NOTE ABOUT NEWSLETTER TECH
After the first edition of our newsletter we received some constructive feedback from residents who had experienced technical issues with the content, e.g., that the photos were too big, and the text was too small. We have attempted to correct this, but there may still be some glitches. Please feel free to send your comments to [email protected]
REPORT OF THE LRT PUBLIC INQUIRY
The local news cycle last week was dominated by the long-awaited report on Ottawa’s challenged LRT implementation. And that was as it should be. LRT represents a historic investment in the future of our city and residents deserve answers.
With the new council sworn in, the temptation by many will be to avoid scrutinizing the errors of the past and focus resolutely on new business and the challenges that lie ahead. But residents deserve better. And we can do better.
It’s too easy to look at a new council as simply a clean slate for the city. A new council must be more than that. It represents an opportunity to bring fresh perspectives to old challenges. And it is clear from this report that a significant renewal is in order.
The city let you, the residents, down. And leadership in the city begins at the top with the Mayor and City Council. We are accountable. We must step up, place our collective hand on the wheel, and steer this city towards less turbulent waters.
It is clear there has been too much secrecy, too much deception. That is not leadership, and it is time for Council to lead.
As your councillor, you have my commitment as a new voice on City Council that I will not turn a blind eye to the problems the LRT report so clearly outlines. You have my commitment that I will act in good faith and in partnership with my fellow Councillors.
You have my commitment that I will concentrate my attention on creating a better city and improving the quality of life for Ottawa residents. Every day, I will throw my heart and soul into building a better, more sustainable, more responsible, more forward-thinking city.
Finally, and perhaps most importantly in the wake of last week’s report, I will help drive a much-needed change in the culture at City Hall and help restore trust and confidence in our city’s services and in the people who work so hard, every day, to deliver them.
Ottawa residents deserve no less. Most of all, they deserve Councillors who act with absolute integrity, in each and every instance, each and every time.
WHAT’S HAPPENING AT COUNCIL?
Things have certainly been busy at City Council, where we are in the process of getting through three Council meetings between November 30th and December 14th. This increased pace of meetings is in order to take care of critical business as soon as possible.
At the November 30th meeting, passed a motion urging the provincial government to delay implementation of provincial Bill 23 until such a time as recommended changes could be made. Councillor Devine supported that motion. Council also unanimously passed a motion stating our opposition to provincial Bill 39.
At the November 30th meeting Council also received the 2022-2026 Governance Review Recommendations Report, which is the proposed list of amendments to our Council’s governance processes. This is an important matter, as it dictates the governance procedures for everything that we do at Council. The recommendations in this report, as well as recommendations brought by councillors will be debated at the December 7th meeting.
This week’s Council meeting on December 7th promises to be a very long session. Not only will Council debate the governance recommendations, but we will also be debating the proposed 2023 Budget Directions Report, as well as hearing all councillors make their opening remarks. At the December 7th meeting we will also be voting on the members of the Nominating Committee.
Between December 7th and December 14th, councillors will be submitting their preferences for which committees and board we wish to sit on. Those committees will be presented and voted upon at the December 14th council meeting.
16 DAYS OF ACTIVISM
November 25th was the beginning of 16 Days of Activism to end gender-based violence. To mark this important initiative, the Grandmothers Advocacy Network (GRAN) and the Ottawa Coalition to End Violence Against Women have launched their awareness campaign, with the Heritage Building illuminated in purple, and businesses in the Byward Market and along Elgin displaying purple ribbons to show their support.
The 16 Days of Activism also coincides with the National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women, which is today, December 6. This day marks the anniversary of the École Polytechnique massacre where 14 women were killed; a solemn and necessary reminder of why we must continue to work to end gender-based violence. This initiative and anniversary comes on the heels of Woman Abuse Prevention Month, where awareness on gender-based violence is highlighted. During the month of November, I participated in the Wrapped in Courage Campaign to show my commitment to end gender-based violence and to act as one voice in ensuring that this crucial issue is amplified as much as possible.
The holiday season is often a time where people may be looking to donate to a charitable cause. Consider donating to a worthy organization such as Nelson House, an agency aimed at ending violence in women’s lives. On average, Nelson House serves 120 women and children a year, operating as a 15-bed emergency shelter. Financial support will give Ottawa women and their children direct access to life-saving services such as safe emergency housing, food security, safe transportation, and trauma counselling. DONATE HERE.
