A group of 32 community associations in Ottawa are calling on the city to tighten the rules governing city planners and the role developers play in the planning process.

The coalition wants the city to update its zoning bylaws to implement the city's official plan and said under the current conditions, nearly every major development requires rezoning, leading to unpredictability and confusion.

They also called for the city to stop hiring private planning consultants to process development applications and to stop committing to support a specific zoning change during confidential pre-consultations with a developer or property owner.

The coalition, made up of groups representing 12 city wards and two citywide organizations, met Monday at a community centre in Hintonburg.

Coun. Peter Hume, the head of the city's planning committee, said the city supports all three proposals. He said the city doesn't hire outside planners and it has very clear guidelines for city planners when consulting with developers.


Community groups across Ottawa gathered to outline changes to planning rules they'd like to see the city adopt. (Ryan Gibson/CBC)

The coalition also wants the city to commit to banning campaign contributions from the development industry and ban gifts to councillors.

Contributions in question

Glebe Community Association representative Lynn Barlow said the ban should go even further.

"We're saying ban contributions from corporations and unions. That's very similar wording to Toronto's municipal government and also the federal government." she said.

Any such ban would have to be approved by the province, Hume said.

But he expressed reservations about how effective a tool it is towards the goals of transparency and trust. He said in his own experience he has run campaigns without corporate or union contributions and still had people ascribing motives to contributions he has received from individuals based on the employers of the donor.

"I'm not sure it's the panacea the community groups think it is," said Hume.