April 9, 2024 Newsletter


City Council Update: Matching our Actions with our Values 

There’s a stone monument just outside City Hall on the Lisgar Street side. I walk by it several times a week, but don’t ever pay close attention to what the monument is for. But last week I had my two young kids with me at work, and as we left the building to head home, my young daughter wanted me to take a photo of her standing inside the monument’s opening. It was the first time I ever stood close to it.  

The monument looks like a piece of sliced bread. And at the centre of the slice of bread there’s a space carved out in the shape of a house. Inside that space is an inscription carved into the monument’s stone: 

“Poverty Stops Equality...Equality Stops Poverty” 

The inscription beneath the quote simply read “D. O’Connell”. I had no idea who that was.  

Dorothy O’Connell (1940 – 2020) was an Ottawa anti-poverty activist, teacher, journalist and playwright. She established Ottawa’s first community legal clinic, co-founded the Ottawa Women’s Credit Union, founded the Ottawa Tenants Council, and was known as Ottawa’s poet laureate of the poor. She lived in public housing and fought to improve tenants’ rights. She raised five children. 

The image of her anti-poverty monument - and the quote inscribed on it - stayed with me for several days. The “bread with missing house” concept helps illustrate that unfortunate choice often made by people struggling with poverty: whether to pay the rent or to feed your family.  

But this monument stands within spitting distance of City Hall. If it’s on our public grounds, then I’d like to assume that it’s meant to be an artistic reflection of our publicly held values.  

 At City Hall last Wednesday, and at the Financial & Corporate Services Committee meeting last Tuesday, we debated and approved an element to the City’s property taxes that most residents aren’t aware of: tax ratios.  

What are tax ratios? That’s a great question. The answer is as dry as it is monumental. 

When City Hall approved a 2.5% tax rate increase for 2024 (same as we did for 2023), this means that every residential property owner’s taxes increase by 2.5%. That’s simple enough to understand.  

But did you know that different classifications of residential properties are charged different tax rates to begin with? Several classifications of residential property tax rates are at a different ratio to each other, and always for different reasons.  

To illustrate this, we start with the basic residential rate, which is the rate applied to your average single-family residential property. That classification is given the notional ratio of 1.0. Every other property classification is then assigned a ratio that is either higher, equal to, or lower than that rate.  

For example, office buildings are assigned a ratio of 2.40128. This means an office building owner is paying a tax rate 2.4 times higher than a similarly valued residential property. (Sidebar: this will have a potentially huge – and negative – effect on tax revenue as we convert downtown office towers to residential properties). 

Farms pay a rate that is far less than residential. The ratio for farms is 0.20, which means that farmland is taxed at a rate that is 80% less than similarly valued residential land. (Sidebar: the province mandates that the ratio for farms cannot be higher than 0.25, but the City of Ottawa has voluntarily set the Farm ratio lower at 0.20 since 2004, in addition to several other discounts and tax relief measures). 

But it was the ratio applied to multi-unit residential buildings that left me and several other Councillors asking questions. The 2024 tax ratio for multi-unit residential buildings built before 2000 is 1.4083. For 2023, the ratio was 1.4032. (Sidebar: for multi-unit residential properties built after 2000, the tax ratio is 1.0, same as residential. This is to incentivize the construction of new purpose-built apartment buildings). 

This means that owners of multi-unit residential buildings built before 2000 are not only seeing their taxes increase by 2.5% each year, but they’re also paying a tax rate that is 40% higher than single-family residential property owners. Since landlords download their increased costs to their tenants through annual rent increases, this means that renters are likely seeing this translate into higher and higher rents.  

At a time when rents are skyrocketing, and when many renters (who, on average, have household incomes that are 60% of the average homeowner’s) are currently spending more of their income on rent than property owners are spending on mortgages, the question becomes...is this fair?  

The City of Ottawa recognized this disparity back in 2009, when the tax ratio for multi-unit residential was over 2.0. From 2009 until 2021, the City of Ottawa was incrementally lowering the ratio for multi-unit residential toward 1.0. But we stopped that progress in 2021 and have even begun to incrementally increase the rate back to where we are now: 1.40831.  

