Update & Information on August 10 Flooding
Last Thursday, Ottawa was inundated with historic rainfall, leading to many damaged homes and businesses across the city. Far more rain came in a short span than our storm sewer systems can handle, causing drains to back up in many cases.
I have received reports from many residents in Ward 9 describing local streets that turned into rivers, and damage to homes. My own house is among the list of damaged properties, although not nearly as bad as some of the severely damaged properties I have seen accounts of. But I know that responding to flood damage is a stressful and complicated process.
This incident is one more example of weather-related events causing strain to our city’s infrastructure. Our municipal government must plan accordingly for a risk-prone future. In my capacity as a member of our Emergency Preparedness & Protective Services Committee, my focus will be on addressing the following:
- Developing new civic infrastructure (e.g., sewers, roads, power lines, tree canopy) with a long-lens view to the impacts of climate change on our systems;
- Ensuring that our Public Works department is adequately resourced to maintain our infrastructure systems;
- Educating residents to help them play a part in building up our resiliency, whether through better home protection of participating in civic response during times of disaster
As I have said before, all of this will cost money, when our city’s finances are already stretched thin, and at a time when City Hall has a growing number of crises. But prior mismanagement of our systems and inadequate funding of our city’s budget is not an excuse to continue this way. I did many media interviews in the past several days on developing better civic infrastructure and the challenges we would face in doing that. But while it will cost a lot to build up our defenses now, it will cost a lot more to continuously spend on clean-up and repair.
My office is gathering information on problematic areas in the ward, which I can relay to city staff to schedule inspections and proper maintenance. If your street/neighbourhood has regularly experienced flooding, backed-up drains, or high-water levels whenever we experience heavy downpours, please email [email protected] with a very brief description of your location and experience in this matter
I wanted to leave residents with some resources and information sources:
- The City of Ottawa has published a specific page on its website for Severe Rainfall Update, which includes a lot of useful information
- The City’s website has information on sewer backups and basement flooding, including info on how to respond to backups and some preventative measures;
- The Insurance Bureau of Canada also has info on water damage and flood protection;
- An interesting article from CBC Ottawa how adapting Ottawa’s infrastructure to make us more of a “sponge city” might prevent future flooding;
The City has also been advertising the services of Samaritan’s Purse, a faith-based organization that has a lot of experience in disaster relief. Samaritan’s Purse has a Disaster Relief Team that is coordinating with the Christian Aid Ministries and Respond Ottawa. Their goal is to provide support to primary residences that are under-insured or that have no insurance. They help to get the “mud out” by:
- Taking out damaged furniture and other debris to the curbside
- Removing damaged flooring and insulation
- Providing vacuum/clean up support
Conducting remediation sprays
This service is free of charge. For residents who are interested in pursuing this assistance, they can call Samaritan’s Purse directly at 1-844-547-2663.
On August 14th, OC Transpo re-launched full service of LRT Line 1 after having been effectively closed since July 17th. During morning rush hour, 11 single-car trains are running every five minutes between Tunney’s Pasture and Blair stations. During the afternoon peak period, 13 single-car trains will operate every 4 minutes. During the remainder of the day, nine single-car trains will operate every 6 minutes.
Effective August 15, R1 will no longer operate in parallel with Line 1 rail service. Express buses will be introduced to supplement peak period capacity and service between downtown and both ends of Line 1. See the graphic below for more detail.
Last week, councillors received a briefing from senior OC Transpo staff about this return-to-service plan, and we also had an opportunity to ask questions about our current and future status. We have already been advised that there is currently a plan to address the “disease, and no longer the symptoms”. This long-term plan will see a re-design of the wheel/axle assembly, and then the prototyping, testing, manufacturing, and installation of these new wheel/axle assemblies across the fleet. We are told that this will take 2 – 3 years to implement, and that this is being seen as a “permanent” solution to the main problems faced by our LRT system, problems which led to two derailments in 2021.
While senior staff are expressing enthusiasm and confidence in this new plan, I still had several questions and concerns, which I expressed at our briefing:
- If the original problems with our LRT system are partly because we were effectively piloting a custom-made and untested system, and if the solution now is to custom-design new components, how can we guarantee that the same problems will not recur?
- If part of the current safety guarantees implemented since July 17th included moving the track’s restraining rails by as little as 1 – 2 millimeters to minimize too much pressure on the wheels, how vulnerable are the rails to movement and will they need to be regularly inspected?
