Ottawa homebuilders’ association blasts province’s decision to reverse urban boundary expansions

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The Greater Ottawa Home Builders’ Association said Monday it is “extremely disappointed” by the provincial government’s intention to “wind back” changes it made to Ottawa’s Official Plan. 

“We need to ensure that residents of Ottawa, now and in the future, have a reasonable opportunity for a home of their own,” said Jason Burggraaf, the association’s executive director. “Unfortunately, this decision disregards the good progress made to confront the critical housing affordability and supply crisis gripping our city.”

On Monday, the province said it was reversing its expansion of urban boundaries for several communities after finding that processes used by the previous housing minister’s office did not meet the government’s standards.

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The new housing minister, Paul Calandra, said he is reversing course on changes to official boundaries for Barrie, Belleville, Guelph, Hamilton, Ottawa and Peterborough.

He is also winding back changes through legislation to official plans for the regional municipalities of Halton, Niagara, Peel, Waterloo, York and Wellington County.

“Since becoming minister of municipal affairs and housing, I’ve made it a priority to review past decisions to ensure that they support our goal of building at least 1.5 million homes and to ensure that the decisions that we made were done in a manner that maintains and reinforces public trust,” Calandra said.

“This includes decisions on minister zoning orders and official plans. Now, when reviewing how decisions were made regarding official plans, it is clear that they failed to meet this test.”

Many municipalities, including Hamilton, have said the boundary expansions were not needed to build housing.

Calandra replaced Steve Clark as housing minister last month after the former minister resigned in the wake of two probes by legislative watchdogs on the decision to remove land for development from the protected Greenbelt.

According to Burggraaf and the Ottawa home builders’ association, in addition to reducing the planned expansion of Ottawa’s urban boundary, the reversal also means that a height limit for minor corridors in the downtown and inner urban transects to four storeys is back in force. 

That decision was made without any consideration of the number of homes that the Official Plan relied on to be built on those wider roads as part of its intensification strategy, Burggraaf said in a statement.

The GOHBA cited the fact that Ottawa’s Official Plan was built on the assumption that Ottawa would gain 400,000 new residents by 2046. A recent Ontario Ministry of Finance’s projection for Ottawa’s population growth was 560,000.

“The provincial government is asking Ottawa to build 151,000 new homes in the next decade. This is impeding its own housing objectives for increased housing supply, choice and balanced growth,” said Burggraaf. “This abrupt reversal significantly undermines our capacity to ensure an ample supply of diverse housing options.”

With files from The Canadian Press

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