What Is the Planning Committee?
The Planning Committee is a group of 10 Councillors chosen by City Council. They meet to review and make decisions on the merits of development applications and policy with an urban focus and to ensure a fair and efficient process. One Councillor is appointed as the Chair of the Committee. There is also a Vice Chair. Other Councillors, not on the Committee, can attend meetings and ask questions.
What Is the Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee?
The Agricultural and Rural Affairs Committee is a group of five Councillors chosen by City Council. They meet to review and make decisions on the merits of development applications and policy with a rural focus and to ensure a fair and efficient process. One Councillor is appointed as the Chair of the Committee. There is also a Vice Chair. Other Councillors, not on the Committee, can attend meetings and ask questions.
When and Where Do the Committees Meet?
The Planning Committee meets the second and fourth Thursday of each month at 9:30 am in the Champlain Room at City Hall, 110 Laurier Avenue in downtown Ottawa. In January, March, July, August and December, the committee meets once a month.
The Agricultural and Rural Affairs Committee meets the first Thursday of each month at 10 am usually in the Chambers, Ben Franklin Place, 101 Centrepointe Drive.
Committee meetings are open to the public and to presentations by members of the public and community organizations.
How the Committee Meeting Is Organized: The Agenda
The Committee meeting is organized around the agenda, a volume of staff reports dealing with each of the items or applications that require action by the Committee. The agenda is available 10 days before the meeting. You or your community organization can request a copy of the staff report on a particular application by contacting the assigned Planner in charge of that application. As well, if an individual or community organization provided comments on the application, a copy of the report will be sent electronically or by mail.
Before each Committee meeting, copies of the agenda are made available on a table at the entrance of the room where the meeting is being held. You may request a copy of the agenda.
The list of items to be discussed on each agenda is published on the City's website the Friday before the Committee meeting.
The agendas of previous Committee meetings with complete reports and decisions made at those meetings are also accessible online.
A written report prepared by City staff accompanies each item on the Planning Committee agenda. There is a standard format for these reports and each one includes the following sections:
- Subject (the municipal address and type of application)
- Report Recommendation (to approve or not approve the application)
- Background (background points or additional information)
- Discussion or Analysis (key points for discussion by the Committee)
- Rural Implications (key points on rural impacts)
- Consultation (summary of comments from circulated community organizations and agencies)
- Financial Implications (impacts on operating or capital budgets)
- Application Process (time frame application was processed in)
- Attachments, where applicable (supporting documentation for Committee)
- Disposition (City Department for implementation)
The front section of the Committee Report listing the individual items requiring approval of the Committee and the recommendations associated with those items appears in both English and French while the body of the report is in English.
Certain reports, depending on their nature, include an Executive Summary that is translated in French, and some reports are fully translated to have separate English and French versions.
The Consent Agenda
The meeting will start with the Committee going through the Consent Agenda. The Committee will hold items to consider them if there are:
- staff presentations, and/or
- public delegations registered to speak, and/or
- questions from Committee members
Otherwise, the Committee will consent to approve the items without discussion, which may include those with minor technical amendments
Making a Presentation to the Committee
Any individual or group is welcome to make a presentation to the Committee. Presentations are made in the same order of the items or applications as they appear on the meeting agenda for that particular session. However, the Committee does have the flexibility to change the order of the items.
When the Committee reaches an item on the agenda, they will often ask to first hear from staff and then hear presentations from interested individuals or community organizations. If it is a controversial application, there can be a number of presentations. The Committee will hear all of the presentations.
If you would like to make a presentation or a statement to the Committee, fill out a form that is available on a table at the entrance of the meeting room. These forms are collected by the Committee Clerks, prior to the start of the meeting, and delivered to the Committee Coordinator for the Chair. When the item you have asked to speak about comes up on the agenda, the Committee Chair will call your name and ask you to come forward and make your presentation or comments. If you arrive after the start of a meeting, and want to speak to an item, you can ask the Committee Clerk on duty if requests to speak are still being accepted on the item you are interested in.
