News & Updates
This Wednesday, city council will make its most important decision this term—whether to expand the urban boundary and by how much. As a refresher, the urban boundary is a line drawn on the outer rural and suburban areas which sets limits on development lands which are serviced by infrastructure like sewers, roads, water and public transit. Essentially, it sets the limit for sprawl.
If we vote for the largest expansion in modern Ottawa history (as the Planning Committee and the Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee (ARAC) recently recommended), it will mean more sprawl, more pollution and a more expensive city.
To read more on my thoughts on this, you can read my most recent column on urban boundary expansion here.
(Ottawa-5/25/2020) Residents of Ottawa have expressed clearly their concern that expanding the land available to developers for housing will put new pressure on the delivery of City services, and increase greenhouse gasses, taxes and traffic congestion.
In a poll conducted by EKOS Research Associates, 52% of residents say they oppose an expansion of the urban boundary compared to 31% who support it. The poll was commissioned by Councillors Catherine McKenney, Shawn Menard and Jeff Leiper.
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The urban boundary decision is the most consequential choice that council will make this term, and it’s an opportunity for Ottawa to fight urban sprawl. Expanding the boundary—which is the decision staff are recommending as the “balanced” option—will result in the loss of precious green space and an increase in greenhouse gas emissions. Also, it will put even more upward pressure on property taxes for years to come just to maintain current levels of city services.
Developers are spinning this approach as “smart growth” because the profits will be theirs, while the costs will be on us. There is significant benefit for them in pushing this line. Meanwhile, it is the residents in suburban and urban Ottawa who will feel the financial burden of building new roads, sewers, schools, and recreation infrastructure, rather than using existing resources in our built up areas. Our city can not afford to keep going down this path.