City zoning bylaw overhaul could shake up Manor Park

By Manor Park Chronicle

Signs like this one, at 263 St. Laurent Blvd., will likely become more commong once the new municipal zoning bylaw is finalized, likely sometime in 2025. Photo: Doug Banks

Manor Park may be confronted with some remodelling after the city’s recent announcement about zoning bylaws.

The City of Ottawa is preparing the draft version of its new zoning bylaw. This bylaw governs how land can be used and developed. It’s the first time it’s been changed in over 25 year and Manor Park may feel its effects more keenly than other neighbourhoods.

The possible changes could open up new areas of the city to infill development – instead of single-family homes, municipalities can allow four living units on one lot.

“So there’s a new official plan. And in that plan, you know, the city is very clear, we need to densify around transit,” said Natalie Belovic, president of Manor Park Community Association.

This comes after the Ford government passed Bill 23, the More Homes Built Faster Act, in 2022.

That bill effectively halted R1 zoning, also known as exclusionary zoning. Areas with exclusionary zoning restrict any new construction to single-family, detached homes. For a variety of reasons, and for some years now, these types of homes are inaccessible for many people and families. Yet Manor Park has a large amount of them.

Natalie says developers could, for example, split homes into two with an apartment added in each to result in four separate units as a result of Bill 23 and the new zoning bylaw.

‘Gentle development’

“I am totally for that in our community, because I think we need that and we have enough space that even doing that wouldn’t really feel claustrophobic,” she says. “I think we need that kind of gentle development, as opposed to somebody coming to knock down a small single-family house and going and building an eight-unit apartment building.”

Manor Park Estates is one of the ongoing developments in the neighbourhood. The owner submitted applications to rezone and upzone the lands for development recently, but not much has happened since.

Natalie says that large developments such as that do not encourage family living, yet gentle intensification still could.

Sean Schuck, a Manor Park resident for seven years, agrees.

“I would much rather have that gentle intensification happen than a development with towers,” says Sean. “I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that, to be honest with you, as long as, you know, it is done in a way that is sensitive to the neighbourhood.”

Not only is he a resident, but Sean has worked in architecture for major developers in the past.

He believes there is a way to implement these changes without changing the “look” of the neighbourhood. The idea would be to add units to preexisting structures rather than tear down and rebuild.

‘No decision yet’

However, a development at the corner of Mart Cir. and St. Laurent Blvd could be demonstrating what the future might soon look like.

There is a small development there that went to the committee of adjustments for approval recently. The application would see a small, run-down house on the corner lot there replaced with four tall and skinny houses.

Rideau-Rockcliffe Coun. Rawlson King stresses that the province is prioritizing density due to the housing crisis. Also, as a creature of the province, the city has little choice but to implement provincial policies.

Work on amending the zoning is just beginning and it isn’t expected to be finalized until the end of 2025. Councillor King notes that “no decision has been made yet” and that any changes will be accompanied with community engagement throughout the process.

“I am not against density . . . in the urban core, you’re going to see more density occur. That totally makes sense for us to have a discussion with residents before a decision is made to ensure that we are working towards rules that really complement communities.

“I think that that’s been the real issue, ensuring that the planning tools complement communities, and also provide communities some level of plan predictability.”


However, many residents have already grown hostile to the idea of ‘densification’ no matter what its shape. “I think it kind of depends on your age demographic for the most part because a lot of people don’t want to see their lifestyle changed,” says Natalie.

Seniors make up a large portion of the Manor Park community, and so do families.

Natalie is mindful of those views. “To a certain extent, I moved to Manor Park because of how green it is, how spacious it is, and how peaceful it is. That was what drew me to the neighbourhood. So, do I want a four-story building right next to me? No. I have to be honest and say not really.”

Parks and parking

The increased housing wouldn’t be the only source of neighbourhood disruption.

“You add more people, you need more city services, and unfortunately, the city has a track record of not ramping up those services before the intensification happens and it usually comes quite after,” notes Sean.

Those city services will include enhanced garbage and recycling systems, proper storage for the units for safety when parking bikes and such, parking, and greenspace.

“The main concern I would say for Manor Park would be the amenities, green spaces, parks, and then parking,” he says.
Manor Park only has four main pieces of greenspace owned by the city, three of which are beside each other – London Terrance Park, Anthony Vincent Park, Hemlock Park, and Alvin Heights Park.

According to Natalie, the community is generally quite environmentally friendly in terms of gardening, composting, and using active forms of transportation.

However, in part due to unreliable transit to and from the neighbourhood, a large percentage of the population owns cars. Greater densification and fewer driveway leads t, more peopl parking on the street, making them narrower. She says narrower streets carry both benefits and disadvantages.

Narrow roads can contribute to traffic calming as people will slow down since the roads will be have cars parked along the sides.

However, the lack of storage space such as garages or units will deter people from using bicycles or e-bikes and will instead encourage a car-centric neighbourhood.

Affordable housing

Councillor King says that the city will have to reimagine parking, including rethinking parking minimums, establishing maximum parking limits, and also developing EV parking requirements if the bylaws do in fact change.

One of his priorities is creating affordable housing near public transit.

He suggests focusing development on those areas before densifying the interior of neighbourhoods that lack certain amenities and access to transit.

Major corridors such as Coventry Rd. and Tremblay Station, which is a transit-oriented development zone for intensification, could be options.

Paying the price

Natalie points out that the amenities needed to support denser neighbourhoods don’t come free, raising Toronto’s recently approved 2024 budget as an example. Despite opposition, Toronto Mayor Olivia Chow championed a 9.5 percent property tax increase to fund a nearly $1.8 billion shortfall.

“That hurts. Like, that’s a lot, but she said if you want this stuff to work properly, that’s what we have to do. And Ottawa just never kind of does that.”

Journalist Emma Weller wrote this article.

Although not related to the current zoning bylaw amendment process, the proposed replacement of a detached residential home at the corner of Mart Cir. And St. Laurent Blvd. with four semi-detached townshouses could be an example of how future infill could look. Photos: Doug Banks