FCA MOTION RE: COACH HOUSES March 3, 2016
The FCA requested and hosted a presentation given by Emily Davies, Planner, City of Ottawa, at the February 3 General Meeting held at the Glebe Community Centre. The brief presentation, titled “Coach Houses are Coming to Ottawa”, elicited many questions and aroused significant concern amongst FCA members, both at and subsequent to the meeting.
Community Associations were not adequately consulted, nor advised directly by the Planning and Growth Management Department (PGM), of the Coach House proposal. An online survey conducted last fall by PGM resulted in only 467 responses. Feedback to questions was lacking. The February 29, 2016 deadline for providing comments on the resulting draft proposal and the subsequent presentation to the FCA, is too short.
Extensive consultation was undertaken in Vancouver and Toronto, to develop and implement Coach House policies related to laneways. Comprehensive consultation has not been undertaken for Ottawa’s proposal, which goes much further.
FCA Members collectively have contributed many thousands of hours to the Infill 1 and Infill2 projects, with the goal of creating a vibrant, sustainably-developing City of Ottawa. The Intent of the Infill 2 Rear-yard provisions is to protect a key characteristic of mature neighbourhoods, which feature rear yard greenspace and mature trees. The current Coach House proposal promotes increased lot coverage by building throughout the urban area. It gives no consideration to protecting the characteristic mid-block greenspace and mature trees. It applies to all urban communities equally, without regard to individual community character or if this type of use would be suitable for a particular property. Thus, as proposed, it conflicts with the Intent of the Infill II rear yard provisions.
FCA members are participating in developing a City of Ottawa urban Forest Management Plan (UFMP). Current urban forest cover is well-below the Official Plan’s 30% target. Rear yards in Ottawa’s mature neighbourhoods contain a substantial portion of Ottawa’s remaining, and still shrinking urban forest. The current Coach House Proposal may limit the City’s ability to produce a viable UFMP.
The current proposal has the potential to increase hard-surfaced areas in mature neighbourhoods where infill policies and new construction already have resulted in major loss of green space. This will further limit the City’s ability to meet Official Plan and other Master Plan policies, including the Air quality and climate change management plan.
We understand that a Coach House By-law, once adopted by Council, is not appealable to the OMB.
We believe that this particular proposal will contribute little to providing affordable housing, but could have other major negative consequences.
Therefore, Be it resolved that:
1. FCA advise the City of Ottawa PGM, Planning Committee and City Council of the need for full Consultation with all community associations regarding the proposed Coach House By-laws.
2. FCA support instituting a full, city-wide Consultation to identify project goals and parameters, identify locations where Coach Houses could be viable, and develop appropriate zoning provisions that take community character into consideration, prior to proceeding with the Coach House proposal.
3. The Planning and Growth Management Department (PGM) place this initiative on hold until full and open consultation is undertaken and the issues responded to.