City committees endorse urban boundary expansion

Homebuilding
Stock image, for illustrative purposes only.

Municipal officials moved a step closer to increasing the amount of land available for residential and commercial development this week as city councillors on two committees endorsed a staff recommendation to expand Ottawa’s urban boundary.

The city calls the addition of between 1,350 and 1,650 hectares of land to the urban boundary “moderate.” However, the city’s homebuilders argue that it’s too limited and will drive up housing prices while pushing more residents outside the city’s boundaries to neighbouring communities. 

On the other side, environmentalists and other opponents of the urban boundary expansion said it would lead to more sprawl and force the city to increase spending on municipal services for new neighbourhoods.

In an effort to also promote intensification within built-up areas of Ottawa, the city’s planning and rural affairs committees also set a requirement that 51 per cent of new dwellings be built in already developed areas. That intensification target would rise to 60 per cent by 2046.

This week’s recommendation to expand the urban boundary does not identify which land parcels would be opened for future development; those locations would be determined later this year.

However, the city committees set out criteria that would limit expansion to areas near existing or planned transit hubs.

City council is slated to review the committee’s recommendations at its meeting next Wednesday.