Submitted by Jeff Leiper
Kitchissippi Ward Councillor
The Covid-19 pandemic has disrupted all of our lives as I write, and it’s uncertain when things will return to normal. What inspires me in this time is the dedication our friends, neighbours, local businesses and organizations have shown to keeping our community strong and connected during this difficult time. Please continue to follow the advice of Ottawa Public Health and Public Health Ontario, stay safe and wash your hands.
There are several online public engagement opportunities happening right now. The Ward Boundary Review is currently underway, and your feedback is needed in this process. Due to a significant spike in Ottawa’s population since the last ward boundary review, which occurred in 2004-2005, we need to examine how boundaries could be changed for the next three to four elections (2022, 2026, 2030 and possibly 2034) to ensure that all residents of Ottawa are being fairly represented. The Community Safety and Wellbeing Plan is also under review — you can send comments on how you would like to see the City improve and implement safety plans that benefit all residents. Also up for review is the Solid Waste Master Plan, which will determine how the City deals with our garbage, recycling and organics waste for the next 30 years. All these engagement opportunities can be accessed via https://ottawa.ca/en/city-hall/public-engagement under the “Current engagement opportunities” tab.
I’ve been having lots of conversations with people about the Urban Boundary Review, with many urging me to vote against an expansion. We’ll need to accommodate 400,000 new people in the next 26 years. If we expand the urban boundary by several hundred hectares (an area roughly the size of our McKellar Park neighbourhood), 60 per cent of new households will have to be accommodated through intensification. Or, we can constrain the urban boundary to where it is today, which would mean 70 per cent of new homes would have to be built in already-serviced areas. It means more towers, more low-rise infill, and the expansion of areas in which low-rise apartment towers are allowed to be built. Those will be most intense near transit and employment areas and in walkable neighbourhoods that have shops and services: in places like Kitchissippi. Moving to 60 per cent intensification will accelerate that. Moving to 70 per cent implies a significant increase even over that. As I noted at the outset of this post, I’m fully prepared to support a 70 per cent intensification target to stop urban sprawl. But that does have consequences. We need to make that decision with our eyes wide open.