Presentations are limited to five minutes. This is about one typewritten page of material. Committee members will sometimes ask questions of the individual making the presentation so as to fully understand the nature of his/her presentation and the points he/she is raising. Arrangements can be made with the Committee Coordinator for audiovisual or computer generated presentations. Any material you wish to distribute to the Committee can be given to the Committee Coordinator as well. Giving the Committee members a copy of your presentation in advance of the meeting with your identity clearly indicated, is also recommended.
Sometimes larger groups of people attend a meeting because of concern about a particular application. Designating one or a few people to represent the group and to make a presentation is often the most efficient way of informing the Committee of your group's position on a particular application. If more than one presents, they should each cover different points and not repeat each other.
Submitting Written Material to the Committee
Community organizations, their members and individuals are welcome to submit written comments in hard copy or electronic format to the Committee on any report coming before Committee. Such comments can be sent directly to the Committee Coordinator, or to all members of the committee and copied to the committee coordinator. As a courtesy, you should also send a copy of your letter to the assigned Planner for that particular development application. It is important to note that correspondence, including any personal contact information it contains, is shared with all of City Council and to City staff as needed, and that your name and submission may be referenced in the Committee Minutes.
Address correspondence to:
Agricultural and Rural Affairs Committee
City of Ottawa
110 Laurier Avenue Avenue West
Ottawa, ON K1P 1J1
When it is a complex matter, the Committee will ask for a presentation by City staff. After the presentation, Councillors often ask questions of staff for further clarification. City staff from other Departments, such as Legal Services and Finance, are usually on hand throughout the Committee meeting to respond to any additional questions.
Presentations by the Applicant or Agents of the Applicant
For most applications that come before the Committee, the applicant or an agent of the applicant (professional planner, lawyer, architect) is welcome to make a presentation to Committee about his/her application. In that presentation he/she can respond to any points of concern raised by the community organization in their presentation. The same five-minute limit on his/her presentation applies.
Voting on Staff Reports and Report Amendments by Committee
Committee members are free to make amendments to the report or to its recommendations. Typically, the Committee member will make a short statement about the amendment. The other members of the Committee are also free to speak for or against the proposed amendment. The Committee Chairperson then puts the matter to a vote. In the case of a tie vote the item is defeated. There is no limit to the number of amendments a Committee member can put forward. Once all the amendments are dealt with, the Committee then votes on the report as a whole and as amended. This is generally done by a simple voiced agreement of the members to Carry the item or in some cases the Committee Coordinator records the vote of each Committee member, for or against. Once a report is voted on, the matter is considered finished and the Committee moves on to the next item.
Use of English and French at Committee
While Committee and City Council meetings at City Hall are conducted in English and the written documentation is also in English, community organizations and individuals are welcome to submit their comments on development applications or other matters in the Committee agenda in either English or French . Requests can be made for simultaneous translation. Contact the Committee Coordinator at least 24 hours in advance of the meeting to make such a request.
What Happens to a Report after the Committee Meeting?
Once the Committee has met and discussed all of the items on a particular agenda, the report of the meeting with their recommendations is forwarded to the next meeting of City Council. Council makes the final decision on all matters coming forward from the Committee meetings, however some applications do not go beyond the Committee and are dealt with at that level only.
There are no presentations by members of the public or community organizations to City Council. City Council is free to debate any item on the agenda, to approve, amend or defeat any decision made by the Committee.
If you are not satisfied with the decision of the Committee, or if you want to support their decision, your community organization can write to the Mayor and members of Council prior to the Council meeting at which they will vote on the item of interest. Your community organization can also contact the members of City Council by telephone to make views known about a particular matter. You can also ask to meet with individual Councillors before the Council meeting to explain your community organization's position in person. This service is currently not available in person due to COVID-19 closures.