- If OC Transpo believes that single-car service is sufficient to meet current ridership, and if current ridership is currently low due to lack of faith in the system, how will we grow ridership if we limit service to single cars?
- What further mitigation methods will need to be in place over the next 2 – 3 years while we await the “permanent” solution, and does that include running the train at lower speeds to prevent excessive force on the components?
Even though I am still deeply concerned about the state of our LRT, I am still supportive of advancing towards a solution that works. Despite how large this problem is, it is vital that it gets fixed. Our city’s viability and future depend on it.
Development around the Central Experimental Farm
There has been a lot of discussion recently over a development file that is going before the Planning & Housing Committee’s August 16th meeting, which is a proposed development t 1081 Carling. While this file is raising the kinds of concerns that are frequently addressed by community groups (e.g., height, transition, density) this file has also addressed a more unique concern, and one that will soon also be addressed in a file coming to Ward 9, which is the proposed development at 780 Baseline. The issue I’m referring to is the impact that towers have on the adjacent Central Experimental Farm.
As most residents know, the Central Experimental Farm (CEF) is not only a lovely place to visit, but also an active farming research facility operated by Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC). This facility conducts essential agricultural research for the federal government. The CEF is widely heralded to be a vital facility not only for its proximity to other research facilities and government offices, but because of the inherent soil quality.
Like most scientific research, the data that is collected is only as valuable as its reliability and consistency. Over the last several weeks, my office has heard from many residents and subject matter experts – including scientists at the AAFC - expressing their critical concern of how their research will be compromised by deep shadows diminishing sunlight on large segments of the CEF’s fields and crops.
As your Councillor, my mandate and responsibility are not to protect federal agricultural research, even if it can be argued that this research will be of benefit to all Canadians. However, it is certainly my responsibility to protect the viability of the Central Experimental Farm as a highly treasured public asset enjoyed by Ottawa residents, and a vital greenspace that contributes to our overall public health.
And so, my concern is: if the AAFC starts to see diminishing returns on the value of their research due to an increase in development along the edges of the Central Experimental Farm, at what point does that begin to threaten the future viability of the Farm?
These are not easy questions to ask, and it speaks to many uncertainties outside my control. And I must absolutely recognize the fact that due to the increasing thread posed by our housing crisis – something which is absolutely within my mandate and scope of responsibility – I need to encourage intensification, especially along arterial corridors like Baseline Road, which I hope will one day be the transit corridor for the Baseline Bus Rapid Transit (BRT).
All this to say: the City of Ottawa and other partners need to have a sober and thoughtful conversation when it comes to planning and development around the CEF. I plan to speak to this at the August 16th Planning & Housing Committee, and I encourage residents to reach out to myself and other councillors to share your concerns and priorities, whatever they may be.
Voting on the Future of the VUT
The city’s new Vacant Unit Tax (VUT) will be under discussion once again at the next Council Meeting on August 26th, with a motion from Councillor Dudas to prematurely terminate the program. Enrolment for the program, which is in its first year, had a remarkably high compliance rate among Ottawa residents. More than 99% of residents registered their home as either occupied or vacant, and 95% of them did it without assistance from city staff. That is a success by any measure! The preliminary numbers, however, were surprising. They showed that Ottawa has a much more significant problem than we imagined. And that has led to some debate and controversy.
The concerns revolve around the high vacancy rate. The rate in Ottawa is higher even than initial estimates suggested. That is both a good thing and a bad thing. It’s good because now we know definitively that we have a vacancy issue and that the VUT will help bring it under control, much as similar programs have in other jurisdictions. It’s a potentially bad thing because it has led some to doubt the accuracy of the findings and to revisit whether we should continue pursuing this policy at all.
There is no question in my mind: we need to stay the course. The VUT has clearly unearthed a significant contributor to Ottawa’s housing crisis. It is not the only issue, by any means, but what is clear is that we need to get these empty units back onto the market to help address the demand for more housing. We need to give the program time and the opportunity to demonstrate its effectiveness. Cancelling it now would be the worst of all worlds. On August 26, I will be voting against the motion to terminate the VUT and will be encouraging my colleagues to do the same.
