yard and in the corner side yard is met;
2) only one front yard parking space would be permitted per principal dwelling unit, with none allowed in the case of a secondary dwelling unit or coach house;
3) its location being restricted to abutting the interior side lot line that is not shared with an attached dwelling unit, with a provision that allows the space to be moved in the case of an existing tree;
4) the space must consist of permeable material only. Sketches are included in the Addendum [ PDF 501 KB ] to illustrate these proposed regulations and the amount of softly landscaped area that results from the development of one front yard parking space.
Council passed a Motion directing staff to monitor the effects of both the Mature Neighbourhoods Overlay and the Alternative Development Standards in the Urban Area (Infill 2) infill by-laws and report back in two years. A detailed summary of findings was presented to Planning Committee on May 22, 2018. Based on those findings, as well as input received from stakeholders, a zoning strategy is being proposed that would create new regulations for front and corner side yards that puts soft landscaping first, before driveways, parking, walkways and ground-level projections such as landings, stairs and porches. Please provide your comments by June 17, 2019.
Because infill developments are occurring throughout the urban residential neighbourhoods, the proposed strategy will introduce rules that would affect all urban residential neighbourhoods within the Greenbelt, and not only those within the Mature Neighbourhoods Overlay. To find whether your property falls within the area to which this zoning by-law amendment will apply, please see the interactive Map at the bottom of this webpage.
To ensure that new development and additions reflect and enhance the mature streetscapes, the Streetscape Character Analysis (SCA) process and related zoning requirements will continue to apply only within the Mature Neighbourhoods Overlay.
Questions and Answers from Public Meeting regarding Infill Monitoring
What are the yellow marks on the infill map?
The yellow areas on the map were intended to represent different areas of Schedule 342 that are subject to different height requirements.
Dow’s Lake, Manor Park, Overbrook, Vanier are under consideration for the Infill expansion, when will they be added?
We will look to make the technical changes to the By-Law in early 2019, then will consider what geographic areas of the City would next benefit from inclusion.
Why is it so difficult to enforce rules against illegal front yard parking? The community has noticed a lot of parking on soft landscaping. How do we get action?
Zoning infractions are penalties under the Planning Act, rather than the Provincial Offences Act. Accordingly, we can’t just issue a ticket with a fine, but we must try the cases before a justice of a peace after collecting and presenting evidence. It must go through a legal process. Our legal and By-Law team are working with their provincial counterparts to seek changes to allow more timely processing.
In Heron Park, someone paved over their entire front yard. Was reported to by-law, with clear evidence, but no resolution. Can we be kept in the loop? Updates about what is happening with the file would help.
If a case number was filed, then it can be tracked through Service Ottawa.
How does the Committee of Adjustment make a decision regarding existing average grade when the plans don’t always show elevations?
A grading plan shows the elevations, but is not a requirement for submissions to the Committee of Adjustment.
There’s a problem with rear yards on corner lots, where the “postage stamp” yard closes off the rear yards for neighbours along the street. Can corner rear yards be limited to prevent this?
No, the purpose of the “postage stamp” layout for corner lots was so that they could face both streets.
Is it ok to have a second story front wall that pops out? Shouldn’t that be considered the front wall?
Yes, while there have been some issues with the interpretation of front wall, where the second story pops out further than the remainder of the house, that should be considered the front wall for zoning purposes.
How many applications that were denied by the City were appealed to the OMB?
In the monitoring period 2 applications went to the Ontario Municipal Board. One was denied, the other fell under the transition provisions of the Infill 1 and 2 by-laws.
We should use a Floor Space Index to prevent developments from being built out to the lot lines.
The City has provided, through previous planning exercises (Infill 1 and Infill 2) significant controls for bulk, massing and height of new development and refined the building envelope appropriately in keeping with low-rise neighbourhoods. These revised controls are recent, and have been the subject of multiple hearings before the Ontario Municipal Board. In addition to controls provided by the Mature Neighbourhood Overlay (which affects many of the inner-urban neighbourhoods zoned R4), additional controls regulate required amenity areas, rear-yard setbacks, building height, and allowable projections. The City does not support introduction of further FSI controls in areas zoned R4 as existing controls are in keeping with Official Plan policy.
What happens in an area where the MNO is applied, but there’s already a critical mass of overdeveloped buildings? Does that set the standard that everyone else has to follow along the street?
The By-Law indicates that one must meet the character or do better.
How is the SCA reviewed at the City? And how does the Committee of Adjustment review these? (asked by two different people)
When necessary we will our own review to ensure that the SCA submitted by the applicant’s SCA was accurate and then again to ensure that the submitted site plan matches the character group required by the SCA.
Can Community Associations see the SCAs that are submitted to the City to do their own reviews?
