Ottawa's New Official Plan

...a Rural Workspace during public consultation

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 ‘What We Have Heard’ Consolidated Feedback to the Official Plan 5 Big Moves -

 a Compilation from the 23 Sep 2019 Ward 5 Engagement Session and Other Feedback.


1. Village Planning. As with the Urban Villages, we must protect what is special about each rural village while, at the same time, developing the rural villages to be more complete communities. While focusing rural growth on the current set of established villages has advantages we should still be able to accommodate selective development of estate lots outside the villages to meet that demand. Each village plan must reflect the local compromise that accommodates growth while maintaining reasonable village boundaries. Some intensification to accommodate growth and development in the villages is a good thing but Village Plans must also consider the future need for some well managed growth beyond existing village boundaries.

2. Economic Development. We need to encourage and support opportunities for employment in the rural areas – both in the villages and between them and this aspect is vital to their being complete villages. Opportunities that re-design the relationship between where we live and where we work must be encouraged in order to reduce the heavy dependence on transportation. Economic development outside the villages can encourage entrepreneurship and, in some cases, provide land-owners with more opportunity to maintain viable operations.

3. Transportation. The mission statement: “ By 2046, the majority of trips in the City of Ottawa will be made by sustainable transportation” is likely very urban-focused and a challenge to apply to the rural area that comprises 80% of the city’s area.  The practical challenges of transportation in rural Ottawa with its great expanse and a small, dispersed population demands special solutions. The Official Plan must include some specific targets to add substance to this mission statement. The city must take a lead and assist rural communities in developing solutions to their transportation needs. This will likely require innovative solutions such as those cases presented by the Rural Ontario Institute. And the future of transportation must recognize the impact of new technologies like Uber, on-demand transit, driverless cars – even outside the urban core.

4. Social Infrastructure and Recreational Services. While recognizing the rural challenges inherent in a small and dispersed population, plans must better address the need for social infrastructure and recreational services in the rural areas. Housing options should consider the need for affordable and social housing as well as affordable retirement living in the rural area.

5. Development. There is significant competition for residential and business development from adjacent municipalities. Ottawa’s Red Tape, Development Charges and Fees continue to be an impediment to development. In the rural areas these aspects need to be compared with those of the surrounding municipalities or we will lose economic development opportunities to them.

6. Rural Roads. The deterioration of roads needs to be addressed through adequate funding of maintenance through the Long Range Financial Planning process. The very nature of the rural roads compared to the urban road network is that they are ‘fewer and farther between,’ they cross more challenging terrain and are designed to a different standard.  With the foreseeable high dependence on private vehicle and roads in the rural area plans must mitigate conflict between the private car, farm machinery and cyclists. Outside the rural villages the user priority must be vehicular needs; ie, cars, trucks and farm vehicles. Priority of safe cycling (and walking) infrastructure should be within the villages. 

7. Communications. The CRTC statement that effective and affordable Internet must be part of a basic communications service needs to be backed up by plans that are developed in co-operation with other levels of government and industry. The City must have a role in helping to resolve rural Ottawa’s need for access to adequate high speed internet service and mobile phone service. Such service is essential to both families and business. Rural Ottawa needs to benefit from initiatives such as those implemented the Eastern Ontario Regional Network that surrounds us. Or perhaps developers might be required to contribute to the solution of internet availability as part of the approval of projects in rural areas.

8. Land Use. Effective stewardship, preservation and management of lands and forest in rural Ottawa has been practised by landowners for generations. The responsibilities of landowners in this area must be respected and not be replaced by regulatory agencies. Land-use policies should create more flexibility for entrepreneurship and reflect the property rights of owners.

9. Land Protection. Effective drainage systems in rural areas are essential to maintaining productive lands and to aiding flood-proofing in threatened areas. Good lands are being lost to flood plain/wet lands designation that is often the result of mismanagement of drainage. The impact of growth and development on the established drainage networks needs to be better assessed and recognized as part of any approval process for developments.

10. Agriculture Economy. A high priority must be given to the importance of the local agricultural economy.  Consideration must be directed to measures that will support the ability to produce, process and distribute food locally.

11. Survivability of Small Farms. An aging and declining rural population presents challenges to the survivability of small family farms. This aspect of the Rural Lens must be applied throughout the Official Plan in order to ensure the sustainability of the population outside the rural villages. As an example, measures might be introduced that encourage having more than one generation or family on the farm to help preserve the rural agricultural community. Areas of marginal lands could be better employed to this end if current restrictions were eased and new technologies used to allow well and septic on severances in challenging situations.

12. Village Plans. There is considerable skepticism in the value of Community/Village Plans because of the press coverage of a number of circumstances where a proposal for development is approved that does not conform to the Community Secondary Plan.  All Village Plans will need a thorough review upon approval of the new Official Plan. Work on the Village Plans should be started closely following the approval of the Official Plan in order to capitalize on the engagement and benefit from the knowledge of those residents who have been engaged in the Official Plan process.

Compiled by Ken Holmes, Rural Ambassador/13 Nov 2019