Walton optimistic about opening land for development

The owners of a massive swath of land in southwest Ottawa say they’ll continue to press the city to open up a portion for development next year, despite losing a debate at City Hall earlier this year.

In first-quarter results released earlier this week, Walton Ontario Land said it continues to believe the city should make some of its land available to develop for employment-related uses as part of next year’s official plan review.

“Management continues to believe that the Ottawa property is well suited for an urban boundary expansion in 2014 from an employment perspective and is a logical initial phase in a regional southwest Ottawa development plan,” the company said.

The Calgary-based firm, which owns more than 3,000 acres between Kanata and Barrhaven, has been participating in the city’s current official plan review. The process is undertaken every five years and guides where development takes place in the city.The company still hasn’t brought forward a formal application to amend the official plan, but isn’t ruling it out in the future either.

“The process will really dictate what steps we are able to take,” said Jason Child, an executive with the firm. “That is something that is constantly being looked at.”

Mr. Child said Walton has not given any thought to whether it is prepared to file an appeal with the body that can overturn amendments to the official plan, the Ontario Municipal Board.

The city ended up adding more than 1,000 hectares of land during its last review after originally planning for 222 hectares. It was forced to add more after several developers appealed the decision to the OMB.

City officials have repeatedly said during the official plan process they have no plans to add more land to the urban boundary this time around. Most recently, councillors voted to agree in principle to the idea that the city had enough employment land to last it until 2031.

Walton officials have been heavily involved in lobbying efforts over the past few months. The city’s lobbyist registry shows several people from the company have spoken with everyone from councillors to the mayor’s chief of staff, Serge Arpin.