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Open Letter on Proposed Zoning Bylaws

July 28, 2023

Mark Sutcliffe, Mayor, City of Ottawa

Jeff Leiper, Chair – Planning of Housing Committee, City of Ottawa

Theresa Kavanagh – Councillor – Bay Ward, City of Ottawa

Charmaine Forgie – Manager – Business Technical Support Services, Real Estate and Economic Development Department, City of Ottawa

David Wise – Acting Director, Economic Development and Long-Range Planning, Real Estate and Economic Development Department, City of Ottawa

I am writing you on behalf of the Woodpark Community Association to provide input on the Zoning By-Law Discussion Papers posted on Engage Ottawa. The Board of Directors for the Association has reviewed these discussion papers. We found the papers to be a useful starting point to understand the concepts being considered in drafting the new planning bylaws but not specific enough to understand how they will impact our community. More concerning, however, is the lack of information about the other measures that need to be put in place by the City of Ottawa to ensure that neighbourhoods such as ours remain livable as intensification occurs. The surveys associated with each of the discussion papers provided little opportunity for feedback and therefore we are writing to you to provide our views.

Woodpark is the community bounded by Richmond Road to the north, Carling Avenue to the south, Kichi Zibi Mikan (Ottawa River Parkway) to the west and Woodroffe Avenue North to the East. It was originally a cottage community which has since developed, without a plan, into a diversified, largely equitable and inclusive community. Woodpark has a mix of large and small homes and townhouses as well as several multi-unit affordable housing projects and large apartment buildings which provide an abundant choice of rental accommodation. It has many elements of the Official Plan’s 15-minute Neighbourhood but what is critically missing are community facilities, parks, and sidewalks. The sole park with amenities is .14 hectares in size. There are no schools or school yards in the neighbourhood. There are a range of shops and services nearby, but to access them, people must cross busy roadways, often without the aid of traffic lights.

Woodpark is the site of construction of not one but two LRT stations – New Orchard and Lincoln Fields. While the construction of the LRT is currently having a very significant negative impact on the quality of life for our residents, many are looking forward to having easy access to this main transportation artery assuming it can be made to operate safely and reliably.

The LRT stations will make Woodpark an area for significant intensification and, as such, the City of Ottawa’s new planning bylaws will impact Woodpark significantly more so than most other neighbourhoods. We find very little information in the discussion papers about how the planning bylaws will ensure that the development around LRT stations is appropriate and will result in safe, functional, and livable communities that embrace equity, diversity, and inclusion. We urge the City’s Planning and Housing Committee and the Planning Department to specifically consider its impact on Woodpark and other established neighbourhoods near transit stations as it drafts its Bylaws.

We are also very concerned that the City does not appear to have work underway to plan and finance the local amenities that will be needed as neighbourhoods such as ours intensify. How and when will the planning take place for community space, recreational facilities, parks, greenspace, sidewalks and on-street parking and associated enforcement? Our fear is that, in the rush to intensify our neighbourhood, the missing elements of the 15 minute neighbourhood will be forgotten. If there is no advance planning, residents, and community associations such as ours, will be forced to advocate for changes after the fact when big problems emerge.

Please find attached comments on the individual discussion papers.

We look forward to hearing from you about what can be done to ensure that Woodpark and other communities near LRT stations remain safe, functional, and livable neighbourhoods for everyone and how we can participate in the planning for our neighbourhood.

Sue Milburn-Hopwood

President, Woodpark Community Association

613 404 3320

Comments on Individual Discussion Papers

Equity, Diversity and Inclusion

  • We support the need to address the themes outlined in the paper (Housing Affordability and Choice, Social Fragmentation, Mobility and Access to Services, Environmental Health Equity, The Climate Emergency) but the paper does not provide a roadmap of how to get there and the objectives will not be achieved by the planning bylaws alone.

  • Woodpark already has a range of housing choices, and we are ready to welcome more affordable homes. What we are missing are the greenspace, community facilities and planning for active and motorized transportation (sidewalks, bike lanes, street parking, etc.). These will be essential for a safe, functional, and livable city for everyone.