Now, some of you may be asking: even if City Hall lowered the ratio, would that translate into lower rents for tenants? Just because landlords would be paying less rent, would they transfer those savings to their tenants?  

Yes, they would. Because they would have to. Once the tax ratio is lowered sufficiently, it then requires the City of Ottawa to issue letters to landlords mandating that they lower their tenant rents proportionately. Currently, that threshold would require the ratio to be lowered from 1.4083 to approximately 1.2. This would lead to a mandatory 2.5% decrease in rent.  

To the average renter paying $2,000 per month, this would lead to $600 in savings over the year. 

To pay for this lost tax revenue, the City would increase the residential tax ratio accordingly, to make up for what was lost from renters. Based on average residential property taxes, each residential taxpayer – would be charged an average of $36 more in taxes.  

The question to residential taxpayers then becomes: if you’d like to help alleviate poverty, if you’d like to see more equality, would you be willing to pay $36 more in taxes to help save renters $600 per year? 

As I said earlier, Ottawa’s City Council had been heading in this direction already, but for some reason we stopped in 2021. Now, instead of moving towards equality, we’re creeping further and further away from it.  

Thankfully, several councillors (including myself) helped steer the discussion at the Council table in a new direction. Last Wednesday I was happy to support a motion from Councillor Theresea Kavanagh that would’ve seen the multi-unit residential tax ratio frozen at the 2023 level. To be honest, this motion was more in principle than anything else, since a freeze would not be a sufficient adjustment to see rent savings.  

But Councillor Shawn Menard passed a direction to staff whereby staff would come up with a plan bring the multi-unit residential tax ratio back to parity within 3 – 5 years. It will remain up to City Council to approve that plan. Whereas this would result in a greater burden to some taxpayers, it would bring some much-needed relief for some of our city’s most vulnerable residents. For anyone who knows, like Dorothy O’Connell, that poverty stops equality and believes that equality stops poverty, I hope you will support me on this following this path.  


Traffic Safety Update 

Traffic safety continues to be one of the top concerns that we hear from residents, which is not at all a surprise, due to several contributing factors: the residential streets and roads of Ward 9 were not designed for pedestrian safety in the first place; a growing population means more vehicles, pedestrians, and cyclists competing for space; poor options for transit or active transportation means more people use cars; and a lack of effective enforcement leads to drivers speeding above the posted limits.  

We were very happy to have received so many suggestions from residents for Temporary Traffic Calming (TTC) measures, which residents will soon start seeing implemented across the ward in the coming weeks and months. However, each councillor’s annual budget for TTC is limited ($75,000), and when so many residents ask for speed bumps that cost $15,000 each, it means that we must prioritize our allocations based on both risk and ensuring that we take a balanced approach and spread our allocations across the ward as much as possible. 

Over the past few months, my office has been very actively involved in preparing and presenting detailed proposals for safety enhancements to a few key high-risk areas in Ward 9. I’d like to recognize the contributions of my team member Alex Harris, who has worked very hard on this project.  

  • We’ve proposed cost-effective measures for narrowing lanes on Meadowlands Drive between Fisher Avenue and Merivale Road. Current lane widths on Meadowlands Drive are much wider than is required, which encourages drivers to speed much faster than the posted limit of 40km/hr. Our proposal would also provide new cycle lanes for an important east-west corridor, through the elimination of unnecessary parking lanes. 
  • Following last year’s serious injury to a student at Merivale High School, we’ve proposed a series of modifications to the intersection of Merivale Road & Viewmount Drive. Our office discovered that there have been over 80 collisions at this high-risk intersection between 2019 and 2022, and the two on-site observations that we’ve conducted at this location have provided ample evidence of the inherent risk to vulnerable road users. The proposals we’ve made would require modifications from the City of Ottawa, from OC Transpo, and from Merivale High School itself. We’re encouraged by the conversations we’ve had so far with each of these stakeholders. 
  • Along with our focus on the intersection of Merivale Road & Viewmount Drive, we also get a lot of comments from residents about overall concern for speeding along Viewmount Drive. While there are a lot of TTC measures already in place on this road, we will be augmenting those measures this year. We will also be recommending that adjacent Chesterton Drive be assessed for an Automated Speed Enforcement (ASE) camera for 2025.  
  • After some effective lobbying from our office, we’re pleased to see continued progress for safety enhancements on Knoxdale Road, which has been a frequent item of concern when it comes to excessive speeds. Starting in 2024, we should see the installation of an Automated Speed Enforcement (ASE) camera (along with another new ASE camera in front of St. Monica’s School on Merivale Road). But we were also pleased to learn that we were successful in getting Knoxdale Road placed on the list for a Neighborhood Traffic Calming (NTC) project, which is a rigorous process that will result in permanent design modifications that will effectively lower driver speed.  
  • Finally, my office has been working in collaboration with Manordale-Woodvale Community Association, OCDSB School Trustee Amanda Presley, and Manordale Public School in order to develop safety enhancements for student drop-off and pickup. Following a series of onsite observations last week, my office is working with all stakeholders involved on a proposal that we think will lead to significant safety improvements.  


