Making the wrong arguments to planning committee doesn’t help

Yesterday, Planning Committee had an over-full agenda of contentious items. This meant huge waits for the assembled throngs. All seats were taken, and there were over 70 standees / folding chairs / sitting on the floor. For a 8+ hour meeting.

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The final votes were to approve various high rise developments, leading to the predictable reaction of citizen attendees that the process was unfair, rigged, or otherwise unsatisfactory.

I agree the process is unsatisfactory  and might dedicate a subsequent post to suggestions to fix it. And incidentally save us all buckets of money. But a large part of the dissatisfaction yesterday comes from residents making the wrong arguments to planning committee. Most of these mistaken arguments were in evidence at the 265 Carling (at Bronson) rezoning application from 9 to 18 stories.

One of the biggest errors is making an argument that isn’t highly specific to the project in question.

Asking council to reject a high rise “because it will increase crime in the neighbourhood” doesn’t accomplish much. The claimant presented no facts to back up that opinion.  If tall buildings promote crime, how come it isn’t a major problem now, given numerous apartment buildings nearby? Are buildings nine floors and under crime free while the crime wave begins on the tenth? Fact is, some high rises are crime prone. So are some town house clusters. And so are some low rise neighbourhoods. Does that mean we should ban single family homes and townhouses?

Obviously people in higher rise buildings care about their neighbourhood and crime. They were out in force at the meeting.

If high rises promote criminality, then this would be an argument for no high rises anywhere. Any and all objectors to rezoning would cite this crime-gateway-thru-highrise-living argument and no high rises would be built anywhere… which throws out a major local industry…and huge chunk of the Official Plan… to say nothing of reversing the rules in the Provincial policy statement and thus thwarting high rises in every lot, in every municipality in Ontario.

Sorry, the crime argument won’t convince planning committee to vote down the rezoning, because it was too generic (as well as probably being wrong).

It will generate [too much] traffic. Well duh, of course it will. But the proposed condo  is adjacent an arterial. And yes that arterial is busy now. It will get busier in the future too. But don’t mistake the origin point of a trip with the the problem. After all, building that same high rise six blocks or sixteen blocks or sixty blocks further away will generate the same amount of traffic on that arterial. After all, those cars are going somewhere (on average, over 8 kilometres per commuter trip). On arterials.

The main influence of the origin point is that the closer it is to the central area of the city, the less vehicular traffic it will generate. Moving the 265 Carling high rise out to Bayshore or Barrhaven will generate more traffic than at Carling and Bronson because the further out you go the more every trip has to be made by car since those places have constrained walkability. Objecting to a building in the Glebe Annex because of traffic is to invite worse traffic congestion (thru more tripmaking) when the people are housed further out.

And again, if this project is bad here, then every project is bad everywhere. There simply aren’t arterial roads sitting around with tons of spare capacity nor can we force people to only drive on those spare-space roads. They’ll end up on Carling or Bronson eventually.

Sorry, the busy arterial argument is unlikely to sway council.

Building a high rise near the intersection of Carling and Bronson will make it more dangerous for high school kids to go to school or cross the street. Really? So we shouldn’t build any new buildings near any high schools? Presumably that argument applies to grade schools too. And community centres. And routes to school too. Or parks. Or routes to parks, of which our neighbourhood always had the least amount of park space of any area in the city.

Sorry, another fail.

But more people living near Glebe HS or other established schools might reduce driving and school busing. How many student parking spaces are there at Glebe?[even one?] At Woodroofe? [a bunch] At St Mark’s in Manotick?[lots and lots].  There’s a reason people like living in the built up city (walkability) and others prefer suburbs or exurbs (driveability).

The Glebe Annex neighbourhood, claimed one speaker, is family friendly, with little kids. High rises won’t have any kids. I sympathize with this emotion, I too favour kid-friendly streets. But 70-80% of households are child-free … are we proposing to forbid them to live in the Glebe? Can we force empty nesters to sell their Glebe homes to make way for breeders? Can we force them to sell only to breeders? Even at a loss?

