Barnes: Official Plan – fast-tracking sprawl would contradict Ottawa's climate commitments

By Robb Barnes, The Province, May 20, 2020

Developers claim intensification lacks public support, but they leave out the details of which kind of intensification we’re talking about.

On May 27, Ottawa Council will make its most important environmental decision this term. At issue is whether or not to expand the city’s urban boundary and fast-track urban sprawl. Because of the many impacts of sprawl – on climate action, green space, biodiversity, trees and transit – the votes cast by the mayor and councillors could well define the environmental legacy of their entire careers.

The environmental case against sprawl is rock-solid. First, we know it’s a climate killer. More urban sprawl means more car-oriented development patterns, with houses cut off from amenities and people forced to drive to get groceries, go to work, go to school and visit local parks. This means fewer travel options, more hours stuck in traffic, and many more emissions from vehicles. It also means more energy-inefficient, single-detached monster homes. Ottawa Council passed a climate emergency declaration only last year. This vote is a test of whether council actually intends to follow through on its climate promises.

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