The term Section 37 refers to the section of Planning Act which allows the City to ask for benefits to construct, fund or improve facilities when a development requires a Zoning By-law amendment. The City’s Section 37 Guidelines identify a Development Threshold for proposed developments that fall within Section 37. The Development Threshold is a development that is at least 7,000 m2 and the requested density represents a minimum 25% increase from the permitted as-of-right zoning (zoning at the time of application).
Ottawa and Section 37
As Ottawa grows, improvements to its community services and facilities are required to meet increasing needs. Section 37 of the Planning Act is a key planning tool available to the City to help ensure that new developments include vital investments to enhance community benefits. Section 37 allows the City to negotiate contributions towards community benefits for developments that seek to increase a site’s permitted density by 25% or more. Unlike other municipal financing tools such as Development Charges, Section 37 can provide benefits to the community in which the development is located. There must be a reasonable planning relationship between the proposed development and the community, as an increase in density can result in a higher number of demands on community facilities and amenities. Section 37 can offer greater flexibility and precision in securing direct and tangible benefits for local communities.
Section 37 Community Benefits
The benefit can cover a variety of community services and facilities, allowing greater flexibility than Development Charges and Parkland Contributions. A range of potential benefits are listed in the Official Plan as well as in some Community Design Plans and Secondary Plans. Examples of community benefits include funds for affordable housing, community gardens, daycare space in future buildings and improvements to the streets.
Setting Priorities for Section 37 Benefits
Communities in Ottawa can get involved by identifying local priorities established through collaboration with the Ward Councillor. The establishment of this partnership, along with community collaborations, can lead to the preparation of a localized assessment of Section 37 benefits for various neighbourhoods within each ward.
The Planning, Infrastructure and Economic Development department, along with others can help support these conversations by providing advice and expertise on community needs based on policies, local experience and applicable Community Services and Facilities studies.
Once established, the list of local priorities can be used through the Development Review process to help determine appropriate Section 37 benefits to be required as part of a proposed development.