Dear Mayor and Council,
During this term of Council you have declared both a Climate Emergency and a Housing and Homelessness Emergency. We applaud these steps because they acknowledge what residents of Ottawa truly care about: the challenges of finding affordable and adequate shelter and the threats to health and safety posed by the climate crisis.
In keeping with these declarations, we urge you to vote for an Official Plan “land budget” that does not require expansion of the urban boundary. We can no longer afford a pattern of urban development that extends municipal services further out, paves over farmland and rural areas needed by future generations of young farmers, and compounds the problems of car dependency. By now it is also well understood that remote and sprawling subdivisions do not create the affordable housing needed by Ottawa’s diverse community.
We also acknowledge that saying no to urban expansion means saying yes to greater density within the current urban boundary. The challenge is to do it right, by creating policies that bring the benefits of urban life to all neighbourhoods in a culturally diverse city. The City’s plan to foster transitions to “15 minute neighbourhoods” is a step in that direction, if it is sensitive to the needs of existing neighbourhoods and results in walkable and green neighbourhoods in many parts of the city, not just the urban core.
We believe there is a policy path to accommodation of a larger urban population within the current urban boundary, while at the same time fostering just and healthy neighbourhoods. Please see the no expansion scenario (below) underpinning this path. Council must take it.