An unusual urban boundary fight lands, virtually, at city hall Monday

By Jon Willing, Ottawa Citizen, May 11, 2020

City councillors will take the first step on Monday in deciding how much land, if any, should be pumped into the urban boundary as the city plans for nearly 30 years of growth.

It could be the most contentious issue of council’s four-year term, since debates over the pace of urban sprawl, the impact of intensification and price of housing tend to draw emotion from those who closely watch municipal planning decisions.

(...)Why does it bring so much controversy?

Urban sprawl is a major environmental issue and environmental advocates consider any expansion to the urban boundary a disaster because it adds more cars on clogged roads, bulldozes natural land while potentially adding costs to the property tax base. Ottawa, thanks to the 2001 amalgamation, is geographically huge and residents benefit from a large undeveloped area outside the urban boundary. At the same time, homebuilders invest in land and respond to the demand for housing types in the market. A short supply of one type of in-demand housing could drive up prices.

(...)Who’s against the city’s recommendation?

Environmental advocates and the development industry both oppose the staff proposal, but for different reasons. More than 500 people on Friday were watching Ecology Ottawa’s “online rally” opposing an urban-boundary expansion. Advocates who oppose an expanded urban boundary want the city to grow through intensification on existing lands. On the other end of the spectrum are developers, such as those represented by the Greater Ottawa Home Builders’ Association, which wants an even larger expansion of the urban boundary and a smaller intensification target.

Connect with us