WINTER 2023 ARTS & RECREATION ONLINE REGISTRATION
The City’s Winter 2023 recreation and cultural programming and activities are now online in its new format as part of the transition to the new online registration platform.
Online registration opened Monday, December 5 at 9 pm for all aquatic activities and will open Wednesday, December 7 at 9 pm for all other programs and activities.
Check out the site ahead of the registration dates by visiting register.ottawa.ca. If you have an active membership (fitness, swimming, sport, etc.) or participate in the Ottawa Hand in Hand financial assistance program, your account has been automatically transferred. You can follow the online instructions to retrieve a new password. Everyone else is asked to create a new account. Enter your email address, create a password and provide the necessary information – such as name, address, contact number and family members.
The Winter 2023 programming has a wide variety of activities, offered in English and French, for you and your family to stay active this winter – including:
- Learn to swim (Swim City), power swim and aquatic certifications
- Learn to skate
- Sports and fitness, such as martial arts, soccer and cross-country skiing
- General interest, such as playgroups, dog obedience, dinosaur discovery
- Instructional creative and performing arts, such as painting, music and dance
- Inclusive Recreation programs for individuals with a disability
Virtual programming for real-time online activities
The new platform allows you to easily browse our selections and sort by activity, age, time and location. By selecting the heart beside the activity and program, you can bookmark your favorite options by creating a wish list for easier retrieval on registration day.
You may want to pick a couple of options as many programs will continue to fill up quickly. On registration night, select the enroll button to register into the activity and pay with your credit card.
Remember, while the platform allows greater capacity for more people to complete transactions at the same time, spaces in popular programs – like swimming – will still be snapped up quickly.
The new registration system will continue to evolve and improve. Your comments and ideas are welcomed as we continue our path forward to enhance your customer experience and keep you and your family active and engaged.
VACANT UNIT TAX
Our first newsletter made mention of the City of Ottawa’s recently installed Vacant Unit Tax, and how the City of Ottawa had mailed letters to property owners informing them of the requirement to complete an online declaration indicating the status of occupancy of their property/properties in the previous year. By this time, most property owners should have received this letter.
Since last week I have received a significant number of emails and phone calls on this issue. While some residents have expressed their frustration over the nature of the tax, most residents’ concern has to do with the way the tax is being communicated and assessed.
While I do support the intent of this tax – which is meant to incentivize owners of vacant properties to have those properties occupied during a housing crisis – I am genuinely concerned about the process in which the tax is being administered. It puts the onus of responsibility on property owners – the vast majority of whom are not the target of this tax – to declare their status or pay a penalty, or worse! This is a practice called “negative billing”.
Later this week I will be meeting with the Deputy City Treasurer for Revenue to express my concerns, and to ask questions about how some of these matters might be rectified. While it may be too late to implement changes for this year, my goal is to find a better solution as soon as possible.
OC TRANSPO FOOD DRIVE
Last Sunday I joined a small group of volunteers at the Merivale Loblaws to participate in the annual OC Transpo / Loblaws food drive for the Ottawa Food Bank. Our small team was mighty effective! Over the course of three hours, we got shoppers to donate over 200 grocery bags of non-perishable food items to this very worthwhile cause. Thanks, Ward 9 for once again showing your generous spirit!
OC TRANSPO NEWS
Rack and Roll Winter Pilot
The Rack & Roll Program will be extended year-round as a pilot on the entire bus fleet. A Rack & Roll winter pilot launched last winter on double-decker buses as a first step and OC Transpo is excited to expand the program. This is great news for all-season cyclists. Whether travelling to work, school, or just out enjoying Ottawa’s winter weather, we encourage customers to consider combining biking and transit with ease through OC Transpo’s Rack & Roll year-round pilot.
OC Transpo’s Rack & Roll practice bike rack is on the move this winter. Starting this
December, the practice bike rack will be moved at the beginning of each month to a
new station to make it easier for cyclists to try it out in their area. Station locations will
be advertised here.
Customers can provide feedback on our Rack & Roll winter pilot by filling out an
OC Transpo customer feedback form.
