Urban Design Review Panel

On this page

Applications subject to the Urban Design Review Panel process

Development proposals located within the following Design Priority Areas are subject to the Ottawa’s Urban Design Review Panel process as detailed below.

  1. Downtown Precincts as defined by the Downtown Ottawa Urban Design Strategy (DOUDS);
  2. Schedule C7A - Design Priority Areas – Urban [ PDF 1.121 MB ]
  3. Schedule C7B - Design Priority Areas – Villages [ PDF 1.160 MB ]

Design Priority Areas Map (Urban)

The Panel will provide urban design advice and input on:

  1. Zoning By-law applications requesting an increase to height or density and Site Plan Control applications, proposed within Design Priority Areas (DPAs) where the application would result in a building, or an addition to a building, which is greater than four storeys.
  2. Capital projects occurring in DPAs such as Street Renewal projects on Traditional Mainstreets, Arterial Mainstreets, and on streets within Mixed Use Centres and Town Centres. If the capital project requires an Environmental Assessment (EA), it is preferable that the EA is brought to the Panel.
  3. Community Design Plans, Secondary Plans, and Transit Oriented Development Plans proposing significant change in an area.
  4. Development requiring a Site Plan Control application associated with significant political, cultural, social and economic institutions located within DPAs, such as museums, hospitals, institutes of higher learning and convention centres.
  5. Projects, which do not fall under 1) but are of a complex nature due to their context within village cores, their proximity to built heritage resources, or their adjacency to natural features. The decision to bring these files to the Panel will be at the discretion of the File Lead, in consultation with the UDRP Coordinator.  

Two Types of Applications: Informal Pre-consultation and Formal Review

Recommendations from the UDRP are an important part of the City’s development review process. There are two ways in which the UDRP reviews development applications: i) Informal Pre-consultation and ii) Formal Review.

  1. Informal Pre-consultation: The Panel reviews development projects and provides recommendations prior to the submission of a development application. Informal Pre-consultations with the UDRP occurs after the proponent meets with City staff for a pre-consultation meeting. Informal Pre-consultations with the UDRP are voluntary and are not open to the public, nor are the recommendations from the Panel posted on the City’s website.
  2. Formal Reviews: The Panel reviews projects and provides recommendations after the proponent has applied for a development application. The Formal Review with the UDRP is a mandatory part of the development review process. The Formal Review meeting is open to the public, and the recommendations are posted on the City’s website. The recommendations from the UDRP are also referenced in the subsequent report to Planning Committee and Council.

Submission requirements

The applicant is required to provide detailed submission materials two weeks prior to the Panel meeting (see Panel Meeting Schedule). If the UDRP submission materials are complete and submitted on time, the applicant will be notified of the time and location for their scheduled meeting with the Panel approximately a week ahead of the meeting. Please be aware that there is a possibility that the number of submission packages received exceeds the capacity of the agenda. In such cases, applications may be carried over to the following UDRP meeting.

For an applicant to be scheduled on an UDRP meeting agenda:

The applicant must have a formal pre-consultation with City staff before the submission package deadline.

  • Written comments and initial design direction from staff must be received prior to the submission package deadline.
  • For Formal Reviews of site plan control and/or zoning by-law amendments, the application must be submitted to the City, been deemed complete by the File Lead and be posted on the City's Development Applications website.
  • For both Informal Pre-consultation and Formal Review with the UDRP, the applicant must notify the File Lead and the Panel Coordinator of their intention to be on the upcoming agenda before the submission package deadline.
  • The applicant must submit all required materials by the posted deadline. All eligible projects will be added to the final agenda on a first-come, first-serve basis. Submission materials shall be professionally prepared, legible, drawn to scale, and accurately represent all the design aspects of the project in question.

For a submission package to the UDRP to be deemed complete it must include the following materials:

  • Applicant project summary sheet  (Please submit the summary as a separate document)
  • Submission package. All materials are to be submitted in PDF or in PowerPoint format at 11 x 17 inch size and batched into a single file, not exceeding 20MB. Due to email size limitations, only files under 12MB may be submitted via email. Should the size of the submission exceed 12MB, it is the applicant's responsibility to ensure that it is successfully delivered to the Panel Co-ordinator via a file sharing system (eg. FTP server, Dropbox, WeTransfer) by the submission deadline. When the submission package is very long, the applicant may also prepare a separate and more succinct presentation for the Panel, in order to respect the time constraints of the meeting. The submission package and the presentation are required to be submitted to the UDRP Coordinator two weeks prior to the meeting.