Thanks CAPO! 

You’ll have to forgive me for the shameless self-promotion that I’m about to include here, but I wanted to extend my gratitude to Trend Arlington resident Ted Carty for his ongoing work in organizing CAPO, which is a series of fundraisers involving local musicians performing for local charitable causes. I was proud to be one of the performers for last Friday’s CAPO fundraiser for Big Brothers and Big Sisters of Ottawa, where CAPO raised over $12,000 for this important local charity. You may recall that my predecessor Keith Egli is the President of the Board of the BBBSO, which also has an exciting social enterprise on Merivale at the Thrive thrift clothing store. Lots of Ward 9 connections here!  



Hydro Ottawa Update  

On April 17, Councillor Devine will host Hydro Ottawa for the second Keeping Ottawa Connected presentation, which is a targeted series of outreach initiatives delivered to communities across Ottawa that have seen their power supply adversely impacted by severe weather events over the past few years. The event will run from 7:00pm - 8:30pm and take place at the Nepean Sportsplex, inside the Richmond Room (Entrance 4).  This second session is intended for residents of Country Place, The Glens, Merivale Gardens, and Tanglewood.  

Back in February, we hosted a Hydro Ottawa outreach session, which focused on impacts to the neighbourhoods of Fisher Heights, Skyline and Parkwood Hills. After that session, we asked Hydro Ottawa to provide us with a summary of the planned improvements. Residents interested in learning about those planned improvements may access this information on our website.   

If you have questions, please contact us at [email protected].

POSTPONED! Electrical Equipment Upgrade and Power Outage - Fisher Glen area – April 10   

A planned Hydro Ottawa Power Outage scheduled for tomorrow, April 10th, has been postponed by Hydro. They will inform residents of the new date when they have it confirmed. The eventual outage will affect the following streets: Argue Drive, Chesterton Drive, Farm Gate Crescent, Four Season Drive, Juniper Court, Saginaw Crescent, Scholars Court, Shadetree Crescent and Viewmount Drive. The Planned Power Outage will affect 362 customers.

During this outage, Hydro Ottawa will be upgrading electrical equipment that will impact customers located on the above-mentioned streets. All affected customers should be contacted by Hydro Ottawa by phone, text or email with information about the new date. Further, notifications will be provided if the power outage extends beyond the original duration time.   

Residents may notice increased construction presence on the day of the outage. Traffic control and lane reductions will be implemented to ensure that roads and sidewalks remain safe for residents and staff.  We recognize that construction and power outages can be disruptive. Hydro Ottawa’s goal with this work is to maintain the electricity system so that they can prevent larger and longer unplanned outages from occurring in the future.  

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact the Hydro Ottawa customer relations email at [email protected] or Councillor Devine’s office at [email protected].   


Cleaning the Capital 

Registration is now open for the 2024 Cleaning the Capital program, which is a fantastic initiative for residents and communities to take an active role in tidying up their neighbourhoods. The actual clean-up campaign runs from April 15 – May 31, and registration is open until May 3. Currently there are almost 600 cleanups registered across Ottawa, with almost 27,000 participants! Ward 9 currently has 15 clean-up campaigns registered. Our office will be out in the community participating in several of these campaigns! If you haven’t already registered for your own community clean-up, there is still time to sign up 



City of Ottawa Repair Café  

In honour of Earth Day, the City of Ottawa, in collaboration with the Ottawa Tool Library is sponsoring a Repair Café! On Saturday, April 20, visit Jean Pigott Place (inside Ottawa City Hall) at 110 Laurier Avenue West for free repairs of electronics, clothing, small appliances, jewelry, and more. Visit Ottawa.ca/WasteReduction for event details and to see all City Sponsored upcoming Repair Café. Choosing to repair rather than replace is cost effective and helps reduce waste.   


