City planning department shines in year of pandemic

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The City’s Planning Committee today received the planning department’s 2020 year-end report and heard how staff were able to pivot quickly to respond to the pandemic and provide uninterrupted service all year, helping keep Ottawa economically vibrant.

While development in the region may have dipped initially, the industry worked to keep new and ongoing construction projects on track, and City planning staff played a major role in making that happen. Faced with the need to work remotely due to the pandemic, planning staff quickly developed and implemented a new online option to submit development applications and seek building and right-of-way permits. As a result, the department received 1,137 planning applications in 2020, a slight decrease from the previous year but still higher than the number received in 2018.

The department also coordinated 421 public engagement sessions – 180 more than the previous year – most of which were held electronically. Building Code Services staff were also able to maintain service throughout the year and processed 2.6 per cent more building permits in 2020 than in 2019. They carried out more than 77,000 building inspections, 18,500 mechanical inspections and 23,500 plumbing inspections.

The Committee approved a zoning amendment that would add 253 apartments in a new 12-storey building at the southeast corner of the Merivale Mall parking lot. The amendment would allow three extra storeys, but keep that height oriented toward Merivale Road, with step-downs along Viewmount Drive. This is the second recent application that would help renew this underused parking lot, adding to an already approved seven-storey apartment to be built just to the west of this location. The applicant would also provide new public space as part of this development.

Two towers of 18 and 16 storeys on Carling Avenue could soon add 370 apartments just west of Churchill Avenue after the Committee approved a zoning amendment for a new development. The amendment would also establish an agreement with the applicant to provide community benefits worth about $1.25 million, including $400,000 to improve cycling, $500,000 for affordable housing, $200,000 to improve Clare Garden’s Park and nearly $144,000 for traffic-calming measures.

Recommendations from today’s Planning Committee meeting will rise to Council on Wednesday, April 14.

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