To be complete, the submission package must include the following:

  • Photographs to illustrate existing site conditions and surrounding contexts. Include a map pinpointing (with numbers) where each photo is taken and correspond these numbers with the site photos. Arrows illustrating the direction the photo is taken is also useful.
  • A written summary of the design approximately 4 pages in length including:
    • A concise summary and response to the applicable City urban design guidelines and policies.
    • A set of site-specific urban design objectives, derived from the pre-application consultation with City staff and a concise summary and response to the urban design issues identified at the pre-application consultation with City staff.
    • A contextual analysis that discusses/illustrates abutting properties, key destinations and linkages within a 100 m radius (a larger radius may be requested for larger/more complex projects), such as transit stations; transportation networks for cars, cyclists, and pedestrians; focal points/nodes; gateways; parks/open spaces; topography; views towards the site; the urban pattern (streets, blocks); future and current proposals, public art, heritage resources, etc.
  • Sustainability Statement: Discuss architectural design approaches that reduce energy consumption; space allocation that favours active transportation to vehicular use; or low impact landscape initiatives, etc. 
  • Models and/or illustrations that show the project massing and figure ground relationships in its urban context.
  • Detailed perspective drawings or computer models (placing particular emphasis on the first few storeys and how the project responds to and relates to its urban context). Perspective drawings should be set within the existing streetscape, indicating fit within development on both sides of the street. The intent is to show the Panel how the proposed development's design and scale relate to existing context; as well, massing illustrations provide the Panel with an understanding of the overarching approach to the design of the site.
  • Site plan (showing setbacks).
  • Landscape Plan.
  • Building Elevations (detailing proposed materials and colours)
  • A plan showing existing and proposed servicing.
  • Section and floor plans
  • Sun/shadow studies, if requested by City staff during pre-consultation.
  • Wind studies for development, if requested by City staff during pre-consultation.
  • Portions of building elevations at a 1:50 scale, if requested by Staff during pre-consultation.

Please note that Informal Pre-consultations with the UDRP sometimes require fewer submission materials than Formal Reviews. These scoped submission requirements are at the discretion of the File Lead.

The submission package must be prepared by the proponent. The submission package should highlight the key urban design features of the proposal. The package should provide an explanation as to why the proposed development represents the most appropriate design solution for the site.

The submission package should include, diagrams, plans, sections, illustrations, perspectives, photographs and some limited text to illustrate the intent, results and impacts of the design.

The following urban design considerations should be discussed within the submission package: site design, built form, building articulation, character, architectural treatment, lighting, signage, servicing, heritage considerations and sustainability or green technology considerations.

The submission package is not to include long excerpts of text from the Official Plan or from any applicable secondary plan or community design plan.

Panel Meeting Schedule and Submission Package Deadlines

Meeting Schedule 2024

Location: All UDRP meetings will be held virtually on Zoom until further notice Meeting Schedule (subject to change)
Meeting date Submission deadline
Friday, January 5, 2024 Thursday, December 14, 2023
Friday, February 2, 2024 Thursday, January 18, 2024
Friday, March 1, 2024 Thursday, February 15, 2024
Friday, April 5, 2024 Thursday, March 21, 2024
Friday, May 3, 2024 Thursday, April 18, 2024
Friday, June 7, 2024 Thursday, May 23, 2024
Friday, July 5, 2024 Thursday, June 20, 2024
Friday, August 2, 2024 Thursday, July 18, 2024
Friday, September 6, 2024 Thursday, August 22, 2024
Friday, October 4, 2024 Thursday, September 19, 2024
Friday, November 1, 2024 Thursday, October 17, 2024
Friday, December 6, 2024 Thursday, November 21, 2024


UDRP Meeting Day


Applicants must show up for their meetings with the Panel at least 10 minutes in advance of their scheduled time. The Panel Coordinator will let the applicant know the exact date, time and location that the Panel is reviewing their proposal. It is mandatory for the project architect and landscape architect to attend the Panel meeting.

Applicants may invite members of their consultant team or the owner of the site to attend. However, it is recommended that only one person speak because the presentation should be limited to about ten minutes.

Please note that the project information must be live on the City's Development Application Search Tool site at least one week prior to the panel meeting.

Presentation to the Panel

The purpose of the presentation is to clearly explain the intent of the project as it relates to urban design and place making, and to show how it responds to the City’s design policies and applicable guidelines.

