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More on Dynamic Development

Our city is growing rapidly and will continue to do so in the coming decades. The Government of Ontario’s 25-year population projection released last year predicts that Ottawa’s population will grow by 48 per cent to 1.56 million people by 2046. 

In a city already challenged by a housing shortage, particularly affordable housing (defined as housing costing no more than 40 per cent of net income), it is clear that new development is necessary. To minimize urban sprawl, we need intensification in the downtown core, which includes Capital Ward, but we must also recognize the reality that there is going to be growth into the suburbs and beyond. 


This brings a number of challenges, including how to minimize the environmental impact, avoid negative impacts on existing neighbourhoods and how to best develop efficient new transportation infrastructure that integrates buses, LRT lines, cars, and even bike lanes. 


This starts with a re-think of City Hall’s relationship with developers. The ongoing dispute over Lansdowne is the primary example in Capital Ward. Some councillors have said they would stop Lansdowne 2.0 even before the initial proposal goes for public consultation. Are there flaws with the Lansdowne development? Maybe. But, the site attracted 4.1 million people in the year before Covid (up from 300,000 predevelopment). This increased flow of people has been a boon for small business owners along Bank Street, the economic lifeblood of Capital Ward, and has made a significant contribution to the 15-minute walkable community that defines the Glebe.


Instead of unilaterally rejecting the proposal, City Council should be working with the Ottawa Sports and Entertainment Group to improve the initial draft, which proposes 1,200 new residential units, of which 10 per cent would be classified as affordable housing, with a goal of further incorporating it into the surrounding neighbourhood. 


It is time to start seeing land and property developers as the City’s partners. And, as with any good partnership, there needs to be transparency and there needs to be a willingness on all sides to find solutions that work for the benefit of the City and its residents. This means bringing together our urban planners, social workers, community health providers, transportation experts and property developers to ensure new developments are people-friendly and environmentally sustainable. We need development that is energy efficient, includes EV charging stations and green space, and addresses our growing housing shortage.


The Smart Prosperity Institute (a policy think tank based at the University of Ottawa) says more than 100,000 new homes are needed in Ottawa by 2031. That is 25 per cent more than what has been committed in Ottawa’s Official Plan.


The key is to find solutions that work for everyone; developments that provide the city with tax revenue, residents with comfortable and affordable housing and profits for the developers. If the developers don’t make money, there will be no more new housing.

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