Committee hears of Digital Twin benefits for new Zoning By-law

A graphic with Ottawa City Hall is in the background. A vertical grey stripe and a horizontal yellow stripe are in the foreground with " Planning and Housing Committee update" in the centre.

The Planning and Housing Committee today received a presentation about the City’s Digital Twin project(link is external) and how the technology will be used to inform development of the new Zoning By-law. The Digital Twin is a virtual, 3D representation of Ottawa that will be used to model and simulate changes to the city. While still in development, it will provide users with an immersive, interactive representation of the entire city, enabling exploration of everything from buildings and roads to hydrants and trees.

In conjunction with the Digital Twin, the City has also created a web-based editing and markup tool, called Zone Builder, that enables planning staff to review existing zoning and explore the impact of potential changes. As the City continues to develop a new Zoning By-law, planners and other City partners will be able to assess and collaborate around how potential changes to zoning provisions like height limits or minimum setbacks might impact a given neighbourhood.

Such information will be valuable to the new Zoning By-law, but beyond that, urban planners, developers and other partners will also be able to use the Digital Twin to analyze the potential impacts of new infrastructure and development projects. By simulating multiple scenarios, the Digital Twin will help identify potential problems before construction even starts.

There is no public interface for the Digital Twin yet, but one is planned. Because it presents data visually and in an interactive way, the tool will be helpful in improving public engagement and collaboration.

The Committee approved a zoning amendment to facilitate phase two of a multi-tower development southwest of Baseline Road and Fisher Avenue(link is external). The overall development is for three buildings with nearly 1,100 dwellings and commercial space. Zoning for phase one, which included a 24-storey tower along Fisher Avenue, was approved in November. Phase two includes a second 24-storey tower and a 32-storey tower along Baseline Road, across the street from the Central Experimental Farm (CEF).

The amendment would increase permitted height in line with the City’s Official Plan, which envisions the potential for high-rises at this location. It does not, however, prescribe a specific built form, allowing greater flexibility to encourage the applicant to explore design options that might further limit shadowing on the CEF while still maintaining the proposed density.

The Committee also approved a zoning amendment to facilitate a development on Edgewater Street(link is external) in Kanata. A 10-storey building is proposed with 186 dwellings and ground floor commercial space. The proposal also includes a low-rise building with residences above ground-floor office space, and a block of townhomes. The amendment would change the parent zoning to permit a range of residential and commercial uses. It would also increase permitted height at the front of the property, in line with the location on a Main Street Corridor and a property size that allows for appropriate transitions to nearby homes.

If Council approves, the land-use permissions that the Committee recommended today will help put applicants in a position to build 1,286 new dwellings in Ottawa. To help address the housing challenge, Council committed to providing home builders enough opportunities to build 151,000 quality market homes by 2031. Visit for a graphic showing quarterly progress towards Ottawa’s housing pledge targets.

Recommendations from today’s meeting will rise to Council on Wednesday, February 7.

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