Last week we published the first part of a series about the City of Ottawa’s NEW Official Plan. If you currently live in Ottawa or are planning on making the move to the Capital City, I highly recommend taking a look at the City of Ottawa’s New Official Plan. This plan is the vision for the future growth of Ottawa that includes both policy framework and the city’s physical development plans until the year 2046 and beyond.
This week, I will be focusing specifically on the Housing section of this plan (which you can read starting from page 72 of the New Official Plan HERE). You can also read a one page synopsis of the housing plan (as well as for other specific topics like employment, parks, climate change, culture and heritage and may more) and give your feedback HERE.
With this plan, the city wants to achieve the following;
- Enable greater flexibility and an adequate supply and diversity of housing options throughout the City.
- Maximize the ability to provide affordable housing throughout the City.
- Protect existing rental housing stock and encourage production of more rental units.
- Direct attention to the needs of those at and below the 6th income decile, as well as other vulnerable groups.
What does this mean for Ottawa and how do they intend to achieve these goals?
Enable greater flexibility and an adequate supply and diversity of housing options throughout the City.
- Create a diverse range of housing options (size, densities, and tenure options).
- Provide a toolkit of planning incentives and direct support including density bonusing, density transfer, deferral or waiving of fees and charges, alternative development standards, more flexible zoning that allows for a greater number of units within the permitted built form envelope, and application processing priority.
- Provide a wider range of housing options within neighbourhoods to suit the widest possible range of needs including price, occupancy arrangements, and tenure.
- Develop residential use standards that balance the value of public interest against housing affordability.
- Support the production of the missing middle range of mid-density, low-rise multi-unit housing with between 3 to 16 units (or more in the case of unusually large lots) to support the evolution of the 15-minute neighbourhood.
- Coach houses, secondary dwelling units and garden suites are recognized as key components of the affordable housing issue (see page 72 of the New City of Ottawa Official Plan).
- Home-based businesses shall be permitted where Zoning By-law permits. These businesses must not adversely impact neighbouring properties by their appearance or function or by attracting large volumes of automobile traffic (see page 74 of the New City of Ottawa Official Plan).
Maximize the ability to provide affordable housing throughout the City.
- Affordable housing is defined in the Provincial Policy Statement as, “housing for which a low and moderate income household pays no more than 30% of the household’s gross annual income for home ownership or rental housing.”
- The city seeks to maintain a residential vacancy rate of at minimum 3% among all categories of dwelling units.
- Strictly controls the difference between long-term rental housing units and short-term rental use (which includes online sharing-economy platforms like airbnb that enable dwelling units to be rented to the travelling public).
- Study the potential role tiny houses could play in contributing to affordable housing options and make necessary modifications to its land use-controls to facilitate if necessary.
Protect existing rental housing stock and encourage production of more rental units.
- Condominium plans that would remove 6 or more dwelling options (including room units) from the long-term rental market will not be approved unless they meet specific criteria (see page 74 of the New City of Ottawa Official Plan).
- A reduction to the number of units in an apartment dwelling will not be permitted unless there is equivalent or concurrent zoning nearby to ensure that there is not a loss of apartment or rooming unit potential within the same neighbourhood.
- Increasing the number of units must be proportional to the side of the lot (meaning you cannot squeeze multiple tiny units in to a lot that is too small).
- Any changes to the exterior must take into account waste storage management, bicycle parking, soft landscaping, and side yard minimums to ensure they meet the new (see page 75 of the New City of Ottawa Official Plan).
Direct attention to the needs of those at and below the 6th income decile, as well as other vulnerable groups.
- The City recognizes that many individuals in our community require different housing solutions and will enable the provision of housing options through Zoning By-law.
- Alternative or shared accommodation housing forms serving individuals for whom an entire dwelling unit is unnecessary, unaffordable or inappropriate such as;
- Rooming houses
- Retirement homes
- Group homes
- Other long-term housing forms that serve the needs of individuals not forming part of a household.
- Not to establish restrictions to these types of housing solutions, including minimum separation distance or cap the limit, whose effect is to unreasonably limit the opportunity to provide such housing forms.
- The City recognizes the importance of emergency and transitional shelters and housing solutions as well as their key role in the housing continuum. They promise to;
- Allow these emergency shelters and traditional shelters to be built in areas with high access to transit, servies, and support.
- Permit transitional housing in any zone where residential units are permitted.
- Not establish restrictions, including minimum separation distances or cap the limit, whose effect is to unreasonably limit the opportunity to provide such shelter and housing forms.
- The City notes that it will use its own lands to test new models of affordable housing (subject to city operations and land use compatibility).
- The City will, as a priority measure, implement Inclusionary Zoning to help facilitate these changes.
- Promises to continue to coordinate with the Ten-year Housing and Homelessness Plan and will make amendments to the official plan to support this.
The best place to get updates on this plan is the City of Ottawa “The New Official Plan” website. In order to collect feedback on such a complex document, the city has created this page with hyperlinks to feedback forms specifically for certain areas of the document like housing, climate change, mobility, pandemic preparedness, employment, culture and heritage, rural and urban development, and more. The public has until February 17th, 2021 to submit feedback. You can also email firstname.lastname@example.org with general comments and questions.
If you would like to be more engagaed in how our city works with its communities, check out Engage Ottawa. This website gives you the opportunity to learn about and weigh in on Ottawa's projects and initiatives, all in one easy online tool. An example of some of the topics you can give your feedback about include; COVID-19: The Way Forward, Ant-Racism and Ethnocultural Relations Initiatives, Bike Parking Strategy, Public Electric Vehicle Charging Stations, and many more city wide and community and neighbourhood specific topics.
Give me a call if you are thinking about listing or buying your home! I am happy to talk to you about the process and how our team can help you sell and/or find the perfect home for you!
To read part 1 of this series, click HERE!