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Section 4: Implementation


The Greenspace Master Plan - Strategies for Ottawa’s Urban Greenspaces will never be complete, in that the city’s requirements for greenspace within the urban area and opportunities to provide it will continue to evolve as new communities develop and older communities redevelop. Council’s objectives for greenspace are pursued in this context, on an ongoing basis across a broad range of municipal functions. These functions include responsibilities assigned under the Planning Act, Council decisions on municipal public works, and projects undertaken in partnership with others. Through these functions, Council can pursue a “Greenspace Also” approach in its decision-making so that greenspace objectives are considered at the same time as other objectives for managing the city’s growth and development.

The tools that Council will use to pursue “Greenspace Also” are listed below.

  • Land Use Planning – Council will identify and protect greenspace in the Official Plan and Zoning By-law, and through Community Design Plans and other planning studies.
  • Development Review Process – As individual parcels come forward for subdivision, zoning or site plan approval, Council will act on opportunities to protect and acquire greenspace.
  • Undertaking Public Works and Building Infrastructure – Council will find ways to provide and protect greenspace when building roads and other infrastructure.
  • Partnering with Others – Council will work with the private sector, the NCC and provincial partners, conservation authorities, and community groups to provide and manage greenspace.
  • Managing Land – Council will model stewardship on city-owned land and maintain or enhance its greenspace function.
  • Land Acquisition – Council will ensure public ownership of greenspaces through acquisition and other mechanisms where appropriate and practical.

In 2005, Council adopted an acquisition policy that commits it to purchase those significant greenspace lands that are designated in the City’s Official Plan. These policies establish the actions that trigger Council acquiring land and the mechanisms to establish fair compensation. The Ontario Municipal Board approved this policy with the exception of sub-policy 5(f). The outstanding component deals with acquisition and compensation for surplus public land and is being reviewed. The whole policy adopted by the City is provided in Appendix B

4.1 Policies

Council’s policies for implementing its greenspace objectives are listed below, and include the strategies and policies in Section 2 and 3.

4.1.1 - Land Use Planning

  1. The City will adopt an Urban Natural Features Strategy to identify the priority natural areas that remain in the urban area that are worthy of protection, and to propose how these areas can be secured for the long-term through partnerships, acquisition, and other means.
  2. The City will designate all major municipal parks and Urban Natural Features consistently in the Official Plan, by:
    1. Designating as Major Open Space all municipal parks of 7 ha or more that contain a diversity of facilities, including those identified in community design plans
    2. Designating all parkway corridors as Major Open Space
    3. Updating the Major Recreational Pathways schedules in the Official Plan to reflect the Urban Greenspace Network and the recommendations of the Pathway Network for Canada’s Capital Region: 2006 Strategic Plan
  3. The City will use community design plans and other plans as a means to:
    1. Identify all greenspace opportunities in new and redeveloping neighbourhoods
    2. Propose strategies to meet the Official Plan targets
    3. Demonstrate that the area can be linked to the Urban Greenspace Network
  4. The City will implement the open space and urban forest provisions of The Downtown Ottawa Urban Design Strategy 2020 adopted by Ottawa Council and use the development review process, partnerships and public works to secure potential open spaces identified in the plans for the various precincts within the downtown.
  5. When developing plans for new and existing communities, the City will give priority to land on the Urban Greenspace Network by:
    1. Situating new district and community parks on the network or as extensions to the existing network
    2. Using new local and neighbourhood parks to address network gaps and to provide connections to facilities that are not on the network
    3. Situating new recreation facilities and other public facilities on the network
  6. The City will continue to pursue targets for greenspace as follows:
    1. 2 ha per 1000 population of park space or eight to ten per cent of developable land area
    2. 4 ha per 1000 population of total greenspace or 16 to 20 per cent of gross land area
    3. Homes in every residential area to be within 400 m of publicly owned greenspace that is generally accessible to the public
  7. Within the context of plans for specific communities or locations, the City will explore alternate targets for accessibility to greenspace, including targets for areas with higher population densities or targets for access to different types of facilities.
  8. The City will endeavour to clarify the greenspace role of undeveloped, publicly owned land by initiating planning studies on the future use of undeveloped, publicly owned lands in partnership with the NCC and other public owners and in consultation with the community and other stakeholders, in order to determine the future greenspace functions of these lands that are now used as open space but are not planned or managed by the owner for that purpose.
  9. The City will protect land that is planned and developed for conservation and recreation or leisure purposes through the Comprehensive Zoning By-law by zoning all city-owned parks in an open space or equivalent zoning and ensuring that there is public consultation where a municipal park is to be sold or changed to another use.
  10. The City will develop design guidelines for public parks in new communities and redeveloping areas, to be implemented through community design plans and through the development review process.
  11. The City will design stormwater ponds and utility corridors in such a way that they can also function as greenspace in new communities and redevelopment areas, and will incorporate hazard lands in the overall greenspace plan. These lands will not be considered as part of the public dedication required under the Planning Act, although adjacent, developable lands proposed for paths or parks may be purchased or included in the public dedication.
  12. The City will adopt a Forest Strategy in 2007 that will:
    1. Evaluate forest cover in the urban and rural contexts and set targets for the forest and tree canopy for specific areas of the city
    2. Establish priorities for management plans for large municipal forests in the urban and rural area, and management policies for city-owned natural lands in the urban area, where individual management plans are not warranted by the size of the site or its features

