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Riverside Park Response to Ottawa’s New Official Plan

Download the Riverside Park Community Association response to the draft new Official Plan for the City of Ottawa.

This submission was produced collaboratively by the Board of Directors and the Planning and Development Sub-Committee of the Riverside Park Community Association and reflects community feedback received directly from local residents and through three public consultations that attracted over 100 participants between January and March 2021.

Click here for more information about this process.


ABSTRACT

Ottawa is a unique and vibrant city. It has, and will continue to attract, new residents because of its high quality of life, relatively competitive cost of living, and vibrant culture. But the people who have made Ottawa an attractive place to live risk being pushed out of the city – either by rising prices or by rapid gentrification that erases the culture and sense of place that they have helped cultivate.

The New Official Plan states that planning is supposed to “respect[s] the character of our neighbourhoods.”[1] It then goes on to assert that the new Plan aims “to ensure that neighbourhoods form the cornerstone of liveability in Ottawa.”[2] This can only be done, though, through a bottom-up planning process and an Official Plan that better takes into account the input and lived experience of the City’s residents. Yet the new Official Plan is a highly paternalistic and strongly prescriptive top-down planning exercise that contains neither meaningful process nor provisions for citizen and community input, consultation, feedback nor periodic review. The Riverside Park Community Association (RPCA) seeks to engage in a genuine two-way planning process with the City that takes full account of the concerns and experiences of its communities and residents. 

Our principal concerns with the New Official Plan, as it currently exists, are:

  • The ill-equipped and overly rigid transect and overlay model chosen as the centrepiece for this Plan.
  • The Plan’s unrealistic glorification of 15 minute neighbourhoods, making them the only goal on offer, when in reality only a few communities can achieve this goal and members of upper income quintiles will be able to enjoy them. For the remainder of neighbourhoods, and lower-income residents, this Plan does not offer a clear path forward.
  • The Plan, more broadly, has failed to meaningfully address the equity issues that persist in Ottawa. While other municipalities have built their new plans around closing equity gaps, Ottawa’s New Official Plan gives equity tertiary billing when it ought to be a guiding principle.
  • This process has damaged the City’s relationship with residents. Individuals and communities feel shut out from one of the most important decisions about their futures while it is rushed through approval.
  • We support the Federation of Citizens’ Associations of Ottawa’s call for an extended process to improve faith in this process, restore relationships with communities, and produce a Plan that will support all of Ottawa’s communities to thrive for future decades.

We ask the City of Ottawa for reciprocity, to collaboratively and meaningfully invest in the people and places that make this city a prized destination for tourists and the best place to call home.

[1]  In 4.6/Urban Design/”What we want to achieve” (5)

[2]  In 6.3/Neighbourhoods/”What we want to achieve” (3)6

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