Coach Houses and Land Evaluation and Area Review (LEAR)

To begin this week, I just wanted to correct a comment that I have made in recent weeks.  When providing background on the stormwater issue, I had said that Council made the decision to shift all stormwater costs to the water and sewer rate in April of 2001.  In fact, it was the Corporate Services and Economic Development Committee that dealt with the issue in April. They ended up deferring the matter to their July 3rd meeting and Council did not approve it until their July 11th meeting.

The report was titled “Financing Methods – Funding City Services” and included two key points that led us to the situation we are in today.  One was that the General Tax Levy “include all services formerly included in the general levies of the area municipalities except…stormwater management.” Further along in the same motion, the Committee recommended to Council that “the stormwater management and sanitary sewerage programs be totally funded from sewer surcharges.” This passed at Committee and again at Council.  Interestingly enough, Councillor Janet Stavinga actually voted against the matter at Committee.  We are only dealing with this matter today because the rest of Council did not follow her lead. If you would be interested in reading the minutes or the report for yourself, please contact my office.

For those of you who have attended one of our Mid-Term Town Hall meetings, you will know that we discuss the stormwater issue there.  Although this item has been discussed at Committee this past Tuesday, I will continue to focus on the matter at future town hall meetings. With meetings in North Gower and Munster having occurred earlier this week, our next Town Hall meeting will take place at the Christ Church in Ashton on Wednesday, November 1st followed by our rural Stittsville meeting at the Goulbourn Town Hall on Monday, November 7th.  Both meetings will begin at 7:00pm.

Coach Houses

The report on Coach Houses came before the Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee on Thursday, October 6th.  Some of the recommendations contained in the report stemmed from consultations in the urban area but the ensuing recommendation had a city-wide impact.  As a result, ARAC voted to alter a recommended decrease in accessory building heights because this was not a prevalent issue in the rural area.  Further, we discussed the minimum lot size for a coach house.  The recommendation calls for a minimum lot size of 2 acres on private services.  This is something that we are reviewing and, at the very least, members of ARAC will be pursuing a decrease in that minimum to 1 acre at the October 26th meeting of Council.

The main point, however, is that the City has developed a process that will permit the addition of coach houses in the rural area and across the city.  All that is left to work out are some fine details surrounding lot sizes and permitting.  I will keep you updated on the matter in future columns.

Land Evaluation and Area Review (LEAR)

In November, the updated report on LEAR will come to both the Planning Committee and the Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee.  As Chair of the LEAR Working Group, this is something we have been working on for the better part of four years.  The most interested parties in this endeavour would be landowners in or adjacent to lands already designated as Agricultural Resource Area on Schedule A of the City’s Official Plan.

The Regional Municipality of Ottawa-Carleton identified the existing Agricultural Resource Area in 1997 using a Land Evaluation and Area Review (LEAR) system. Key components of the LEAR system are soil capability for agriculture, land use and parcel size. New soils mapping and changes in land use and the size and nature of farms in the city over the last 20 years warrant re-examining and updating the existing LEAR system.  The Ontario Municipal Board has also directed the City to complete this update. 

The LEAR Working Group is finalizing the changes to the LEAR system. Recommendations on possible changes, if any, to the Agricultural Resource Area will be made and notice of changes will be sent to all affected land owners. A draft Official Plan Amendment will be advertised, circulated and presented to the Agriculture and Rural Affairs and Planning Committees in November 2016 and Council in December 2016/ January 2017.

If you have any questions on this review, please contact Bruce Finlay, Planner, at 613-580-2424, ext. 21850 or by e-mail at planning@ottawa.ca.

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If you have any comments, questions or concerns, please feel free to email me at Scott.Moffatt@ottawa.ca or contact me by phone at 613-580-2491.