(OTTAWA) – On January 16, on the heels of a May 2020 decision to expand Ottawa’s urban boundary, city planners released a draft report recommending the development of various parcels of land on the fringes of Ottawa’s urban area. Beyond the new land slated for development is a proposed “Gold Belt” that would create ultimate limits for Ottawa’s suburban communities. 

“Council can talk about a ‘Gold Belt’ all it wants, but we can only predict the future based on the past. And council’s track record on reining in sprawl is abysmal,” said Robb Barnes, executive director of Ecology Ottawa. “Without stronger policy, there is no good reason to treat the ‘Gold Belt’ as anything other than a mirage.”

The new city report identifies 1,011 hectares of greenspace in suburban areas of the city slated for development. These areas are in Kanata, Stittsville, Barrhaven, Riverside South and Orléans. Committee and council will make a final vote on development in a series of meetings on January 25 and February 10. 

In May, a marathon committee meeting heard from over a hundred people, the vast majority of whom expressed concern about the many costs of furthering sprawl in Ottawa. Despite these concerns, a majority on council voted to expand Ottawa’s urban boundary rather than intensify development within the existing area. Council’s urban boundary decision was arguably its most important environmental vote this term, with sharply negative repercussions on municipal climate action, greenspace protection, and the viability of transit, among other issues. 

“This report shows the devastating effects of bad policymaking,” said Mr. Barnes. “In many cases, residents most at risk of seeing their local greenspace destroyed are represented by councillors who voted for sprawl. We need those residents to speak up and demand better from city hall.”  

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