City council approves budget, master plans

OBJ Staff
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City councillors have cleared two major planning hurdles with the approval, in the last couple of days, of the city’s master plans and 2014 budget.

Ottawa City Hall

Councillors unanimously approved the budget on Tuesday. It includes a residential property tax increase of 1.9 per cent along with a commercial property tax increase of 1.96 per cent.

That’s the smallest increase in seven years, according to the city.

The plan includes $350,000 to attract large events to the city and millions of dollars in infrastructure funding. This involves $45 million for road resurfacing and $4 million to reduce congestion at highly trafficked intersections.

The budget also reduces city staff by the equivalent of 55 full-time positions.

The city’s five master plans got the green light from council on Tuesday, with the official plan, the infrastructure master plan and the transportation master plan receiving approval.

The city’s pedestrian and cycling plans also got the go ahead.

“The plans strongly supported by council today are ambitious, practical and affordable. They will help us deliver greater certainty in planning matters,” said Mayor Jim Watson in a press release.

Among the most prominent of the plans is the transportation master plan, which includes a 20-year commitment to expand the city’s rail service.

The official plan will also have a major impact on development in the city. While the city said the plan will encourage intensification, it will focus development on specific locations, including the areas around public transit stations, mixed-use centres and, in rural areas, villages.

“We’re giving greater certainty on the height of buildings. For the first time ever building heights are being proposed for each land-use designation in the city,” said Counc. Peter Hume, chair of the planning committee, in a press release.

“New policies will require developments to fit the character or planned character of the neighbourhood when it comes to height, size or design.”

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