FCA Planning and Zoning Newsletter Updates & Coach Houses

Subject: Fwd: FCA Planning and Zoning Newsletter Updates March 4, 2016
Date: Wed, 16 Mar 2016 19:37:01 -0400
From: Heather Pearl <hpearl2012@gmail.com>

Coach Houses: City of Ottawa proposal

Please see item #4 in the attached FCA Planning and Zoning Newsletter. For many reasons, Community Associations throughout Ottawa are not pleased with the City’s current Coach House proposal. The proposal is “one size fits all”. There is no regard for individual community character, the character of surrounding properties or even other existing By-laws. Coach Houses might be a good fit in some locations, but this has not been addressed. This proposal has been rushed through. It needs to be reconsidered.

Every single and semi-detached house already is legally entitled to have a secondary dwelling unit. One needs to ask, “What problem are we trying to solve with this proposal?” In Champlain Park, small, older, single-family homes, many containing affordable secondary dwelling units, are being razed and replaced by very large single family and semi-detached houses. These new houses have ample room for interior secondary dwelling units. Installing them would be a viable response to the need for affordable housing and would not be likely to create new problems. Adding a detached house in the limited space remaining in their rear yards, however, will infringe on the privacy of neighbours and leave little to no room for greenspace and trees. (Note: Coach Houses would need to be only one metre from the rear and side-yard lot lines.)

The number of responses to the survey were miniscule in relation to the number of properties to which this proposed By-law will apply. The diagrams provided in the survey document showed significantly less lot coverage (by houses and garages) than is usual in the urban area. The diagrams could lead people to believe that there is plenty of room to build Coach Houses in our urban rear yards.

Most Community Associations in Ottawa were completely unaware of this proposal. (Note that the survey and proposal were posted on the CPCA web site, because I asked to receive these kinds of communications.) Post-survey, the City did not consult with communities or individual respondents, as they developed the proposal. They presented the proposal as a fete-accompli with a limited time allowed for comment. I am told that this contrasts with the approach taken in Toronto and Vancouver, where consultation was extensive on less all-encompassing By-laws.

The Coach House proposal seems to have been drafted in a vacuum. Urban properties are not blank spaces; they have neighbours and they contain vegetation which is part of the urban ecosystem. Protection of the urban tree canopy is not considered. Therefore:

  • The proposal conflicts with the intent of the rear yard provisions in the new infill II By-law. This By-law is still under OMB appeal.
  • The proposal does not consider the Urban Tree Conservation By-law.
  • The proposal does not consider the project now underway to develop an Urban Forest Management Plan.
  • The proposal is not consistent with City policies in its Official and Management Plans, that reference the means to promote environmental sustainability.

The CPCA Executive believes that this proposal needs significantly more work. Prior to the cut-off date, I wrote directly to the Planning and Growth Management Department to state our opposition and reiterate the need for broad-based consultation.

Ottawa’s CAs have put in thousands of volunteer hours, working to make infill developers have regard both for community character and the local environment. As a result, building footprints have been somewhat reduced through the introduction of new By-law provisions on front, rear and side yard set backs. This Coach House proposal, if adopted as is, will render the protections for rear yards useless. It will make it even more difficult to protect the tiny bit of urban forest that remains.

Last week the FCA (Federation of Citizens Associations, the umbrella organisation for Ottawa’s community associations) approved a motion stating that this proposal should be put on hold until a full and open consultative process can be undertaken and the issues responded to. As noted at the top of this message, please see item #4 in the attached FCA Planning and Zoning Newsletter.

If you have questions, please feel free to contact me.

Thank you,
Heather Pearl
CPCA Co-chair
CPCA Planning and Zoning Committee member

Greetings all FCA Planning and Zoning Committee Representatives:

Please find attached updates and notes for you to circulate to your Community Association Representatives, following our General Meeting held on March 3, 2016.
These updates are intended to keep everyone informed of Planning and Zoning issues and our work with City of Ottawa consultation.

Best regards,
Sheila Perry,
VP and Liaison,
Planning and Zoning,

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