Again, that argument wasn’t site specific to 265 Carling; and applied pretty much equally to every apartment anywhere in the city. I vaguely hope someone somewhere is compiling data about how many more people are now having babies or raising kids in apartments, given that single family homes in the central city are out of the price range of most young families.

Sunlight and views are important for some people. They are very important for me. But I don’t have a legal right to never be in the shade. Heck, you know the tall building over at Tunney’s Pasture? I sometimes see the sun setting behind it … which means I am in its shadow … despite being two kilometers away. Sorry for the speaker at Tuesday’s Planning Committee, but the the city just ain’t gonna reject a building because it blocks your view to the west, or might reduce the brightness of light. It has standards, rules, that specify a certain distance between buildings to let in light, that’s all folks.

No one has a right to forever preserve their current view of the Gatineau Hills, or the Peace Tower, or the city scape off in the distance. Development happens. Telling council to reject this high rise because it blocks your view isn’t likely to happen, and only sets you up for rejection. Council isn’t being contemptuous when it disregards arguments it hasn’t any legal  or moral right to enforce. There are only a very few protected view planes in the city, and until some politician is buried on the roof of the Fitzsimmons building, the Glebe isn’t one of them.

Planners currently are concerned with controlling, manipulating, creating .. skylines. They refer to the view of several high rises as a composition. They currently like a composition that comes together to form a peak. At a node, like a transit station or major intersection. So a cluster of apartments at Bronson and Carling that has some low rises, some mid rises, and the centre a single peak tallest building, appeals to them. Ergo, pointing out that the latest building, in the centre spot, is taller than the others is perceived by planners as a virtue, not a drawback. All the more reason to approve it. And here comes the locals pointing out the very feature that planners like while mistaking it for an argument to reject the proposal.

While each approved new building is not strictly speaking a precedent that allows subsequent applications for similarly tall buildings, we all know that the emphasis in Ottawa on compatibility means that proposals that blend in have better chances of survival. So builders cite nearby buildings to justify their project. And residents cite these same buildings to argue that the new building is out of context. Both are employing precedent, one to oppose and one to propose change.

It strikes me as ironic that today’s apartment dwellers on Carling object to a new high rise while themselves living in buildings that when proposed a generation ago were “out of context” and incompatible, according their then-neighbours. And those two storey houses built by the tract-builders of the day may have irritated those that preferred the Glebe when it was semi-rural. You know, those folks that in their turn displaced the original forest dwellers of the area.

So when I read that residents attending planning committee leave feeling that their concerns were ignored, that the process was a sham, that it was all cooked or pre-determined, or that councillors were showing contempt by checking their emails, whispering with staff, or other wise multi-tasking, I both agree that its a messy system, and feel that a big part of the problem is people bringing the wrong arguments. I would never have the patience to be a councillor listening to irrelevant arguments all day. In fact I couldn’t take being a spectator at the Tuesday’s session, and left before noon.

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36 thoughts on “Making the wrong arguments to planning committee doesn’t help

  1. dfg

    Very interesting take. So what sort of arguments would have been appropriate to make at that venue? Is this a situation where the councillors have already read briefs on the individual proposals, and for the most part aren’t being told anything new by the presentations?

      1. Ken

        I agree there is no magic bullet but there are tools available to people who want to make a strong argument. Using the Official Plan, CDP and provincial regulations as well as past OMB rulings which are all public allows for the building of a strong case specifically if you can cite precedent. Previous decisions of Planning Committee are also helpful. The information is there but unfortunately it does not always support the argument people are trying to make.

  2. Peter Drake

    I’ve never been at one of these meetings, but I wonder if people are getting feedback. Or is it like most city “consultations” where your feedback goes off into a void, never to be incorporated, refuted, or responded to in any way.

    1. Jayme

      I think part of the issue in Ottawa is change people just don’t like it now does that mean i agree with every project no but this idea condos are evil that i take issue with.