Change to Newsletter Schedule
Since our newsletter is issued every two weeks, our next issue would normally be August 29. Due to our staff taking late summer holidays, we have decided not to issue a newsletter on August 29. We will issue our next newsletter on September 5, and will resume our bi-weekly schedule.
Hydro Ottawa Update
The ongoing strike between Hydro Ottawa and its workers is now in its 6th week. The City of Ottawa is the sole shareholder of Hydro Ottawa, but Hydro Ottawa is a private corporation which reports to its Board of Directors. In the interests of seeking a quick and reasonable resolution to this dispute I have been urging my Council colleagues who sit on Hydro Ottawa’s Board of Directors to push for ongoing negotiations and discussions between both parties.
As we said previously, our office is rightly concerned over frequent and severe power outages in Ward 9, which is one more reason to push for an end to the strike so that Hydro Ottawa can return to normal operations and capacity.
To reinstate stability into our electrical infrastructure after the May 2022 derecho, Hydro Ottawa has put in place a Special Reliability Task Force to produce reliability improvements for areas that have seen continued interruptions, including specific areas in Ward 9. Hydro Ottawa has assured us that these improvements will result in added enhancements and protection to make our infrastructure more robust, ensuring areas that experience outages are isolated without impacting larger pockets of customers. Results of this city-wide assessment can be expected later this Fall. In addition to leveraging new technology, Hydro Ottawa is looking at the following steps to improve their systems’ resiliency to limit future outages:
- Expanding their forestry program with shorter and enhanced tree trimming cycles;
- Increasing their system inspections to find and repair problematic equipment;
- Deploying infrared scanning to pre-emptively identify assets at risk of failure;
With that said, this year has been difficult, the last month especially. Mother Nature continues to hit Ottawa hard. It is important to understand that, although frustrating, these weather events will continue to lead to more outages until large-scale changes are made to our infrastructure and power capacity. The graphic provided by Hydro Ottawa below shows a dramatic comparison between July 2022 and July 2023 of the number of severe weather events and other factors leading to power outages.
Swimming Registration Site Crash
At the August 14th launch of our Fall aquatic registrations at 9pm, the ActiveNet system experienced issues that made it difficult for some residents to access the registration portal to complete their transactions. City staff and the ActiveNet team responded quickly and were able to restore functionality. The system is now working as intended and has processed 19,648 receipts in the first hour. We understand that this has been a cause of frustration for residents and will work with ActiveNet to identify and rectify the issues.
Slow Down for Us Signs
As part of our ongoing efforts to improve road safety for all users, we are inviting residents to plant “Slow Down for Us” signs on their lawn. To request a sign, please email [email protected]. We’ll either deliver the sign or arrange for residents to collect one at our ward office.
Hazardous Waste Material Collection
If you’ve got hazardous waste to dispose of, please consult the Garbage & Recycling website page as well as the schedule information below:
- Sunday, August 27 from 8am – 4pm at 4061 Strandherd Drive
- Sunday, September 10 from 8am – 4pm at Tunney’s Pasture (Please follow the signage at Tunney’s Pasture for the specific location of the event)
- Sunday, October 1 from 8am – 4pm at 200 Westbrook Road
Sewer Cleaning Info
Maintenance of our city’s sewer lines is an essential component to ensuring that our systems can manage storm water and sanitary wastewater. The City will be conducting regular sewer maintenance over the coming weeks and months, including work in Ward 9. We wanted to provide you with some information on what is happening.
The city will be cleaning the main sewer lines (under the roadway) using a high velocity cleaning combo. Crews will flush the lines using a sewer cleaning jet and then remove the debris using a high velocity vacuum. It is expected that there will be a considerable amount of debris resulting from the recent storm.
Here is a list of which streets in Ward 9 will see sewer cleaning work over the coming weeks and months. We do not have a specific schedule.