No. the SCA is not a discretionary process, it is part of the as-of-right zoning permissions granted under the zoning by-law. There is not a public consultation process associated with this.
Are we encouraging different kinds of driveway pavings, such as wheel strips or more porous materials?
The Zoning By-Law already allows for these kinds of decisions. Ultimately it is up to the private land owner.
How can we improve soft landscaping to avoid things like woodchips on gravel?
We can’t regulate good taste. Ultimately it is up to the private land owner to decide how best to use their land within the rules. The Zoning By-Law sets out what we consider to be soft or hard landscaping. Generally, we want to see things growing in the front yards.
Can we apply SCAs to non-residential uses, as non-residential uses next to residential uses affect the streetscape?
The SCA process applies to residential zones. Non-residential properties are subject to different policy intents under the Zoning and Official Plan.
How does an area without the overlay apply to get it?
There are criteria, and there must be a demonstrated need that a community is under pressure from infill and intensification, or is likely to experience it soon. The MNO process is meant to facilitate intensification, but does not limit or prevent it in any way. As extension of the overlay is a s.34 Zoning Amendment under the Planning Act, an extension must be supported by a technical evaluation and follow a statutory public consultation process. However, as the overlay imposes new regulations and rules on private land owners, staff are interested in seeing that there is community support and understanding before considering extension.
When will the overlay be extended to areas that have applied for it?
We’re aiming to bring forward technical fixes in early 2019, then would look at other area of the City that may benefit. It has to go through a legislative process, including planning committee and a statutory circulation period.
The committee of Adjustment has been approving applications for lots that are 50x100 without looking at the 4 tests, reducing the rear yard setbacks.
We have meetings with the Committee of Adjustment to update them about zoning issues. They are a quasi-judicial body, however, and are independent.
How do we deal with “mushroom houses”, which have projections from the front and back which push the average setback closer to the street and rear lot line?
Setbacks are measured from the walls of the building. Permitted projections are allowed to encroach into these setback areas provided they meet the Zoning By-Law requirements.
How much does it cost the zoning department to process Infills 1 and 2?
These are development processes and are not considered separately in staff time accounting.
How do you identify dominant characteristics?
Follow this link to the guide we distribute to applicants for the Streetscape Character Analysis.
Infill 1 was 3 years ago, Overbrook asked for it 2 years ago, do we really have to wait another year?
We are intending to make technical fixes to the by-law, then will consider further extensions as warranted.
There’s an obvious need for the MNO to be applied, the Community Associations want it, the by-law exists, so why isn’t it so simple?
Extension of the by-law requires a statutory process through the Planning Act. We would like to make sure that there’s community support, that staff has the resources and capacity to process the SCAs that will result, and that the department can handle expanding the mechanism.
Is there any intention by the planning department to create an overlay for LRTs to regulate development near those?
Transit stations are part of a TOD plan, and we will be looking at zoning regarding these stations. Not all areas near transit stations are good fits for the Mature Neighbourhoods Overlay, but we might look at regulating intensification by other means.
Are there contradictions between the R4 Review and the Mature Neighbourhood Overlay?
There is no contradiction between the R4 Review and the Mature Neighbourhood Overlay. They complement each other.
Will we see something for neighbourhoods near LRTS soon? Intensification is already happening and it might be too late soon.
Infill 2 already covers the neighbourhoods that will be within the catchment of phase 1.
What is the point of putting the rear yard setback at 10 when the Committee of Adjustment of will often allow the yards to be put back to 9?The rear yard setback is not 10. It is a proportional scale that is based on the depth of the lot, and can result in up to 30% of the lot reserved for a rear yard. When a variance is requested to change that, the Committee looks at the surrounding context, which might change what would be appropriate on that property while still achieving the intent. That is within their authority.
How the can the Tree By-law be enforced better?
That is not within the Zoning By-Law authority to regulate.
Were there any quantitative benchmarks that were set out in the 2013 monitoring report?
No, the benchmarks were qualitative.
There’s going to be a zoning review, which might mean that the Committee of Adjustment will take a while to adjust. The Committee relies on comments from staff, but they aren’t always present. Can the department do more to include those comments so that the Community Associations will be better able to make arguments?
We’ve identified that staff need to provide more comment and will try to do so.
Over the last 7 to 10 years, applications for developments in Heron Park have been approved over community objections. There’s been almost no success with the committee of adjustment.
The Committee is bound by the area of authority it has, and cannot comment on areas that are outside of its jurisdiction. This includes internal floor plans and building aesthetics. Staff are aware that these continue to be concerns – the R4 study also considers this.
What happens after the Committee of Adjustment denies an application? Where does it go?
