Projections of long-term change in population are fundamental to a community’s ability to plan for land use, housing, transportation, infrastructure, financing, recreation, and social needs and other services.
The City of Ottawa’s long-term projections were last updated in 2007. They have tracked the city’s actual population, housing, and employment growth well and have not required revision until now. The current projections are to 2031 and are being extended to 2036.
The Ontario Municipal Board issued its decision on appeals to the City’s Official Plan Amendment No. 150 (OPA 150) on February 23, 2016. Among other matters, the Board strongly suggested that the City extend its 2031 planning horizon for the OP to 2036 to be more consistent with the 2014 Provincial Policy Statement (PPS). Due to the time that could be required to resolve all of the appeals against OPA 150, the City is extending its planning horizon and projections to 2036 to ensure that there is at least a 10-year supply of land available for housing as required by the PPS.
Projections of population use a cohort-survival model, the widely accepted best methodology, and the same technique used for previous projections. Cohort survival separates population change into its basic components. Births by age of mother are added, deaths by age are subtracted, and in and out migration from various sources is taken into account.
The new projections are based on the most recent Statistics Canada data for the City of Ottawa. 2014, the latest year for which reliable data is available, is being used as a base year.
Three scenarios have been developed to projection Ottawa’s population to 2036.
Scenario 1 assumes a ten per cent reduction in birth rates, higher mortality and lower than average rates of net in-migration. This results in a 2036 population of 1,057,000, which is an increase of 130,000 or 14 per cent from 2014
Scenario 2 assumes a slight increase in the birth rate based on recent trends, decreasing mortality in line with projected provincial forecasts and in- and out-migration rates based on averages for the past decade. This scenario forecasts a 2036 population of 1,214,000, which is an increase of 267,000 or 28 per cent from 2014.
Scenario 3 assumes a ten per cent increase in birth rates, accelerated declines in mortality and higher than average in-migration rates. This scenario forecasts a 2036 population of 1,305,000, which is an increase of 359,000 or 38 per cent from 2014.
The City proposes to use scenario 2 as the reference projection for further analysis. It is slightly higher than the current projection in the Official Plan. It projects that in 2031, Ottawa will reach a population of 1,153,500 compared to its current projection of 1,135,800.
Greater Ottawa-Gatineau Area
Growth in areas adjacent to Ottawa in Ontario and Québec has generally been slower than was projected in 2007. The projections done in 2007 used the growth forecasts adopted by Ontario municipalities adjacent to Ottawa (OMATO). The projections for OMATO are significantly higher than actual growth has been. Consequently, new projections for expected growth in OMATO were developed based on rates of growth over the past decade.
Projections for the City of Gatineau and adjacent areas in Québec use the latest forecasts developed by the Québec government.
Overall, population in the greater Ottawa-Gatineau region is projected to increase from 1,368,000 in 2011 to almost 1.8 million by 2036. The City of Ottawa is projected to account for 70 per cent per cent of this growth, slightly higher than its current 66.7 per cent share of the region.
Projected housing requirements are based on 2011 headship rates and the projected uptake of different unit types by age group. The projections show a need for 131,000 additional housing units over the 2014 to 2036 period, an increase of 34 per cent from 2014. Projected new units by type are split 36 per cent apartments, 33 per cent single-detached, 28 per cent townhouses, and 3 per cent semi-detached.
Employment is based on projected labour force participation rates by age and sex for the Ottawa population. Net in-commuting from adjacent areas is added, unemployment is subtracted and a factor for multiple job-holders is added to arrive at a final job figure.
Total jobs in Ottawa in 2036 are projected to be 745,000, an increase of 158,000 or 27 per cent from 2014.
Analysis of the demand for and supply of urban land is complex. The methodology used for the new analysis is similar to that used by the City at the 2012 Ontario Municipal Board hearing on the urban boundary (Official Plan Amendment 76). The City had concluded that due to changes in demographics and the housing market, there would be a shift from lower-density single-detached housing to higher-density housing forms such as apartments. In fact, this shift has happened more quickly than it had been expected a few years ago.
When the projected demand for different types of dwelling units is compared to their supply in 2036, the results show that there will be a small surplus of lower-density units and a large surplus of apartment units. The City concludes that its supply of urban land for housing meets the requirements of the Provincial Policy Statement and that there is no need to add any additional urban land at this time.
If potential units on employment land are included, as recommended in the Ottawa Employment Land Review Final Report, the residential land supply would be sufficient for an additional year beyond 2036.