A controversial plan to build a massive subdivision in a rural Ottawa village undermines the city's efforts to curb urban sprawl, argues a community group near the city centre.
Bob Brocklebank, chair of the Glebe Community Association, agrees with Manotick residents who don't want the city to allow Minto Development Inc.'s proposed development. The plan would add 1,400 homes over the next 15 years to the community on the city's rural southern outskirts, almost doubling the size of the village, which currently comprises 1,750 homes.
The proposal is to go to Ottawa city council on Feb. 13. The rural affairs committee recommended against it last Thursday.
Brocklebank said he doesn't buy Minto's argument that the land in Manotick was designated for growth in the 1990s.
"So what?" he said. "I don't think that necessarily means that this urban boundary concept should be thrown in the trash can."
The concept was established by the city to limit urban sprawl and is written into the city's official plan, which was adopted in 2003. It designates a boundary within which it believes it has a 20-year supply of land that can accommodate urban growth. The policy states that the city will accommodate growth by directing it to urban areas within the boundary, where urban services already exist or can be efficiently provided.
Minto vice-president Jack Stirling said the land his company wants to develop has been slated for growth for more than a decade and therefore doesn't conflict with the urban boundary.
Residents of Manotick agree that the land was designated for growth, but say that growth was not intended to be on the scale Minto is proposing.
"We don't want to become a town," said Mary Findlater, who said she moved to the village for its rural way of life. "We don't want to be part of the city."
Residents in other rural parts of Ottawa are watching the case carefully. Last week, Mattamy Homes, Canada's largest homebuilder, purchased 300 acres of farm land in the west part of Richmond, which is west of Manotick.
Bruce Webster, president of the Richmond Village Association, said that's enough land for about 2,000 homes — enough to accommodate perhaps 7,000 people.
He said that if Minto wins the right to build its development in Manotick, that will have implications for his own village.
"The village of Richmond … is likely the next village that's going to find an appendage, if you will, of suburban sprawl stuck onto them."