Buckles: City of Ottawa needs to hold the line on urban sprawl

By Daniel Buckles, Ottawa Citizen, January 31, 2020

On March 30, a special joint meeting of the city’s planning committee and its agriculture and rural affairs committee will consider and vote on a staff report outlining recommendations for Ottawa’s “land budget.” This refers to the amount of land for housing needed to accommodate new residents of Ottawa to 2045, the period covered by the new Official Plan being drafted now. It seems likely that staff are going to recommend expansion of the urban boundary by an additional 1,200 hectares, adding significantly to Ottawa’s urban sprawl.

Too often environmental, economic, health and social equity goals are pitched against each other, as though we can never have one without the other. However, sometimes we can have our cake and eat it too. This is the case for Ottawa’s pending decision on urban expansion. A Greenspace Alliance assessment, using city data on population growth, housing needs and land available within the current urban boundary and within rural villages, shows a viable path to population growth without urban expansion. Many councillors support holding the line on expansion. Shortly after the last municipal election, a Greenspace Alliance survey of councillors found that 10 out of 11 respondents oppose urban expansion (12 did not respond). Ecology Ottawa assessments also suggest that there are quite a few councillors who oppose urban sprawl.


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