I have been a slow poster, because of many things that have been keeping me preoccupied including work, but there is an issue that has come up that I really do want to discuss.
I’m not sure if I am missing all the details , but Ottawa City Council is reopening a debate about the expansion of the urban boundary. To briefly explain, Ottawa has become a truly humongous city since the amalgamation of 2001 with an area of 2,778.64 km2 . In order to deal with this massive size, the city had to perform a split between the urban and rural areas with slightly different by-laws and legislation between them. Something else that occured was some zoning that restricted development (housing, commercial, etc.) to certain areas. For the urban area there was a boundary where no more development could occur outside. (The villages that were amalgamated also have a development boundary).
There was a vote in June of 2009 where the full expansion of 850 hectares was turned down by one vote. That vote is now going to be looked at again tomorrow, February 24th.
I believe there are many reasons why Ottawa should NOT extend the urban boundary, but for the sake of time I will not write them out here. Instead I will re-use part of my letter to Mayor Larry O’Brien in order to state my case.
I just wanted to say that I am disappointed that there is to be a revote for the expansion of the urban boundary of Ottawa. I think this would not be a good decision for the long-term. Adding new development to city may save us some legal fees in the short-term, but there are many services (sewers, roads, OCTranspo, etc.) that would have to be expanded, and would cost extra tax dollars in the long-term. Intensification inside the current urban boundary would increase the tax base (higher price for homes) with much less new infrastructure to build and maintain. There are other benefits involved with not extending the urban boundary (less commute time, more greenspace), but I believe that the idea of making Ottawa more compact and efficient could be the best reason of all.
As a side note, I have admired your stance on taking a more business-like approach to government. As I am someone from the private sector, I have often been frustrated with the slow workings of a bureaucracy, and have been hopeful that someone might be able to change that. It is turning out to be hard to change everything, but I do believe that one achievable goal could be to make Ottawa more efficient. Expanding the urban boundary would not make this city more efficient.
I urge City of Ottawa residents to write letters to the Mayor and your local Councillors if you are opposed to (or for) the Urban Boundary Extension. This is an election year so the voices of the public can make a difference.
To get a better picture of the issue, here are some articles in the local media.