Ottawa's Maturing Neighbourhoods


I propose that the City revise the zoning bylaw by replacing R1 to R4 zoning charts and text with the following maps and text. This zoning would apply only residential developments and only within the fabric of maturing neighbourhoods.  It would not apply to veins/corridors or nodes.



Maximum Building Height (ht)   

Building height limits mapped by applying the existing zoned height limit but without regard to existing building type or use, applying the most restrictive height limits required in the existing zoning or the height in [square brackets] on the existing zoning map, which ever is greater. 


Front Yard Setbacks

Minimum required front yard setbacks that are now noted in chart format annotated on a map instead, eliminating pages and pages of cumbersome charts.  Where the dominant front yard patterns that do not match existing zoning the front setback would bet set to match dominant patterns.


Facade depth (x) &

% variegation (y)

These two variables would be mapped to reflect and maintain patterns and characteristics existing in maturing neigbhourhoods.

In addition, where the front wall is within 6m of the center line of the street, regardless of the mapping, the 3rd story of any building must be set back 2m.


Maximum Lot Width

Maximum lot widths mapped based on smallest existing lots predominant in a neighbourhood or area. This would protect the character of neighbouhood fabric by retaining the rhythm of built volumes and the spaces between.   (Veins/corridors would be zoned differently allowing for large buildings.)


Side Yard Setbacks

Side yard setbacks mapped by applying the existing underlying zone but without regard to building type or use, applying the least restrictive requirements in the zone. (Further side yard setbacks may be required to meet garbage requirements.)


Walkable &

Soon-to-be-Walkable Areas

Area A:  “Urban Walkable” = Areas deemed to be walkable at this time, with 10 minute walking distances to amenities, permitted street parking (one side only if no sidewalks) and neighbourhood parking lots.

Areas B:  “Walkable”= Areas that are walkable as per Area A but contain residents who have not shifted to walking lifestyles

Area C:  “Soon-to-be-walkable”= Areas in which the City has analyzed barriers to walkability and approved regulatory changes to remove barriers to walkability within 15 years. 


Rear Yard Character

This map would identify areas in which rear yards have an urban character appropriate for rear balconies and rear projecting exit stairs vs more rural-feeling backyards, and would identify areas close to post secondary institutions where rear balcony and roof top gatherings are problematic.


Tree Planting and landscaped Character

This map would identify neighbourhoods with front vs rear tree canopy patterns or objectives and other characteristics of neighbourhood tree planting including location of overhead wires, significant u/g services, soils conditions that limit tree planting, preferred species, preferred undergrowth.

Zoning large building envelopes and limiting the number of units permitted within produces housing only for those of high income, and promotes environmentally unsustainable lifestyles. Eliminating minimum lot width and area requirements allows creative small housing solutions to meet market demand.

Always keep zoning as simple as possible. In general, zoning should regulate those elements of buildings that impact the shared spaces of the City and should not regulate or hinder those elements of residential design that have no impact on the street or neighbourhood. Elements that should not be regulated include: the number, size or orientation of dwellings within a building, minimum lot width and area.

Failing to regulate elements that impact shared space generates neigbhourhood opposition to intensification and fails to generate walkable sociable streets.

Over-regulation makes housing more expensive, frustrates meaningful community consultation and slows construction of new homes. Unnecessarily complicated zoning and zoning language that does not clearly express zoning intent generates conflict and confusion.

Building Types, Unit Count and Unit Sizes

  1. No definitions of residential building types.

  2. No unit caps.

  3. No minimum unit sizes.


Lot width and area:

  1. No minimum lot widths or areas.

  2. Max lot widths shall be imposed as per Map 4.

Zoning Envelope:

  1. The required front yard setback shall be the average of the neighbours' setbacks but no greater than the setback shown on Map 2.

  2. Building height limits shall be as per Map 1.

  3. Side yard setbacks as per Map 5.

  4. Rear yard setbacks as per existing Infill 2 regulations.

  5. Corner side yard setbacks must match neighbours to a maximum of 2/3's of the front yard setback required on Map 2.

The relationship of a building to the street:

  1. Buildings must have Y% of the front of the building set back at least Xm (Map 3) more than the required front yard setback. Sloping roofs below the permitted height limit can be counted toward this Y% over their entire front elevation regardless of setback.

  2. Every building shall have at least one primary entrance, either shared or dedicated to a dwelling unit on a front facing wall within Xm of the front wall. Buildings that exceed 8.5m in width shall have at least 1 front facing entry door for every 7m of building width. Walls facing corner side yards must have entry doors every 12m. Alternatively, front or corner side yard facing doors may be placed in walls at up to 90 degree angles to the street if they are with Xm of the forward most wall. Street facing porches within 3.5' of grade must have steps to grade.

