Everybody kept telling me that Planning Committee would be a very busy committee to be a part of. Yesterday proved that point!
The Planning Committee is a group of nine councillors, including Chair Jan Harder, who meet every second Thursday to examine reports and motions that relate to land use and land development in the city. Our decisions and recommendations on each issue then rise to Council for a final decision. This week, we deliberated for four hours on a number of agenda items. Here are three of note.
1) I presented a motion to amend a report before it went to council. Officially the report was known as “Official Plan Amendment 180 Appeal Settlement – Kanata West”, and it had to do with land use on properties in the north part of Stittsville including 195 Huntmar in Stittsville. Usually, councillors are given the opportunity to formally comment on any report that relates to their ward before it is published as part of the Planning Committee agenda. In this case due to an administrative error, I was not given that opportunity. The published report incorrectly stated that I was aware of the report and offered no comment.
Last week, I was briefed on the report by the city’s legal, planning, parks, and policy staff. And I have no concerns about the report or its recommendations, so my motion was to amend the report to include the following comments: “I support this recommendation. All recreational amenities originally considered for the district park will be accommodated in the reconfigured space. Co-locating with the future high school aligns with current best practices for suburban design, and will eliminate the need for a separate parking lot and situate the district park closer to a future transit hub. Additional recreation space will be available to the community through a local park, and informal areas along the Feedmill Creek and a future stormwater management pond will create additional natural areas.”
The motion was carried unanimously. Chair Harder pointed out that a similar approach was used in Barrhaven at Mother Theresa Secondary School for what’s now known as Ken Ross Park. It has proven to be an effective way to integrate public park facilities and school board land for a greater benefit to the community at large and students.
(Note: The future public high school site at 195 Huntmar is in addition to the public high school site at Robert Grant and Cope in the Fernbank area.)
2) We also approved the recommendations in a report relating to the city’s Site Plan Control process. Site Plan Control is how the city evaluates new developments to ensure that they are designed appropriately and minimize potential impacts on neighbouring properties. We approved a new fee structure to better reflect the true cost to the City. I asked some questions about whether or not the new processes would limit the opportunity for public consultation. I’m satisfied that they will not, although I intend to work with planning staff to develop best practices around sharing information with residents, and engaging residents in more meaningful dialogue during the consultation stage. More to come on this file.
3) The most significant item that we examined a planning committee, was based on a report called Ottawa Next: Beyond 2036. It marks the start of a major update to the city’s Official Plan.
“Official Plan” may not sound like the most exciting of documents, but it will be the most important file that this Council considers over the next four years. It’s the strategic plan that guides everything the city does, and it’s intended to ensure we remain a vibrant, healthy, thriving, competitive and sustainable community for years to come.
There are a number of public engagement opportunities coming up this year and over the next few years, and I strongly encourage residents to get involved. This is the master plan that will decide how our communities grow, how transportation investments are prioritized, and so on. The plan has to reflect all people at all parts of our community, including Stittsville. Click on the image below to read the report. I highly recommend it.