- Apache Crescent, Attwood Crescent, Baseline Road, Barlyn Avenue, Beaver Ridge, Beaverton Avenue, Birchwood Drive, Bowhill Drive, Briardale Crescent, Buffalo Circle, Capilano Drive, Cedarcrest Avenue, Commanche Drive, Coral Avenue, Deer Park Road, Eleanor Drive, Leaver Avenue, Trillium Avenue, Farlane Boulevard, Fisher Avenue, Forest Park Avenue, Gilbey Drive, Greencrest Place, Greenwich Avenue, Higwood Drive, Hilliard Avenue, Kayburn Avenue, Kerry Crescent, Kesler Avenue, Kingsmill Street, Leaver Avenue, Lipstan Avenue, Lyall Street, Malibu Terrace, Meadowlands Drive, Merivale Road, Millbrook Crescent, Normandy Crescent, Northview Road, Oakwood Avenue, Parthia Avenue, Sunnycrest Drive, Sutton Place, Trillium Avenue, Twin Terrace, Vanson Avenue, Warbonnet Drive, Willeth Avenue
Greenbank Multi-Use Pathway Update
Several residents have inquired about improvements to the multi-use pathway that runs along Greenbank Road between Fallowfield and West Hunt Club. This pathway is a vital link for cyclists commuting to and from Barrhaven. The pathway is in a poor state.
The 2023 budget for Ward 9 infrastructure projects includes $100,000 to design the renewal of the pathway, however this project is not yet active to the point of engaging the public. The project scope is being prepared by Asset Management staff. The timeline for construction will follow the completion of the design phase.
Breathe Easy: Air Quality Monitoring in Ward 9
Launched in 2020, Ecology Ottawa’s Breathe Easy campaign is a community-led air quality monitoring project which measures, tracks and maps data about air quality across the city. With recent wildfire smoke and the negative impact on health, Breathe Easy is more relevant than ever, and presents an opportunity for residents to take an active part in tracking air quality and increasing awareness about the importance of clean air for environmental, human health, and economic benefits.
Councillor Devine will be joining Breathe Easy at several spots across Ward 9 in September and looks forward to sharing their data and analysis on the quality of our air!
Engagement on Lansdowne 2.0
Last week Councillor Devine met with Mark Goudie, President and CEO of Ottawa Sports Entertainment Group (OSEG) to discuss the status and concerns over Lansdowne 2.0. The Councillor conveyed that while he is generally supportive of the planned improvements for Lansdowne, he still held serious reservations over the project’s financing plans, the adequate development of public space, and of course the ongoing concern over poor transportation planning for this facility.
City Council will be presented with new designs and financial plans for Lansdowne later this summer and will then have two weeks to review the documents before voting on them at Council.
The City of Ottawa is getting ready to host a final Lansdowne 2.0 virtual public engagement session on September 6th at 6:00 p.m. Residents can register here to participate in this important discussion.
Cleaning the Capital Fall 2023
The Fall 2023 campaign of Cleaning the Capital starts soon, as Ottawa continues to mark the 30th anniversary of Cleaning the Capital. Ottawa delivered a successful Spring campaign with 970 registered cleanup projects in public spaces and nearly 37,000 dedicated volunteers. That’s about 7,000 more participants than the Spring 2022 campaign!
With your continued support, we look forward to an even more successful Fall campaign. This year’s Fall campaign will proceed with registration starting August 15, for cleanup projects taking place between September 15 and October 15. Participants can register their cleanup projects by using the online registration form.
PUBLIC HEALTH & SAFETY
Auto Theft Prevention
Following a report from a resident about a rash of auto thefts in her neighbourhood (including her own vehicle), our office reached out to Ottawa Police Service for helpful tips that we could pass on to residents. While many different makes/models are stolen, the number one vehicle currently being targeted for theft is the Ford 150 pickup truck. Vehicle owners are encouraged to take such precautions as:
- using anti-theft devices
- not leaving your FOB close to your house entry door (they can be scanned)
- remembering to lock their doors
- using an Apple AirTag GPS device
- not leaving any valuables inside the vehicle
- parking in the garage
- use of motion sensor lights
- using a lock bar on the steering wheel
Distracted Driving Campaign
Speeding and distracted driving are both inexcusable high-risk driving behaviours that can come with an extremely high cost – including your life or that of others. From 2017-2021, there were 79 fatal and major injury collisions attributed to distracted driving on our city roads. To address this concern, the City of Ottawa has launched a new public awareness campaign to educate residents about the dire consequences of distracted driving. It’s the New! Unlimited drive + text plan. Only $1,000 and three demerit points.
You have likely noticed an increase in the number of Automated Speed Enforcement (ASE) cameras placed around the city over the past couple of years. These cameras are effective deterrents against speeding. Data collected before and after installation shows an average of 200% increase in compliance with the speed limit, which in turn reduces the risk of collisions and injuries as a result.
