December 12, 2023 Newsletter


Time for some Holidays 

This will be our last newsletter of 2023, as my team and will be taking some much-needed time off. Our office will be closed December 22 – 26, as well as January 1. We’ll also be working shortened hours December 27 – 29. During this span, we’ll be monitoring emails and phone calls, but will be responding once we return to the office January 2. The best way to get in touch with us during this time is by sending an email to [email protected] For any urgent matters, please feel free to put “URGENT” in the subject line. We also strongly encourage residents to call 3-1-1 or submit a 3-1-1 request online.  

Until then, Merry Christmas, Happy Chanukah, Happy Kwanzaa, Happy Festivus, and Happy New Year. Whatever you celebrate, however you celebrate it, for whom or with whom you celebrate, I wish you peace, joy and rest. We’re still in the middle of some pretty tough times here at home, across our country, and across the world. If the coming days and weeks provide moments for being generous and loving, or for accepting the generosity and love of others, take them. We’re going to need it in 2024.  


Budget 2024: How I Voted 

Last Wednesday at Council we passed the City of Ottawa 2024 budget. I wanted to provide Ward 9 residents with an explanation of my votes. But first I’ll explain how the budget voting process works. The overall budget comprises several departmental budgets from each committee (e.g. Transportation Committee budget, Ottawa Public Health budget, Transit Commission budget, etc). First, we vote on each departmental budget, and then we vote on the comprehensive budget.  

I voted “no” against two departmental budgets:  

  • Ottawa Police Services budget 
  • Transit Commission budget 

On the Ottawa Police Services budget, I am eager to see the results of the new district policing model that we will begin to see implemented in 2024, and I hope that this new system structure will result in greater police connectivity with local communities. However, there were still too many instances of residents describing a lack of police response in 2023, and I don’t believe this lack of response is always tied to lack of resources. The Ottawa Police Service has an astonishingly high absenteeism rate of approximately 12% at any given time. One reason the OPS is asking for so many new officers over the next few years (they are looking to hire 550 new employees over the next 3 years) is to fill the gaps caused by this high rate of absenteeism. I’d prefer that they address their internal issues, rather than increase the force strength to make up for these gaps.

Traffic safety and speeding continue to be of significant concern in Ward 9. But even the Ottawa Police Service will admit that much of these issues are either best addressed with other technologies, or better road design, or, in the case of speed racing, our municipal police force requires changes in legislation at the provincial level to have more effective enforcement tools. And finally, when it comes to auto theft, it has become clear that municipal policing alone will not be sufficient to address this issue.

For these reasons, and since the City of Ottawa has many other pressing municipal needs that are in greater distress, I did not support the Ottawa Police Service’s budget increase of $13.4 million. I look forward to seeing positive changes in 2024 and hope to be more supportive next year.

The majority of councillors did support the Ottawa Police Services budget, which passed by a vote of 17 – 8.

On the Transit Commission budget, I voted “no” out of concern that our city is making poor choices that further erode the viability of our transit system. My fundamental concern was over the proposed fare increase of 2.5%, especially at a time when service continues to be diminished. The proposed fare increase of 2.5% for 2024 is projected to raise $3.8 million in much-needed revenue. Councillor Jessica Bradley put forth a motion that proposed freezing fares for 2024 and increasing the transit levy paid for by taxpayers to cover the $3.8 million.

OC Transpo’s primary concern is that they lose as little revenue as possible, and that they increase ridership through increased reliability. Whether the $3.8 million is covered by increased fares or an increase to the tax levy should not be OC Transpo’s concern, since that’s a political decision, not an administrative decision. But OC Transpo GM Renee Amilcar made the unusual argument that rising transit fares are not a cause of decreased ridership. My email inbox is filled with transit riders who are extremely frustrated with transit service, who see an increased fare as insult on top of injury, and who are considering buying a car.  

A fare increase of 2.5% would equal about $40 more per year for customers who purchase regular adult passes. But if we were to freeze fares and pay for the lost $3.8 million in fare revenue through an increase to the tax levy, this would result in an additional $8 per taxpayer in 2024.  