    2. Westsideaction Post author

      Off into the void … but maybe that is because most comments come from the view “I dont like this, so I gotta think of some reasons, here they are …” and its really hard to argue with someone who says it is too high because, well, anything more than my house high is too high. Opinion is opinion, and it takes a much longer rebuttal to persuade someone of the rationale. I suggest people take the planning primer course, which does start your education.

  3. Luke anon

    I was at the meeting as well until about noon and then had enough…

    Putting that aside, your summary of the meeting was spot on…the lady who couldn’t recall how far she was from 265 Carling was not making any headway…I think she said at one point she was 1000 metres away..come on, what kind of impact is that distance going to have on your daily life. She also wanted parks, and green space and low density which got lots of snickers from the area I was sitting in..with that kind of thinking, Ottawa will sprawl from Alfred, to Carleton Place and up to Wakefield and south of Kemptville.

    One thing that does bug me is that very few councillors seem to be listening to the public presentations..especially a certain councillor who has been on Council for many, many years who spent most of his time schmoozing with those who have contributed to his war chest. If I were in front of that committee and it was going south on me, I think I would come up with the most outrageous statement or comment to see if I got a reaction from the councillors.

    Once again, excellent summary of the issues…without the rhetoric that some other local bloggers who tease us with big scoops but fail to deliver..I think you know who I am talking about.

  4. David

    Was the Bronson & Carling project not in excess of the existing height limits?

    While the City never pays any heed to height-based arguments, I don’t think it’s correct to dismiss those who oppose infill to the extent that it exceeds the existing height limits.

    Whether it is worth having or not, zoning and height limits do exist and if our current planning framework is to have any real meaning, those ought to be followed. Changing them on an ad-hoc basis rather than as part of a local planning study (e.g. the Bayview-Carling study) is not the way it should be done. The City has, as you put it “standards, rules” on height.

    1. Westsideaction Post author

      yes, the application was a rezoning from 9 stories up to 18. And a few presenters did deal with the appropriateness of the upzoning, but were not — in my view — convincing. The divide between zoning and plans is huge and gonna get worse, given that we have thousands of zones and picky rules. I will address what sort of zoning I think we should have in another post, but since you’ve been reading for a while you know what I think. If we lock off 99% of the city from upzoning, and then say all the growth has to occur on the 1%, of course there is a land shortage (purely artificial) and a gold rush to grab it and get maximum zoning for those spots.

    2. Charles A-M

      The purpose of the rezoning application is to change the height limit which the current zoning permits for the site, therefore the proposed building inherently ‘exceeds the existing height limit’.

  5. evensteven

    Thanks for the summary. I always feel like it’s my civic duty to attend some of these things (and I do), but usually it makes me feel like a masochist.

    Two points:
    In my experience, there are 4 types of buildings (exact definitions may vary): 2-3 stories, 4-8 stories, 9-20 stories and higher than 20 stories. My experience of a 24 story building (based on height) is no different than my experience of a 28 story building. However, based on the approvals process a 4-story reduction takes this hypothetical building from “unacceptable” to “approved”. Obsession with height misses almost all of what distinguishes one building from another. Obsession with DESIGN and street interaction would be so much more productive. However, there is an element of subjectivity to those topics (which I guess makes it inappropriate to argue about?), whereas a number is a a number, even if it’s irrelevant.

    Secondly, the arguments that perhaps have the strongest leg to stand on (to my mind), have to do with insufficient infrastructure to support large influxes of people. There is some truth to that. However, we seemed doomed to govern by crisis. Would it be better planning to get the “active transportation” and public transit infrastructure in place BEFORE we add 10000 residents to this area? Of course. But we (and I mean more than just Ottawa) appear to be incapable of that kind of foresight. So. I say bring on the crisis, since that appears to be a prerequisite for getting the infrastructure upgrades we need. AND — it IS going to be harder to drive around in a car, regardless. But that’s OK. That’s desirable.

    1. evensteven

      …although I recognize that saying that “it’s GOOD that it will be harder to drive!” is small (no?) consolation to dedicated motorist!

