Committees receive report on draft new Zoning By-law to kick off public consultations

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

In a joint meeting on April 29, the Planning and Housing Committee and the Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee received the report for the first draft of a new Zoning By-law(link is external) for Ottawa.

The Zoning By-law is a land-use regulation tool that shapes the way a city grows. It sets rules about what can be built without having to seek specific permission from the City. Ottawa’s new Zoning By-law will be essential to implementing the policy directions of the new Official Plan, which came into effect in November 2022. It will support City efforts to address housing affordability in Ottawa by facilitating growth that aligns with the intensification goals outlined in the Official Plan.

Public information sessions about the draft by-law will begin with the release of the proposed text and zoning map on Friday, May 31 and continue through October. More information about how to provide feedback will be available at engage.ottawa.ca/zoning(link is external). Following public consultations on the first draft, staff will present a second draft in March 2025. After further consultation, a final draft would be brought forward for City Council approval in December 2025.

The report received today outlines key directions used to develop the draft by-law and ensure it implements Official Plan policies that aim to build healthy, equitable communities and a more affordable city. Key directions include:

  • Housing supply: To increase housing construction options and opportunities in existing neighbourhoods, a more streamlined framework would replace the complex set of residential zones. The draft by-law also aims to open new areas to infill development.
  • Housing near transit: To support housing near transit, the draft by-law would automatically permit maximum heights that align with secondary plans, reducing the need for zoning amendments that can delay development.
  • Housing choice: A range of housing types is needed to meet the needs of all residents. The draft by-law reorganizes current zoning provisions to better address the needs of households with the lowest 40 per cent of income levels, supporting a wider range of housing options.
  • Parking: The draft by-law does not propose minimum parking rates but rather allows for parking to be provided in a way that is driven by market preference and demand. Maximum parking rates in areas well served by transit will continue to apply, as will requirements for accessible parking.
  • Climate Change: The draft by-law includes new provisions to address climate change, encouraging denser development near transit, increasing the prevalence of electric-vehicle-charging stations, and encouraging tree retention and forest regeneration.
  • Space for trees: The draft by-law expands requirements for soft landscaping, ensuring room for more trees is preserved as properties are redeveloped, and offering flexibility in siting a building to better retain existing trees.
  • Municipal services/stormwater: The draft by-law strengthens provisions requiring adequate water and sewer capacity before a building permit could be issued.
  • Day-to-day needs: The draft by-law adds new permissions for non-residential uses to encourage more retail and services near where people live, helping to meet the day-to-day needs of residents.
  • Equity: The draft by-law aims to implement the Official Plan equitably and consistently across all of Ottawa, ensuring that no one neighbourhood is treated differently or affected disproportionately.

For rural areas, the Official Plan did not include significant changes. Provisions for most rural zones have been brought forward into the draft Zoning By-law largely unchanged, with revisions limited to formatting and organizational changes aimed at making the by-law easier to use.

City Council will receive the report on the first draft of the new Zoning By-law on Wednesday, May 15.

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