  3. Front facing walls on ground and second floors shall have a minimum of 25% glazing and 5% allowable projections of a minimum 0.2m projection from associated front facing wall. (Balconies and their railing/guards not included.) Alternatively, buildings may have 15% glazing and 15% allowable projections.

  4. Walls facing a corner side yard shall have a minimum of 20% glazing on ground floors.

  5. Front facing windows shall have sills no higher than 0.75m above finished floor.

  6. Bay windows are permitted projections for a max of 2.5 stories in height per bay, each bay having a foot print of no greater than 0.6m by 2.5m. Bay windows are permitted to have foundations.

Side and Rear yards:

  1. No more than 2 air conditioning units can be located in a side yard.

  2. Buildings must either meet City garbage storage requirements inside the building, or must provide one 1.5m side yard to allow garbage to be moved from the rear yard to the curb on collection day. If an interior garbage room is accessed through a side door the 1.5m setback is required for path of travel.

  3. Rear yard parking is only permitted if it is accessed from a rear lane or corner side yard.

  4. A minimum of half of the rear yard must be soft landscaping.

  5. As per Map 7, more rural-feeling backyards are not be permitted projecting balconies but are permitted rooftop patios set 1.2m from the face of walls below, urban designated backyards would be permitted balconies and exit stairs projecting as much as 2.2m into the rear yard, and areas close to post secondary institutions are not permitted rear balconies or roof top patios.

  6. All ground floor rear facing units must have direct access to a deck or patio of minimum 2.8sq.m., with direct access to the rear yard.

Front Yards:

  1. Private or communal outdoor patios, porches, balconies, decks or terraces are required in the front of the building. The number required is equal to the number of front facing units that are on the ground and second floors. The total minimum combined area of these outdoor features must be equal to the number of front facing units on the ground and second floors multiplied by 2.8sq.m and no dimension may be less than 1.5m (unless the front yard is smaller than this). At grade front yard patios or terraces shall not exceed 8sq.m and must be a minimum of 2m from the sidewalk or curb.

  2. All of the lot that is not covered in building footprint, walkways a maximum of 1.5m in width, steps, sheds, bike parking, patios or porches must be landscaped. This landscaping requirement can include no more than 10% hard landscaping.

  3. Where front setbacks exceed 2m, front porches and patios shall occupy no more than 2/3rd of the front yard at grade.

  4. Porches are permitted to project 3m into the front yard. Porches, patios and steps shall have no setback requirements from the front or side lot lines.

  5. Window wells or sunken walkout patios that are more than 0.6m deep and located in front or corner side yards may not exceed 3m in width and may not project more than 1.5m into a setback or within 1.5m of a lot line unless under a balcony. They must be at least 2m between such window wells or sunken patio.

Space for Trees:

  1. All lots with widths between 6m and 14m shall provide a rectangular area of soft landscaping between the building and the street or sidewalk, on private and/or City property, intended for the planting of a tree. All lots with widths between 14m and 20m shall provide two rectangular areas. Lots in excess of 20m width shall have one rectangular area for every 15m on lot width.  The size of the rectangular areas required would be as per Map 8, and based on the tree planting appropriate to the neighbourhood.

Parking now and in the future:

  1. Garage doors are not permitted on street facing facades unless they lead to shared underground parking that is not on the ground floor.

  2. In walkable areas, Areas A & B on Map 6, no surface parking is permitted for residential buildings except temporary parking spaces for shared vehicles and spaces designated for those with mobility limitations, including babies and children in strollers or car seats, to a maximum of 0.1 spaces/d.u in Area A, and 0.3 spaces/d.u in Area B.

  3. In Area C on Map 6 temporary surface parking is required at a rate of 0.3/d.u.

  4. Temporary parking spaces and curb cuts will be removed in 15 years.

  5. Where front yard surface parking is permitted or required for residential buildings, parking spaces shall be provided at 75-90 degrees to the road on a parking pad 2.6x5.2m or 2.6x10.4m, and located on City property, private property or both, on the land closest to the street pavement or sidewalk and not obstructing a sidewalk. Tandem spaces may not extend beyond the front face of the building but must be entirely within the front yard.

  6. No more than 40% of the width of the front yard can contain parking. No more than 50% of the width of the front yard can be hard surfaced. Driveways must be at least 6m apart to allow street parking and tree planting between. Double driveways are not permitted.

  7. Underground parking lots shall have no maximum limit on permitted parking so long as the City is granted easement rights and rights of first refusal to rent parking as it becomes available -- as owners no longer require parking. (Note that limiting lot width in most areas of maturing neighbourhoods would effectively prohibit underground parking except in areas permitted to have wider lots – neighbourhood boundaries and busy streets.)

  8. Bike parking must be provided at a rate of 1 space per dwelling unit but need not be indoors.



  1. All flat roofs must be green roofs. If there is a rooftop amenity area it must be surrounded by green roofing.

  2. Sloped roofs must be of light colours.