Transit-Oriented Development Guidelines

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Amenity: something that contributes to an area’s needs, whether social, environmental, or cultural.

Articulation: architectural detail that gives a building interest and added richness.

Built form: buildings and structures.

Compatible/Compatibility: when the density, form, bulk, height, setbacks and/or materials of buildings are able to co-exist with their surroundings.

Curb cut: a break in the curb for vehicular access from the street onto a property.

Façade: the principal face(s) of a building (also referred to as the front wall(s)). May address more than one side when buildings open on to multiple public spaces.

Frontage: the front of the property facing the street.

Front yard: the space between the property line and the front wall of a building facing the public street.

Glazing: clear or lightly tinted glass windows.

Hard landscape: landscape features other than plant materials, such as decorative pavers, planter boxes, fences, or retaining walls.

Landscaped buffer: a landscaped area located along the perimeter of a lot intended to screen or separate land uses.

Non transit-supportive land uses:

  • Generate high levels of vehicle activity
  • Use large amounts of land with low-density form Require extensive surface parking areas and are oriented towards automobile use
  • Create negative impacts for pedestrians, such as isolation, windswept walks, and numerous vehicle crossings on sidewalks
  • Typically do not attract extended hours of activity.
  • Examples of non transit-supportive land uses include: Automotive parts, repair and service; car dealerships; car washes; drive through facilities; gas/service stations; commercial surface parking; warehouse storage; animal boarding; commercial nurseries; and low-density residential developments on large lots (>12m).

Property line: the legal boundary of a property.

Public realm: the streets, lanes, parks and open spaces that are available for anyone to use.

Rapid transit: a convenient, fast, and frequent public transportation service that features a high carrying capacity and that operates on its own right-of-way, as a separate system or in shared corridors, and is not delayed in general traffic. The Ottawa rapid-transit network consists of an interconnecting system of existing and planned rights-of-way and corridors in which a rapid-transit facility, such as a Transitway, O-Train, or streetcar, may be located.

Scale: the size of a building or an architectural feature in relation to its surroundings and to the size of a person.

Setback: the required distance from a road, property line, or another structure, within which no building can be located.

Sidewalk: unobstructed concrete pedestrian travel route in the public right-of-way.

Sight triangle: a triangular-shaped portion of land, typically three to five metres in length and 3 to 5 metres in width, established at street intersections in which there are restrictions on things erected, placed or planted which would limit or obstruct the sight distance of motorists entering or leaving the intersection.

Soft landscape: landscape features of plantings, such as trees, shrubs, vines, perennials and annuals.

Streetscape: the overall character and appearance of a street formed by elements and features that frame the public street, such as building façades, street trees and plants, lighting, furniture, or paving.

Transit-supportive land uses: land uses that encourage transit use and transportation network efficiency as they:

  • Establish high residential and/or employee densities
  • Create travel outside of the am/pm peak periods
  • Promote reverse-flow travel
  • Attract and generate pedestrian traffic
  • Provide extended hours of activity
  • Examples of transit-supportive land uses include: Townhouses; Apartments; Child care facilities; Hotels; Recreational and Cultural facilities; Medical clinics; Restaurants; Libraries; Fitness clubs; Movie Theatres; Call centres; Offices; High schools and post secondary institutions.

Urban design: the analysis and design of a city’s physical design.

Walkway block: a pedestrian travel route on public or private property outside of the public street right-of-way.

Transit-Oriented Development Guidelines

Approved by City Council on September 26, 2007
Publication #21-12

Transit-Oriented Development Guidelines [PDF 2.89 MB]

Transit-Oriented Development (TOD) is a mix of moderate to high-density transit-supportive land uses located within an easy walk of a rapid transit stop or station that is oriented and designed to facilitate transit use.

Purpose and Application

The purpose of these guidelines is to provide guidance to assess, promote and achieve appropriate Transit-Oriented Development within the City of Ottawa.

These guidelines are to be applied throughout the City for all development within a 600 metre walking distance of a rapid transit stop or station, in conjunction with the policies of the Official Plan and all other applicable regulations (i.e. Zoning By-law, Private Approach By-law, Signs By-Law). Enhanced cycling facilities and cycling infrastructure should be considered within a 1500 metre cycling distance. Areas served by high-quality transit (frequent service, numerous routes, extended hours of service) rather than rapid transit will also benefit from applying these guidelines.

These guidelines will be used:

  1. To provide direction to the design and review processes for plans of subdivision, site plan control, rezoning and Official Plan Amendments
  2. To assist in the preparation of new community design plans or secondary plans for undeveloped or redeveloping communities
  3. To complement design considerations in approved community design plans or existing secondary plans

This guidance is reflective of a more integrated approach that blends transit with urban planning and will be particularly important as the City expands its rapid transit network with a focus on increasing transit ridership when opportunities for Transit-Oriented Development are presented.

Official Plan Direction

The growth management strategies of the Official Plan direct most urban growth to the Central Area, Mixed-Use Centres, Town Centres and Mainstreets. All Mixed-Use Centres and Town Centres have, or are planned to have, rapid transit. Opportunities to create Transit-Oriented Development exist where these designated growth areas and rapid transit stations and stops coincide.

Schedules B and D of the Official Plan (and Annex 1 of this document) show the Urban Land Use Policy Plan and the Rapid Transit Network and provide direction regarding the location and policy framework for Transit-Oriented Development within the City of Ottawa.

Section 2.5.1 and Annex 3 of the Official Plan contain a number of design considerations for meeting design objectives and principles.

Context and Challenges

People are more likely to choose transit if they can easily walk between many destinations at the beginning and end of their trip. This can be achieved through providing increased densities, mixed-uses, and pedestrian-oriented design within easy walking distances of high-quality transit. Numerous benefits result, in terms of creating healthier and more livable communities where people can live, work and shop; improved affordability by reducing the need for private motor vehicles; more efficient public infrastructure, such as water, sewer, roads, recreation, fire and police services; and greater opportunities for economic vitality through an increase in the diversity and scale of development.

The main challenges associated with Transit-Oriented Development include: providing a mix of uses and densities that complement both transit users and the local community; ensuring built form is designed and orientated to facilitate and encourage transit use; managing the safe circulation of pedestrians, cyclists, vehicles and parking; and creating quality public spaces that provide direct, convenient, safe and attractive access to transit.

Other Available City of Ottawa Guidelines

These guidelines play an integral role in achieving high quality design throughout the City by translating the vision of the Official Plan and its broad framework into detailed principles for development.

For further information on the Transit-Oriented Development Guidelines, please contact:

Kornel Mucsi
Program Manager
Transportation-Strategic Planning Unit
Transportation & Infra Planning Division
Planning Branch
Planning, Transit and the Environment
Phone: 613-580-2424, ext.12503