Committee decisions are subject to Appeal, if the applicant so desires. An applicant can also make changes and make a new submission if they so wish.
In 2015, Council directed staff was to monitor the zoning regulations created through the Infill I and II Studies that resulted in the Mature Neighbourhoods Overlay By-law 2012-147) and the Infill II Zoning regulations (By-law 2015-228) for a period of two years and consider technical amendments that may be required to ensure the intent of the council direction and OMB settlement is maintained. Staff are collecting comments and will report back to Planning Committee on the effectiveness of these new rules in ensuring that new residential development fits into its surroundings. If technical modifications to the Infill 1 and 2 regulations are necessary, a report will be presented to Planning Committee along with recommendations for further action.
The Mature Neighbourhoods Overlay (S. 139-140) of Zoning By-law 2008-250 affects all residential dwellings of four storeys or less in the older neighbourhoods in Wards 14 and 15, and parts of Wards 12, 13 and 17, as shown on the Map. The rules affect all properties where:
- new houses are going to be built;
- additions are proposed to existing homes;
- new or widened driveways are proposed; or
- new parking spaces are being considered on one’s property.
The purpose of the rules is to recognize the main character and use of lands along a street and ensure that new development fits into the look along that street. Before you may create a new lot, build a house, put an addition on your home or seek a new or widened driveway, a Streetscape Character Analysis (SCA) must be undertaken that determines the existing dominant character of specific land use attributes that affect the look along your street. The rules deal with the use of lands in the front and corner side yards between a house and the street, and between houses along the street, including the amount of front/corner yard landscaping, the driveway width, and location of parking on the property. The rules also recognize newer forms of development including corner lots and long semi-detached dwellings, where one dwelling unit is behind the other.
All lots within the Mature Neighbourhoods Overlay that are zoned R1-R4 are also subject to the Alternative Provisions within the Urban Area introduced under the second phase of the Low-rise Infill Housing Study (Infill II). Consideration is being given to adding the following neighbourhoods to the Overlay: Overbrook, Britannia Village, Manor Park, Lindenlea and part of Dow's Lake that was not included in 2015.
The Infill II Study’s resulting regulations affect all residential properties zoned R1-R4 within the inner and outer urban Wards (wards 7-18) as shown on the Map. Note that not all lots within the Infill II area are subject to the Mature Neighbourhoods Overlay. The alternative rules affect:
- building height;
- rear and side yard setbacks;
- projections into the rear and side yard setbacks;
- projections above the maximum building height;
- rooftop access and terraces;
- amenity areas; and
- specified lot severances.
The purpose of these rules is to limit building height and mass, consider privacy issues, sun obstruction, loss of permeable surfaces and soft vegetation and allow for new dwellings and additions to existing dwellings that fit into their neighbourhoods in these respects.
It is important to note that some of the recently-built dwellings and additions would have been grandfathered under the Transition Clauses that permit any development application that was deemed complete on the dates of passage of these two by-laws to be approved under the rules that applied before these new regulations were introduced. The transition period ended for each of the two studies in June and July 2017.
The intent of these two zoning by-laws is to capture what is meant by the term ‘character’ in zoning terms and to mitigate land use impacts that may be experienced when new dwellings and additions are introduced into existing residential neighbourhoods. This does not mean whether the architectural features or building materials are similar to those of neighbouring properties. In zoning terms, the word ‘character’ may only relate to items that may be regulated under S. 34 of the Planning Act, including such matters as:
- Types of land uses/developments, such as corner lot and flag lot configurations and the introduction of the long semi-detached dwelling form
- Incidental uses of the land, particularly in the front and corner side yards and in interior yards, landscaping and amenity area, access and parking
- Location of buildings, accessory buildings and structures
- Maximum building height and accessory building and structure heights
- Minimum lot areas and lot widths
- Proportion of the land area that a building or structure may occupy, which affects the massing and bulk of these
- Floor area, including the minimum required habitable floor area on the first floor
- Spacing, which may be regulated by establishing minimum yard setbacks, minimum amount of lot width required for single, shared or double-wide driveways, and
- Character, which in addition to the land use factors noted above, is determined further by the look along the street of four land use factors that affect the look between houses and their street lot lines, and between houses on separate lots. The Streetscape Character Analysis (SCA) is required prior to developing within the Mature Neighbourhoods Overlay.
Tell us what you think!
As part of the monitoring, staff wants to hear from you. We want to make sure that the regulations are reasonable and allow for new development, while making sure that the new fits in with the existing.
Please submit your comments to the Zoning Team at the Planning Department so they can be considered in the staff recommendation and report to Planning Committee.
For more information
Zoning & Interpretation Unit
Economic Development & Long-Range Planning
Tel.: 613-580-2424, ext. 13877