  6. Matt Rose

    Glebe had no student parking when I went there in the late 80s. I can’t imagine it has any now. There’s just no room even for teachers to park

  7. Geoffrey Hall (@gjhall)

    The trouble with the argument of “this building doesn’t meet the height limits of the zoning” is that, the committee is hearing a zoning by-law AMENDMENT application. So of course it differs. That’s why we’re here talking about it. That’s one of the main activities of the committee, is hearing applications to change the by-law.

    What Councillors and planning staff for that matter need from an argument about height specifically is how this particular location is not suited for the height they are proposing, and why. And while I generally favour more tall buildings personally, there are some very good reasons why it might not be right for a particular location, such as: a similar density could be achieved on the site in a different and preferable form (not everywhere IS a podium+point tower preferable over a property line to property line building, which does still have its place), that the height will shadow a place of PUBLIC importance, such as a park or square or public market; etc.

    The BAD arguments against height that are usually presented are: it’s taller than the zoning, it’s taller than the property nearby, it’s x% taller than Z, it will impact my privacy, it will block my view, and many of the arguments the Eric wrote about.

    Ultimately, the fact is that a lot of what people say when consulted is outright wrong or without any basis in reality. So the trouble with the QUALITY of consultation is really a two way street, because it’s hard to listen to the useful, correct, insightful input when there is so much noise.

    Just my personal two cents.

    1. David

      “What Councillors and planning staff for that matter need from an argument about height specifically is how this particular location is not suited for the height they are proposing, and why.”

      Hasn’t that got the onus, or the burden of proof, on the wrong party? The zoning and height limits exist, and it is supposed to be up to the proponent to demonstrate why a relaxation is in order; it shouldn’t be up to the public at large of all people to defend the status quo of adhering to existing regulations. The default assumption going in “is” that extra height won’t be granted, or at least that’s the way the system is supposed to work in theory. Somewhere along the way we got to treating zoning as little more than an annoying suggestion to be bypassed rather than something to be generally adhered to.

      In certain places, that’s exactly how it does work: you don’t see 8+ storey buildings in central Paris, after all. They have rules there and the rules are the rules and they are followed. If we’re not going to follow these rules, then why have them at all?

      Planning staff most certainly should not be providing rationales to relax the rules in addition to those provided by the proponents. Frankly Planning staff ought to be providing a status quo rationale, including what impacts might be expected between a generic status quo project (i.e. what could be built according to the rules) and the proposed project; it is “their” zoning, after all, so why don’t they defend it? Planning staff, in effect, should be critiquing the proponent’s rationale. Then it would be up to Committee and Council to decide based on the two planning cases they had been presented, along with whatever third party presentations had been received.

      The irony is that this is sort of what happens where the decisions are really made: at the OMB, but with the exception that the reports of City planning staff are often at odds with the City’s case. At the OMB, City staff actually are forced to defend City planning policy.

      And of course the OMB always is the elephant in the room. Scrapping the OMB and leaving municipal councils as the final authority on planning matters would vastly change the entire process. Right now the public is infantilized by the process, which likely explains much of the public input we do get. So too are municipal councils, who can’t take decisions in confidence that they won’t be vetoed but who can also take politically “safe” decisions in the knowledge that they’ll be overturned anyway. So long as the OMB generally sides with developers, developers really have no incentive to be reasonable to anyone along the way as compromise weakens their case at the OMB.

      1. ottawabound

        Ontario’s planning system and Ottawa’s Official Plan and Zoning By-law aren’t set up that way. The first two both contemplate zone changes as part of the normal process. The latter is rarely individualized for a property but applied broadly and can be outdated or arbitrary, so proposals may need to apply for variances or zoning amendments on a site-specific basis.

        1. David

          There’s nothing in Ontario planning law that prevents the City of Ottawa from mandating that its own planners provide planning committee with a status quo critique of a proponent’s proposal. Indeed, in the cases when planning staff disagree with a proposal, to a large extent that’s exactly what they do. So clearly the premise of your first sentence is false.

