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  • Writer's pictureDayna Edwards

New Zoning By-law Update: Form & Function Discussion Paper and Upcoming Open House

On August 18th the City of Ottawa released a ‘Form and Function’ discussion paper that, along with other discussion papers, will inform the development of the first draft of the new Zoning By-law. The Form and Function Discussion Paper serves as an overview of regulation for low-rise infill development in residential neighbourhoods. This report builds onto the Neighbourhood Character and Neighbourhood Zoning Discussion Papers that were released earlier this year.

Below is a summary of the key themes outlined in the ‘Form and Function’ discussion paper:

The Evolving Overlay: The Evolving Overlay, as set out in the Official Plan, represents parts of neighbourhoods in close proximity to hubs and corridors. These area are expected to provide an increase in density in accordance with the planned context, which may contemplate a larger built form that what is found in the existing neighbourhood context. Areas outside the Evolving Overlay represent the “interiors” of neighbourhoods and it is expected that these areas will also increase in density but it should be in a manner and with a built form that is more comparable to a neighbourhood’s existing context.

Subzones: The current Zoning By-law includes over 140 distinct residential subzones, which contributes to zoning regulations which are difficult to understand and follow. The new Zoning By-law will aim to reduce the number of distinct subzones wherever possible to create clearer and more efficient regulations.

Building Height: Low-rise buildings are generally defined as four storeys or fewer in height. Given the typical size of infill lots and increased Building Code requirements for Form and Function for Low-Rise Infill 2 buildings of four storeys, it is likely that two and three-storey development will continue to be the most economical form for intensification in Neighbourhoods.

Tree Planting and Landscaping: Although the Zoning By-law cannot mandate the direct planting of trees on a site, it does have the authority to establish a minimum soft landscaped area. This prerequisite serves as a foundation for tree planting and offers advantages in terms of stormwater management.

Setbacks & Projections: Front yard setbacks can be an indicator of urban or suburban built form in a neighbourhood, where urban neighbourhoods tend to have yard setbacks closer to the front lot line. There are some neighbourhoods where the underlying zoning requirement does not align with the actual pattern of front yards along the street. In areas where existing context is intended to be addressed in zoning requirements, the by-law will strive to address these inconsistencies.

Design Regulations for Facades: Although the Zoning By-law cannot mandate architectural style, it can place basic controls on the design of a building, including basic articulation and window opening requirements in facades. These basic level requirements create a minimum design standard for all buildings to ensure that their form contributes well to the public realm.

Outdoor Living and Amenity Space: Where requirements for these features are established, they must account for proximity to public amenities, the potential for amenity spaces of multi-unit dwellings to also fulfill landscaping requirements, and how private amenity spaces such as balconies fit into overall requirements.

Rear Yard Functions: Rear yards of multi-unit buildings often serve a variety of functions to help meet the needs of residents without impacting liveable space and mitigate concerns often associated with low-rise infill. The new Zoning By-law will provide regulations to balance the following rear yard functions:

  • Waste Management

  • Bicycle and vehicle parking

  • Landscaping and tree canopy

  • Outdoor amenity space such as decks, balconies, porches and patios

  • Accessory buildings such as sheds and detached garages.

In addition, the City is hosting open houses to mark the initial steps in the new Zoning By-law project. They will offer the chance to learn what zoning means, understand how the new Zoning By-law implements the recently approved Official Plan, and receive a high-level overview of key zoning topics.

A virtual open house is set for Thursday, October 5, starting at 6 PM.

Here's what you can expect:

  • Presentation: The Virtual Open House will kick off with a presentation that covers the project's overview, timelines, and key topics.

  • Questions and Answers: Time will be set aside to answer questions submitted during the presentation.

How to Participate:

  • Date and Time: Thursday, October 5, Starting at 6 PM.

  • Online Platform: The Open House will be held virtually on Zoom.

  • Registration: To attend, please register by clicking on this link

Source: Ottawa Zoning By-law Update:


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