Heritage Ottawa Successfully Advocates for Improved Heritage Considerations in New Official Plan

Tuesday, November 2, 2021


The approval of the new Official Plan (OP) by Ottawa City Council on October 27 concludes more than two years of community concern and public engagement over how this document can preserve what we value most while achieving the city's stated goals of intensification, sustainability and creation of "the most liveable" mid-sized city in North America.

Our primary efforts have focused on ensuring the meaningful incorporation of heritage protection and management within the Plan. To that end, in March 2021 Heritage Ottawa provided a detailed submission to the OP team (scroll down on this page to view).

In our letter of October 2021 regarding OP revisions, we implored the City to include a clear statement demonstrating the City's understanding and commitment to "the full breadth and depth" of its heritage resources, and offered several suggested improvements to the Plan's second draft: 

  • That it be more specific in stating that where there is conflict between the OP and a municipal by-law, like a heritage designation, the by-law remains in full force.
  • That wording be strengthened in sections dealing with development and intensification on heritage designated properties to better ensure the conservation of cultural heritage attributes.
  • That heritage protection should be stated as "shall" rather than something "to consider".

CLICK HERE to read the full text of the letter.

We're pleased to report that City Planners agreed with Heritage Ottawa, and that our comments were included in the approved draft.

Other changes throughout the Plan that also strengthen various heritage elements relate to our initial submission, including those found on p. 13 (, 4), pp. 17-23 (Centretown) and pp. 55-58 (Rockcliffe Park).

CLICK HERE for the full draft of the new Official Plan approved by Council.

The policy will now go to Ontario's Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing for adoption and implementation.



Thursday, March 25, 2021


On March 22, 2021, Heritage Ottawa submitted its Report on City of Ottawa’s Draft of the New Official Plan to the City.  The Report addresses both the draft of the new Official Plan (OP), and the yet to be written Heritage Management Plan.

In the Report, we focus on the meaningful incorporation of heritage protection and management within the OP by linking it to other heritage policy and planning tools, by encouraging adoption of heritage-related priorities, and by broadening the understanding of heritage as integral to growth-management and sustainable development processes.

The Report recommends several suggested improvements, namely related to the protection and management of heritage resources in order to clarify, demonstrate, and implement the City’s commitment to the role of heritage within city-building and growth-management.

Read the full Report here.

Here is a checklist of the Recommendations submitted:


1. We recommend that the City recommit to this broader vision (a “sustainable and resilient city,” as identified in the current Official Plan) in the draft new OP. While a sustainable and resilient city may also be a liveable city, this relationship should be made explicit.

2. The Introduction should include a clear statement that demonstrates the City’s understanding and commitment to the full breadth and depth of its heritage.

3. A clear policy statement is needed now, in this document, that demonstrates the City’s commitment to the role of heritage. 


4. We recommend that the draft new OP identify heritage protection and management as integral to its growth management strategy, to be interwoven with all growth-management activities and policies.

5. We recommend that the HCDs be mapped onto the Transect Plans.

6. Policies supporting regeneration must acknowledge the pressure this strategy may place on older, established areas and must identify how the impacts will be managed, specifically with regards to Heritage Conservation Districts.

7. Policy direction should be clearly defined to ensure that the character of older neighbourhoods is maintained and enhanced while meeting the increased demands created by the regeneration strategies outlined in the new OP.

8. The character and integrity of HCDs must be protected through the process of accommodating and adapting to growth, regeneration and development. 


9. To enable this work (development of a Heritage Management Plan as part of the Official Plan implementation) to proceed under the authority of the Official Plan, the latter must include a strong and unequivocal statement about the City’s commitment to developing and implementing a Heritage Management Plan (HMP). 

10. In the absence of the Heritage Management Plan, the draft new OP must include strong statements and demonstrated commitment to protecting, conserving and managing Ottawa’s built heritage resources and cultural heritage landscapes.

11. We recommend that Section 2.2.6 – Culture, be renamed Cultural Heritage, and amplified with a clear and strong commitment to recognizing, identifying and protecting the value of Ottawa’s heritage resources. 


12. We recommend that the new OP recognize that the social, cultural and tangible values associated with heritage buildings and sites are a non-renewable resource.

13. We strongly recommend that Section 2.2.3 - Energy and Climate Change be further developed to promote the important role of reusing and retrofitting existing buildings, including heritage buildings, over demolition and redevelopment.

14. The new OP should take a strong stand against demolition by instituting a policy that supports deconstruction.

15. We recommend that the City adopt specific policies and incentives that support achieving a zero-carbon future through the sensitive deep-energy retrofitting and renovation of existing buildings. Specific policies and incentives should be identified to promote energy retrofitting of heritage-recognized buildings in a manner the protects and maintains their cultural heritage value.


16. We recommend that the City adopt a policy and develop a robust framework for independent/multilateral design review of development applications involving National Historic Sites, World Heritage sites, and other places of provincial, national or international significance, and/or where several jurisdictions are involved.


17. We recommend that the hierarchy of planning documents and how the City will interpret these documents be made explicit in the new OP.


18. We urge that the overall Built Heritage Funding Programs (BHFP) budget be increased annually, as well as the amount of the individual project caps (currently at $10,000 and $25,000) to better accommodate more applications for these regularly over-subscribed Programs. 


CLICK HERE to review the Draft Official Plan on the City of Ottawa website.