The Province Approves the City of Ottawa Official Plan with Modifications
On November 4th, 2022, the Ontario Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing announced that the City of Ottawa Official Plan (adopted by by-law 2003-203) has been repealed pursuant to the City of Ottawa By-law 2021-386, which was passed by City Council on November 24th, 2021. The MMAH also approved the new City of Ottawa Official Plan as approved by By-law 2021-386, with modifications. A summary of the key modifications is provided below, along with a link to the MMAH decision.
Loosening of 15-minute neighbourhood language:
The MMAH revisions include changes to Section 3.3, Policy 5 and Section 4.1.2, Policy 16. These changes would reduce the strength of language that requires new neighbourhoods to be designed around easy pedestrian access to a rapid transit station and the requirement that new subdivisions be coordinated with the timing of new transit service (from shall to should). Further, the language has been adjusted such that the City will only be able to request early service agreements where new subdivisions are to be occupied before transit service as opposed to being able to require early service agreements.
Policy 3 in Section 22.214.171.124, which regulates the Future Neighbourhood Overlay, is also amended to use more permissive “should” language rather than “shall” and “must” with respect to having rapid transit service for new subdivision developments.
Removal of rental housing stock provision:
Another change included within the MMAH’s revisions is the deletion of Section 4.2.3, which includes three policies to protect existing rental housing stock and support the production of more rental units. Specifically, Section 4.2.3 prohibited the conversion of rental housing with six or more rental units into freehold or condominium units unless the vacancy rate for analogous units in the area is at or above 3% for three consecutive years and the units were at or above average market rent for analogous units in the area. It also limited zoning by-law amendments to reduce the number of permitted apartment dwellings unless there was an equivalent zoning amendment nearby that would propose the same number of units and mitigated the impact of Plans of Condominium and other applications that would effectively remove six or more dwelling units from the long-term rental market. The removal of this section is consistent with changes recently proposed by the province to the Municipal Act as part of Bill 23.
Maximum building heights along corridors:
One of the more significant revisions to the Official Plan as approved by City Council is to return the maximum height permissions along Corridors to their previous number before Council amendments. Broadly, the changes will allow a maximum of nine storeys instead of four storeys on minor corridors in the Downtown Core Transect, a maximum of six storeys instead of four storeys on minor corridors in the Inner Urban Transect, and a maximum of six storeys instead of four storeys on minor corridors in the Outer Urban Transect.
Within the Inner Urban Transect, in addition to permitting a maximum of six storeys along minor corridors, new language was added to allow for a five-to-six storey building where the zoning by-law permits low-rise buildings without amendment to the Official Plan.
Within Section 5.4 for the Suburban Transect, language was removed which referred to limiting the outward growth of suburbs. Additionally, a new subsection is added to Policy 2 in subsection 5.4.1 which allows for low-rise buildings along minor corridors, and between five and seven storeys though a zoning amendment, without requiring amendment to the Official Plan. The revision also allows mid-rise buildings to be permitted through an area-specific policy or secondary plan and high-rise buildings to be permitted through a secondary plan. This direction is also added to Policy 3 in Section 5.4.3.
Policy 3 in Section 126.96.36.199, which provides direction for the Evolving Overlay, was also revised to indicate that the City will be supportive of low-rise development applications that seek to go beyond the development standards of the underlying zone.
Section 11.6, Policy 4, which regulates the requirement to permit a building in a taller height category, was also amended in line with the revised height maximums on minor corridors. The revision allows for increases from low-rise to mid-rise along minor corridors where the height is five to six storeys and a secondary plan or area specific policy does not require otherwise to move into a different height category with only a zoning amendment, instead of requiring an official plan amendment.
Section 4.1.6, Policy 4 was changed to remove reference to the sizing of grade-separated highway interchanges and to remove reference to designing highway infrastructure in a manner that aligns with the strategic direction of the Official Plan.
Section 4.1.6 Policy 5 was removed in its entirety, which refers to opposition to further expansion of Highway 417 in the Downtown Core and Inner Urban Transect.
Section 7.3, Policy 2 was also revised to add environmental impact statements as a potential study that could be conducted to recommend a wetland evaluation initiated or required by the City but removed the ability to recommend the evaluation if a development would reduce the wetland area by two hectares or more.
Policy 3 of Section 9.2.3, which regulates lot creation for residential use within the rural area, was revised to include confirmation of reserve sewage/water capacity or private servicing as an exception.
Finally, Section 11.9 is amended to include a new subsection related to monitoring plan to address the Official Plan’s affordable housing objectives and achievement of its affordable housing targets.
A number of changes were also made to the new Official Plan schedules. Schedule B9 ‘Rural Transect’ was deleted and replaced in its entirety. Schedules C7-B, C8, C9, C11-B, and C13 were also revised to reflect the boundaries of the Village of Greely as shown in the revised Schedule B9. Schedules A and B of the Village of Greely Secondary Plan were also amended to reflect the boundaries in Schedule B9.
A new schedule C17 ‘Urban Expansion Areas’ replaces the previously approved version and includes new Category 1 lands. The newly added Category 1 lands will significantly increase the total land area earmarked for new greenfield expansion. Category 1 lands have been added in Kanata, Orleans, Barrhaven, and Findlay Creek. Category 2 lands for the new Tewin community remain the same, as do new Industrial and Logistics lands.
Figure 1: Schedule C17 'Urban Expansion Areas’ Before. (Source: City of Ottawa)
Figure 2: Schedule C17 'Urban Expansion Areas’ After. (Source: City of Ottawa, as amended by the MMAH)
Figure 3: Schedule B9 'Rural Transect' Before. (Source: City of Ottawa)
Figure 4: Schedule B9 'Rural Transect' After. (Source: City of Ottawa, as amended by the MMAH).
MMAH Decision with respect to the New City of Ottawa Official Plan Subsection 17(34) of the Planning Act: https://prod-environmental-registry.s3.amazonaws.com/2022-11/Ottawa%20OP%20-%20Decision%20-%20Signed%20November%204%202022.pdf
Approval of Official Plan website: https://ero.ontario.ca/notice/019-4968#decision-details