4.1.2 - Development Review Process

  1. When considering development applications, the City will build the Urban Greenspace Network by:
    1. Ensuring that the applications implement the community design plan for the area and its plan for greenspace
    2. Where no community design plan exists, seeking opportunities, where appropriate, to fill gaps and extend the network
    3. Being explicit in reports to Council about the effects of the planning decisions on the Urban Greenspace Network
  2. When considering applications to amend the zoning by-law or to redevelop institutional sites and privately owned open spaces such as marinas, campgrounds and golf courses that allow public access, the City will:
    1. Consider opportunities to maintain the continuity of the Urban Greenspace Network
    2. Seek opportunities to maintain public access to a waterfront or otherwise provide additional greenspace to the community
  3. The City will set guidelines to help interpret Official Plan policies on setbacks from watercourses within the urban area, where these are not already established in watershed, subwatershed and environmental management plans. The guidelines will include direction on minor tributaries where objectives for environmental health and protection from erosion and flood hazard can be achieved through a flexible interpretation of requirements.
  4. The City will encourage a high quality of urban design that respects natural features and functions through design with nature and other strategies identified in the Official Plan, and that features landscaping and open space to achieve the urban design principles of the Plan.

4.1.3 - Undertaking Public Works and Building Infrastructure

  1. The City will adopt a Green Street Strategy to explore ways that Green Streets could be used to provide connections within the Urban Greenspace Network and contribute to the greening of municipal infrastructure.
  2. The City will prepare an implementation plan and budget estimate for key sections of the recreational pathway system identified in the Pathway Network for Canada’s Capital Region: 2006 Strategic Plan as a means of implementing parts of the Greenspace Network.
  3. The City will seek opportunities to develop a connected Urban Greenspace Network through the design and location of major infrastructure by:
    1. Designing and locating stormwater management ponds so that they contribute to or enhance natural systems within the urban area, and form connections with other greenspaces in the community, where feasible and appropriate
    2. Using the lifecycle reconstruction of older roads to provide greenspace linkages to the Urban Greenspace Network, through such means as the provision of wide boulevards or landscaping treatments, where no opportunities exist to provide new greenspace land
    3. Retaining ownership of road allowances where these may maintain the potential for public access to water, public waterfront land or other important greenspaces
    4. Restoring and enhancing natural processes, natural landscapes, habitats and vegetation cover as an integral part of the utilities, works projects and maintenance of City properties and facilities
    5. Providing multi-use pathways as part of the construction of arterial roads and rapid transit facilities where appropriate
  4. Where transit, road, rail and utility corridors are part of the Urban Greenspace Network or cross the network, the City will accommodate the network in the design of the infrastructure. Where corridors cross the network, for example, a safe crossing should be provided so that passageways through the greenspace network are not severed. Where these corridors have potential to improve connectivity, pathways and other linkages can be provided within the corridor.

