Anniversary of Eastway Tank explosion
On January 13th we marked the one-year anniversary of the tragic workplace accident that took place at Eastway Tank – the deadliest incident at an Ottawa workplace in decades – which took the lives of six workers. We want to begin this issue of our newsletter by paying our respects to these workers and their families. The names of the six workers are Matt Kearney, Etienne Mabiala, Danny Beale, Rick Bastien, Russell McLellan and Kayla Ferguson.
On January 13th I visited the Eastway Tank worksite, which has turned into a makeshift memorial, to pay my respects. Anyone wishing to learn more about the latest developments in this matter may refer to this CBC News video. The cause of the explosion is still under investigation, and the company and its president are now facing charges.
My office is excited to announce that our official Ward 9 website is finally up and running. This fully bilingual website contains useful information about municipal news and events. We’ve got a series of feature updates on issues affecting residents, plus an archive of our posted newsletters. There’s a reference page where residents can access links to important local service organizations. And of course, there’s information on how to contact our office and my staff, as well as a schedule of all our upcoming public meetings. My special thanks go out to my office manager Alexandra Seymour for her work in getting this site out to the public.
Over the past two weeks all 24 councillors have had meetings with Mayor Sutcliffe and the City Manager to bring forward priorities for the city’s 2023 budget. Knowing the importance of these conversations, I went into the meeting with two important tools: a clearly articulated rationale for my areas of concern, as well as a half dozen butter tarts from Ward 9’s famous Frank’s Catering.
Here’s what I presented as my budget priorities for 2023 and the immediate future:
- I wish to invest in Community Safety, but not the kind of safety that comes from hiring more police officers, as much as that which comes from greater investment in emergency preparedness and traffic calming. When it comes to safety concerns, these were the kinds of demands that I heard from residents during my campaign.
- We discussed Effective Climate Action, with an emphasis on supporting exciting local initiatives for innovative models of housing construction, a greater investment in reforestation, as well as launching pilot projects for municipally led programs for local food production and distribution.
- In Ward 9, we can’t talk about budget priorities without addressing the need for improving our Local Infrastructure, most especially the dilapidated state of roads and sewers in the older WWII-era areas of our ward. And when it comes to growth-supportive infrastructure, this means getting some progress on the Baseline Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) line. Our city’s future viability depends on it.
- Then I pitched my “big dream” project, which is the Merivale Renewal. Residents ae going to start hearing a lot more about this from my office in the coming months. We have a historic opportunity to transform Nepean’s main street into the center of a people-focused, human-scale complete community, and it begins with getting budget commitments for a new Secondary Plan to cover the areas of concern.
- Finally, I emphasized the dire state of our city's Accessible Taxis & Para Transpo. We are literally leaving people with disabilities stranded on the street. We cannot claim to be a world-class city while this continues.
These are my priorities and goals. Each of them connects to my mission statement, which centers around managing our city's growth in a way that is sustainable, responsible, forward-thinking, and just. I believe that in doing this we will end up with a better Ottawa.
Ottawa is going to see a lot of growth over the coming decades – just look at the horizon today and count the number of construction cranes! Our population is projected to increase from 1,000,000 to 1,400,000 over the next few decades. Historically, Ward 9 has not seen the level of growth that our neighboring wards have experienced recently, and so residents of Knoxdale-Merivale might not be as accustomed to the scale of change that is coming. It’s imperative that we plan well for this growth, as per my own mission statement!
In my spare time, all I read about these days are books on urban planning. (I just finished Happy City by Charles Montgomery and now I’m double-diving into The Death and Life of Great American Cities by Jane Jacobs, as well as Process: How to Create Community Buildings with Impact.)
My focus is on supporting development (and community engagement about development) that helps advance the kind of sustainable and progressive modes of urban planning that will help us build healthy communities for the future. Too often, we’re still advancing regressive plans based on the car-centric suburban model embraced since the 1950s. The communities that we design for tomorrow need to focus on making it easier for residents to walk, cycle and take public transit. This CBC feature story illustrates how several Canadian cities are already embracing the kind of change required, and I hope to push Ottawa in this same direction.
The CBC article above includes a reference to a U.S.-based organization called Urban3, which helps cities advance better plans using innovative 3D visualizations that use local data to demonstrate the fiscal health of their communities. Briefly, these visualizations show just how much the densely packed tax base of urban and outer urban areas of cities pay for the sparsely packed suburban and rural areas of a city, reinforcing the argument to curb urban sprawl. My office is meeting with Urban3 this week to talk about the process of commissioning a study on Ottawa’s fiscal health.
This past week I joined Mayor Sutcliffe along with Barrhaven Councillors Wilson Lo and David Hill on a tour of the Area X.0 research facility located in Ward 9 on the NCC property at Woodrooffe / West Hunt Club. This world-class facility is the most advanced site in North America dedicated to automated vehicle research, and regularly draws companies from across the globe hoping to benefit from Ottawa’s resources and expertise. I’m proud of how Area X.0 is bringing the world to Ottawa and showcasing Ottawa to the world!
