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Thoughts on the new Official Plan & Tewin

On Monday, the joint meeting of the City’s Planning and Agricultural Affairs committees voted to adopt a New Official Plan. The Official Plan is the masterplan that directs our city’s growth and ensures that planning and development meet the future needs of our community.

When I was elected a year ago, the New Official Plan process was well underway and I had to catch up quickly. In February 2021, City Council decided to include the lands south west of Carlsbad Springs into the urban boundary, a controversial decision that caught many residents by surprise. The area, known as Tewin lands, is a mix of privately-owned parcels and lands owned by the Algonquins of Ontario (AOO). The AOO is proposing to develop the land into a new suburban community in partnership with Taggart built with Algonquin-values. I supported expanding the urban boundary to include Tewin at Planning Committee and I would like to give you more context on why I voted the way I did.

Under provincial legislation, the City of Ottawa must identify developable land to meet its projected population growth over the next 25 years. Between now and 2046, the City is expected to grow by over 400,000 people. Some of this growth will be accommodated by intensification in existing areas but we also need to grow out. The most efficient way of expanding is to use green fields adjacent to built-up areas. A lot of these green fields are in Cumberland Ward, more specifically in South Orléans. I am extremely concerned about the strain that bringing more development to South Orléans will put on existing communities. Despite the rapid pace of development in that area, we have not collected enough Development Charges to meet the needs of our growing population: our road network is incomplete, our schools are overcrowded, transit coverage and frequency is inadequate. We are also challenged by the stalemate between the City and the NCC on the extension of Brian-Coburn Blvd, a situation that is holding back transit and active transportation in the area.

The Tewin partners are proposing to develop a new community aligned with Algonquin practices and teachings. Beyond the vision of sustainable community development, Taggart and the AOO are also offering to cover the cost of bringing transit and infrastructure to the area. This is not an offer that builders are extending to urban expansion areas adjacent to the current urban boundary like South Orléans. Given the residents’ concerns about intensification and rapid greenfield development near existing areas, Tewin is an option worth exploring.

The inclusion of the Tewin lands to the urban boundary is not the end of the conversation. It is the very first touchpoint in a series of steps leading from the expansion of the urban boundary to homes being built. These steps will include a comprehensive land assessment and the drafting of a Secondary Plan. There will be Council oversight and the opportunity to consult with the community along the way. With the decision to include Tewin in the urban boundary, Council drew a line on a map. How this new community takes shape and integrates into the existing community will require input and feedback from residents. You can still make your voice heard.

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