Province approves Ottawa's official plan with taller buildings, wider urban boundary

Ontario's ministry of municipal affairs and housing has finally approved Ottawa's new official plan, with modifications that would allow for an expansion of the city's urban boundary and taller structures downtown.

Modified plan not subject to appeal, ministry says

Several Gothic-style towers are seen in an aerial shot taken during daytime of a city skyline.
The modified official plan approved Friday by the province allows for taller buildings and hundreds of hectares added to Ottawa's urban boundaries. (Michel Aspirot/CBC)

Ontario's ministry of municipal affairs and housing has finally approved Ottawa's new official plan, with modifications that would expand the city's urban boundary and permit taller structures downtown.

The modified plan — meant to chart the path for development in Ottawa until 2046 — was released on Friday, just over a year after it was originally approved by city council.

It designates additional areas for urban expansion, such as Findlay Creek and north Kanata's South March area. 

In January 2021, city council voted against adding 175 hectares in the South March area, excluding it to make room for the hotly debated Tewin community, which also remains in the plan. 

The 30 modifications to the plan are meant to address "provincial policy direction and government priorities" related to "the long-term protection of provincial highways, wetland protection, monitoring of affordable housing and increasing housing supply," according to the province's notice of its decision.

The modified plan isn't subject to appeal, with city staff saying in a Saturday memo that they're reviewing the changes and will soon update council about what they mean.

Home builders' association on board

The official signing off on the plan by Municipal Affairs Minister Steve Clark was delayed for several months by provincial housing legislation. 

The changes expand the urban boundary by 550 hectares, according to the Greater Ottawa Home Builders' Association, which said in a media release that it welcomes the changes.

The amendments address the local housing affordability and supply crisis, the association said.

Another modification by the province would allow for nine-storey buildings to be built in "minor corridors" in the downtown core, up from the four-storey buildings city council approved in 2021. 

In inner and outer urban areas outside of the downtown core, the plan now allows for six storeys, also higher than the four-storey buildings council previously agreed to.

The home builders' association had been critical of city's council's decision to limit the heights of those buildings.

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