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City committee ushers in new R4 zoning amendments for downtown rental housing

(Via City of Ottawa news release.)

To help address housing affordability in Ottawa, the City’s Planning Committee today approved a zoning amendment to encourage new eight-to-12-unit low-rise apartments in established inner-urban neighbourhoods like Centretown, Sandy Hill, Vanier, Overbrook, Hintonburg and Westboro.

Ottawa has a long-standing shortage of rental apartments, and the resulting low vacancy rates are a primary factor in housing affordability. The amendment would gradually increase the apartment supply in Ottawa’s Residential Fourth Density (R4) family of zones to better accommodate the growing number of people wishing to live in established inner-urban, low-rise communities.

The amendment changes several zoning regulations that have been effectively preventing development of low-rise apartments in R4 zones. The changes would:

  • Reduce minimum required lot sizes as the current minimums are bigger than needed to accommodate a functional apartment, restricting where apartments can be built
  • Increase the four-unit cap that currently applies in certain R4 zones as that cap artificially restricts density, resulting in fewer but larger, more expensive apartment units
  • Revise the requirements for green space to better balance the need for amenity space with space for functional needs like waste management and bike storage

(For more on the ongoing R4 zoning changes, check out our previous articles here and here.