As I believe that a viable transit system is in the best interests of all Ottawa residents, as I believe that it is unfair to impose a fare hike on transit riders at a time of diminished service, and as I believe that such a fare hike risks losing even more riders, I voted in support of the motion from Councillor Bradley, which failed in a vote 10 – 15. The Transit Commission budget then passed by a vote of 17 – 8.  

The irony is that if there had been a fare freeze, and if the $3.8 million had been paid for by an increased tax levy, this would’ve seen an additional 300,000 transit rides in 2024, resulting in an additional $600,000. In other words, it proved more profitable for OC Transpo to freeze fares for 2024.      

After having voted against both the Transit Commission budget and the Ottawa Police Services budget, I also voted against the 2024 City of Ottawa Budget. The budget passed by a vote of 20 – 5.  

My reasons for voting against the 2024 City of Ottawa Budget should not come as a surprise to Ottawa residents, as I did not support the 2.5% budget direction that Council approved for this budget. Although there are several elements of the budget that I’m pleased with, I fundamentally could not offer my support for a vote that leaves so many core priorities underfunded. In the New Year I’ll address my larger concerns with the directions our budget has taken over these past two years, including some comparisons to how other cities across Ottawa and across Canada have taken bolder steps to address some of the challenges that municipalities are facing. We can already anticipate that there will be far greater challenges to face in 2025, and I want the residents of Ward 9 to be fully aware of choices that lay ahead.   

Budget 2024: Some of the Positives 

As mentioned above, there are certainly some positive items coming out of the 2024 budget. One of the more exciting commitments is that the budget will commit $30 million to new affordable housing units, which is double the 2023 budget amount of $15 million. When the draft 2024 budget was issued, the amount for affordable housing was $23.8 million, but thanks to a hard-fought effort by Somerset Ward Councillor Ariel Troster, City Council passed a motion to add an additional $6.2 million, with that extra revenue coming from our capital reserves.  

Here is a summary of some of the 2024 budget commitments that are specific to Ward 9:  

  • $21,250,766 in federal Rapid Housing Initiative funding along with municipal capital funding for a 54-unit supportive housing complex for Salus Ottawa, to be located at 56 Capilano Drive
  • $9,328,000 in municipal and OPHI funding for a 31-unit affordable housing project with Nepean Housing Corporation, to be located at 1 Dunbar Court 
  • $324,000 for replacement of junior and senior play structure and play equipment at Fisher Heights Park 
  •  $197,000 for replacement of senior play structure and play equipment at Pineglen Park 
  • $315,000 for road resurfacing on Grenfell Crescent 
  • $300,000 for pavement preservation on Baseline Road from Zena Street to Farlane Boulevard  
  • $10,000 for an upgrade to the baseball diamond at Hamilton Yards, Nepean Sportsplex 
  • $505,582 for construction of the Trend Arlington outdoor pavilion 
  • $1,000,000 for a new field hockey park on Colonnade 
  • $75,000 in Temporary Traffic Calming funding 
  • $2,974,000 for rehabilitation work at Fallowfield Reservoir 
  • $561,000 to replace roof at Entrance 3 at Nepean Sportsplex 


Budget Survey Results 

Two weekends ago, prior to Council voting on Budget 2024, my office released a short "Temperature Check" survey that asked for your immediate reactions to three key issues at the centre of this year’s budget deliberations. I am very appreciative of the more than 800 residents from all over the ward who took the time to answer the survey. Your feedback was appreciated. A clear majority of those who responded felt the city should be budgeting for its needs, rather than budgeting to an arbitrary 2.5% increase. You also made it clear that you think the city needs to invest more in affordable housing. And a slight majority also want to see a stronger investment in public transit. I’m proud to serve such a compassionate community, committed to the well-being of everyone who calls Ottawa home. For those who are interested in the full breakdown, here are the results:


Breaking Ground at Salus 

Earlier today, my team member, Tim Abray, attended the ground-breaking ceremony for the new Salus development on Capilano Drive on my behalf. This new addition to our community is an important step in making life more affordable and comfortable for some of those who are most often marginalized in our communities. This new Salus Ottawa facility will feature 54 new supportive housing units, offering a caring and protective environment for some of our city’s most vulnerable residents, including those facing serious mental health and addiction issues. I’m proud Salus has found a home in Ward 9. 



