An action plan for 15-minute neighbourhoods

The City of Ottawa is in the process of creating a new Official Plan and related Master Plans. These major policy and planning documents will shape our city for decades to come, and they present a once-in-a-generation opportunity to fight the climate crisis while building a better city. 

An ambitious uptake of policies that build walkable, 15-minute neighbourhoods will combat urban sprawl while making our city more livable. Building complete communities reduces carbon pollution, protects greenspace and farmland, makes transit and active transportation more viable, and can dramatically improve quality of life for all residents of our city.

To read the full list of policy elements that Ecology Ottawa is suggesting in order to achieve 15-minute neighbourhoods city-wide, click here.

We, the undersigned, urge council to take ambitious action to build walkable, dynamic 15-minute neighbourhoods city-wide.

This means:

1. More density

When it comes to cities and climate change, there is a clear and widely observed rule of thumb: the denser the city, the lower its carbon pollution. Density is a powerful tool in the fight against climate change, but it can’t happen with the flick of a switch. It takes policy ambition and, underpinning that, community support for more bustling, dynamic neighbourhoods. Also, density alone isn’t a silver bullet; it needs to be combined with smart policies that enhance, rather than degrade, the vitality of our neighbourhoods.

2. More vibrant communities 

To make our city more walkable, we must change our approach to community design. We can no longer afford to follow the 1950s ideal of vast tracts of housing separated from basic amenities like parks, schools and grocery stores. We must push back against the big-box outlets, strip malls and vast parking lots that degrade livability while doing damage to our environment. The answer is to integrate a range of development types into neighbourhoods all over Ottawa, while incorporating a vibrant tree canopy and other green infrastructure. In so doing, we can change the planning status quo while building a better city.

3. More transportation choices

As with other cities all over the world, Ottawa has prioritized cars at the expense of pedestrians and cyclists over the past few decades. And while we work to do better, we still see new communities cut off from basic amenities and viable transit. A better way is possible, but we must tackle car-dependency head-on. We need to give Ottawans more choice in their transportation options, and more reasons to choose healthy, sustainable transportation alternatives like active transportation and transit.

 

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