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Old Ottawa South Community Association

OSCA calls for sustainable, transparent development

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OSCA's Planning and Zoning Committee has called on the City of Ottawa Agriculture and Rural Affairs and Planning Committees to be more cognizant of climate change and more clear about how its proposed policies would affect neighbourhoods in a submission to a joint meeting of the two bodies. There was little time given to review the new official plan and only five days allotted for public review and comment.

Here is OSCA's submission:

On behalf of the Old Ottawa South Community Association, I am sending this submission on the New Official Plan - Preliminary Policy Directions to the joint meeting of the Agriculture and Rural Affairs and Planning Committees on December 9, 2019. 

With only five days allotted for public review and comment since policy directions were released, we have focused on matters with the greatest potential impact on Old Ottawa South. We understand that the committees’ directions will move on to Council two days later, on December 11, 2019. If approved, staff will then draft a new Official Plan for release in October 2020.

We strongly support development of a more sustainable city in response to climate change. We understand that this means housing more people on lands within the current urban boundary and limiting growth by expansion into new lands. It also means making walking, cycling and transit viable options. In partnership with the City, the Old Ottawa South Traffic and Safety Committee has made great strides in this direction through reduced speed limits, traffic calming measures and new and improved pedestrian crosswalks. 

The preliminary policy directions point to widespread change inside the greenbelt with new zoning that regulates building form rather than the number of units in a building. Infill that expands the range of housing options, such as apartments on smaller lots, will become more prevalent. Our older residents in particular will appreciate greater rental apartment availability, something our Seniors Committee, SWOOS, has been working on for some time. Denser forms create a need for more open spaces and services to support an expanded population and these will need to be provided.

However, the ways in which these proposed policies will affect our community and its residents is still unknown. There is no mapping or other information about how policies will apply to individual communities. There is no information as to whether there will be new corridors proposed in our neighbourhood or how wide they will be. 

The community worked hard with the City to secure the Heritage Overlay along Colonel By Drive in 2013 to conserve this historic viewscape in the zoning by-law. The preliminary policy directions propose a Heritage Management Plan and a “special district” adjacent to the Rideau Canal, which includes the first row of properties fronting on the Canal, with design policies on heritage and character. We need to be consulted on this policy as it develops and ensure that new policies complement and strengthen existing protections.

New policies for small residential buildings recommend a “less-onerous” Site Plan Control process, even though this process potentially regulates features important to neighbours and communities. We caution against any proposed policy that diminishes or eliminates the additional level of scrutiny provided by Site Plan Control both for existing and for new proposed housing forms.

The depth of new corridors proposed in the new Official Plan is not known, but we caution against adopting 200 m, as now allowed on deep lots on Traditional Mainstreets. In order to maintain the cores of established communities, existing maximum depths on Mainstreets and new neighbourhood corridor depths should be limited to the depth of lots facing the designated corridor. This would be consistent with the stated policy of "preservation of neighbourhood character" referenced in the New Official Plan Preliminary Policy Directions.

Above all and most importantly, we don’t know whether the New Official Plan is committed to maintaining any part of Old Ottawa South. Is the expectation that new planning policies will guide all growth in our community in a different direction or will New Official Plan policies aim to continue to attract families with children, which have comprised about half of our core population over the last 30 years and are an important part of the character of Old Ottawa South? 

We therefore request that Council:

·       Provide direction to staff on the future of established neighbourhoods, to maintain their character and cores even as densities increase through redevelopment on community edges, mainstreets and municipal lands and through truly compatible infill throughout the area.

·       Release a preliminary plan for consultation between March and June 2020 that maps the new “transects” and their subareas with their nodes and corridors identified, along with associated policies for housing and other development. Council will receive a report in March on the addition of urban lands to accommodate growth. This report will detail what additional development lands will be needed after planning and mapping for growth through redevelopment and intensification in existing communities has been taken into account. Old Ottawa South and other communities would like to be consulted on redevelopment and intensification and how it affects them. Council has been cautioned by its lawyers in the current report against changing its mind downstream, so waiting for the release of the full plan in October 2020 could be too late for us.

Thank you for your consideration of these requests. We will provide more detailed comments on the preliminary policy directions once we have time to complete our review. 

Sincerely,

Richard Slowikowski
President
Old Ottawa South Community Association


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