More coverage of Ontario Votes 2011
CBC Ottawa

Ottawa Votes Blog: The Peter principal

Alta Vista councillor and planning committee chair Peter Hume has an interesting idea that could help nip future building height battles in the bud. He says the revamp is necessary because -- in his own words -- "people don't trust City Hall." Here's an excerpt from Hume's news release:  

"Hume's committee is a recurring battleground where planners, developers and residents clash over what kind of development should be allowed. He says the residents or City Council often escalate their grievances to the Ontario Municipal Board (OMB) where they frequently lose their cases.

One of the most controversial sticking points is the allowable height of new buildings. Hume plans to bring forward an Official Plan amendment to "pre-zone" areas to introduce fixed height restrictions. He wants the city to place five-storey height limits for traditional main streets and ten-storeys for arterial main streets, except where a Community Design Plan takes precedence."

Hume goes on to say:

"Residents have a right to know what is allowed and we can help them avoid spending a small fortune at the OMB. They usually lose because they are asking for something that does not comply with the Official Plan. Determining areas for height limits beforehand puts everyone's cards on the table. Residents don't trust the city to treat them fairly, and that must change."

That's another refreshing admission, in a week of mea culpas. Especially coming from the chair of the committee that oversees development planning. A couple caveats though. First, Hume is running for re-election to council, and may or may not resume his duties at the helm of the planning committee if he wins. Second, this wouldn't stop developers from taking issues to the OMB. What it would do is make the game rules clear from the outset, and force developers -- not residents -- to explain why those rules deserve to be broken.