          I don’t know if you’ve looked at the zoning that is now in place for sites like the Convent, but the zoning for that site has been specifically tailored to the proposed building. It’s like a mile long string of exceptions. We are now getting zoning to fit the buildings rather buildings fitting the zoning. I remain to be convinced that a zoning regime where zoning is “individualized for a property” is in any way desirable, but that’s definitely the direction we’re heading in.

          It’s got to the point where we might as well just clear most of the zoning regime out entirely and just opt for a yea/nay development approval system because any notion of “predictability” has been thrown out the window. A side benefit is that it would probably cause the OMB to grind to a halt with all the appeals.

    2. Cam Sabadoz (@CamSabadoz)

      Geoffrey,

      I think this sort of dismissive attitude shows part of the problem that west-end people have at city hall. If the planning staffer of Kitchissippi Ward feels this way – that “a lot of what people say when consulted is outright wrong or without any basis in reality”, and that that it’s “hard to listen…when there is so much noise” – then there is a big problem there, and it frankly isn’t with the residents. I’m sorry if you find this stuff trying, but these are peoples’ homes, and these are real hardships.

      Councillor Hobbs pledged to work collaboratively with the community, and I think on her best days she does that. But this attitude gets in the way. I imagine you are aware that some people in the community feel they get condescended to by both city planning staff and political staff – that when they try to contribute to public debate they get told that they don’t really understand the issues, and that their concerns aren’t valid ones. I know that you mean well here, and that you want people to make more successful arguments at committee. But it’s hard for community members to work with your office when they feel unheard and undermined.

      1. Jayme

        I think part of the issue is some feel if they don’t get what they want there voice is unheard there has to be a balance you can’t just have small buildings and tall buildings there has to be a mix,

      2. Geoffrey Hall (@gjhall)

        Cam, I apologize if I gave you that impression. But some things people consulted tell us is dead wrong, like how a property located south of a proposal will be in shadow, or that “no one takes transit” or that “children will die.” Unfortunately, this isn’t a rare thing, but happens with every application.

        Whereas, when constructive consultation is received, changes can happen. That’s how we can get things done like removing or recessing balconies facing too close to a neighbour, pushing back a building from one area to another on the site, and even in one recent case, add a floor to make up for a reduced podium height to lessen impact of shadowing on a neighbour, etc etc etc. This usually happens early on in the process when people agree to sit down and identify problems and fix them.

        There are other times when a satisfactory resolution isn’t possible, because the building just doesn’t work, like Tega Attika at 233 Armstrong, which Councillor Hobbs will be opposing in its current form.

        There’s lots of good out there, but it is hard to focus because it is obfuscated by the nonsense. And, sorry, there is a lot of nonsense. That’s not to say it isn’t heard, but in a public forum like a Planning Committee meeting, by the 20th speaker, it can be hard to pay attention and keep your wits about you.

        I wrote the comment to try and have a dialogue about making good arguments to planning committee, and while it’s easy to blame Council, their assistants or planners for not caring about a community, it’s harder to do what Eric did, and I was trying to contribute to, is critiquing the method and success of the public in their contributions. The whole thing could work better if people were more open to discussion, and I, and many others on the professional side of the equation get so frustrated that whenever we enter a discussion, like I attempted to, someone tries to shut us down for daring to discuss the public side of the consultation problem. This won’t cut it.

        1. Cam Sabadoz (@CamSabadoz)

          Hi Geoffrey,

          Thank you for your response. I must admit to being a bit confused, though. I’m certainly not trying to “shut (anyone) down,” as you made almost identical arguments as Eric, who made, I thought, an irreverent but important point. For what it’s worth, I think your tangible advice was smart and substantive, and I even mentioned in the post that I knew your intent was to be helpful.

          I’m also uninterested in an apology, particularly one that suggests its my fault for having a certain impression. My personal feelings aren’t at issue, and they never were. The issue is that your office has a problem that hurts the community, and that it was on display here.

