Council approves major expansion of city's suburbs

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Ottawa city council voted 15 to 6 Wednesday to expand the city's suburbs by hundreds of hectares, a decision that followed weeks of debate about how the city should grow over the next two decades.
Ottawa city council voted 15 to 6 Wednesday to expand the city's suburbs by hundreds of hectares, a decision that followed weeks of debate about how the city should grow over the next two decades.

Mayor Jim Watson has argued that "modestly" expanding the supply of residential land will help keep home prices lower, and give builders more time to adapt to the concept of denser development.

"Ottawa will have one of the most aggressive intensification targets in all of Canada," Watson said during Wednesday's meeting, which was held by teleconference.

"We've heard from the vast majority of residents that they support intensification, but they want it to be done thoughtfully through design, while respecting the characteristic of established communities."

"People have a right to pick the types of homes they want to live in," planning committee chair Jan Harder added. "Planning isn't about taking away that choice."

The city's planning department wants to add up to 1,650 hectares of land to the suburbs, expanding the urban boundary to do so. But community groups say that could increase greenhouse gas emissions and create urban sprawl. 1:05

Three options were on the table, but council ultimately went with the advice of city staff, agreeing to add 1,281 hectares of rural land for future suburban development. Council put off a separate decision to add hectares for warehouses and industrial parks at highway interchanges.

The councillors who voted against the expansion, which could see 23,000 homes built in the newly added areas, were: Mathieu Fleury, Rawlson King, Jeff Leiper, Catherine McKenney, Shawn Menard and Theresa Kavanagh.

Councillors Diane Deans and Rick Chiarelli were absent.

Opponents to the expansion expressed concerns that the expansion will harm the environment, drive up the tax rate and threaten the financial viability of the city as taxpayers are left on the hook for the added infrastructure.

"The arguments being used around this table can be used…
Joanne Chianello, Kate Porter
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