Ford Government Expands Ottawa's Borders

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Ford Government é widens the borders of Ottawa

New homes under construction in Kanata, a neighborhood in western Ottawa, in May 2021, in the area coveted by the Ford government. (Archives)

The Ontario Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing has used his powers to expand the urban boundary of the City of Ottawa by 654 hectares the last week. It included agricultural fields and land near a quarry that staff had previously chosen to avoid.

Although not all acres are developable, Minister Steve Clark's additions – released on November 4 and not subject to appeal – increased the 1281 hectare urban expansion that had was approved by the city council in May 2020.

This will create more urban sprawl. This is going to cost taxpayers, Mayor Jim Watson told reporters after his last council meeting last Wednesday.

The mayor of Ottawa, who is not running for re-election, will step down in the coming days. (Archives)

Mr. Watson blamed the province for approving the city's official plan without consultation, behind closed doors and after the Oct. 24 municipal election, when she received it nearly a year ago. #x27;one year.

The City of Ottawa has been gathering community feedback for many months in 2020 and 2021. Mr. Watson said that when he was Minister of Municipal Affairs before 2010, official plans did the trick. subject to minor changes, not massive changes.

What more can I say except to express my deep disappointment that the province is treating its second largest city in this paternalistic way, Mr. Watson said.

The Ford government, on the other hand, has worked to aggressively boost housing supply, while pledging to make housing more affordable. He set Ottawa a goal of 151,000 more homes within a decade, double what Ottawa had projected it would need.

Minister Clark's press secretary, Victoria Podbielski, stressed in a statement that all levels of government must prepare for population growth, especially as the federal government aims to welcome 1.5 million new immigrants by 2025.

“Official plans are among the most important tools that municipalities and the province use in partnership to prepare for future growth and housing needs. That is why, after careful consideration, the Minister has taken the necessary steps to accommodate this significant growth and allow for the construction of more desperately needed housing.

—Victoria Podbielski, Press Secretary to Ontario Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing Steve Clark

Minister Clark's official Notice of Approval included a map illustrating that the largest additions to the urban boundary were located north of Kanata, west of Findlay Creek, and in a rural area near of Riverside South, close to the future Bowesville light rail station.

Councillors had been discussing plot-by-plot choices over the winter of 2021, and staff has already briefed council on how they were rated, using criteria such as their proximity to drains and public transit.

Plots in red are those added by the Ford government.

Councilor Scott Moffatt, who co-chairs the Planning Committee and whose term on council ends Monday, was not surprised the province was expanding the urban boundary, given its building goals residential lands far exceed those in the city.

South March land was easy prey for the government, he said. But Mr. Moffatt has long been an advocate for protecting prime farmland, and he's far more concerned that the government has chosen to add those 37 hectares to Orleans.

Mr Moffatt says he would have preferred the government to first see how the intensification policies in Bill 23 could boost housing supply – he has the ;intent to allow triplexes on each residential lot, for example – before expanding suburbs.

Scott Moffatt has long been an advocate for the protection of prime farmland. (Archives)

By doing both things at the same time, there is less incentive to achieve the city's goal of building densely where services already exist, he argues.

The message this sends is that we can just keep expanding. And that should be of concern to rural communities. That should be of concern to the farming community, Moffatt continues.

Ottawa is not alone, however. The provincial government also approved the City of Hamilton's Official Plan on the same day as Ottawa's. It also added 2,200 hectares to it, even though the council had voted to accommodate all of its future population through intensification and to maintain the existing urban-rural boundary.

Also on November 4, the The Ford government has released a proposal to build 50,000 homes on Greenbelt lots in the Toronto area, after previously promising not to open those lands to development.

In the meantime, Jim Watson believes that it will be up to Ottawa's new city council to be forceful and push back on some of the things the province is trying to impose on us.

< p class="e-p">With information from Kate Porter, CBC News

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