          Your office is frequently perceived by community stakeholders to be dismissive and condescending, and I believe it’s partially because your office frequently lapses into a dismissive and condescending tone when communicating with residents, as you did here. You can choose to believe me or not, it’s entirely up to you. But it harms the community: your whole point is that people need to be more engaged in long term city discussions, but this (important) point is made alongside words in bold caps, words like “noise”, “nonsense,” and making light of how people worry about children’s safety. I can’t see how this is productive, or representative of someone earnestly interested in respectful dialogue. There’s a reason no other political office, at any level of government, would talk this way – and that’s because it drives people away and alienates them. It undermines the very dialogue you otherwise champion.

          So you have a choice, and two options. You and your office can change how you talk to people so that they feel respected and heard (even if you can’t all ultimately agree), or you can continue to blame your critics as loud and unreasonable. I can’t help but notice you chose the latter option above.

          I won’t be responding further, as you should have the last word and neither of us wants a silly extended argument on the internet :). I hope you take this advice in the constructive spirit in which it is intended.

          Best,

          Cam

    1. David

      Height limits for certain areas can and definitely should be changed, but it should be done holistically, looking at entire areas as a whole and considering how sites relate to each other and their surroundings, not the ad-hoc sequential one-off changes that we get right now.

      1. Jayme

        But thats the thing there are some that don’t want them to change in fact they want lower height limits.

  8. b_C

    Couple of things missing from this discussion.
    Parking spots required per unit, as in, “Yer kiddin’, less than 1?!?” and “How low will you allow the line to be drawn?” Impact of on-street visitor parking demands? Will owning a unit forever condemn an occupant to receiving only those visitors who arrive by public transit?
    Wind tunnel effects? Ever stand on the corner of Preston/Carling, heading west … in mid-winter? A program on TV recently (can’t recall title) indicated some , albeit smaller, Norwegian city had introduced a 4-storey height restriction specifically to preclude that canyon effect.
    Are we trying to emulate Toronto? Isn’t it sufficient just to have a better hockey team?

  9. Jayme

    B_C

    Were not trying to emulate Toronto look at the amount of skyscraper they have under construction the most in the world as for 4 story limit the thing is your going to still end up with alot of people in an area you could have one building of say 28 floors or a bunch of buildings of 4 floors which would not look nice.

  10. DenVan

    Excellent discussion here Eric. Glad to see you touched a nerve with this. I’d love to see the flip side. Maybe something like “10 Solid, Reasonable Arguments to make at Planning Committee”. I know, they’re sprinkled throughout, but I’d love to see a discussion that starts with that premise.

    Because, like it or not, the Planning Committee is the only place for community members to formally register their displeasure – legitimate or not – in a room where councillors, developers, and their neighbours are all forced to sit and listen. An sadly, height is the battleground because that’s how the rules are written.

    It’s like a cop charging an aggressive driver over for speeding 110 in a 100 zone – because there’s no crime on the books for “driving like a self-entitled idiot who ignores the rights of other drivers to a safe and predictable journey” – when that’s really the much more messy problem that needs to be fixed.

    So my question to you Eric is this: is it a “wrong argument” to go before planning committee and address the far-too-cosy relationship between developers, Councillors, and the Planning Department? Is it wrong to highlight the sham consultations and the trampling of legitimate, thoughtful community voices? Is it wrong to ask for a more sane, balanced, and nuanced approach?

    1. westsideaction

      Den: the problem with writing a piece headed “10 solid arguments for Planning Committee” is that I would have to have content. What are those 10 reasons? Maybe this is something for David Reevely at the Citizen to suss out by interviewing Hume and some top planners. I don’t suspect they would grant me interviews, and note that only one Councillor’s assistant — Hobbs’s — contributed to the comments so there doesn’t appear to much interest from the Councillors either. Maybe they like it the way it is?

      Alas (for you) I am sufficently contrarian to find lots of issues with your last para. Community Associations are no saints when it comes to planning matters. Thoughtful voices should be heard, of course, especially if they agree with me. Or are me.