Did we just save square dancing in Ottawa? 

Something interesting and cool happened over the past few weeks. We started receiving emails from square dance clubs and organizations across Ottawa, who were concerned about news they had received from the City of Ottawa telling them that they’d no longer be eligible to pay the non-profit rental rates for the municipal facilities they used for their events, and that they’d have to pay for private rental rate. The difference between the non-profit and the private rental rates is significant and several of these square dance clubs were concerned they’d have to stop renting city facilities and were worried that they’d have to cease operations.

To make a long story short, I intervened when I noticed a discrepancy between the staff’s rationale for the increased rate and how the dance clubs defined their non-profit status. After a fair amount of back-and-forth with staff and these dance clubs, I was able to negotiate an extension of the current non-profit rate agreement, on the condition that these square-dancing clubs strive to increase the open nature of their participation policy, in order to increase the diversity of participants.  

And now I’ll be joining them at their January 28th square dance meet up to help them celebrate their good news! 


Waste incineration in Pontiac 

At last week’s Council meeting, Council passed the Solid Waste Master Plan, which lays the course for the future of waste management in Ottawa. Informed residents are already aware that the City of Ottawa must soon make a decision of what to do after our Trail Landfill reaches capacity.  

One alternative that the City is considering is to move away from landfills, and to investigate various waste-to-energy (WET) technologies, including incineration or multi-waste processing (MWP).  

The conversation around incineration continues to be a controversial topic. Not only are there questions surrounding whether this is a “clean” technology, but questions have arisen recently about whether the City of Ottawa is having discussions with stakeholders in Quebec who are proposing to build a new incineration facility on the other side of the Ottawa River.  

Recently, the Ottawa Citizen published “Why Quebec’s ‘Wild West’ wants Ottawa’s garbage”, which is an extensive feature article on the development of a new incineration plant in Pontiac, Quebec. No matter your position on incineration, we encourage our readers to familiarize themselves with the issue by checking out this well-researched article.  


New team member 

On December 11 our team welcomed Émil Lamontagne, our new office manager, who’s stepping into the role previously held by Alexandra Seymour. Our team will likely be shifting around some of the roles and responsibilities over the next few weeks, but Émil is eager to start serving the residents of Ward 9 and looks forward to getting out into the community. Émil can be reached at [email protected] or at [email protected]  



Snow Removal: What to expect during a storm & winter weather parking bans  

The City of Ottawa recently revised their procedures for snow clearing after winter storms. The first graphic below provides a timeline for snow removal. The second graphic provides a lot more contextual information about snow clearing across the city and specifically in Ward 9.  

As for winter parking bans, the City’s Roads and Parking Services department has been working to expand the number of available parking alternatives during a winter weather parking ban for the 2023/24 season. For this season, we will pilot 18 additional parking lots to determine their level of use and success in consideration for permanent implementation for use during winter weather parking bans. In Ward 9 the following lot will be made available during winter parking bans:  

  • Nepean Sportsplex – 1701 Woodroffe Avenue 

So, don’t get caught out in the storm! You can check out all of the alternative parking sites by visiting Winter weather parking bans can be called any time, in the event of bad weather. You can stay in the loop by signing up for the winter parking alerts at: eSubscriptions sign up form | City of Ottawa.



Bus route review 

We just wanted our residents to know that we have been actively monitoring the emails that you’ve sent us regarding concerns over the proposed changes that are part of OC Transpo’s Bus Route Review. As it stands, the key issues remain around changes to the 82/282, and the loss of service related to changes surrounding the 86/89/111, especially concerning the loss of regular bus service on Chesterton Drive.  