OC Transpo will continue gathering data about how the bike racks stand up to winter
weather to determine if an all-season program will become permanent.
Severe Storm Schedule Pilot
OC Transpo’s articulated buses often struggle to operate in deep snow, sometimes getting stuck and causing service disruptions for transit customers. This winter, OC Transpo will implement a new Severe Storm Schedule pilot for buses on weekdays when 31 cm or more of snow is predicted to fall or under other severe circumstances.
- On weekdays, bus service will be based on a Saturday schedule, with limited early morning service and weekday-only routes. Trips will be added to routes servicing hospitals.
- Most articulated buses will be replaced with 40-foot and double-decker buses to improve service reliability.
- Para Transpo and O-Train service levels will not be reduced, but residents should still plan ahead and expect delays.
- When a severe storm is forecast for a Saturday or Sunday, the Severe Storm Schedule will not be implemented but some articulated buses will be replaced with 40-foot and double-decker buses to improve service reliability.
THE FUTURE OF HOUSING CONSTRUCTION?
Last Monday Councillor Devine joined Barrhaven Councillor David Hill to tour a start-up housing construction project called ABIC (Advanced Building Innovation Company), which is a subsidiary of Caivan. As our city faces a crisis in housing construction, it was inspiring to see a “next-generation” level of innovation in this industry. They say you can’t build something good, fast and cheap. Well, what our office saw last Monday may – one day – put that theory to the test. The level of precision in the construction method produces zero waste in materials and use of available land. It also promises greater reliability due to automated consistency in construction and greater control over deficiencies.
As for the speed of construction – and this is where it got interesting – this process can assemble in a few days what typically takes a few weeks with standard processes. From start to finish, the time to completion is dramatically shorter.
Councillor Devine asked questions to the builder about how this quicker, more efficient process might translate into savings for the buyer. After all, our crisis isn’t only in how many homes we need, but how we need them to be far more affordable.
It was clear that the builder’s up-front capital costs are significant. But eventually, when the operation scales up: if it takes a fraction of the time to assemble and build, doesn’t that mean that the per-unit production costs are significantly lower, which should be reflected in the sale prices?
The answer we got was “yes”. For this company, at least, the goal is that there will eventually be a dramatic decrease in price for the buyer. We also learned that this automated building model can be adaptable to different forms of housing, including the construction of community housing. Innovation can be a solution!
DEVELOPMENT UPDATE: 780 BASELINE
Last week our office met with Councillor Brockington to discuss our neighbouring wards’ shared concerns with the property being proposed at 780 Baseline, and to come up with a strategy on how best to speak to the project and the stakeholders involved. This is certainly one of the most contentious projects being developed in Ward 9. Our office continues to receive written comments from affected residents in the Fisher Heights neighbourhood – some in favor of the project, but most expressing concerns. The deadline for residents to submit written comments is December 15.
Over the next few weeks our office will be meeting with the City of Ottawa’s Planning Department to discuss the current status of this project. We will also be meeting with the project’s developer to raise our questions and concerns, as well as those expressed by residents. We will aim to provide our community with a fulsome update before we go on holidays, as well as provide detail on any future community engagement or meetings we might hold to keep the community informed.
In my last newsletter, I gave you my initial thoughts on the Province’s (at that time) proposed Bill 23. Since then, the bill has been passed. That means we, as a city, will have to adapt and adjust our approach to planning approvals to adhere to the requirements of this new law.
On November 30, Ottawa City Council passed a motion, unanimously, asking the Province to reconsider this new legislation and work with municipalities to address some of the most serious concerns.
The most significant changes are outlined in my previous newsletter [add link]. Some amendments were made to the Bill to soften it, slightly, and ensure that municipalities will continue to have the means to guide development towards sustainability goals. Building a more sustainable, environmentally friendly city is of great importance to me, so I am somewhat relieved to see the Province make concessions in those areas. Regardless, I will continue to voice my concerns whenever I see expediency taking precedence over thoughtful, sustainable development.
The province also made some concessions around the ability of third parties to intervene in development applications—small adjustments that will ensure a bare minimum of third-party input and only around adjustments to the Official Plan and Zoning Bylaws. Third parties will no longer have any ability to intervene in applications for minor variances for development projects.
