Mayor Sutcliffe on city building and homebuilding in Ottawa

Ottawa mayor Mark Sutcliffe blended city building and homebuilding in his second annual breakfast address to the local housing industry organized by the Greater Ottawa Home Builders’ Association (GOHBA).

Sutcliffe — now in his second year as mayor — set the tone for his talk to 150 audience members by noting the current municipal council and the housing industry are aligned in wanting to build a better city, one that’s “more livable, more welcoming for everyone.”

He enumerated some of the non-housing enhancements in Ottawa since the new council was elected in late 2022: hiring more emergency personnel, repairing roads and sidewalks, building more recreation facilities, especially in new communities.


Glancing further back to when he was a teenager in his native Ottawa, he joked with characteristic sharp humour, “LeBreton Flats was just a big empty field. Well, OK, it’s still a big empty field. Some things haven’t changed in 40 years.”

MORE: Mark Sutcliffe’s inaugural GOHBA breakfast

Looking ahead, Sutcliffe said Ottawa is heading into a period of extraordinary growth. The city’s population, for example, could swell 40 to 50 per cent within the next 25 years, bringing the number of residents to 1.5 million.

“(That) puts extraordinary pressure on the housing market and right now we’re in a housing crisis like other cities. We need to make the right decisions very soon, the right decisions in the next few months, to make sure we preserve that quality of life and the affordability we have.”


Action to resolve the housing crisis has been a priority since the current council was elected, he continued. That includes approving more height and density along minor corridors and reviewing options to increase density in neighbourhoods across the city.

Council has also made affordable housing a priority by doubling capital investment from $15 million to $30 million in the new budget.

The city is on track to build 800 affordable housing units across the city “as quickly as possible,” said Sutcliffe, and is working to cut the red tape that has long been a complaint among homebuilders.


The city is also hiring new planning and legal staff to help streamline the creation of new homes.

Ottawa’s current bylaw on development charges, which help fund infrastructure across the city but add significantly to the cost of building a new home, expires this May. So, in another move to support the building industry, the city has asked the province for a one-year extension on a new bylaw so it can get the balance right between housing affordability and municipal revenue needs.

Sutcliffe also spoke to “one of the biggest threats to the downtown core in our city’s history” — the federal government getting ready to vacate 10 to 20 buildings as employees continue to work at least part time from home. Citing the challenge as the “opportunity of a lifetime,” he said the city needs to encourage more people to live and visit downtown with new attractions, possibly including a new home for the Ottawa Senators not at LeBreton Flats but right downtown.


Returning to his overall theme, he wound up his talk by saying, “Let’s not just build more homes, let’s build a better city.”


About the Author

Patrick Langston All Things Home Ottawa homes

Patrick Langston

Patrick Langston is the co-founder of All Things Home Inc. and a veteran journalist. He has written widely about the Ottawa housing industry since 2008.



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