Noise Exemption for Work on Baseline 

Our office received notice for a noise exemption for road resurfacing work to be carried out in August, by Cavanagh construction. Completing this work at night provides safer working conditions for employees and the public and helps reduce the duration of these impacts. Due to the mobile nature of these types of road repairs, the same houses should not be exposed to it for long durations during any single shift.  

  • Where: Baseline Road from Zena Street to Farlane Blvd 
  • When: August 4th to August 17th, from 10:00PM – 7:00AM (work begins at 6PM exemption kicks in at 10PM, expecting 10 nights of work in this range.) 


Hazardous Waste Schedule - Dispose of Household Hazardous Waste Responsibly! 

Every year, the City of Ottawa hosts drop-off events to ensure that household hazardous waste is safely collected, transported, and appropriately recycled or disposed of. This helps to protect the environment and decreases the risk of toxic materials ending up in our collection vehicles or landfills. Mark your calendars for these upcoming drop-off events from April 21 to November 2. With nine convenient locations across Ottawa, there's no excuse to miss out! 

2024 Household Hazardous Waste Drop-Off Events Schedule 

  • Sunday, April 21, 2024: RCGT ballpark, 300 Coventry Road 
  • Saturday, May 4, 2024: Rideau Carleton Casino, 4837 Albion Road 
  • Saturday, June 1, 2024: Trail Road Waste Facility, 4475 Trail Road 
  • Saturday, July 27, 2024: Canadian Tire Centre, 200 Cyclone Taylor Blvd 
  • Saturday, August 10, 2024: Innes Snow Dump Facility, 2170 Mer Bleu Road 
  • Sunday, September 8, 2024: Tunney’s Pasture (follow the posted signs) 
  • Saturday, October 5, 2024: Conroy Snow Dump Facility, 3100 Conroy Road 
  • Saturday, October 19, 2024: Strandherd Snow Dump Facility, Philsar Road 
  • Saturday, November 2, 2024: Westbrook Snow Dump Facility, 200 Westbrook Road 

Please note that drop-off event dates are subject to change. For the most up-to-date schedule, and to see the list of acceptable items, please visit the City of Ottawa website. Follow us on social media for event announcements and reminders. ️ Download the Ottawa Collection Calendar app for garbage and recycling reminders. 

Thank you for your participation in creating a cleaner, safer environment for all! 


Request for Input on Ottawa’s tree planting programs! 

The Tree Planting Strategy has been launched and the City needs your input! The strategy is the feature project under the City’s Urban Forest Management Plan for this Term of Council. It will focus on how Ottawa can achieve its urban canopy cover target of 40% over time. It will shift the City’s tree planting approach from reactive to proactive and it will use the City’s canopy cover data for neighbourhoods to prioritize tree planting in areas of Ottawa that need it the most. 

The first step is a review of the City’s existing tree planting programs. Through a series of surveys, staff are gathering information on existing tree planting programs and ideas for future programming. Your feedback is needed! 

The City is requesting your input through a survey available on Engage Ottawa, which will be available until April 15, 2024. Thank you in advance for your continued support and care for growing Ottawa’s urban forest! 


Spring into Spring 

Spring into Spring is an event that encourages students to arrive at school by walking and wheeling their way to school in the sunshine (and likely a few puddles and snow melt!). Walking to school in the spring is o encourage students to get to know their neighbourhoods and communities and engage in the many benefits of active transportation.   

Enjoy the quality time you get to spend with your family as you travel to school together!  Check out this poster for activity ideas to celebrate Spring into Spring. 