There are currently 24 cameras installed near schools, with another 16 locations awaiting installation. Four of these planned locations are within areas along high-speed roadways and are being piloted to determine their effectiveness at reducing the number of high-speed drivers and incidences of street racing. The funds collected from tickets issued are all reinvested in road safety engineering, education, and enforcement initiatives as part of the Road Safety Action Plan. To learn of these many initiatives underway, please visit Road Safety Action Plan | City of Ottawa.
Rat Control in Ward 9
While rat infestations were increasingly in the news several weeks ago, very few of these incidents were being reported in Ward 9. Over the past several months, our office has received less than half a dozen reports. But we are certainly taking the reports we receive seriously. Our office will soon be meeting with residents from Craig Henry after a recent spike in sightings. If you do observe any rat infestations, please send an email to our office by writing to [email protected], but also call 3-1-1 to report the sighting.
Ottawa Public Health has also produced a useful and informative online resource called How to Inspect, Prevent and Respond to Rats.
Over the last several weeks, residents may have noticed individuals wearing safety vests dropping pellets into catch basins. While that may appear suspicious, it’s a part of Ottawa Public Health’s West Nile Virus Prevention Program. There are over 115,000 catch basins, in addition to large areas of surface and standing water (e.g., stormwater management ponds), and 35 adult mosquito traps that make up this program’s treatment area. The monitoring and surveillance span the entire Ottawa Public Health boundary from Fitzroy Harbour in the west to Cumberland in the east. There are 3 rounds of treatment at catch basins occurring each month between June and August. The catch basins are marked with blue (round 1), green (round 2) and orange (round 3). Standing water is treated on an as-needed basis based on findings from the adult mosquito traps. Our service provider staff work in day shifts on bike and night shifts by vehicle to test and treat, in addition to Saturday and Sunday shifts to set and collect adult mosquito traps.
COMMUNITY NEWS & EVENTS
Free Outdoor Concert in Trend Arlington
On September 13th at 6pm, enjoy a free outdoor concert at 250 Greenbank in Trend Arlington, as part of the City Sounds Live concert series. This concert features Ottawa’s powerhouse acoustic rock band Evil Creek voted Music Group of the Year for both 2022 and 2023.
Ward 9 Community Corn Roasts
It’s almost corn roast season in Ward 9! Here are the details on where to get some yummy corn with your community friends and neighbours:
- The Tanglewood Hillsdale Community Association will host their corn roast on Wednesday September 6th from 5pm – 7pm at the community building located at 30 Woodfield Drive.
- The Manordale Woodvale Community Association will host their corn roast on Saturday, September 9th from 4pm – 11pm at the community building located at 68 Knoxdale Foad.
- The Merivale Gardens Community Association is also hosting their corn roast on Saturday September 9th from 2pm – 6pm at Merivale Gardens Park, with plenty of family activities prior to dinner being served at 5pm.
Ward 9 Community Day Events
Along with the annual corn roasts, some of our Ward 9 community associations are hosting their annual Community Day events. Be sure to check out these if you live in these communities:
- The Glens Community Association will be hosting their Community Day Picnic on September 9th from 10am – 3pm at Grenfell Glen Park, located at 53 Avonlea Road.
- The Trend Arlington Community Association will be hosting their Community Day on September 16th from 11am – 3pm at Trend Arlington Park, located at 50 Bellman Drive.
General Burns Tennis Club
Tennis anyone? Then come sign up at the General Burns Tennis Club, located at 86 Argue Drive. This program offers tennis for everyone at all levels. There is an on-line booking system, private and group lessons available, kids’ summer tennis camps, social events, tournaments, inter-club leagues and more.
JOY (Just Older Youth) Fall Event
The Arlington Woods Free Methodist Church’s JOY (Just Older Youth) program is hosting their next programming event on September 21, featuring a concert with vocalist Luzia Veiga. For more info visit their website.
The Box of Life
The Box of Life is an Ottawa-based social enterprise helping local communities improve food security and their environmental impact by providing composting solutions to turn food waste into worm castings, turning organic waste into healthy soil!
The Box of Life is hosting a summer popup event at 15 Larch Street in Little Italy on Sunday, Aug 20th, from 11am – 4pm. They’ll have workshops, entertainment, and you can play with earthworms!
The Box of Life Day is more than just an event - it's a celebration of conscious living and a healthier planet for everyone.