City committees jointly approve the proposed ‘Gold Belt’ lands

(Map of the proposed Urban Gold Belt Boundary for City of Ottawa indicated the 53,000 hectares of protected land in yellow. Map: City of Ottawa)

The City’s joint meeting of the Planning and the Agricultural and Rural Affairs Committees took place on January 25 and 26, 2020. At the prolonged meeting, the Committees considered and heard from many as to which lands should be brought inside Ottawa’s urban boundary. The proposed lands would be in proportion to the growth management strategy that Council adopted in May 2020. Expected that Ottawa will grow to 2 million people in by 2100, City staff used a scoring system to propose which lands would be brought into the City’s boundary. The Gold Belt plan was approved on January 26.

The new inner boundary would inhibit future expansion and the creation of new communities, while preserving the uniqueness of individual existing villages to ensure they were not be taken over with expansion.

For Stittsville this would include adding 140 hectares near Highway 417 near Carp Road and west of the Timbermere neighbourhood, with the balance of lands located in Stittsville south, north of Flewellyn Road and east of Shea Road near Edenwylde and Traditions II. Both of these areas pass through a hydro corridor.

Tanya Hein, President of the Stittsville Village Association, told Stittsville Central, “The gold belt is an interesting idea, and one I can certainly appreciate here in a Stittsville where so much farmland has already been devoured by residential and commercial development. It’s really important to keep that progression in check and to build smarter communities that meet residents’ needs with minimum sprawl.

I do worry that more people will spill out of the city into areas beyond the proposed belt and city limits, to avoid the intensification that is coming here. From an environmental perspective, especially, we have to look at ways to avoid simply shifting the sprawl issues from our boundaries to other areas.”

During the virtual meeting, Mayor Jim Watson said, “‘modestly’ expanding the supply of residential land will help keep home prices lower, and give builders more time to adapt to the concept of denser development”.

Allan Ryan, President of the Stittsville Business Association, felt “the Gold Belt is a balanced approach providing more benefit to our community. Development is good and is inevitable that it is coming, but I want to see the infrastructure embedded in growth plans.”

“Each village or neighbourhood should be treated on its individual merits…higher population in a smaller concentration is not always beneficial. Having said that, everything in moderation is good,” Ryan added.

When communicating with Councillor Gower on the Stittsville ‘Gold Belt’ areas, he told us, “More areas were considered west of Stittsville past West Ridge/Deer Run, but those lands were rejected because they didn’t meet City staff’s scoring threshold. I did not support including these lands in the urban boundary and I’m glad that the committee supported me on this.

It’s worth keeping in mind a couple things about the urban expansion. Staff will be creating further “gating criteria” that will hold back any development in the expansion areas until certain requirements are met. This will help prevent the issues we frequently get with new development, where there is a lengthy lag time between occupancy and the services/amenities to complement it.

The item getting the most attention was the decision to focus about a third of the new urban land (445 hectares) in the Leitrim East/Carlsbad West area to start a new community known as Tewin. While these lands didn’t score well because of lack of servicing and distance from existing urban areas, there are some compelling reasons to support it. First, concentrating growth into a future community of up to 40,000 people can make it easier to build the type of compact, self-sustaining development that the City is prioritizing. Second, the ownership group of these lands include the Algonquins of Ontario, and approving development here is done in part in the spirit of reconciliation.”

Councillor Gower went further to say, “With all the requirements involved, any new land that we approved January 26 likely won’t see development for at least five years, and in many cases longer.  And we’re putting policies in place to make sure that they can be done in a cost-effective way for the City”.

You can read more on the proposed ‘Gold Belt’ on Councillor Gower’s website. Residents are also encouraged to participate in the New Official Plan process. A draft of the New Official Plan is available for review and comment at ottawa.ca/newop until Wednesday, February 17.

The January 26 joint committee approval for the proposed ‘Gold Belt’ boundary goes before full Council on February 20, 2021.


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