2023 14-2 April LCA Planning

Lowertown Community Association Planning Committee report March 2023

By Warren Waters

1. Draft Commercial Patio Guidelines

Draft Guidelines were posted in February. Please read the Feb 16 draft and send your comments to the City Right-of-Way Patio By-law and Guideline Review | Engage Ottawa at https://engage.ottawa.ca/patioreview?tool=guest_book#tool_tab.

2.  253, 255 and 257 York Street and 78 and 80 Nelson

A Zoning By-law Amendment to permit additions to two existing residential buildings would result in a conversion to a single building containing 57 dwelling units and 38 rooming units. Currently the buildings have 37 dwelling units and 7 rooming units.


This amendment was scheduled for City Planning Committee Feb 27 but was pulled at the last minute when the owner changed their application. The planner promised to send us the revised report before it goes back to the planning committee.

In 2021 Lowertown Community Association (LCA) had objected that these apartments were aimed at short-term rentals, and noted unclear garbage storage, landscaping and exterior finishes fitting the character of the street. In response, all but the first issue were (at least partially) addressed. But a lack of multi-bedroom longer-term rentals remains a problem for retaining families throughout our community. Please send your own views to Jean-Charles Renaud <Jean-Charles.Renaud@ottawa.ca>

A new comprehensive zoning by-law will implement the new Official Plan, so it is critical that as many residents as possible engage with the process

3.  Re-Zoning discussion papers

March 6 the City released discussion papers related to development of a new comprehensive zoning by-law that implements the new Official Plan. Look for those here New Zoning By-law | Engage Ottawa at https://engage.ottawa.ca/zoning/news_feed/new-zoning-by-law-discussion-papers-march.

The rezoning would:

  • reduce the Minimum Front Yard setback to 0m, where 4.5m is now required.
  • reduce the Minimum Corner Yard setback to 0m where 4.5m is now required.
  • reduce landscaping required from 30 per cent of the lot area now required to 27 per cent.
  • permit dwelling units and rooming units within the same building whereas rooming units and dwelling units are not permitted in the same building.
  • reduce required parking to 0 resident and 0 visitor parking spaces, where 29 resident parking spaces and 4.5 visitor parking spaces are required.
  • introduce the Residential Neighbourhood Commercial suffix in order to recognize the existing legal non-conforming commercial space located at grade.

The new comprehensive zoning by-law will implement the new Official Plan, so it is critical that as many residents as possible engage with the process. This exercise will define the extent of intensification in Ottawa for at least a couple of decades. Current zoning for many properties where intensification projects are proposed is often objectively years out of date to the most current iterations of the Official Plan and provincial policy, but there is often no specific guidance with respect to what the zoning on a parcel should be. Constant re-zoning applications create conflict and cynicism and introduce cost and complexity into the process of building housing. The comprehensive zoning by-law should be a set of clear rules that will provide guidance to developers and the community for years to come, or at least until the Official Plan is significantly changed.

Following release of the discussion papers, further opportunities for public consultation will be available in June 2023 with the release of two additional reports concerning the revised Urban Design Guidelines for Low-Rise Infill Housing and the Neighbourhood Form and Function Report. The urban-design guidelines set out best practices for low-rise infill housing. The Neighbourhood Form and Function Report examines design-related issues and functional site requirements for infill development.

The following topics are covered in full discussion papers and one-page summaries:

  • Climate Change, Resiliency and Public Health
  • Equity, Diversity and Inclusion
  • Neighbourhood Character
  • Neighbourhood Zones
  • New approaches to Regulating Land Use
  • Trees, Intensification and the Urban Forest Tree Canopy
  • Zoning Provisions for the Rural Area.
Warren Waters is the chair of the Planning Committee of the LCA.