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Ottawa council moves to facilitate office-to-residential conversion

DCN-JOC News Services
Ottawa council moves to facilitate office-to-residential conversion

OTTAWA — Ottawa City Council has approved recommendations intended to encourage the conversion of underused office space to residential use.

The council vote on Nov. 8 confirmed recommendations passed by the city’s planning and housing committee on Nov. 1.

The report identifies opportunities to streamline the development approval process for conversions, foreseeing anticipated federal government plans to reduce its office space in the National Capital Region, stated a release.

Recommendations approved will:

  • define when planning application fees for Official Plan amendments should be waived;
  • propose language for a forthcoming omnibus zoning amendment to permit conversions where no new storeys or additions are proposed, saving applicants between $13,000 and $26,000 in fees and 90 days in processing time;
  • streamline and reduce the fee for the site plan control process for conversions where no new storeys or additions are proposed, saving applicants about $30,000 in fees;
  • consider approaches for stormwater management that would generate savings for applicants undertaking conversions; and
  • propose the province consider revising the regulation for the Record of Site Condition.

Council also directed staff to pilot a financial incentive program for office-to-residential conversions within Somerset Ward.

Staff would continue to meet with stakeholders to consider the potential impact of additional financial incentives and report back to the planning committee in the first quarter of 2024.

In addition, council approved a zoning amendment to enable development of a 19-storey apartment building on Isabella Street between O’Connor and Bank streets. The proposed building would include 234 dwellings, mostly one-bedroom and two-bedroom units. The amendment would increase permitted height, adding highrise apartment as a permitted use along with several non-residential uses for the ground-floor commercial space.

The committee also approved zoning to accommodate a four-storey apartment building that would add 18 dwellings on Baseline Road east of Lexington Street. While the site is already zoned for residential use, the amendment would change the zoning from Residential First Density to Residential Fourth Density to permit the planned low-rise apartments.

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