Beautiful, lively and sustainable cities are not built by mere chance. At their best, they express a shared vision through thoughtful urban planning. Continuity in long-range planning is an important aspect of a city’s ability to address challenges as they arise. Today, Canada’s Capital reflects its role as the symbolic heart of our nation and the home of our democratic institutions, conserving the legacy inherited from Todd, Bennett and Gréber.
To meet the needs of future generations, the Plan addresses the Capital’s evolving circumstances and the emergence of new challenges. To be inclusive of all Canadians, the Capital must continue to reflect the diversity of their beliefs, desires and values. It must integrate a deeper understanding of the Indigenous world-view and its culture of living sustainably on the land. Future changes should seek to augment the Capital’s quality of life, and its natural and cultural heritage, as the foundation for its economic competitiveness. As well, planners must be mindful of the unique dynamics and expectations associated with providing offices and accommodations for a federal public service, as these facilities form the administrative armature for the seat of our national government.
In previous plans for Canada’s Capital, the federal government took responsibility for coordinating a regional approach among the 20 local governments then in existence. Since the amalgamations of 2000, the regional planning emphasis has shifted to these municipalities and the regional municipal community.
THE NATIONAL CAPITAL: A HISTORY OF PLANNING AND VISION
1857: Two years after Bytown was renamed Ottawa, Queen Victoria designates it the capital of the united Province of Canada.
The Ottawa Improvement Commission is created. It marks the start of comprehensive planning of the “capital” elements of the region.
1903: Landscape architect Frederick Todd delivers his region plan in the Ottawa Improvement Commission report, emphasizing natural beauty and parkland.
1915: The Holt Commission hires Edward Bennett, fresh from collaboration on the renowned Plan of Chicago. Bennett’s comprehensive city plan formalizes federal precincts, and creates a park in the Gatineau Hills.
1950: Jacques Gréber’s city plan establishes many of the region’s lasting features, including federal campuses, ring roads and parkways, and the Greenbelt to contain urban growth.
1999: The National Capital Commission publishes the Plan for Canada’s Capital. It elevates a thematic Capital-concept approach, and highlights the symbolic role of Confederation Boulevard.
Creating a resilient, dynamic and liveable Capital Region
- Contribute to the development of complete and compact walkable neighbourhoods.
- Ensure that residents have choices in terms of mobility: walking, cycling, transit or driving.
- Adopt tactical urbanism (i.e. quick, often low-cost, creative and
community-based projects) to improve the quality and inclusiveness of the urban public realm.
- Prepare for increased urban redevelopment and intensification within the inner urban area, as well as pressures for significant development on the urban periphery.
- Enhance environmental sustainability and economic vitality through “smart city” approaches (i.e. urban development that integrates multiple information and communication technology solutions to manage a city’s assets).
Ensuring global competitiveness
- Increase the National Capital Region’s competitiveness with respect to other cities and rising city-regions seeking to attract capital, skilled workforces and access to global markets.
- Encourage, through sound Capital planning, a basis for the ongoing political and economic security that will ensure long-term economic vitality.
- Adapt to the aging population and other demographic trends affecting the labour force, including an increasing participation of persons with disabilities.
- Enhance the quality of life in Canada’s Capital through Capital planning, thereby engaging both public- and private-sector partners to help attract and retain a skilled, educated and productive workforce.
- Adapt to new workplace measures, such as flexible workspaces and telecommuting (e.g. working from home).
- Ensure that a sense of well-being is fostered by maintaining a generous and stimulating urban public realm in which design excellence, ecological protection and sustainable practices add to the quality of life.
Integrating transportation and land use planning
- Improve the integration of travel modes across the region; implement advanced traffic management systems and transportation demand management, in particular through the use of financial incentives.
- Promote more compact development patterns through significant investments in public transportation.
- Focus on accessible and sustainable mobility and the increasing prominence of active modes (non-automobile) of transportation, particularly within the inner core areas.
- Address air quality deterioration due to an automobile-focused transportation network.
- Understand that urban development and related infrastructure and facility expansion may require the use of federal property.
- Increase the efficiency and sustainability of infrastructure systems.
- Employ emerging mobility options, including car sharing and
Providing federal accommodations
- Continue the shift toward sites that are accessible by the rapid transit network, and to the development of mixed-use sites, thereby contributing to regional planning objectives and urban vitality.
- Prepare for changes to workplace accommodation needs that are adapted to new methods of communication and collaboration.
- Adapt to the accelerated pace of change due to global trends in the information age.
Respecting nature, climate and sustainability
- Adapt to warmer temperatures, increased weather variability and increased impact on existing infrastructure during major weather events.
- Address climate changes that affect Canadians’ health, safety and economic well-being and require adaptation, such as water level changes, the potential for increased seasonal flooding along shores and the viability of some forms of winter recreation.
- Develop strategies to counter susceptibility to invasive species and the loss of the urban forest canopy.
- Focus on greening infrastructure, increasing energy efficiency and the proactive reversal of environmental deterioration.
- Maintain and improve water quality as a key determinant of future regional liveability and health.
- Ensure resilience in the economic and social spheres in order for people to have equal and fair access to employment, choice of dwelling, improved mobility and quality of life.
- Focus on urban biodiversity.
Adapting to a growing, aging and more diverse population
- Prepare for the projected population increase to beyond 2 million by 2067 and the increasing pressure of development outside the Greenbelt and on the flanks of Gatineau Park.
- Plan accessibility of public spaces and natural areas for all ages and abilities, as senior citizens will account for an increasing proportion of the population (possibly more than doubling by 2031), and consider the needs of persons with disabilities, whether physical, mental or cognitive.
- Address the demographic shift toward households with fewer members.
- Take into account increasing immigration.