A review of the city’s official plan has identified 11 areas that could potentially add 850 gross hectares of urban residential land, while at the same time calling for increased intensity in the city’s centre.?

Speaking on behalf of the Ottawa-Carleton Home Builders’ Association, consultant Christina Heydorn from Malone Given Parsons Ltd., said the city’s target is far too aggressive and neither desirable nor practical and they should actually consider 2,000 additional hectares of urban residential land.?

Heydorn — one of more than 60 public delegations that attended the joint rural affairs and planning committee meeting yesterday — said in order to reach the density target set for central Ottawa, the population downtown would have to double by 2031 and the number of jobs would have to increase by 22,000, requiring six million square feet of office space.?

“It’s a lot to expect that you could accommodate that within the central area in the next 25 years,” she said. “Either it represents an unprecedented and risky process of social engineering or it represents a short-term view that is subject to change in the next official plan review.”?

However, environmental activist and Vanier resident Ann Coffey argued that Ottawa has more than enough room to grow without increasing the urban boundary.

Ottawa’s population density is much lower than other big cities in Canada, and Coffey said the city needs to prevent urban sprawl and protect rural lands and villages.?

“This is what we should be focusing on,” she said. “Development inside the greenbelt so that we can bring up intensification, so we can bring up our population density.”

City staff will review all the submissions and provide written feedback, recommended changes, and a revised draft Official Plan Amendment at another joint meeting on May 11.

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