Ottawa

City holds line on urban boundary

Ottawa's planning committee said it would stand its ground on where to draw the line for the city's urban boundary.

Ottawa's planning committee said it would stand its ground on where to draw the line for the city's urban boundary.

Mayor Jim Watson said despite appeals from developers, the city would not be budging from its current plan.

"I was very clear during the election campaign that I did not support reopening and re-examining the urban boundary issue for the simple reason that the previous council did get it right," said Watson.

"I'm very happy with the turn of events today, we heard from the public but council — through planning committee — stood their ground in defence of the public interest," he said.

In 2009, city council voted to expand the boundary by just 230 hectares, about a quarter of the 851-hectare expansion recommended by staff, and a tenth of the additional land sought by developers.

The province requires the city to keep a 15-year supply of developable land on hand to handle future growth.

The committee got an update Tuesday about appeals to the Ontario Municipal Board by developers unhappy with restrictions meant to stem urban sprawl.

Former Knoxdale-Merivale councillor Gord Hunter was one of the people who approached the planning committee to recommend it reopen the urban boundary debate. Hunter said the last council made the decision to limit growth to 230 hectares based on "the erroneous assumption that [they were] doing something to stop urban sprawl."

He said city staff recommendations added pockets of space for single-family homes in existing areas already developed, and added to the tax base but not the city's tax burden.

City lawyers said it would cost an estimated $300,000 dollars to defend the city's position at the OMB, in addition to another $100,000 already spent.

But they cautioned the committee that switching the boundary now in the absense of a settlement would undermine the city's stance and affect its credibility at the OMB.

With files from the CBC's Alistair Steele

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