Citizens Can Work with City Hall to Influence Neighbourhood Construction

Many thanks to Andrea Vecsei for her article in the last Mainstreeter calling for greater discussion of infill building in Old Ottawa East.

At the community association level, the discussion has already begun.

For the past two years, the Old Ottawa East Community Association’s Planning Committee has helped develop a new approach to regulating infill construction in mature neighbourhoods. The effort is aimed at restricting infill development to protect ‘neighbourhood character.’

The first step in such an effort involves engaging with the city’s Planning Department and Adjustment committee, as well as understanding the Comprehensive Zoning Bylaw.

The bylaw is well presented on the city’s web site. The city also offers training courses under their Planning Primer series to help citizens participate.

The challenge to re-writing infill regulations is to identify and control only what people recognize as neighbourhood character to strike a balance between design freedom and the stability many people want.

The city has wrapped up an extensive period of consultation with builders and community representatives. It produced a substantial improvement in the bylaw.

Before the change, builders had to address such requirements as the provision of parking, parking location, front yard setbacks and the location of a house’s front door.

The revision added a 21-lot street character analysis. This would assess adjacent properties to define common patterns for front yards, parking, and entrance doors.

A character analysis would identify a dominant pattern on a street and describe minimum characteristics for a new development.

Starting last summer, planners began considering a second infill bylaw. They tried to address building height, rear yard and side yard setbacks, and projections into yards.

The new bylaw  is expected to be tabled after the municipal election. With it, many zones will see the maximum building height reduced.

The bylaw would also link the size of a rear yard with a house’s height so that the two are equal.

Community consultation on infill bylaws will continue over the next two years. The OECA Planning Committee welcomes volunteers interested in continuing this engagement with the city.

For more information, contact Planning committee chair Stephen Pope through the OECA web site planning@ottawaeast.ca.

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