Submission requirements:

  • Presentation file must be less than 20MB
  • Presentation is to be provided, with your submission package, two weeks in advance of the Panel meeting.

The presentation should:

  • Introduce the context and discuss how it informed design.
  • Introduce and clearly identify the main design thrusts of project.
  • Explain your response to design opportunities and constraints of the area.
  • Explain your response to the direction set by design policies and guidelines.
  • Show how your proposal fits within/relates to the context and long term vision for the area.
  • Explain the sustainability initiatives used in your project.
  • Clearly show and explain your response to the directions/recommendations from City staff provided at the pre-consultation with staff. "Before-and-After" charts/diagrams/illustrations are a clear way to show changes that have been made.

The presentation should NOT:

  • Include drawings/renderings that were not included in the submission package

Panel meeting format

Presentation and Design Review Format

The review proceedings will be led by the Chair of the Design Review Panel and will follow the general sequence described below. Meetings last for approximately one hour and the recommended length of an applicant's presentation to the Panel is five to 10 minutes. If additional presentation time is required, please indicate the amount of time desired to the Panel Co-ordinator by the submission deadline.

Time allotted Course of action
5 minutes In some cases, the File Lead will be requested by the UDRP Chair to present an overview of the key design considerations for the project set out in city planning/design documents, an overview of the design directions provided to the applicant and the design matters that staff are seeking advice from the panel on.
5 to 10 minutes (recommended) Proponent(s) introduce themselves and present the project as concisely as possible. A PowerPoint or PDF presentation is required. 
10 minutes Panel questions and clarifications - Proponent(s) answer questions of clarification from the Panel.
20 minutes Panel Chair opens the comment period by restating the critical issues and areas in which the advice of the Panel is being sought. The Panel will comment on the project in a manner intended to provide objective and constructive feedback to the proponent. Proponents will be allowed to listen to the deliberations but may not address the Panel at this point. As a general rule, the Panel will not discuss projects without at least one representative of the proponent design team present.
5 minutes Chair summarizes the Panel recommendations.
10 minutes Proponent(s) are given the opportunity to respond to the Panel’s comments.


Upcoming Agenda

Ottawa Urban Design Review Panel – Agenda for Friday, December 1, 2023

The meeting will be held both in-person at City Hall (Honeywell Room) and online. Owing to limited occupancy requirements, we ask that members of the public please join virtually on Zoom through the link provided. Thank you.

Friday, December 1, 2023
Time Site Address Application Type File Lead Proponent Zoom Link
9:10 am (1:00h) 3030 St-Joseph Boulevard Formal Review Official Plan Amendment, Zoning By-law Amendment & Site Plan Control Application Steve Belan RLA Architecture, Fotenn Planning + Design, Mastercraft Starwood, James B. Lennox & Asso. Inc.   Link Passcode: 797480
10:20 am (1:00h) 265 Catherine Street Formal Review  Official Plan Amendment, Zoning By-law Amendment & Site Plan Control John Bernier Brigil, BDP Quadrangle, GBA Group   Link Passcode: 455526
11:20 am End of Day

Panel members

The Panel is comprised of seven expert design professionals. All members are senior professionals able to evaluate projects of varying complexities and contexts related to their profession.

Current Panel Members

Ronji Borooah, M. Arch, MSc (PL), FRAIC, OAA, MCIP, RPP, APA

City Architect and Head of Urban Design, City of Markham

Ronji Borooah is a Registered Architect and Registered Professional Planner with expertise in Urban Design. Ronji is currently the City Architect and Head of Urban Design, City of Markham. Ronji is a member of the RAIC College of Fellows, and a former jury member of the Ottawa Urban Design Awards program, the Toronto Urban Design Awards program, the TTC York-Spadina Subway Extension Public Arts program, and professional advisor to the Markham Design Excellence Awards program. Ronji's previous career was in the private sector with Young + Wright Architects and Markson Borooah Architects, where his work has received several major awards, including the Governor General's Award for Architecture and awards from the OAA, CIP, OPPI, and CSLA. Ronji has taught Urban Design at the University of Toronto, and has been a speaker at several conferences of the RAIC, OAA, CIP, OPPI, APA, Construct Canada, Strategy Institute and other organizations.

David Leinster, OALA, CSLA

David Leinster is a landscape architect and partner at The Planning Partnership in Toronto. With expertise in public realm planning and design, and having extensive experience as a design critic and juror, David is a former member of the City of Ottawa’s Design Review Panel for the Downtown Design Review Pilot Project and a former juror for the Ottawa Urban Design Awards.

