Committee sees progress on building better and smarter suburbs


This week, the City’s Planning Committee heard about progress on the Building Better and Smarter Suburbs initiative which is aimed at making new suburban communities more liveable, sustainable and affordable by finding efficiencies that reduce costs for construction, maintenance and replacement of infrastructure.


The City launched the Building Better and Smarter Suburbs initiative in 2013 to explore suburban design challenges. City staff highlighted work done in collaboration with Councillors and community stakeholders to address challenges like how to best locate City parks, get more trees on streets and handle stormwater in ways that will better use the land and make new communities more liveable. Staff also reported on the Infrastructure Standards Review, designed to complement Building Better and Smarter Suburbs. The Committee heard about how the review will result in reduced costs to build and maintain infrastructure in new and existing communities while still meeting standards to ensure public health and safety.


In recent years, the City has seen increasingly compact forms of development. While this may be typified by better known urban development like new condominium apartment buildings downtown, near rapid transit stations and along Traditional Mainstreets, the suburbs have also moved in lockstep, seeing residential densities increase by 70 per cent in less than 15 years. This increase in suburban density has supported Official Plan goals of diversification of housing types, housing affordability, and increasing mode share of public transit use.


However, these new compact communities have not appeared without growing pains. As land is used more productively, conflicts have arisen between utilities, trees, sidewalks, parking, snow storage and suburban design challenges have been created. The City also has seen increased budgetary pressures on operating services as a result of conventional design standards.


In Stittsville, we have definitely had our share of growing pains in our compact neighbourhoods and that is why I was involved in the creation of the Building Better and Smarter Suburbs initiative. There are a number of issues that have been reviewed and solutions have been implemented and I encourage you to review the May 8th Report and Presentation.


While I am pleased with the steps this initiative has taken there is still more to do.  One of the outstanding issues that had not been thoroughly reviewed which is a major concern in our area is the issue of adequate parking.  To meet the goals of the City’s Official Plan and the Provincial Policy Statement we are seeing denser suburban development.  While ideally the City would like to see residents reduce their reliance on cars we know this is not a realistic expectation for the suburbs.  I will be pursing this issue further with City to ensure that can find solutions to parking issues in the new suburban developments.