Senior Summit – Save the Date 

Join us on National Seniors Day for a Seniors Summit hosted by the Ward 9 Office, this October 1st! The goal of this summit will be to engage with seniors and give them a platform to discuss topical municipal issues. The summit will be an opportunity for people of all ages to engage with a variety of community stakeholders, gather valuable information, and establish meaningful councillor-constituent relationships. Look out for more information about this event in the coming weeks, including a community survey to help us design an event that best meets the needs of Ward 9 seniors. Don't miss this fantastic opportunity to connect and learn! 


Bike Rodeo 

Our office is proud to sponsor this year’s Arlington Woods Church Bike Rodeo, a fantastic annual fundraiser and community event for cycling enthusiasts of all ages! This year’s event takes place Saturday, May 11th from 11am – 3pm at Arlington Woods Church (225 McClellan) in Trend Arlington. All fundraising proceeds go to FAMSAC, the local food cupboard supporting many communities in Ward 9. Come on out and bring your appetite for the BBQ! 



Policing Update 

Over the past few weeks, there has been an unfortunate spike in calls and emails from Ward 9 residents about matters concerning crime and public safety. Our office wanted to summarize these incidents and the conversations our office has been having with Ottawa Police Services (OPS) about these matters.  

We received notice from one Ward 9 resident about several cannabis stores that were selling to minors. From talking to the resident, we obtained a list of the stores, which we forward to OPS. The OPS Drug Unit decided they will visit each of these stores to warn about illegal sales, and the Bayshore Neighborhood Response Team will investigate illegal activity.  

A few weeks ago, we received news of a shooting incident that was initially reported to have taken place in Ward 9. The actual shooting took place in Ryan Farm Park (Ward 8). After being shot, the shooting victim drove to a parking lot on Meadowlands near Merivale, where he then called police. While OPS has told us that this incident is not related to gang activity, we are still pushing for more information, as the report that was provided to our office has prompted further questions.  

There have also been three separate reports of dangerous activity in the Tanglewood-Hillsdale neighborhood. As reported previously, we’ve been in contact with residents in Tanglewood regarding a series of harassment and intimidation incidents spanning several months, involving youth. Another resident has informed our office about threats to neighbours emanating from what appears to be illegal drug activity coming from a residence. And last week, two OPS officers were seriously injured trying to intercept a stolen car on Woodfield Drive.  

Councillor Devine has been in close contact with our Community Liaison Officer about all these incidents. The Liaison Officer’s response has been excellent, including direct conversations with affected residents and commitments to further monitoring of several of these matters.  

However, the response that some of these residents have received from OPS when reporting these incidents has not always been as effective. We’re not going to provide any further details here in this newsletter, but Councillor Devine will be addressing some of our concerns with OPS Chief Eric Stubbs during a one-on-one meeting next week.  


Respiratory Update 

The weather is improving, and that’s good news not just for our gardens but also for limiting the spread of respiratory illnesses. The current indicators show that both COVID and RSV are at lower levels than they have been in a long time, which means there is less transmission of those viruses in the community right now. Flu season, however, is still going strong. While the numbers are beginning to level out, there is still a lot of flu in the community. As always, be cautious when entering spaces with lots of people sharing the air and use the tools you have available: wear a good-fitting mask, clean the air with good filters, crack open a window or two, and make sure you wash your hands regularly. For more information you can check out Ottawa Public Health’s (OPH) useful web page on respiratory illnesses. It’s kept up-to-date and is full of helpful information. 


Routine Vaccinations – Ottawa Public Health 

A lot of kids under 18 are missing some of their routine vaccinations—thousands of children are not up to date. For decades, these routine vaccines have kept children safe from diseases like measles, polio, meningitis and HPV. These vaccines are free and easy to access. OPH provides routine vaccination services for Ottawa children, making it easy to stay up to date. You just drop in to one of the Neighbourhood Health and Wellness Hubs. And you don’t need an appointment. If you’re not sure about your child’s immunization status, you can get more information using the Immunization Connect Ontario (ICON) tool. You can also find out more by visiting OPH’s web page devoted to updating your child’s record. 


Free Dental Screenings 

Your Neighbourhood Health and Wellness Hubs are also offering free dental screenings. For details and a complete schedule of the events, you can check out the poster, below, or visit Neighbourhood Health and Wellness Hubs online. 

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