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Ottawa’s official plan is innovative, but will require a shift in thinking

"Ottawa Council’s most important project this term is the official plan review and last Wednesday, the council approved the policy directions that will form the core of the city’s planning and guide our growth for the next few decades.

The staff report about the proposed policies is sprinkled with juicy little warnings from the city’s planning and policy people. Staff’s biggest flag is hidden in a bureaucratic section about financial implications: “There are transit-related considerations that will require reconsideration of operating budget strategies … ”

Translation: We need to be ready to put our money where our mouth is.

New official plan policies will require that new suburbs be designed so that we can access our basic day-to-day needs within a 15-minute walk from our home. The “15-minute neighborhood” is the Crown jewel of the new official plan but with most of Ottawa’s one million residents not currently living in a 15-minute neighborhood, there is a big gap in our planning policies. Failing to address the poor walkability and transit services in our existing suburbs is going to cripple our best attempts at creating vibrant new neighborhoods and will continue to feed our residents’ fear of change and intensification."


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