4.1.4 - Partnering With Others

  1. The City will support community initiatives to take on stewardship roles for natural land in the urban area, through the Green Partnership Program Pilot and through the City’s management policies for these lands.
  2. The City will use partnerships and agreements with other public agencies to:
    1. Develop or enhance the contribution of their lands to the Urban Greenspace Network
    2. Encourage other agencies to locate any leisure or recreation uses on the Urban Greenspace Network wherever possible
  3. The City will give priority to locations on the Urban Greenspace Network for partnership projects, such as stewardship projects or new capital projects, undertaken with community groups, sports clubs, the business community and other stakeholders.
  4. The City will encourage public and private owners of natural lands to retain the land’s natural features and functions through stewardship and design with nature principles, where any development is planned so as to minimize impacts on the natural qualities of the land.

4.1.5 - Managing Land

  1. The City will manage city-owned lands in a manner consistent with the long-term maintenance of greenspace values identified in the Urban Natural Areas Environmental Evaluation Study by preparing management plans and policies for City-owned natural lands. These will focus on the protection of environmental features and functions while accommodating public access and leisure uses where appropriate. Plans and policies for natural lands will:
    1. Identify measures to preserve, enhance and manage natural lands in a manner consistent with the purpose for which the land is acquired
    2. Inventory and update the City's information on the environmental assets of the land and identify potential issues and opportunities, both on and off-site, for the ongoing management of the land
    3. Incorporate opportunities for public access and recreation
    4. Identify the bodies responsible for the implementation of the management plans and the ongoing cost of doing so
    5. Incorporate opportunities for community participation in the preparation of the management plan and identify opportunities for community partnerships in the ongoing implementation of the plan
  2. The City will prepare a management plan for any newly acquired natural land where the size or management requirements warrant. Where the land does not warrant an individual plan, the City will incorporate the land within an existing management plan or common management process that addresses a number of sites with common characteristics.
  3. The City will not consider any land surplus to its needs until it has been evaluated in the context of its contribution to the Urban Greenspace Network, its protection or enhancement of the natural environment, or its contribution to the City's recreational open space, prior to divesting of the property. When considering the disposal of City-owned land, the City will ensure that any network function is retained.
  4. The City may divest itself of parkland where it can be demonstrated that the park no longer provides a public benefit and it cannot be adapted, redeveloped or expanded to meet current public needs. In such a case, the City will inform the local community and give the community an opportunity to provide input into the decision. The money gained from the sale of the park may only be used for the purchase of new parkland or the expansion or redevelopment of an existing park in the vicinity.
  5. The City will seek opportunities to enhance the quality of design and construction of parks and public places to improve the carrying capacity of these lands as a means to meet leisure needs of the community – in particular in areas where adequacy target may not be met.

4.1.6 - Land Acquisition

  1. The City will acquire greenspace land where public ownership is required to maintain the land as greenspace by:
    1. Exploring a variety of means to acquire greenspace including: land donations for tax rebates; securing easements; and similar methods as documented in Appendix A, prior to considering the purchase or exchange of land;
    2. Acquiring greenspace land prior to urbanisation or prior to development, and to this end may initiate acquisition of land where land is valued for leisure, open space or environmental reasons;
    3. Securing public access to the shorelines of the Ottawa River, Rideau River, Rideau Canal, and other watercourses that contribute to environmental health, cultural heritage, and scenic and recreational opportunities.
  2. The City will pursue the acquisition of greenspace in the urban area generally with the following priorities:
    1. Land in greenspace designations in the City’s Official Plan, natural lands identified as priorities based on the Urban Natural Areas Environmental Evaluation Study, waterfront land, and land identified as priorities in community design plans where there is a willing buyer / willing seller
    2. Land that fills gaps in the Urban Greenspace Network or extends the network
    3. Greenspace lands declared surplus by another public body that are identified as greenspace on Map 1 or Map 2 of this Plan
    4. Land identified in watershed or sub-watershed plans or other comprehensive study as having natural significance and that are proposed for development
    5. Land on Map 1 and Map 2 that may help to consolidate existing City land holdings or secure strategic parcels in advance of development
  3. When considering the acquisition of greenspace, the City will consider their merit on the basis of the following criteria:
    1. Value – Cultural value (e.g. association with a historic site) or inherent environmental value
    2. Current Supply - Will it meet a current shortfall? Will it address a future need, as the neighbourhood intensifies?
    3. Connectivity - Does it complete or extend the Urban Greenspace Network?
    4. Threat/Risk – Will the land be used in the near term for another purpose that precludes a greenspace function?
    5. Strategic – Does the acquisition build upon existing resources or commitments, or has an advantage in terms of timing or partnership opportunity?
    6. Cost and Value – Is the expenditure warranted in terms of its achievement of Council’s objectives?
    7. In addition, when considering acquisition of school sites, Council will consider whether the land is already being used for activities programmed by the City
  4. The City will review its current sources of funding for acquiring greenspace by:
    1. Reviewing all sources of funding for the acquisition of natural and open space and leisure lands, including the Environmental Land Acquisition Fund, the cash-in-lieu of parkland fund, and other capital programs approved or proposed in the long-range financial plan
    2. Proposing a consistent and coordinated approach to managing the funds and reporting to Council and communities on how they are used

