Residential Fourth Density (R4) Zoning Review

To help improve housing affordability, the R4 Zoning Review will explore zoning changes to enable a wider range of low-rise, multi-unit infill housing in R4-zoned neighbourhoods, while respecting compatibility and context sensitive design. 

This review will seek to fill a "missing middle" range of affordable mid-density infill housing suitable to a wide range of household types, incomes and tenures, as directed by the Official Plan.

Zoning is the main tool that cities use to guide land development. Zoning establishes how big and how tall buildings can be, where they can be located on the lot, and what uses buildings and land may be put to. The City of Ottawa is divided into different areas or "zones," where the City allows different kinds of development. The so-called Residential zones, where only housing is allowed, is further divided into several classes of residential zone (R1, R2, R3, R4 and R5,) depending on what kinds and densities of housing are intended to be allowed. The R1 zone allows only detached houses (single family homes); the R5 zone allows mid-rise and high-rise apartment buildings; and the others allow buildings. The R4 zone is the main zone intended to allow low-rise buildings (i.e. no more than four storeys) and with four or more units: in other words, walk-up apartment buildings.

The R4 Review will encourage a wider range of housing types than is practical under the current zoning. Doing so will meet the needs of a broad range of household types and budgets, including families. In particular, the new rules will encourage two- and in some cases three-bedroom units, at a cost that more families can afford.

People choose where to raise families based on their own needs and preferences, but the R4 Review will provide more housing options and make it easier for families to stay in the city if they wish to do so.  Read the latest discussion paper, and send your comments at


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