Buckles: Ottawa planners still favour roads, inappropriate construction

By Daniel Buckles, Ottawa Citizen, January 6, 2021

Ottawa city hall recently released the first complete draft of a new Official Plan, a policy framework that will guide city building and municipal budgets for decades to come. The draft has a fresh look and feel, with prominent references to health objectives, climate change and equity considerations affecting Ottawa’s vulnerable or racialized communities.

But some things haven’t changed. The draft plan continues Ottawa’s long allegiance to established building industry interests, with clear biases in favour of new construction over home retrofits; roads over active transportation and green spaces; and inappropriate development over trees.

The vision for the downtown core and inner urban area, for example, acknowledges the desperate need for space to build an active transportation and green-space network, and prohibits new car-oriented infrastructure. However, it does not plan to draw down the public Right of Way currently taken up by streets and roads (which account for roughly 30 per cent of the urban area). It is well known by now that major cities around the world, such as Barcelona, Paris and Portland, have done just that, successfully by most accounts. Until and unless the Official Plan prioritizes opportunities to convert or narrow roadways for green space and active transportation, life in Ottawa will remain wedded to the car and impoverished in many other ways.


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