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Proposed zoning changes to allow fourplexes, eliminate minimum parking rules in Ottawa

The City of Ottawa is looking to allow fourplexes on all residential lots across the city, eliminating minimum parking rules, ban surface parking lots in the downtown core, and making room for more trees in its new zoning rules.

The city has released the first draft of the Zoning Bylaw review, which is intended to form a key component of the comprehensive strategy to address housing affordability in Ottawa.

Staff say the proposed changes in the Zoning Bylaw will address the housing affordability and climate change crises, “with the goal of achieving healthy, equitable communities and a more affordable city.”

As part of the push to increase the housing supply, the new rules will allow “four or more dwelling units” on serviced residential lots across Ottawa.

“This new framework of Neighbourhood zones will increase opportunities for housing to be built in existing neighbourhoods and increase housing choices in a way that ‘fits’ in existing neighbourhood,” staff said.

Under the funding the City of Ottawa received through the federal Housing Accelerator Fund in February, the city committed to allowing fourplexes on lots as part of the Zoning Bylaw review.

The proposed changes eliminate minimum parking requirements, with staff saying it will provide flexibility to property owners, businesses and developers to “choose how much parking to provide based on their needs.”  Staff say maximum parking requirements will apply to properties within 600 metres of existing and future rapid transit stations.

New rules are being proposed to require a minimum percentage of parking spaces to be EV-ready when parking spaces are provided, with spaces equipped with a minimum of Level 2 charging, according to the report.  The city is also banning new surface parking lots in the downtown core.

In a bid to provide residents access to the “day-to-day needs

Staff are also proposing increasing access to businesses for the day-to-day needs of residents in neighbourhoods by allowing retail and service land use where people live, by “increasing permissions for small-scale, compatible non-residential uses” in mid-rise and high-rise buildings and allowing small-scale businesses in neighbourhoods.

In support the urban forest tree canopy, the city is expanding the requirements for soft landscaping and limiting underground parking structures to “preserve enough soil volume for a tree to grow to maturity.”

The Greater Ottawa Home Builders’ Association is applauding several proposed changes in the Zoning Bylaw, including allowing fourplexes, eliminating parking spot requirements and allowing some front yard parking.

“Upon initial review, the City of Ottawa is taking a proactive approach with these zoning proposals to address our crucial housing needs,” Jason Burggraaf, Executive Director at GOHBA, said in a statement. “It is clear that the city recognizes the need to overhaul our zoning to match its housing goals laid out in our Official Plan.”

A joint meeting of the planning and housing committee and the agriculture and rural affairs committee will discuss the proposed Zoning Bylaw at a meeting on April 29. 

Following the first round of public consultations, staff will release the second draft of the Zoning Bylaw in the winter of 2024 and council will approve the new bylaw by the end of 2025.

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