What the new provincial housing bill means for Ottawa
What new provincial legislation means for housing in this city.
Today’s newsletter is a bit meatier than usual. We’ve tried to dig down on the province’s new housing legislation, Bill 23, which makes sweeping changes to how cities plan for and build housing. It’s pretty complex, and there’s a lot to explore.
This won’t be the last time we take a crack at looking at housing in the city, but hopefully this is a useful guide to help you understand what’s happening.
We’ve also managed to find some Moon content that makes sense in a local newsletter, without making it seem absurd. Finally.
Why don’t we get to it.
— Robert Hiltz, managing editor
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Wednesday: +3 🌡️ -5 | ❄️
Thursday: +3 🌡️ 0 | 🌤
Friday: +5 🌡️ -2 | 🌧
Understanding new changes to housing law
What happened: Earlier this month, the province announced a new bill to address the housing crisis in Ottawa and other cities. It’s a complicated piece of legislation that makes sweeping changes to not just housing rules, but environmental regulations and municipal powers too.
The problem: The new changes, mostly contained in Bill 23 — called the “More Homes Built Faster Act” — are the government’s attempt to deal with years of skyrocketing housing prices, and dwindling supply. In 2019 in Ottawa, the average home was sold for $441,693, in 2020 that jumped 19.9 percent to $529,675, which jumped an unreal 35.8 percent in 2021 to $719,605, according to Agent in Ottawa.
- Rental prices increased alongside house prices. In the last year, a one-bedroom apartment rose 21 percent to $1,969, according to Rentals.ca.
The (proposed) solution: The province hopes to build millions more homes across Ontario. In Ottawa, the province wants more than 150,000 new homes built within a decade.
Zoning rules will allow up to three units of housing to be built on any property. It reduces development charges for many types of new construction — the fees charged to developers that pay for infrastructure from water mains to local libraries.
It also limits the approvals needed to build new developments, reducing the city’s ability to impose heritage, environmental, or a whole host of other regulations. All of these changes are meant to reduce the price of homes, and make it easier for developers to go from proposals to finished projects in a shorter amount of time.
- Dig deeper: Industry associations pleased with housing bill [Storeys]
Local pushback: Municipalities across the province have voiced serious concerns about the bill. In Ottawa, city staff said growth will have to be paid for by existing taxpayers if it passes, the Ottawa Citizen reported.
- Stittsville Coun. Glen Gower said the legislation will put housing policy in the wrong direction and will lead to more sprawl, and we’ll fall behind on infrastructure, park construction, and the fight against climate change.
Local residents have rallied at city hall opposing the plan, voicing concern it will harm the environment and not lead to more affordable housing, the Citizen reported.
- Dig deeper: All the Ontario environmental protections the province wants to overhaul to build more houses [The Narwhal]
Developers benefiting: A worrying investigation by The Narwhal and Toronto Star shows many developers are cashing in on the opening up of provincial Greenbelt land to development. In one case, a developer paid $80 million in September for undevelopable land north of Toronto, only two months later that land is open for building.
- Of 15 areas set to lose protection in the Greenbelt, eight have properties that were purchased since the Progressive Conservatives of Doug Ford came to power, The Narwhal and Star found.
Changes to the bill: This week, some changes were made to the draft of the bill, according to the Globe and Mail including:
- Reinstating the ability for third-parties to appeal developments;
- Some ability for cities to enforce green building standards;
- And make the elimination of development charges retroactive, even for projects already under construction.
Want to learn more? Councillors Glen Gower and Jeff Leiper will host a panel of municipal planning experts tonight at 7 pm taking public questions on Bill 23 and its effects on Ottawa. Find out more here.
Did you enjoy this explanatory journalism? Consider becoming a member today so we can publish more stories like this. You’ll also get some really fun perks.
OTTAWA BY THE NUMBERS
🥞 $50,000: Brig Brothers Big Sisters of Ottawa was able to raise this much at a charity breakfast in one of their thrift stores. [OBJ]
🤒 23.4%: The flu positivity rate in the city, up from 10.9 percent the week before. [CTV]
SPONSORED BY UBER
Creating a better future for app-based workers with UFCW Canada
In a quintessentially Canadian manner, Uber and UFCW Canada have come together to find common ground for a better future for over 100,000 app-based drivers and delivery people.
Uber listened to what drivers and delivery people had to say. For app-based workers, that path to better means:
✓ Strong representation
✓ Protect flexibility on when, where, and if to work
✓ Press for industry-wide benefits and protections.
Here’s what driver Wond Sebehat had to say about this landmark agreement:
- “It’s a relief to know that UFCW can now provide representation services… That’s an important step forward for myself and more than 100,000 drivers and delivery people.”
Beyond the platform, Uber and UFCW Canada have also agreed to press provincial governments for industry-wide standards like a minimum earning standard, a benefits fund, and access to workers’ rights.
Better is possible, when everyone works together.
QUOTE OF THE DAY
"We're going to drive around on the Moon and look for instances where radiation fields change in such a way that tells us, as scientists, that there's potentially water or ice here. … Water on the Moon is one of the first steps that mankind has to take in order to further explore our solar system and the galaxy as a whole.”
Scott MacEwan, a research scientist at Bubble Technology Industries in Chalk River, told CTV about a sensor the company has built for a future Canadian rover on the Moon.
