Community Newspaper Columns

Official plans may not seem exciting, but they’re extremely important

October 2013

It’s an especially busy autumn at City Hall as we prepare to adopt an updated Official Plan (OP), Infrastructure Master Plan, Transportation Master Plan (TMP), Cycling Plan and Pedestrian Plan.

Talk of official plans may make your eyes glaze over, but these documents are very important, and that’s why we revise them every five years. They contain policy directions and lists of priorities that will determine where and how your tax dollars are spent, whether a road is widened or a rail line or bike lane is built, and when critical infrastructure gets repaired or replaced.

Following six months of input from the public a councillors, we got our first view of official drafts in late September, with the TMP delayed until October. Next, Council members will formally review the plans and welcome public delegations at committee meetings at which the plans will be debated and most likely adopted, with or without changes.

Here are a few major issues directly affecting Capital Ward residents:

  • Will there be changes to the OP policy direction that currently promotes intensification? Will it provide specifics on acceptable height and density, and just how much such intensification is going to be promoted around new transit stations (Transit Oriented Development)?
  • Will the TMP go further to promote public transit and active transit as the most efficient and cost-effective ways of moving people and goods? If so, will any major road projects be removed from the TMP or placed on the backburner?
  • Will the proposed footbridge spanning the canal between Fifth and Clegg (currently in the detailed design phase) be listed as a priority project?
  • Will the Cycling Plan and Pedestrian Plan propose new routes or infrastructure for our neighbourhood, to address subpar linkages for walkers and cyclists along our main roads and bridges?

Much have been revealed by the time you read this, but the most important consultations and debates at Council are only just be getting started. I welcome your questions and feedback.

Conversions update
Prompted by undesirable home conversions on Aylmer and Hopewell Aves., I joined my Council colleagues in passing an Interim Control Bylaw in April. This brought a temporary halt to single-family homes being converted into apartments, and directed the planning department to study the most problematic aspects of this type of infill, consult with the public, and propose modified rules.

The City held a public consultation on Sept. 16 at City Hall, well attended by residents of those communities already being affected and some who anticipate such projects coming their way.

I expect the report to be brought to Planning Committee next March in conjunction with the Second Infill Zoning Study. To follow this issue and provide input, visit ottawa.ca/conversions.

Party time
With the return of university students come the inevitable complaints about partying. Student parties are nothing new, but there’s a big difference between a gathering that’s a little loud and boisterous, and a big, noisy bash that goes all night.

Every year, I deal with complaints about party houses, and I offer the same advice.

Students (and other partiers), your neighbours will probably tolerate an occasional party if you give them advance notice, keep the noise bearable and wrap it up at a reasonable hour. But if things get out of control, a visit from police or bylaw can be expensive. Fines start at $300, and hosts can be charged for the actions of guests.

For other residents, if you witness illegal or dangerous activities, call to 911. If it’s simply an annoying situation, call 311 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. (feel free to copy me) as soon as you’re uncomfortable with the level of noise or size of crowd. The phone lines — and police — get busier as the night goes on. And don’t assume that someone else will call in your stead.

Speaking of noise …
Many Old Ottawa South residents have been inordinately disturbed by loud music lately, including the Escapade Music Festival at the RA Centre, the Folk Festival at Hog’s Back, and the return of football at Carleton.

In most cases, the problem isn’t noise so much as vibration. The ubiquitous use of monster subwoofers means people can literally feel the deep bass a great distance away, and can’t escape it by closing their windows (not that they should have to).

Last year, I questioned bylaw officials about their ability to accurately measure and thereby enforce acceptable limits. This year, they assured me they had the necessary tools. Yet decibel readings taken at at least one complainant’s house indicated levels well within allowable limits, even though the house and its contents were actually vibrating. This was deemed acceptable.

I plan to actively pursue better tools to ensure that concertgoers can still have their fun, but without rattling bones and disrupting residents’ heart rhythms.

Sunnyside calming project
With funding approved for the Sunnyside Ave. traffic calming plan, the City intends to implement a series of intersection and midblock narrowings, signage, pavement marking and on-street parking adjustments in 2014.

In addition, the City will pilot a Green Street concept by installing bioretention measures instead of hard surfaces within some of the narrowings. Because this means slightly modifying the original 2012 plan, the City will seek community input.

Councillor David Chernushenko