James Parakh, OAA

James Parakh is a Licensed Architect and the Manager of Urban Design for Toronto and East York District, City of Toronto Planning Division. During the last decade, James has led the urban design studio that has helped guide the review of all development in Downtown Toronto and surrounding urban areas. James also has experience working in the private sector as an urban designer, project designer and project architect for both national and international projects. He is the recipient of numerous awards and has received an Ontario Association of Architects Award in 2008 for introducing the 1:50 program and has recently led the initiative to launch Toronto's Privately Owned Public Spaces (POPS) branding. In 2014, James was appointed to the Advisory Group of the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat, an international body in the field of tall buildings and sustainable urban design. He holds graduate degrees in architecture and urban design from the University of Houston and Columbia University, respectively.

Heather Rolleston,

Heather Rolleston, B.Arch.
Principal and Design Director, Quadrangle

Heather is an architectural designer and is a principal and design director at Quadrangle. She has over 20 years of experience designing, leading and managing a wide range of projects from the residential, mixed-use, master plan and commercial sectors. A graduate of the University of Toronto Daniels Faculty of Architecture, Landscape and Design, she continues to be involved in academia as a guest critic at her alma mater as well as at the University of Waterloo School of Architecture.

Heather’s work has been recognized with a number of awards including the RAIC Governor General’s Medal in Architecture and the RIBA International Award for the Terrence Donnelly Centre for Cellular and Biomolecular Research.

As a member of the Urban Land Institute’s Women’s Leadership Initiative Championship Team and through her involvement with Building Equality in Architecture Toronto, Heather lends her voice to advocate for gender equality in the architectural profession.

Heather is also sitting member of the City of Toronto’s Design Review Panel.

John J. Stewart, BLA, OALA, CSLA, CAHP

John J. Stewart, a principal of Commonwealth, is a landscape architect and a heritage specialist. Over 40 years, he has focused on the planning and design of cultural resources, building and landscape conservation, and urban revitalization. A graduate of the University of Guelph, he received additional training at Cornell University (USA) and Oxford University (UK) and holds a diploma in the Conservation of Monuments from Parks Canada. Before Commonwealth's formation, Stewart was the first director of Heritage Canada's Main Street Program. The name Commonwealth derives from the Old English term 'commonweal' - a community or group working together for the common good. In this spirit, Stewart has advocated a collaborative approach in undertaking and participating in consulting and development projects. John is a founding member of the Canadian Association of Heritage Professionals; he sits on the Algonquin College Heritage Carpentry Advisory Board, and is a past-chair of the Perth Heritage Advisory Committee. Stewart co-authored with Larry Turner Perth: Tradition and Style in Eastern Ontario.

Alex Taranu, FCIP, MCIP, RPP, OAA
Manager of Architectural Design, City of Brampton

Alex Taranu is a Licensed Architect in the Province of Ontario and Registered Professional Planner with over 30 years of professional experience in planning, urban design, and architecture. During the 1990s he was involved in a number of urban design and architectural projects in many Ontario cities, in particular in Toronto as a consultant on projects such as the “Railway Lands (City Place)”, and the “Waterfront Design Schemes and Charrettes”. Since 2001, he has been heavily involved in the re-urbanization of suburban areas through projects such as “Downtown Brampton Revitalization and Central Area Intensification”. He also has extensive professional work experience as an advocate for urban design in the planning process as the founder and past chair of the Ontario Professional Planner Institute Urban Design Working Group and other professional advocacy organizations.

Emmanuelle van Rutten, B.Arch., OAA, OAQ, MRAIC, LEED AP BD+C

Emmanuelle is a Licensed Architect in the provinces of Ontario and Quebec and Director at the Moriyama & Teshima Architects' Ottawa office. Her professional focus has been on large-scale institutional buildings in Ottawa. These projects are exemplified by their exceptional designs and staunch project delivery.

Over the years, she has earned a reputation as a remarkable communicator (in both official languages), a meticulous project manager and an excellent designer. Her most notable projects include the Canadian War Museum and the Delegation of the Ismaili Imamat on Sussex drive.

Emmanuelle is actively involved in Ottawa's design community. She maintains a close relationship with her alma mater - the Azrieli School of Architecture at Carleton University where she is frequently invited as a Guest Lecturer and Guest Critic.

More information

For more information about the establishment of the UDRP, its evolution, and its current operations, please contact the UDRP Coordinator at UDRP@ottawa.ca who would be pleased to discuss.