The number of contested hearings at the Ontario Municipal Board (OMB) involving Ottawa has steadily declined from 19 hearings in 2015, to six in 2017.
City planning manager Steve Willis attributed the reduction to improved relations between developers and the municipality, but industry leaders assert that recently there has been less to appeal due to underdevelopment.
In an interview with the Ottawa Business Journal, Building Owners and Managers Association director Dean Karakasis said, “We don’t really see any big difference in terms of how the city has been handling things.”
According to Karakasis, policy changes that were previously discussed are still pending implementation. To address underdevelopment, he also suggested that the city be transparent about its plans and provide developers with “a bit more specificity.”
“You’ve got this constant tug of war between, ‘Oh, we’d really like the industry to do creative things to make our city interesting, but we want this certainty that everybody knows 100 per cent what you’re doing,’” he said.
Greater Ottawa Home Builders Association director John Herbert agreed with Karakasis, saying the OMB’s decision is “a direct result of the condominium collapse.”
Since 2014, condo projects have been faced with neighbourhood opposition. Herbert recommended increased education to ease the opposition’s fears of intensification, and to encourage developers to invest in projects once again.