Ottawa’s New Official Plan
OpinionFeb 20, 2021 - By Peter Brimacombe
Ottawa is in the process of finalizing its New Official Plan which embodies the concepts of a 15 minute neighbourhood where a resident can walk to all essential services like shopping, medical services, restaurants, etc. from their home. This concept relies on intensification of new development around key services like transit stations. In older established neighbourhoods, this might involve low rise buildings replacing single family homes. This underlying philosophy has already been adopted and is in effect right now. I recently provided my comments on the New Official Plan to the Hunt Club Community Association (HCCA). There’s still time for you to have your say at: https://engage.ottawa.ca/the-new-official-plan
Here’s what I don’t like about the Plan
- Property owners are not aware of the implications of intensification. They are going to be surprised and angry if somebody builds an apartment building on their street. In specific examples, the Planning Committee has supported intensification despite local objections.
- the target is 100% reduction in greenhouse gases by 2050 but this target is radical and unrealistic
- Here’s what I like about the Plan
- it promotes energy efficiency
- it protects rural areas from urban sprawl
- Hunt Club is largely unaffected by intensification because houses are relatively new
Intensification is really the only option. It’s energy efficient and it saves rural areas from urban sprawl. I totally agree on the need to save rural areas from urban sprawl. I worked 30 years for the Canadian Soil Information Service at Agriculture Canada. Urban sprawl is a threat to agriculture. It’s on energy efficiency where the City and I disagree. The New Official Plan takes the view that energy efficiency is needed to protect the planet. In fact, the stated target is 100% reduction in greenhouse gases by 2050. The target itself admits that it is radical and unrealistic – it’s far enough in the future to relieve anyone of responsibility. My thought is that increased energy efficiency is needed because oil is becoming harder to find and more expensive – Peak Oil. In fact, technology advances in fracking have made oil cheaper but this effect is temporary.
My vision is to provide decent housing to the people that come here. I am inspired by the story of a building in New York City that provided people with decent housing. I met author Seymour N. Harris in New York City. Here is an excerpt from his book, ‘The Building’: “Some skeptics believed that the project would shortly become a slum, that its tenants, mostly poor and predominantly Jewish immigrants, and their families, would destroy it. Nevertheless, out of what many observers considered to be a garbage heap, there arose some of the nation’s leading entrepreneurs as well as leaders in every profession from law to medicine, from theatre to education. Given hope and opportunity, the children of the destitute emerged as captains of achievement. In every area, they helped build the foundations of a new era in the twenty-first century”
The New Official Plan talks about affordable housing. During the pandemic, housing has become less affordable. In response, the Federal Government has hugely increased the deficit but the deficit has increased the value of assets – like housing. Housing is now less affordable.
To sum up my comments on the New Official Plan
- the City has to go with intensification
- Hunt Club is largely left alone