EDITOR’S NOTE: At today’s Planning Committee meeting, chair Jan Harder addressed the committee members and talked about her vision and goals for planning during this council term. Stittsville is one of the fastest-growing wards in the city, so we thought it would be useful to share Harder’s comments here.
Some of remarks that will be of interest to Stittsville residents:
- “…city-building extends beyond the downtown core. It is also about recognizing that the suburban way of life is still the dream and lifestyle choice of many and to this end that suburban growth will continue, and should continue.”
- “The development-review process needs to be timely; The City needs to be clear and consistent about its requirements; Developers need to respect City plans.”
- “…planning is the single most contentious area of consultation and information-sharing. Planning can be change. Planning can mean disruption in our lives. But planning can also mean preservation, and planning can mean better neighbourhoods.”
- “For too long planning has been seen as a negative in this building and in our community. Partly due to uncertainty in the rules of the game, and partly due to poor communications. This began to change last term.”
- “We’re moving ahead with the Building Better and Smarter Suburbs project to look at how we can improve suburban design involving all City departments, utilities and school boards.”
The full text is below.
Welcome to the first meeting of Planning Committee in this Term of City Council. I am honoured to have the job of committee chair and look forward, with Vice-Chair Tierney, to working with such a strong team of colleagues.
Bienvenue à la première réunion du Comité de l’urbanisme du présent mandat du Conseil municipal. C’est pour moi un honneur de présider ce comité, et le vice-président Tierney et moi sommes heureux de pouvoir collaborer avec une équipe aussi solide.
I see five building blocks for planning in Ottawa in this Term of Council:
First: A strong city-building agenda;
Second: Fair and efficient approval decisions;
Third: Increased development certainty;
Fourth: Better public engagement
First, on the importance of a city-building agenda…
This is an exciting time for planning in Ottawa.
The City’s population will reach one million within a decade. Just think of what our downtown is going to look like at the end of this Term of Council with the completion of the Confederation Line project, the revitalization of the Rideau Centre and NAC, our streetscaping plans on Queen and Rideau, and finally development on Lebreton Flats and Chaudiere Islands.
Through this investment and careful planning we are helping to create the buzz and the beat that our downtown has needed. Because of this, the surrounding urban core ─ Westboro, Hintonburg, Little Italy, Chinatown, Vanier and New Edinburgh among others ─ are thriving. We will need to provide attractive and reasonable development in these destination neighbourhoods.
But city-building extends beyond the downtown core. It is also about recognizing that the suburban way of life is still the dream and lifestyle choice of many and to this end that suburban growth will continue, and should continue.
This Council will complete the work of the previous one in ensuring that the goals of intensification are balanced with the on-the-ground realities of life in the suburbs.
City-building in Ottawa means as well that our rural way of life is preserved and our villages strong. This is why we have an Agricultural and Rural Affairs Committee. But the decisions that this committee will make will inevitably impact the rural area just the same, and this being the case, every decision that we make here must be done with an eye to every corner of our 2,800 square kilometres.
In the last Term of Council, we developed and approved forward-looking new master plans for land development and transportation for the entire city.
The work on the Official Plan, the Infrastructure Plan, the Transportation Master Plan, and the Pedestrian and Cycling plans involved an unprecedented public engagement.
We now have the task of putting these plans into effect, through local plans, updated zoning and Council decisions that implement the Official Plan.
We’ve got the plans in place. Let’s get building.
Now, on to the second building block: A fair development review process…
We want to be clear, fair and firm with the developers who are building this city.
• The development-review process needs to be timely.
• The City needs to be clear and consistent about its requirements.
• Developers need to respect City plans.
We won’t seize the opportunity of this city if we are adversaries. We need an environment of trust and respect. So let’s work together.
The third building block is greater development certainty…
The City is bringing the ideas and guidance of the master plans down to the neighbourhood level, with local plans that provide increased certainty for residents and developers.
A large block of implementing zoning has been prepared for key development areas in Ottawa. This zoning package implements the rules that were set out in the new Official Plan, approved by Council in 2013.
The new zoning package, if approved by Council next month, would mean less red tape, shorter timelines and reduced costs for businesses and residents ─ who will be able to build without applying for a zoning change. Further implementing zoning will be before Committee this year and next.
Planning Committee approved new Community Design Plans for Preston-Carling and Scott Street in 2014. Nine other Community Design Plans are also in development and we have many others complete and on the books. Again, these local plans provide clarity and fewer instances of divisive planning fights.
Infill development guidelines are being designed to be easy to understand and implement, for developers and residents.
The fourth building block is better public engagement…
In the last two years we have significantly moved the yardsticks forward on public engagement.
Like most other Canadian cities, and indeed cities around the world, planning is the single most contentious area of consultation and information-sharing. Planning can be change. Planning can mean disruption in our lives. But planning can also mean preservation, and planning can mean better neighbourhoods.
For too long planning has been seen as a negative in this building and in our community. Partly due to uncertainty in the rules of the game, and partly due to poor communications. This began to change last term.
We opened the doors to the Urban Design Review Panel. We are undertaking a pilot project in Capital Ward with respect to pre-application consultation. We have updated our report templates to Committee for readability. We reviewed many of our touchpoints with the public with the goal of ensuring that everything is in plain language and fully accessible.
The most obvious to the average resident was the overhaul we did on our development review signs. I’m pleased to announce that the City recently won the Dazzling Notice Award for its attractive, easy-to-understand new Development Review signs ─ which were unveiled last year in front of City Hall.
In the next few months we will be launching some new ways in which the public will receive information and be engaged.
I also know that many of my colleagues around the table and residents have other ideas on how we can further collaborate. I look forward to these conversations.
My fifth and final building block is innovation…
We’re moving ahead with the Building Better and Smarter Suburbs project to look at how we can improve suburban design involving all City departments, utilities and school boards.
We’ll also review our employment lands to ensure that they are in the right places ─ responding to market forces and helping to create communities where people can live and work.
The City wants to see continued improvement in the design of new buildings ─ an area where Ottawa saw huge improvement in the last Term of Council. We’re going to help make that happen through continued good work of our talented in-house staff and the Urban Design Review Panel.
Ultimately I will judge whether or not I have served this Committee well as Chair if we can accomplish what I have set out.
Many of you who know me know that I am an honest broker and I like to get the job done fast, but through partnerships.
I look forward to four years of implementation with you ─ changing the channel on how we talk about planning in Ottawa ─ and ultimately on building this beautiful capital.