4.1.7 - Monitoring And Building Our Knowledge Base

  1. The City will monitor progress in achieving greenspace targets in all communities by:
    1. Assessing the greenspace identified in community design plans against City targets and confirming the land delivery as the community develops
    2. Monitoring the total area of natural land secured for environmental purposes through public ownership or other means
    3. Reporting at five-year intervals on the number of kilometres of multi-use pathway provided by the City and partners and the number of parks and other greenspaces networked by the pathway

4.2 A Three-Year Plan

Much of the Greenspace Master Plan - Strategies for Ottawa’s Urban Greenspaces will be implemented on an ongoing basis, through Council decisions on plans for new communities or redevelopment sites, for example, or through the design of new municipal infrastructure and buildings. In addition, specific actions are proposed to implement the Plan and advance Council’s greenspace objectives. These actions are summarized below.


  • PGM - Planning and Growth Management
  • RPAM - Real Property and Asset Management
  • PWS - Public Works and Services
  • CPS - Community and Protective Services

Immediate Action – For completion in 2006

Immediate Action – For completion in 2006
Lead department In order of priority

Amend Official Plan to:

  • Ensure consistent designation of greenspaces
  • Update references to Greenspace Master Plan
  • Reflect policies in the Greenspace Master Plan (e.g. greenspace targets)
  • Update references to UNAEES and add a reference to the Urban -Natural Features Strategy
PGM/RPAM Adopt an Urban Natural Feature Strategy to secure priority natural land
PGM Ensure that municipal parks and other publicly owned open space and leisure land is appropriately zoned
PGM Promote the Greenspace Master Plan and the Urban Natural Feature Strategy within the public and private sector

Short-Term Actions – For completion in 2007 – 2008

Short-Term Actions – For completion in 2007 – 2008
Lead department In order of priority
PGM/RPAM Initiate Urban Natural Features Strategy as approved by Council, in consultation with other City departments and other stakeholders
PGM/RPAM Initiate plans to define the greenspace role and other functions of lands that are publicly owned but that are not zoned for greenspace or currently planned for that purpose
PGM/PWS Extend the multi-use pathway system by preparing an implementation strategy for priority areas that complete or extend the existing network
PGM Prepare a work program to plan for the natural environment areas and parks and leisure areas in the rural area
PGM/CPS Prepare design guidelines for the development of “Green Streets” in new communities and as a means of extending the Urban Greenspace Network into older communities where other greenspace corridors may not exist
PGM Prepare design guidelines for parks and open spaces for use in Community Design Plans, plans for local area and development review
PGM/RPAM Amend the Official Plan to update the Major Recreational pathways to incorporate the pathway associated with the City’s Urban Greenspace Network and the recommendations of the NCC’s Pathway Network for Canada’s Capital Region: 2006 Strategic Plan
PGM/RPAM/CPS Preparing procedures to ensure that the City retains ownership of any of its surplus lands that have a Greenspace function
PGM Develop procedures for ensuring public participation in decisions to acquire greenspace land
PGM Establish guidelines in consultation with the development industry, the community, and other stakeholders to help establish appropriate setbacks from water bodies

Long-term Action – For completion in 2009 and beyond

Long-term Action – For completion in 2009 and beyond
Lead department In order of priority
PGM/PWS Review sources of funding for acquiring greenspace and report to Council for the 2010 budget
PGM/PWS/CPS Prepare management plans for natural lands secured through the Urban Natural Features Strategy
PGM Report on monitoring of Greenspace indicator