Our office has submitted multiple proposals to OC Transpo with suggested modifications to the above-mentioned routes. OC Transpo continues to engage with us on this subject, but at this point we do not yet know whether our proposals will be accepted.  

In terms of the timeline for these route changes, we are told that the Bus Route Review changes are set to begin in Spring 2024.   


Merivale Transformer Station weekend work 

Hydro One notified our office last week of some weekend construction work happening at the Merivale Transformer Station in Tanglewood. Hydro One crews will be on site working on Saturday December 16. There will be no work happening on Sunday. They expect the work on Saturday to be between 7:30 am-5:30 pm, in accordance with the local Noise By-law. During this time crews will be working to remove soil to accommodate the station expansion and line work and residents can expect to see large trucks including an excavator and multiple dump trucks removing materials from the site. They’ll also be working on the transmission line reconfiguration as the lines are being de-energized at this time. 



New engagement opportunities in the New Year 

It’s been several months since we held any of our various community engagement events. We’ll be looking to re-initiate this process in the New Year, with the aim of establishing at least one online or in-person event per month. We’ll communicate about our pending events in January.  


OC Transpo’s Annual Loblaws Foodraiser for Ottawa Food Bank 

As we did last year, our office was happy to participate in the joint OC Transpo / Loblaws foodraiser for Ottawa Food Bank, where councillors and their staff joined forces with volunteers at Loblaws stores all across Ottawa. As we did last year, our team was stationed at the Merivale Triangle Loblaws where once again we were quite successful in getting customers to donate well over $500 in groceries. Councillor Devine used to work as a salesman, and he’s got quite the knack of getting residents to open up their hearts (and their wallets). As one resident said to the Councilllor, “You could sell me my own left shoe!” 



Get your shots and take care this holiday season 

COVID-19 is currently making a strong resurgence in our community. The levels of COVID in wastewater all over the province are as high or higher than they have ever been. In eastern Ontario, levels are three times higher than they were last year at this time. At the same time, flu and RSV levels continue to rise. So, take some care as you head out into the community over the holiday season. Book your vaccines, wear a mask when you head out into public spaces, crack a window, turn on your air filters, and let’s all do our best to keep our loved ones safe. 


Ottawa Public Health: Mental Health & Well-being 

With world events continuing to unfold and evolve, Ottawa Public Health (OPH) is mindful of the impacts these events can have on our community’s mental health and well-being, regardless of age, backgrounds, and beliefs.  

OPH has developed several mental health supports and resources to help adults and children cope through some of the stressful times we are experiencing right now.  These supports aim to build resilience, improve physical and mental health, and help deal with life stressors and changes.   

Please visit OPH’s Responding to Stressful Events webpage to learn more on how to:   

  • Talk to children and youth about their feelings during stressful events;   
  • Recognize the signs of stress and ways to overcome stressful events; and,   
  • Knowing when and how to get help.   

Information for supporting children and youth can also be found on OPH’s Parenting in Ottawa Responding to Stressful Events webpage. OPH has also developed English and French fact sheets and will soon have translations available in Arabic and Hebrew.   

OPH is committed to promoting safe and supportive environments grounded in inclusion, where everyone feels like they belong and can contribute to our community’s well-being.    



780 Baseline 

City Council has now approved one portion of the proposed development at 780 Baseline. The original application was for three towers on the property: one facing on Fisher and two facing on Baseline Rd. But a cautionary heritage report moved staff to recommend only approving the 24-storey Fisher tower while the impact of the two further towers on the Experimental Farm is given deeper consideration. This is a step in the right direction for this file. Our office has been working closely with all of the parties involved to try and move the project to a place where it achieves the city’s need for further intensification along the Baseline corridor while also preserving the important role the Farm plays locally, nationally, and internationally as a place of advanced agrifood research. We are optimistic that the final outcome will achieve the necessary balance. The file will return to Planning & Housing Committee on January 31 for further consideration. Stay tuned! 



Merivale United Church Christmas Eve celebrations 



Knox United Church Christmas Services  

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