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.
Residents Don’t Support Expansion
During the joint meeting of the Planning Committee and ARAC last week, there were hundreds of delegations. Time after time, when a resident who wasn’t connected to the development industry spoke, they asked councillors to Hold the Line.
Today, an EKOS research polled commissioned by our office and the offices of Councillors Catherine McKenney and Jeff Leiper was released, further confirming that residents don’t want more sprawl:
- 70% of respondents said expanding the urban boundary would increase pressure on the delivery of City services (8%: less pressure; 9% same; 13% don’t know);
- 69% said it would increase greenhouse gasses in the region (7% less; 15% same; 10% don’t know);
- 55% said it would increase traffic congestion in the urban core of the city (13% less; 21% same; 11% don’t know); and,
- 55% said it would increase taxes for City residents (13% less; 20% same; 13% don’t know).
And this isn’t just urban folks, opposition is spread evenly across all parts of the city.
Developer Influence at City Hall
It’s always been understood that developers will do what they can to influence City Hall, hoping to get favourable decisions passed. The urban boundary is no different.
Horizon Ottawa—a grassroots movement working to improve municipal politics so that City Hall works for everyone—has just released a report detailing just how much money people associated with the development industry have poured into local campaigns.
In 2018, over $900,000 was donated to municipal candidates (for councillor and mayoral races). Approximately $423,000 came from people associated with the development industry. Of that, $200,000 went to the mayor.
For councillors who are currently on the Planning Committee, 58% of the total donations came from developers. For councillors on ARAC, 57% came from developers.
The Planning Committee Chair received 95% of her donations from developers.
E-mail and Call Councillors
If you feel strongly about this, and want to help fight for a more sustainable, more prosperous and more equitable city, let councillors know!
You can go to our website to send one last e-mail to all members of council lined up to vote for expansion this Wednesday, and then make a call to some of the councillors who we hope can be persuaded to hold the line with just one click.
And if you’d like to learn more and connect with other engaged residents and organizations on the issue of the urban boundary, there are two events coming up tonight and tomorrow:
Panel discussion on Housing, Homelessness, & Climate Emergencies
Representatives of the Alliance to End Homelessness Ottawa, City for All Women Initiative, Ecology Ottawa, Healthy Transportation Coalition, and Housing Managers Collective will host a panel discussion followed by a community conversation on how interconnected these critical issues are, and how we can mobilize to address them.
When: Tonight (May 25) from 7:00 to 8:30 pm.
For more information, click here.
What Urban Sprawl Costs Ottawa
Join in a web conference with public policy and environmental experts, as they discuss the impacts of urban sprawl on our city.
When: Tuesday May 26 from Noon to 1:00 pm/
For more information, click here.