No urban boundary expansion in the works: city

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The City of Ottawa isn't planning to expand the space available for suburban development anytime soon and will instead devote its time to examining the land where office space can be built, according to the head of the city's planning committee.

Council isn’t going to be looking at changing the urban boundary, said councillor Peter Hume, who chairs the committee that oversees what sorts of buildings go where. The boundary is the area in the centre of Ottawa that the municipality has designated for new residential development.

”Quite frankly it’s a distraction from some of the real important work we need to do in order to make our city prosperous,” said Mr. Hume.

The priority will be placed on looking at which spaces in the city are zoned for employment. This includes business parks such as the Kanata Research Park close to March Road and industrial lands south of Innes Road and close to Highway 417.

Councillors and staff will be looking at both the areas that have already been designated for employment and other areas that haven’t been but should, said Mr. Hume. This means some lands will be added to that category, while others will be taken away.

He said it’s all part of the city’s efforts to make sure more people are living and working in roughly the same area.

Having a high number of people travelling into the downtown core from suburbs such as Kanata is expensive for the city, which has to maintain roads. There’s also an economic cost stemming from a decline in quality of life, since people are spending more time stuck in traffic in their cars.

Councillors are currently in the midst of reviewing Ottawa’s official plan, a document that says which types of development can go where in the city. It has to be looked at every five years.

The city added 1,103 hectares following its last review in 2009. Councillors initially approved an expansion of 222 hectares but that multiplied this year when the body that oversees city planning decisions in the province, the Ontario Municipal Board, ruled that it had to designate more so it would be in line with provincial rules.