City plan needs way to assess impacts
Dear Editor (Ottawa Citizen),
Jon Willing's article on the City's recent mapping of neighbourhoods as part of its Official Plan review (Maps illustrate challenge with creating '15-minute neighbourhoods' in built-up areas) indicates some of the challenges the City faces as it tries to accommodate most future growth through intensification.
These maps show where the City needs to focus if it wants people to have access to amenities without having to get in a car - the proverbial 15 minute neighbourhood. But unfortunately the proposed Official Plan contains no guidelines or metrics to assess the impact of intensification by neighbourhood, nor the triggers to apply any mitigative measures when intensification occurs, like sidewalks, trees, access to greenspace, etc.
City planners have told us that they will measure development through intensification on a city-wide basis, that the targets for preserving tree canopy, for example, are city-wide. Yet the impacts of intensification are most felt at the neighbourhood level, where the additional units are built. Looking at the data from a city-wide aggregate misses the effect intensification has on the neighbourhood street where people actually live.
What is needed here are metrics to link the march of intensification to the provision of mitigative measures so that we don't lose what makes our neighbourhoods so attractive to live in. Having such metrics will go a long way in assuring communities that intensification will not overwhelm them but can be managed so that the City can obtain its growth objectives while residents can be assured of continuing to live in the neighbourhood they bought their homes in.
Alex Cullen, President
Federation of Citizens Associations