How can we create a more liveable Ottawa?
That’s the theme of an upcoming public consultation on how to rewrite the city’s Official Plan and the rest of its master plans for transportation, infrastructure, cycling and pedestrians – documents that set the stage for Ottawa’s development.
The city is holding its first public meeting about the review on Jan. 29, but community association representatives got a head start on the issue when about 40 of them gathered for a brainstorming session at the Overbrook Community Centre on Jan. 10.
The session was hosted by the Federation of Citizens Associations, a citywide group that represents a number of community associations. For the first time, the city invited the federation to send two representatives to sit on one of three consultation panels that will undertake the in-depth consultation and review of the plans.
“There was no such community panel in previous runarounds of the Official Plan,” said federation member and Glebe resident Bob Brocklebank, one of the people taking the lead on the federation’s master plan input. “They have provided a greater role for the community this time than in 2009.”
“We’re trying to build a new city and have some influence over that,” added Gary Sealey, a federation member from the Kanata-Beaverbrook Community Association.
From infill to traffic congestion to more nebulous concepts like density targets and sustainability benchmarks, participants covered off what they see as the building blocks for a more liveable city.
Infill was a common concern. Anna Cuylits from Old Ottawa South said her community would like to see rules that have more teeth with regards to things like building setbacks and height.
In Old Ottawa East, one of the main concerns will be pushing for the Alta Vista transportation corridor to be completely removed from transportation plans. The corridor is a proposed road linking Lees Avenue to Ottawa Hospital’s General Campus.
There was also some interest from John Verbaas of Action Sandy Hill in “making growth pay for itself” – finding ways for development charges to cover the true cost of building infrastructure needed to support sprawling suburbs.
Rural participants were concerned about how the city defines a “complete rural village.”
“There’s an implication that they are incomplete,” said Ted Ross of the Manotick Village Community Association.
No matter what actually ends up in the Official Plan and master plans, it will be important to ensure those ideas are put into practice. To that end, several community representatives suggested a need for a report card to measure the success or failure of the initiatives in the plans.
Representatives from the federation will join the community panel; other panels will include a sponsors’ panel for the city councillors leading the project, as well as a panel for the development industry.
The draft Official Plan amendments should be presented to the city’s planning committee in June. More public consultation will follow, with draft approval of the Official Plan itself expected in October. Council expects to adopt the updated Official Plan and the revised master plans for transportation, infrastructure, pedestrians and cycling in December of 2013 or January of 2014.