Residents choosing downtown lifestyle: report

Ottawa – A City report released today shows people’s real estate preferences are continuing to shift away from single family suburban homes to more compact development within the greenbelt.

“Smart intensification makes sense as we build a more liveable and sustainable city,” said Mayor Jim Watson. “One of the keys to future growth will be good transit connections, which underlines the importance of moving ahead with our ambitious LRT plan.”

The Annual Development Report provides information on demographics, economic and development activity in Ottawa, and helps the City develop residential and commercial growths plans along with transit and transportation services.

In 2010 demand for single-detached homes continued to decline, accounting for 33.7 per cent of all housing starts. Townhomes (36.8 per cent) and condominiums and apartments (29.5 per cent) accounted for the remainder with the majority of those are in the downtown core. By comparison, five years ago single detached houses represented 45 per cent of new construction while apartments and condominiums represented only 15 per cent of new residential units. These numbers reinforce City predictions and assumptions about patterns in growth.

“The demand for infill and denser development is happening even faster than we expected,” said Councillor Peter Hume, Chair of the Planning Committee. “Our intensification policies are attracting people from surrounding communities who want to enjoy more vibrant, active and complete lifestyles.”

The City’s focus on townhomes and apartment condominiums is a response to market demands. Residents who choose this lifestyle enjoy shorter commute times and lower transportation expenses resulting in greater disposable income and closer proximity to social and cultural activities. To encourage residential intensification, the City has developed new tools to help shape projects and will be bringing forward an implementation report to Council later this Fall. Further information can be found on the City of Ottawa web site atottawa.ca/infill. The City is also developing tailored growth strategies for each of our rural villages and will be bringing forward an implementation report once that consultation and study are completed.

The trend towards higher density development is also good news for taxpayers because making use of established services and facilities is more efficient than expanding into new areas. Adding new residents within existing communities allows the City to avoid incurring significant additional costs to build and maintain new roads and other basic infrastructure. This lowers the tax burden on all residents and businesses and contributes to the financial sustainability of the City.

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