Denley: If Ottawa is serious about its climate emergency, it's time to consider developing the Greenbelt

By Randall Denley, Ottawa Citizen, February 4, 2020

Urban sprawl is bad, so stopping urban sprawl must be good, right? That’s the executive summary of an argument put forward by Ottawa environmental groups that want the city to add no new suburban land to its next 25-year growth plan.

Superficially, it’s an appealing notion. The case is easily made that a denser, more compact city is cheaper to service and easier to get around. There are, however, a few small problems with the argument.

The first is the term urban sprawl. When used properly, it refers to unplanned, uncontrolled development at the edge of a city. Ottawa doesn’t have that and hasn’t had it for a very long time. The city decides what will go where and how dense new development will be. Far from sprawling, Ottawa has been reluctant to expand the size of its urban area. That’s why we see new suburban development that packs people in in a manner that would make sardines claustrophobic.

(...)The solution is, of course, development of select parts of the National Capital Commission Greenbelt. City staff even point cautiously at the idea in their documents supporting the new Official Plan. It’s something that might be considered beyond the 2046 scope of the new Official Plan, when all the planners will be long retired.

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