Dozens of city residents who want to see Ottawa grow sustainably — not in size — gathered at the Human Rights Monument yesterday for an upbeat rally.
Holding signs that read, “Hold the Line” and “No more sprawl,” residents gathered to hear experts cite reasons against expanding the city’s urban boundary, including increased cost to provide services across a wider area, difficulty in providing social, medical and city services and having residents choose cars over transit.
“We’re not against growth,” said rally organizer Will Murray. “We’re not against the suburbs and we’re not against developers.”
The group was there to urge council to grow the capital in a responsible manner.
City staff has proposed adding 850 hectares to the city’s urban boundary, and members of the Coalition for a Sustainable Ottawa, along with other groups, are asking council to hold the line on the urban boundary, said Murray.
Glebe Community Association president Bob Brocklebank said expanding the urban boundary will decrease efficiency —and increase costs — for all taxpayers.
“By running the sewer and water lines to the suburbs, we are paying more and more,” he said.
“Spreading it out will be less efficient.”
Sprawl also has a negative effect on health and the environment, said Stephen Hazell, head of the Sierra Club of Canada.
“Last year, 21,000 Canadians died as a result of pollution,” said Hazell.
Sprawl also makes it difficult for newcomers to access services, said Ottawa resident Haiyan Zhang.
“(Immigrants) need to be connected,” she said. “They need to go to community centres and libraries.”
When existing infrastructure is in decline, it doesn’t make sense to expand more, said urban planner Phil Brown.
Half a dozen councillors were also there in support.
“This is not about holding the line,” said Coun. Clive Doucet. “This is about having a line.”
Large, single-family homes are not sustainable, said Coun. Diane Holmes.
“Urban sprawl will be the death of our planet,” said Coun. Alex Cullen. “We have to show that we can live as a community. Folks, let’s hold the line, let’s stop urban sprawl.”