OTTAWA -- City councillors and staff are preparing for another marathon meeting of two committees to discuss the topic of urban sprawl.

The planning and agriculture & rural affairs committees will meet Monday, Jan. 25 for a joint meeting to discuss changes to the city's urban boundary.

Last May, city council voted 15 to 6 to accept a staff recommendation to expand the urban boundary by between 1,350 and 1,650 hectares between 2021 and 2046. The plan includes intensification targets—that is, the development of land at a greater density than currently exists, typically though multi-unit dwellings like row homes and high-rises—of 51 per cent, rising to 60 per cent between 2041 and 2046.

The plan was met with some opposition. A poll commissioned by three Ottawa city councillors suggested that more than half of respondents were opposed to the expansion of the boundary; however, Mayor Jim Watson insisted that the expanded boundaries would help create different styles of homes for the city's growing population.

The City projects Ottawa's population will grow by 450,000 people by 2046, requiring 195,000 more homes.

A report prepared for the joint meeting on Jan. 25 includes a plan to create a "gold belt"—similar to Ottawa's greenbelt—that would effectively contain urban sprawl until 2100.

"Staff believes the recommended new Gold Belt, which can be considered an outer greenbelt, is more likely to be successful at framing the next phases of urban growth through the remainder of this century," the report says.

The gold belt, which staff say is a placeholder name and may change in the Official Plan, would effectively separate communities such as Kanata, Barrhaven, Orléans and other new communities from rural villages.

"The intent of the inner boundary of the Gold Belt in the new (Official Plan) would be to contain, until the end of the century, all future urban expansions and any new communities. This would also assist in preserving the unique identities of the City’s villages and ensure they are not overtaken by future urban expansions. Leapfrogging of the Gold Belt for new urban land would be prohibited in new (Official Plan) policy," the report states.

Staff identify expansion lands

The staff report identified 1,281 hectares of urban boundary expansion, driven primarily by adding 1,011 hectares to the boundary at first and figuring out the remaining 270 at a later date, pending further study.

There are seven parts of the city where expansions to the urban boundary would be made in order to reach the first goal of 1,011 additional hectares: the South March area, Stittsville, Barrhaven, Riverside South, the Leitrim area, and northern and southern parts of Orléans.

The report also recommends adding 140 net hectares to the boundary in the area of Highway 417 and Carp Road and in the area of Barnsdale Road and Highway 416 as industrial, freight and storage lands.

The joint meeting of the two commitees is scheduled to begin at 9 a.m. Jan. 25.