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Site Alteration By-law Review

The Site Alteration By-law was approved by Ottawa City Council on May 9, 2018, to regulate site alteration activities such as placing or dumping fill, removing topsoil, clearing or stripping vegetation, and altering the land grade.

The by-law is intended to protect the City of Ottawa’s agricultural resources and natural heritage features from negative impacts caused by site alteration, and to prevent drainage issues and public nuisances resulting from site alteration activities.

City Staff were directed to perform a review 2 years following the implementation of the By-law. This review was delayed due to the pandemic and other administrative challenges. A staff report was presented to the Agricultural and Rural Affairs Committee and Council at the end of 2023.

Staff presented their report on the by-law review to the Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee on November 30, 2023. Committee and Council directed staff to make further changes, outlined in the Motion ACS2023-PRE-EDP-0041 undertake consultation for final wording, and bring the revised draft by-law back for final approval.

Recommended Revisions

The premise of the Site Alteration By-law remains unchanged: in most cases, residents do not need to obtain the City’s approval before beginning site alteration, but they must follow the rules in the by-law. The City does not propose to introduce a permit system, or to apply the by-law in areas already regulated by a Conservation Authority.

Minor administrative updates are needed to reflect changes to the Official Plan, other related bylaws and the City’s organizational structure. Other changes are being recommended to clarify the by-law’s intent and improve its function. These changes are summarized below.

  • References to specific Official Plan designations, policies and schedules will be updated to reflect the new Official Plan;

  • References to the City’s tree by-laws will be updated to reflect the enactment of the new consolidated Tree Protection By-law in January 2021;

  • References to City departments and General Managers will be updated to reflect the corporate restructuring that occurred in late 2021 / early 2022;

  • Drainage provisions and related definitions will be refined to focus on surface drainage and areas with approved drainage patterns;

  • Notification will no longer be required for projects that are not subject to a Planning Act application (e.g., pool installations and other landscaping projects);

  • Where notification is required for work on sites subject to a Planning Act application, the Ward Councillor will also be notified;

  • The limits of Schedule B, which shows the area within which the by-law’s natural environment protections apply, will be adjusted to include lands approximately 1 kilometer from the urban boundary and urban expansion areas included in the Official Plan.

Have your say!

Council approved the administrative changes to the by-law but directed staff to consult further on the wording of the proposed changes to the natural environment protections, drainage and notification provisions. Please use the following survey to provide feedback on the bylaw and motion requirements.

The deadline for comments is May 24, 2024.



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