Fisher Heights residents Corey Peabody dove head first into the official plan and sent us some feedback. Note this is a combination of cut and paste from several on line documents as well as some of her own comments crafted into a beautiful webpage :-). It is not like we will become the next Hintonburg (coffee roasters anyone?), but times they are achanging.
What is the Official Plan & why is it important?
The new Official Plan, once approved, will be the City’s primary planning document to guide growth and redevelopment in Ottawa for at least the next 25 years. The draft new OP must be based on the requirements of the Province’s Planning Act and the Provincial Policy Statement. The new OP will also inform other City master plans to ensure that services such as water, roads, parks, green space and transit are available to support the new development.
Where can I find the documents?
I would like to warn you – the Draft Official Plan document is 263 pages long and one of the most impenetrable and difficult to understand documents I have ever dealt with.
Where are we in the consultation process?
The first draft was released on November 20 2020. The city is asking for feedback by February 17 2021. Because the draft document is so complex, the city has thoughtfully provided no less than 21 one-pagers and feedback forms on subjects of interest. They can be found here. While the one-pagers are definitely very helpful briefs, the problem with the bite-size info and sending comments on those is that you get the feeling that you are missing the real show. But do comment!
For well over a year, a group of community organizations, including CAFES, Ecology Ottawa, City for All Women (CAWI), Greenspace Alliance, Healthy Transportation Coalition and Just Food, have been meeting under the label People’s Official Plan (POP) both at a convener level and at a residents’ level through organizing large consultative workshops. The first was at the Bayswater Innovation Centre, the second at Nepean Sportsplex and most recently on Dec 12 2020 we met in a well attended on-line workshop looking at the Draft OP and 15-minute neighbourhoods.
Residents have until Feb 17, 2021 to comment on 21 one-page summaries on specifics sections of the OP, such as Housing, Employment, Parks, Water Resources and Climate Change, to name a few.
Three reasons I think this is more important than ever
Intensification is the emphasis of the new OP. And there is very little land being taken in along the edges of the City for new urban expansion (as seen in newspaper articles the past two days). So intensification will have to happen from within.
Transit corridor – evolving neighbourhood
We live in an area that is bordered by Baseline Road that is going to become a major transit (bus) corridor. Our neighbourhood has been classified as “evolving” in the new OP which means “expected to gently evolve from a suburban to a more urban form of buildings and site layouts”. We are also nearby to the triangle lands behind Loblaws (which extend to Myers Motors land beside St. Augustine’s Church) which are classed as “transforming” lands which means “areas expected to undergo significant development”.
I took the City’s “Planning Primer” course yesterday evening (that is offered for free by the City) and discovered that some older neighbourhoods that are currently zoned R1, that are near transit lines (that’s two ticks for our neighbourhood) could be re-zoned to become R4 neighbourhoods that would allow three storey, six-living-unit buildings on certain parcels of land (likely street corners). This is how the City could meet its intensification targets, by providing additional housing space near major transit corridors but at the expense of established R1 neighbourhoods.
The Zoning by-law will also be re-written. (So could this be an opportunity to voice our concern about allowing commercial cube trucks to be stored in driveways? (I digress….)
I realize that many of these decisions may have already been made, but I think it is important to be informed as to what is happening or could happen in your neighbourhood. And while (apparently) change is good, knowing it is coming is better than being surprised by it!
This is the web location of all the OP documents; the one page summaries are here as well as a feedback form for each:
And this is the link to all the documents library: