Ottawa 2046: City thinking ahead with new plan for growth

The City of Ottawa is starting with a clean slate as it embarks on an ambitious plan to become one of North America's most livable mid-sized cities by 2046.

City's 25-year blueprint 'the Gréber Report of right now,' planning chair says

Ottawa is embarking on a fresh growth plan with an aim of becoming one of North America's most livable mid-sized cities by 2046. (Adrian Wyld/CP)

The City of Ottawa is starting with a clean slate as it embarks on an ambitious plan to become one of North America's most livable mid-sized cities by 2046.

It's creating an entirely new official plan — the legal document that governs how the city grows — rather than simply updating a previous draft.

This is the Gréber Report of right now.- Coun. Jan Harder

"We don't intend to tinker at the margins," said Stephen Willis, the city's general manager of planning, infrastructure and economic development.

The new plan, which will replace one that dates back to 2003, will be ready in 2021 and look ahead 25 years.

"Trying to continue to build on a document that really had its origin at a different place, at a different time, really isn't making a lot of sense anymore," said John Smit, the city's director of long-range planning.

Joe Berridge of Urban Strategies says Ottawa needs two things to achieve its long-term goals: more brains, and better connectivity to Toronto. (Giacomo Panico/CBC)

Part of mega-region

The city hired two Toronto consultants, Joe Berridge of Urban Strategies and Dan Leeming of The Planning Partnership, to gaze into the city's future and present various scenarios.

In their report, the consultants said Ottawa should consider how it competes in a world where economic activity is concentrated in an increasingly small number of large urban areas.

Ottawa can be part of a mega-region including Toronto and Montreal, Berridge said, rather than trying to compete with those cities.

Berridge said Ottawa needs to work harder to attract young talent from around the globe.

He also believes the city could make better use of the Ottawa River, and should look for ways to move "big chess pieces" to make it more of a focal point.

'I want people to wake up!'

Coun. Jan Harder, chair of the city's planning committee, made an impassioned plea to residents to get involved in the long-term planning process.

"This is the Gréber Report of right now," Harder said, referring to the sweeping 1950 plan for the capital that led to the creation of National Capital Commission parkways, Tunney's Pasture and other elements that shaped the city.

"I want people to wake up. I want people to get engaged."

Ottawa is embarking on a new official plan that won't just 'tinker around the edges,' said Steve Willis, the city's general manager of planning, infrastructure, and economic development. (Giacomo Panico/CBC)

Smit said residents should feel they have a vested interest in the process.

"It's around thinking about not just yourself, but thinking about your kids, and your kids' kids. What is the type of the city we want to leave them with, and how do we make sure we're positioning ourselves so that we remain relevant on the global stage?"

The city will soon release a number of discussion papers, and will hold a pair of open houses on March 4, during which Berridge will present major themes of the report.

The goal is to have a draft official plan by June 2020 and a final version by the end of 2021.


  • An earlier version of this story said Ottawa's universities don't rank in the top 200 in the world. In fact, the University of Ottawa does rank in the top 200 in the Academic Ranking of World Universities, the CWTS Leiden rankings and the Times Higher Education world university rankings.
    Feb 15, 2019 5:53 PM ET


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