      1. Dennis Van Staalduinen

        No, of course, and many community activists also “drive like a self-entitled idiots” in their own way (you’ve probably met one or two – and paraphrased their words above). So I agree: there are idiots on either side.

        But apart from that, I still say pointing out that “the Emperor has no clothes” is always relevant – even when the Emperor isn’t particularly listening.

      2. David Reevely

        This is an interesting question. I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything “work” at planning committee other than identifying a glaring error in a report or supporting document. Though I have seen proposals withdrawn from planning committee agendas pending further negotiations (265 Carling, most recently) and some things take a very long time to get there at all while developers try to come up with something they, politicians, city planners and neighbours can all accept.

        My sense is that community associations can make a real difference, but typically it’s before a proposal reaches the committee. Many of the things people dislike are either not really up for negotiation (like whether a site will get a tall building, period) or get dealt with at the site-plan stage, so the planning committee’s the wrong forum. As you say, when you’re at the planning committee you’re up against professional planners and engineers and their work is supposed to be evaluated by professional planning and engineering standards, and that’s really hard for a lay neighbour to do. Even if you’re completely right, it’s going to be hard for the planning committee to believe you.

        This is much more about how land-use planning is governed in Ontario than it is about Ottawa’s planning department or its councillors. The most public stage is probably the one where the public’s input is least useful.

        I do think there’s somewhat more control over development than is generally believed, though. That is, the planning committee says yes to almost everything it sees, but I’m sure it doesn’t see a tenth of the stuff that developers would like to do if they really did have free rein. They don’t waste their time proposing crazy stuff they know wouldn’t stand a chance. Like, I’m sure there’d be an appetite for condos in Old Ottawa South overlooking the Rideau River, replacing a bunch of houses on dead-end streets. But that’s really at odds with the OP so they don’t bother. Minto would probably have liked to build 28 storeys (or 40, or 70) on the Beechwood fire site, but that’s way out of whack with the area, the OP and the Beechwood Cemetery viewshed so they knew better than to ask for it.

        Speaking of which, I know I see a lot fewer requests for official-plan amendments than I used to. OPA requests were constant things at planning committee after amalgamation; you’d get OPA requests and rezonings packaged together all the time. It may be because the current version of the OP is more permissive, mind you — I’d have to go back and look at the details of what was done in the early 2000s to be sure. But I do think what’s in the OP has force. Trouble is, it’s pretty much always more developer-friendly than what’s in zoning, and when the two are in conflict, the OP always wins.

        Just about all the recent action at the planning committee has been about proposals in areas specifically designated for significant redevelopment in the OP. In a lot of cases it’s guided by general stuff in the OP rather than specifics in something like a CDP, which leaves a lot of room for developers to manoeuvre and little for existing residents to grab hold of, and that leads to outcomes people don’t like.

        There’s an accountability gap, for sure. The people who can really do something about the process problem are MPPs, who don’t live with the daily consequences of the planning process’s weaknesses: nobody’s hectoring them about rezonings all the time. A lot of MPPs may not even really know about the trouble. I’ve asked Jim Watson about it, though, who knows a lot about this as a former councillor, former mayor, former minister of municipal affairs and now a mayor again and he’s never thought of planning reform as a big thing he wants to press for. Nor did Dalton McGuinty when he was premier. Kathleen Wynne probably has other things on her mind. I have no idea what the current minister, Linda Jeffrey, thinks.

  11. Jayme

    Denvan

    From my side of thing what i take issue with is people say that those that want to build have to respect the height limits yet these are the same people that get worked up when a group goes by the limits they still get worked up.

    1. David

      Jayme, do you actually have an example of an episode where a developer respected the height limits and the locals still got worked up over it?

      I suppose I could buy the part about locals getting worked up, but the real difficulty is finding an example of a developer who respects height limits.

      They just don’t really seem to exist.

  12. Jayme

    I beleave 150 and 90 Elgin are both with in the height limit yet people still said there were to tall.

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