Ottawa city staff are recommending relaxing the rules around additions and building heights for properties damaged during May's flooding so that homeowners can flood-proof their homes.

Under the current planning act, property owners on flood plains have a legal obligation to rebuild on the same location and within the same space as the existing building.

If they want to deviate from that, they need to apply for a variance.

But after hundreds of homeowners, mostly with properties along the Ottawa River, saw their houses damaged during record rainfall and flooding this spring, city council passed a motion in July directing staff to undertake zoning amendments to provide relief.

In a report addressed to both this Thursday's agriculture and rural affairs committee and next week's planning committee, staff recommend easing some of the rules to allow homeowners rebuild at a higher elevation or — as part of flood-proofing measures — build slightly higher than the existing building.

ottawa flooding home cumberland

The City of Ottawa used some 240,000 sandbags, like those seen here on Morin Road, to try to keep rising floodwaters at bay in May. (Stu Mills/CBC)

The changes would allow a homeowner to rebuild at a less flood-prone location, provided the new home does not exceed 20 per cent of the gross floor area of the previous building. It also cannot be more than 20 square metres larger.

The change, which would be repealed in September 2020, would apply to properties on the following streets or portions of the following streets:

  • Loggers Way.
  • Moorhead Drive.
  • MacLarens Side Road.
  • Northwoods Drive.
  • Constance Bay area.
  • Armitage Avenue.
  • Leo Lane.
  • Du Boise Lane.
  • Armstrong Road.
  • Morin Road.
  • Grandview Drive.
  • Britannia Beach area.
  • Turnberry Road.
  • Trim Road (Petrie Island).

If approved at the two committees, the recommendation would go before city council next week.