Ottawa's Maturing Neighbourhoods


Building Types and Zoning Fundamentals

Unit-Count, Building Types and R1 to R4 Zoning

One of the most significant changes necessary to meet criteria for healthy growth through changes to zoning is the elimination of R1 to R4 zoning designations – to stop regulating the number and relationship of people who occupy a residential building, and instead regulate the way in which the building and it's occupants effect the street and neighbourhood.


Unit counts need only be determined by the maximum number of units that can fit within other zoning limitations and meet Ontario Building Code requirements for room sizes.


By freeing the development industry to building units of a size and type that meet demand (rather than dictating high-end typologies through zoning restrictions), we will infuse existing neighbourhoods with diversity and make housing more affordable. We will also increase the number of multi-unit buildings of smaller footprints on serviced land near transit, a vastly more sustainable form of urbanism than is now predominant in our maturing neighbourhoods. This must be the starting point for zoning changes.


The number of households within a building, or the relationship of those households to each other does not have an impact on the streetscape or the neighbourhood beyond it's walls, except to add much needed foot traffic to otherwise lonely sidewalks, and support much needed new walkable small format commercial services... unless all those households are auto dependent and require car parking. For this reason, the work of transitioning existing maturing neighbourhoods to become walkable neighbourhoods becomes imperative.


Lot Width and Area Requirements

Eliminating minimum lot width and area requirements allows for creative small housing solutions to meet market demand. There is no value in requiring minimum lot areas and widths. Political or community pressure to limit unit counts inadvertently drives developers to build larger more expensive dwelling units and to price middle and lower income people out. 

Limiting unit counts is not 'playing it safe'. Having no limits on unit counts is necessary to avoid income discrimination in neighbourhoods.

Regulating maximum lot width is important and should be based on existing neighbourhood patterns. This will prevent infill of a volume or massing that is larger and out of scale with the existing neighbourhood fabric, and infill that does not maintain the existing pattern or cadence of street facing development, contributing to enjoyably walkable streets. Streets/veins/corridors targeted for apartment buildings with underground parking must be permitted lot sizes large enough for efficient underground parking structures.


Zoning Language and Maps

Building Types and Zoning 


Neighbourhood Compatibility

Walkable Neighbourhoods

Transitional Parking

Neighbourhood Parking Lots

“Prioritizing affordable housing options through diverse housing forms and tenure types helps ensure that we are building communities for everyone.”

The building Blocks for a Healthy Ottawa, March 2019