December 22, 2006
In 2006, one appeal of Ottawa’s 2003 Official Plan by the Alliance remained outstanding: the Plan’s policies on country lot estate subdivisions. This appeal to the Ontario Municipal Board (OMB) was settled on December 21, 2006.
At issue were policies #6 and #7 of section 3.7.2 of the Plan (General Rural Area). These sections were inserted in the Plan against the recommendation of staff. Former Councillor Janet Stavinga was the lead proponent of this insertion, which happened in the final stage of adoption of the Plan in May 2003.
Staff had recommended that no further rural subdivisions be allowed. See “Document 10“, submitted to Planning Committee and Council in March 2003. It sets out the reasons why such development is bad but also dutifully responds to Council’s demand for a policy.
The Alliance’s appeal strategy was, essentially, to subpoena staff to explain to the OMB why it had recommended against allowing more rural subdivisions.
In the mean time, while these policies were under appeal, the policies of the former Townships remained law. These policies are even more lax than the new City of Ottawa’s 2003 policies, and applications for new subdivisions have continued relentlessly.
Given the passage of time, the upcoming statutory review of the 2003 Official Plan that is starting up early in 2007, the enormous effort involved in going through with an OMB hearing (which would finally get going in late January 2007), and the uncertain outcome of such a hearing, the Alliance decided to propose a settlement: That the appeal would be withdrawn provided the policy on rural subdivisions is again squarely put before Council for a decision when the 2008 version of the Plan is adopted.
(That there will be a 2008 version is a certainty. In 2005, the Province issued a new Provincial Policy Statement and municipalities are required to bring their Official Plans in conformity within 5 years. This new version, as it happens, puts greater restrictions on rural subdivisions — another reason why our appeal became somewhat less critical.)
[N.B.: In the 2007-09 OP Review, Council agreed to a Moratorium on new CLEs. Go here for the follow-up story.]
April 1, 2007
Report card for Queen’s Park – Country Lot Subdivisions
The Federation of Citizens’ Associations, of which the Greenspace Alliance is a member, is in turn a member of the Federation of Urban Neighbourhoods of Ontario (F.U.N.). Amy Kempster, Treasurer of the Alliance, is on the Executive of F.U.N.
F.U.N. is preparing a report card on the McGuinty government. With regard to country lot subdivisions — which are still allowed under the 2005 Provincial Policy Statement, Amy suggested:
While some of the changes to legislation would seem to discourage urban sprawl, the 2005 Provincial Policy Statement does allow “limited residential development” in rural areas located in municipalities (Section 126.96.36.199 (a)); and also states that “individual on-site sewage services and individual on-site water services may be used to service more than five lots or private residences in rural areas provided that those services are solely for those uses permitted by policy 188.8.131.52.(a) and site conditions are suitable for long-term provision of such services” (Section 184.108.40.206).
Since Ottawa contains a lot of rural land this provision encourages the use of country lot estates which are a very car-oriented form of urban sprawl. Note that country lot estates are also discouraged by our Official Plan from locating in or near (within one kilometre of) villages, where at least some services might be present.