City of Ottawa’s planning committee recommends 19.2% planning application fees increase

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Ontario Construction News

The City’s of Ottawa’s planning committee last Thursday approved increases to development application fees generally at 19.2 per cent higher than current levels, effective January 2020.

The city says the higher fees will ensure it “recovers the true cost of review and processing. The revised fee structure would also ensure that applicants pay for the services they use, reducing the need to fund city services through property taxes.”

However, the fee increase will also help fund an increase in staffing for processing development applications.  About $800,000 of the additional revenue will be used to hire seven full-time equivalent positions. “Along with some proposed process changes to streamline application review, the added staff would help the city better meet target timelines,” the city said in a statement.

In a report to planning committee, officials compared Ottawa’s planning application fees with several other Ontario cities, and reported that, even with the increases, the city’s fees will still be far lower than several other municipalities.

For example, the current Official Plan Amendment fee of $20,170 will increase to $24,043 next January.  However, the report said Toronto’s current OPA fees are $56,843, while they are $68,035 in Markham, $25,007 in Mississauga, and $29,864 in Hamilton.

The current fee for major zoning bylaw amendments in Ottawa is $16,370, rising to $19,513 (a 19.2% increase).  Current fees in Toronto are $42,515, while they are $47,795 in Markham, $33,957 in Mississauga and $32,571 in Hamilton

In other business, the planning committee approved new language in the Zoning By-Law that would affect buildings 10 storeys or taller in three specific areas of the city. Within the urban core, in areas zoned as Mixed-Use Downtown, towers would require a minimum separation of 15 metres. In areas outside that specific zone but inside the Greenbelt, a 20-metre separation would be needed and for towers in urban areas outside the Greenbelt, the required separation would be 23 metres. The new language also limits how small a lot would need to be to accommodate a high-rise building with these minimum separation distances.

Because Ottawa’s central business district has already been developed with high-rise buildings, the new zoning provisions would not apply within that area. The aim of the new language is to prevent instances where light and views of the sky are blocked and to ensure building occupants have privacy.

The committee also approved an increase in permitted height for a site at 1950 Scott St. in Westboro, where a 21-storey residential high-rise is proposed at the corner of Clifton Road. While the Official Plan recommends a six-storey height limit on this section of Scott Street, greater height can be permitted if the development is located near transit – and this site is only 150 metres from Westboro Station.

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