  • We welcome the recognition that land use planning must ensure that storage for waste, snow, and bicycles is provided for.

  • We agree that the planning process needs to be much more accessible for all, particularly marginalized groups.

How Zoning Can Regulate Trees

  • We strongly welcome the emphasis on trees and growing Ottawa’s tree canopy in the Official Plan and the Planning Bylaws and, in particular, the approach to favour trees over parking and other structures that might negatively impact the planting and survival of trees.

  • We support the proposal to require soft landscaping requirements suitable for trees in front, side of corner lots, and rear yards.

  • It is not clear to us that there is sufficient evidence to support a minimum soil volume approach as an alternative to soft landscaping “set asides” and wonder what the evaluation criteria would be for a proposal from a developer seeking this alternative approach. That being said, if there is good evidence of tree survival with alternative approaches, we think these will provide important flexibility to support innovative infill developments.

  • The Bylaw should be supplemented with other measures to increase the number of trees in neighbourhoods while increasing the density of housing. For example:

    • The city should ensure that there is a healthy tree on the City Right of Way (ROW) on each front and corner side yard and in the new rear soft landscaping areas. Currently property owners have to opt in to get a tree and as a result there are many ROW on lots in the city without trees.

    • The Budget for “Trees in Trust” will need to be increased. The City’s list for planting “Trees in Trust” trees in 2023 closed in June presumably because the budget for buying and planting trees had been reached.

    • Incentives could be put in place to encourage property owners or developers to plant trees on the private property parts of their yard where the appropriate conditions exist.

Climate Change, Resiliency and Public Health

  • The paper contains strategic goals which we strongly support. Unfortunately, it does not contain enough information for residents and community associations to determine how attainment of these goals will affect our neighbourhood.

  • The paper mentions greenspaces near transit stations. We are very interested in participating in the discussion on creating greenspace near the Lincoln Fields transit station. The Planning for the Lincoln Fields Secondary Plan has been stalled and we are not being consulted despite having ideas to contribute.

  • Missing from the list of objectives in the paper is the need for access to sunshine both for mental and physical health and active and passive solar energy production/heating. The construction of taller buildings on the perimeter of the neighbourhood and within has the potential to significantly decrease access to sunshine which will need to be addressed.

  • The emphasis on local agriculture is interesting. Flat roofed multiunit complexes could provide great opportunities for rooftop garden and alternative “greenspaces”. The bylaws and/or other planning incentives should be used to encourage rooftop gardens.

Neighbourhood Character

  • The paper does not appear to recognize the impacts of Bill 23 and Bill 109 with respect to changing a neighbourhood’s character. It is expected that our neighbourhood will change dramatically.

  • Many comments are not appropriate for the Woodpark neighbourhood, which is surrounded by retail, commercial and/or high density residential.

  • Woodpark has some very deep lots and some irregular sized lots. It will be important that the Planning Bylaws allow for some flexibility for creative infill housing.

  • The paper does not acknowledge the extent of change possible in Evolving Overlay neighbourhoods. More thought/information is needed about how the bylaws will ensure that higher density housing near LRT stations will make safe, functional, and liveable neighbourhoods.

  • Increased building heights and reduced footprints could force residents in vertical living (i.e. more stairs), which are not appropriate for an aging population.

  • Increased building heights result in higher building costs (i.e. less affordable housing)

  • No recognition that 15-minute neighbourhoods need parks, sidewalks, community facilities and schools.

Neighbourhood Zones

  • We feel that density requirements are not a suitable mechanism to control overcrowding.

  • The paper does not appear to reflect the realities of development costs.

  • The paper does not acknowledge the need for community services other than commercial and retail.

  • The discussion on density conflicts with Land Use Strategies discussion paper.

Land Use Strategy

  • Permitting other land uses within residential neighbourhoods is not required when the community has commercial and retail nearby. This will change the character of residential streets and may have a detrimental impact on creating additional housing stock.

  • Land Use Definition statements are too vague and require additional information.

  • "For residential uses, the new Zoning Bylaw will...focus instead on size and orientation… lot functions...rather than the number of units the building contains". This statement contradicts density statements in the Neighbourhood Zones paper.

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