However, the largest impact, by far, is the effect this will have on the ability of the city to raise revenue through development charges. The cost to the city is still being worked through but it will be significant and will lead to some challenging times ahead as we work to bring the city’s budget in line with a significantly reduced revenue stream.
HYDRO OTTAWA NEWS
Over the past two weeks there have been two power outages affecting residents of Ward 9. As we approach the colder winter months, the implications of these outages pose greater risks to residents. With that in mind, we wanted to share Hydro Ottawa’s “Five Things to Do Before, During and After a Winter Outage”.
Winter Rate Plans
As of November 1, time-of-use periods and tier thresholds for winter power usage came into effect for residential and small business customers in Ontario. Electricity rates decreased slightly and will be in effect until May 1, 2023. Click here to view rate plans.
Community Presentations on Frequent Weather Events
As part of Hydro Ottawa’s community outreach around frequent weather events resulting from climate change, Hydro One will be offering customized presentations to all community associations starting in January 2023. “Keeping Ottawa Connected” presentations will provide an overview of their power outage restoration process, their tree trimming program, emergency preparedness, helping residents understand customer-owned equipment requirements, and how to use generators safely during a prolonged outage.
Presentations will be offered in-person or virtually. Invitations to book a presentation were sent to community associations this month. Our office will work to ensure that all of Ward 9’s community associations have received this information from Hydro Ottawa.
Ottawa’s wastewater testing signal and testing percent positivity for COVID-19 both remain moderate.
- The positivity rate for COVID-19 in Ottawa is 9.8 %. (7-day trend based on information extracted from the provincial Case and Contact Management (CCM) solution.) This figure is down from 13.6 % in the last two weeks.
- While the wastewater testing signal remains moderate, levels are stable and appear to be trending downward.
- Wastewater levels for influenza and RSV are high and moderate respectively.
It is great to see that levels of COVID-19 are stable and trending downward. Residents deserve a pat on the back for all that they have done up to this point! With the holiday season approaching and COVID-19, influenza, and other illnesses making the rounds, it is important to keep up that good work by remaining vigilant and implementing basic measures to keep oneself and others in good health. Remember to wash your hands often, cover your cough, avoid touching eyes, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands, stay home when sick, wear a mask in crowded indoor spaces, and stay up to date on vaccinations.
RESIDENT RECRUITMENT FOR BOARDS AND COMMITTEES
Get involved in your city. Join a committee or board
The City could greatly benefit from your expertise, knowledge and lived experience as a public member on one of the following:
- Ottawa Board of Health
- Ottawa Police Services Board3. Ottawa Public Library Board*
- Committee of Adjustment
- Built Heritage Sub-Committee
- Property Standards and License Appeals Committee
- Shaw Centre – Board of Directors
- Mohr’s Landing / Quyon Port Authority
- Ottawa Community Lands Development Corporation Board of Directors
- Rideau Valley Conservation Authority*
- South Nation Conservation Authority *
- Mississippi Valley Conservation Authority *
- Accessibility Advisory Committee
- Para Transpo Eligibility Appeals Panel
The above list may change, because it is subject to the Term of Council Governance review, provincial direction, and/or Nominating Committee process.
Who is eligible? You must be a resident of the City of Ottawa, at least 18 years of age or older, and not an employee of the City of Ottawa. Additional eligibility requirements may apply for specific committees and boards.
How to apply – Apply using the online form available at ottawa.ca/committees. Alternate application formats are available upon request. *
*Applications for the Ottawa Public Library Board and Conservation Authorities must be submitted by January 4, 2023 at 4:30 pm.
Applications for all other committees and boards must be submitted by Monday, January 23, 2023 at 4:30 pm.
In person information session– Open house on Monday, December 12 from 6 to 8pm at Ben Franklin Place, 101 Centrepointe Drive, Main Lobby.
Virtual information session– Question and answer session in Zoom on Monday, December 19 at 6 pm. Registration is required.
For more information, and to subscribe for recruitment newsletters: Visit ottawa.ca/committees or contact Eric Pelot at 613-580-2424, ext. 22953, (TTY: 613-580-2401) or by email at [email protected].