An official plan for the 21st century

By Bruce Firestone | Architecture

May 22

The city of Ottawa has an ambitious goal–to craft an official plan (OP) that is suited to a modern 21st century economy and get buy-in from the community for something that is substantially different from anything that has gone before…

Not an easy task.

As part of this effort, I was tasked, as host and moderator, to engage in a process called delegated democracy–bringing together diverse groups of people–many of whom do not necessarily agree with each other–to talk possibilities, options and solutions.

Retired Irish Supreme Court justice Mary Eleanor Laffoy did just this on the question of changing abortion laws in that nation, a very controversial measure. Madam Laffoy brought together representatives of the Church, women’s groups, medical professionals, social and economic agencies, and within two years achieved what everyone thought was IMPOSSIBLE—a 66.4% approval for new regulations in a national referendum, which is as close to a national consensus as is possible in this area.

Sound boring?

Well, it’s not, at least not if you believe as noted urbanist Jane Jacobs did that the closer government is to people, the more important it is to its citizens.

You think your neighborhood is changing too quickly? You want to have your say on affordable housing? You think current bylaws are too restrictive or not restrictive enough?

This is a chance to make your voice heard! The idea is to hear not just from the usual folks—developers, investors, BIAs, chambers of commerce, home-builders, utility companies, planners, architects, traffic engineers, etc but from tenants, social agencies, environmentalists, first-time home-buyers…

Everyone has a stake in their city’s future. Even if you are not from Ottawa or Gatineau, but you have an idea you’d like to see your city or town adopt, let’s hear it! We can all learn from each other… best practices.

Anyway, here’s the first online townhall…

We dealt with:

Q1

WHAT SHOULD THE CITY OF OTTAWA’S NEW OFFICIAL PLAN DO TO IMPACT/CHANGE/IMPROVE OUR LOCAL ECONOMY? WHAT DO YOU WANT IN A NEW OP?

Q2

WHICH OF THE FOLLOWING WOULD YOU WANT OR NOT WANT TO SEE INCLUDED/PERMITTED IN RESIDENTIAL AREAS IN THE NEW OP?

Q3

THE CITY OF OTTAWA HAS 6 MAIN ENGINES OF GROWTH–GOV’T, TECH, EDUCATION, HEALTHCARE, TOURISM/ENTERTAINMENT/FESTIVALS, REAL ESTATE; ARE THERE ANY OTHERS YOU THINK SHOULD BE A PRIORITY?

Q4

BEING ABLE TO PRODUCE FOOD LOCALLY IS A CONCERN IN MANY JURISDICTIONS; WHAT SHOULD THE CITY OF OTTAWA DO IN THIS AREA IF ANYTHING, FOR EXAMPLE, IS AGRITAINMENT/BUILDING A FARM STAY NETWORK/GROW LOCAL SOMETHING THAT THE CITY SHOULD BE LOOKING AT?

Q5

GOVERNMENT INTEREST IN FUNDING AFFORDABLE HOUSING—ITS MAINTENANCE, CONSTRUCTION AND OPERATION—IS NOTABLE; OTHER THAN OPENING THE FUNDING SPIGOT, IS THERE ANYTHING ELSE THE CITY OF OTTAWA’S OP CAN DO TO ENCOURAGE MORE AFFORDABLE HOUSING?

Q6

HOUSE PRICES AND RESIDENTIAL RENTS ARE SOARING; SHOULD THE NEW CITY OF OTTAWA’S NEW OP SEEK TO MAKE MORE LAND AVAILABLE FOR PROVISION OF ALL TYPES OF HOUSING OR SHOULD THE CITY MAINTAIN ITS EXISTING URBAN BOUNDARY AND FORCE DEVELOPMENT TO BE BOTH MORE INTENSE AND DENSE?

Q7

THE CITY OF OTTAWA AND ITS AGENCIES SHOULD: A) FOCUS ON ATTRACTING MORE MULTI-NATIONALS TO LOCATE OFFICES/LABS/SUBSIDIARIES HERE OR B) FOCUS MORE ON ASSISTING HOME-GROWN ENTREPRENEURS?

Q8

THE CITY OF OTTAWA SHOULD: A) REGULATE OR BAN THE SHARING ECONOMY–SERVICES LIKE AIRBNB, VRBO, UBER, LYFT, SKIPTHEDISHES… OR B) EMBRACE THE SHARING ECONOMY?

Q9

THE CITY OF OTTAWA SHOULD: A) EMBRACE URBAN EXPERIMENTATION LIKE THE NOV 2016 BYLAW THAT PERMITS COACH HOUSES OR B) DO MORE TO PRESERVE EXISTING CHARACTER OF NEIGHBORHOODS?

Q10

THE CITY OF OTTAWA SHOULD: A) ASSIST PROJECTS AND DEVELOPMENTS THE CITY BELIEVES CREATE A NET BENEFIT OR B) NOT DO THAT BECAUSE IT SETS A BAD PRECEDENT?

Q11

THE CITY OF OTTAWA SHOULD: A) ENSURE THAT ROADWAYS GIVE PRIORITY TO EFFICIENT MOVEMENT OF CARS, TRUCKS, BUSES OR B) LOOK TO DEVELOP MORE WOONERF ROADS WHERE PEDESTRIANS ARE PRIORITIZED OVER VEHICLES?

Q12

THE CITY OF OTTAWA SHOULD: A) DECLARE A STATE OF EMERGENCY AND PURSUE ACTIVE MEASURES TO ADDRESS CLIMATE CHANGE AND GREEN ISSUES OR B) IT’S NOT PART OF THE CITY’S MANDATE?

Q13

THE CITY OF OTTAWA IS IN A WORLDWIDE COMPETITION FOR TALENT; WHAT CAN THE CITY DO TO ATTRACT/RETAIN SUCH PEOPLE?

Q14

THE CITY OF OTTAWA ALREADY HAS A HIGH SCHOOL FOR THE ARTS (CANTERBURY); SHOULD IT ALSO HAVE A HS FOR THE TECHNOLOGICAL ARTS, FOR TRADES, FOR ENTREPRENEURSHIP, OTHER?

Q15

HOW CAN THE CITY OF OTTAWA HAVE CLOSER INTEGRATION WITH OTHER MUNICIPALITIES/TOWNSHIP IN EASTERN ONTARIO AND WEST QUEBEC NOT TO MENTION MONTREAL AND TORONTO?

Q21

IF YOU WERE QUEEN OR KING OF THE CITY OF OTTAWA FOR DAY, YOU WOULD…?

Bruce M Firestone, B Eng (civil), M Eng-Sci, PhD

Real Estate Investment and Business coach

Century 21 Explorer Realty Inc broker

Ottawa Senators founder

1-613-762-8884

bruce.firestone@century21.ca

twitter.com/ProfBruce

profbruce.tumblr.com/archive

brucemfirestone.com

-MAKING IMPOSSIBLE POSSIBLE

Please also read, How economic development is impacted by a city’s zoning and official plan, https://profbruce.tumblr.com/post/184665700874/how-economic-development-is-impacted-by-a-citys

Note: feature image source, By SVG conversion: Ilmari Karonen (talk) – Based on http://www.commongoodbank.com/images/democracy.gif (from http://www.commongoodbank.com/democracy/representatives.html), originally uploaded to Commons by Karmen Sandiegoas Democracy.gif, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=4565111

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About the Author

Bruce is an entrepreneur/real estate broker/developer/coach/urban guru/keynote speaker/Sens founder/novelist/columnist/peerless husband/dad.

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