Shawn Menard: Toward a popular vision for our built environment | Unpublished

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Unpublished Opinions

Shawn Menard's picture
Ottawa, Ontario
About the author

Shawn is a passionate civic organizer, currently serving as the Public School Board Trustee for Capital Ward with a track record of voting against school closures and keeping neighbourhood schools accessible. He is currently the city councilor for Capital Ward (Ward 17). 

He was born and raised in Ottawa and has lived in Old Ottawa East and Old Ottawa South with his partner and young son.

Shawn is an ardent progressive who has always brought people together and formed broad based coalitions to improve the lives of people in Ottawa.

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Shawn Menard: Toward a popular vision for our built environment

May 26, 2021

The city’s draft of its new Official Plan (OP) presents an overall positive, and at times ambitious, vision for our city’s evolution over the next few decades. There are, however, several changes proposed that require review, reconsideration, or outright rejection. In our position paper, we identify some of the positives, while focusing on aspects that should be changed.

A city’s OP is its most important governing document for planning and guiding the physical development of our city for decades to come. It is a vision of future development in Ottawa that will not only shape the built environment, but also how we explore, experience and engage it. This document of enforceable high-level principles, therefore, has major implications for our social and economic lives in Ottawa, and therefore for our wellbeing and quality-of-life as Ottawans.

Despite the breadth of scope and impact that an OP has on a city and its residents, there are some things it cannot accomplish on its own, and these should be noted as well, especially where language in the draft OP suggests otherwise. Below are some high-level principles that we would like to see better reflected in our city’s new OP. More specific proposals for changes and additions flowing from these principles are covered in the paper.

High-level principles

  • Ottawa should be a place where anyone can live
  • All neighbourhoods in Ottawa should benefit from equitable access to greenspace and other public amenities
  • Existing neighbourhoods should remain whole and distinct
  • Sustainable transportation must be better prioritized
  • Democratic control over our built environment should be enhanced and expanded

These high-level principles are critical to achieving an OP that puts people first.

The city is planning to release a series of “as we heard it” reports on the Engage Ottawa page shortly that outline changes to the draft Official Plan, in advance of the chapter by chapter release of the final version this summer. We will continue to push for improvements and meaningful engagement with residents throughout the process.

Read my plan below (pdf)...