Ontario Construction News staff writer
Ottawa’s planning committee has approved a new policy and by-law to implement a citywide community benefits charge – a new tool under the provincial Planning Act to help municipalities pay for higher density in communities with new developments. The charge is consistent with the approach “of ensuring that growth pays for growth, to ensure it is not a burden on taxpayers.”
The charge “would ensure continued financial support for community-oriented projects for all residential and mixed-use buildings that are five storeys or higher and that include at least 10 new residential dwelling units,” a report states.
According to the annual development report for 2021 received by the planning committee at its meeting, Ottawa’s economy is continuing to grow.If adopted by city council on Aug. 31, the new charge would be collected on projects citywide, with payment required before a building permit could be issued. The charge cannot exceed four per cent of the land value where the development is proposed.
New home construction in the City of Ottawa set a new record in 2021, according to the latest Annual Development Report.
Construction starts totalled 9,402 new homes last year, up 1.8 per cent from 2020 – the most housing starts in a single year since amalgamation in 2000.
Single-detached homes accounted for 29.5 per cent of all new housing starts in Ottawa, up from 26.4 per cent of all starts in 2020.
The city’s Planning Committee received the annual development report last week.
Ottawa’s employment increased by 5.7 per cent, returning to near pre-pandemic levels. Ottawa had 588,700 employed residents and the unemployment rate lowered from 7.4 to 6.3 per cent. All sectors showed growth in 2021 except for retail, which reported a loss of 3,000 employed residents.
The report showed the city exceeded intensification targets with a reported rate of 44.9 per cent from mid-2020 to mid-2021. The three-year average rate from mid-2018 was 49.4 per cent.
The number of rental row and apartment units increased in 2021, and among completed apartment developments, 70 per cent (nearly 7,500 apartments) were for rental rather than ownership. There were also more than 9,400 new housing starts in 2021, an increase of 1.8 per cent over the previous year and the most starts in a single year since 2001.