School board meeting interrupted by protesters, runs out of time before mask mandate vote
What happened: In the end, a meeting of the Ottawa Carleton District School to decide whether to implement a new mask mandate in public schools ran out of time. A vote on the mandate will likely take place at the next meeting.
The meeting was a raucous one, as anti-mask protestors disrupted it on more than one occasion. The Ottawa Citizen’s Jacquie Miller posted a video of the protestors singing the national anthem after the board meeting had to adjourn and go online. Police asked the protesters to leave the meeting room, once the board moved online, according to Miller.
Why it's up for debate: The reason the issue is on the table is the explosion of respiratory viruses among children, in particular RSV, putting immense strain on CHEO and other hospitals. A recent report within the board said about 10 percent of students wear masks, and 15 to 20 percent of teachers and staff wear masks, the Citizen reported.
- Dig deeper: From symptoms to treatment, everything you need to know about RSV [Ottawa Citizen]
Hate mail: Ahead of the vote, the trustee that pushed for the motion, Dr. Nili Kaplan-Myrth said she and her colleagues had received hate mail for even considering the issue. Kaplan-Myrth said she forwarded one threatening email to police, CTV reported.
What’s next: Board staff warned ahead of the vote any mandate could be subject to legal challenge, as well as the difficulties of implementing it. It’s not clear if the board has the full authority to impose a mandate if the local or provincial health unit doesn’t.
🚔 The construction of a new police station in Gatineau on the site of the Robert-Guertin Centre is on hold because the site is near a homeless shelter and could further displace the people using the shelter’s services. [CBC]
⚠️ Former Mounties are furious at a report saying the Kemptville training facility, contaminated with lead, asbestos and more, was of no threat to former trainees. [CBC]
💸 Tenants of a seniors’ rental building in Russell are moving out because of a sudden rent increase of 25 percent. [CBC]
🧯It took firefighters almost half an hour to put out a stubborn fire at a house in the Hunt Club neighbourhood. [Ottawa Citizen]
🏥 A driver crashed into the Pembroke Regional Hospital. No one was injured and the building was not seriously damaged. [CTV]
🪴 This year marks the 60th anniversary of the Stittsville Goulbourn Horticultural Society, first started by a handful of local gardeners. [Stittsville Central]
🏈 The Cumberland Panthers U12 football team won the Ontario Fall Cup championship against the Vaugn Rebels 54-12. [Orléans Star]
HOUSE OF THE WEEK
Above the nighttime din of the ByWard Market is this condo, a spacious three-bedroom, two-balcony luxury affair with plenty of amenities, including a living room wet bar and one heck of a view.
🚔 The federal public safety minister was concerned Ottawa police had lost control of the downtown to the convoy, before invoking the Emergencies Act. [CBC]
🚚 …Convoy lawyer Brendan Miller was ejected from the inquiry after a disagreement with the hearing’s commissioner. [CBC]
🏢 The federal government is giving $92 million to five housing projects in Ottawa. [CBC]
🖼️ The National Gallery of Canada sacked four high-profile curators, including the person who brought Maman the giant spider to town, in an abrupt restructuring at the downtown museum. [CBC]
🏛️ Ottawa’s Andrew Cardozo, a public policy expert, has been named to the Senate. [Ottawa Citizen]
Bad times roll on for the Sens
🏒 The Senators kicked off a four-game road trip out west in the worst way possible with a 5-1 loss to the San Jose Sharks. [The Associated Press]
🥅 Sens centre Derick Brassard said the team is “trying to find solutions” to its awful start after what seemed like a solid off-season. [Ottawa Sun]
⚾️ The Ottawa Titans signed their manager and coach to multi-year extensions after a winning inaugural season. [Ottawa Sun]
Senators @ Golden Knights | Tonight 10 pm | Away | TSN5, TVAS
Senators @ Ducks | Nov. 25, 3 pm | Away | TSN5, RDS1
67’s @ Battalion | Nov. 24, 7 pm | Away
67’s @ Petes | Nov. 26, 7 pm | Away
67’s vs Wolves | Nov. 27, 2 pm | Home | Tickets
Senators @ Kings | Nov. 27, 10:30 pm | Away | TSN5, RDS2
- Love cheap groceries? Then you'll love our grocery giveaway with local online grocer Burrow Shop. Enter now for free.
- This year could be a white Christmas, it’s happened plenty of times in the last 50 years, as this graphic shows. [Ottawa Weather Records]
- The Canadiana documentary web series latest season tells the story of Soviet defector Igor Gouzengko who claimed asylum in Ottawa at the end of the Second World War. [Apt613]
- At Moe’s BBQ, the sides are as spectacular as the meats.
- No style? Please, Ottawa has a blossoming fashion community. [CBC]
- The annual Toy Mountain campaign put on by CTV and Move 100 kicked off this week, the charity drive has a goal of providing toys to 25,000 kids in need. [CTV]
- High school students across town had the chance to try out the skilled trades at a special job fair this week. [CTV]
- Want to have your announcement featured? Contact our partnership team for more info.
Rescued pets: Two cats and a snake — a snake! — were rescued by firefighters at a three-alarm fire in Centretown. No people were injured, and the cause of the fire is under investigation. [CTV]
Congrats to Bonnie and Chantal, who both knew that the Ottawa Carleton District School Board (OCDSB) is the one local school board without any CUPE members.
Today’s OttawaGuesser we hope isn’t as difficult as this week’s quiz. The first 5 people to respond get their names mentioned in the newsletter. Good luck!
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