VACANT UNIT TAX UPDATE
As many of you will already know, the city has begun implementation of the Vacant Unit Tax (VUT). The VUT is one measure in the city’s more broad-based effort to address the housing challenges our city is facing. Enrollment has been open for two weeks and as of January 14th, more than 42% of Ottawa homeowners have already registered their properties, with more than 140,000 property owners submitting their declarations.
The early progress in getting properties registered does not mean the program roll-out hasn’t been without its challenges, and that improvements won’t be required. Our office and city staff are monitoring the questions and feedback we are receiving, and we will used that feedback to help improve the program, going forward.
You may also have received a second mail-out reminder. For those of you who have already filled out your declaration, you can ignore that second notice. You have already done your part! But for those who have not, don’t worry, you have until March 16 to complete your declaration. The simplest way to do that is via the online portal on the city’s website. It’s a simple process, particularly if you already have a MyServiceOttawa account. The City has also prepared an instructional video to help walk you through the process of submitting your declaration.
COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT UPDATE
Public Meeting: 780 Baseline
On January 12th our office hosted a Public ZOOM Meeting for residents to get information and ask questions about the proposed Zoning By-Law Amendment Application at 780 Baseline. Our office hosted this meeting with collaboration from River Ward Councillor Riley Brockington, as the development site impacts his neighboring ward on Fisher Avenue. This was a well-attended meeting, with over 100 residents taking part, along with city planners, and of course the developer and members of his consultant team. A recording of the Public Meeting is available for residents to view. We’ll speak more about 780 Baseline and the next procedural steps below.
Community Engagement Series
Our office is excited to have finally launched several components of our Community Engagement Series. On January 9th we held our first Pop-Up Community Drop-In (where residents can book one-on-one meetings with the Councillor) at the White Pine Café in Trend-Arlington. And on January 16th we held our first Public Coffee Hour (where residents can meet with the Councillor in a larger group setting) at the Dao Café on Merivale.
And this week on January 19th we’re going to hold our first Public ZOOM Meeting, where residents can meet in a virtual setting for a group discussion with the Councillor. This meeting will take place from 5:30pm – 6:30pm, and residents can access the meeting through this ZOOM meeting link or with the ZOOM Meeting ID 958 5187 6434.
We are also in the early planning stages of two upcoming Town Halls. One session will take place in Spring 2023 to focus on Community Engagement for Local Development. A second session will take place in Summer 2023 to focus on Community Engagement for Active Transportation.
Public Meeting: 2023 Budget Consultation
Our Ward 9 office is partnering with Councillor Theresa Kavanagh (Ward 7) and Councillor Laine Johnson (Ward 8) on a joint Public Meeting: 2023 Budget Consultation, to take place on Thursday February 16th from 7:00pm – 9:00pm. The hybrid meeting will take place in-person at Ben Franklin Place (101 Centrepointe) as well as online via MS Teams. More details to come soon!
PUBLIC HEALTH & SAFETY UPDATE
Last week Ottawa Public Health confirmed that 1000 Ottawa residents have now died from COVID-19. This is a stark reminder of the ever-present danger that COVID-19 poses, and the need to remain vigilant.
- Levels of COVID-19 are very high. Per cent positivity is 17.7%.
- Influenza activity remains similar to last week, with a moderate level of 6.8% positivity.
- RSV activity is high, but levels have been decreasing.
Residents can always monitor these respiratory viruses by looking at Ottawa Public Health’s Seasonal Respiratory Infections and Enteric Outbreaks Surveillance Reports.
Crime Prevention Ottawa: Neighbourhood Toolkit
Crime Prevention Ottawa has made an online Neigbourhood Toolkit available to residents as a one-stop resource for ideas, tips and resources on building better neighbourhoods and staying safe at home, at work and in your community.
Vehicle theft has been an increasing trend in recent years and there are many simply preventative actions that residents can take to reduce the risk of thieves targeting your vehicle.
- always lock the doors and roll up the windows tightly
- never leave your keys in an unattended vehicle, even for a quick errand
- don’t hide spare keys
- If you have a FOB key, don’t leave it close to your door (since thieves can scan the FOB’s signal), or leave it inside protective container
- remove valuables, shopping bags and loose change from view
- park in well-lit areas with pedestrian traffic and facing the street
- if you have a garage, use it and remember to lock both the vehicle and garage
- don’t leave personal identification, vehicle registration, insurance certificates or credit cards in your vehicle
MacFarlane Traffic Calming
The City of Ottawa undertook a local traffic calming study for MacFarlane Road between Merivale Road and Deakin Street. The focus of the study was to explore solutions to help address well-documented speeding and pedestrian and cyclist safety concerns. The recommended plan was developed in consideration of effectiveness, cost, and the feedback received from the first survey.
This project will be funded through the Neighbourhood Traffic Calming program. The next step in the process is to undertake the detailed design (which typically requires one year) with the construction typically following the year after.
More information relating to the study will be posted on our website soon. In the interim, residents can view the study results and recommendations on the City’s Public Engagement site for MacFarlane Road.
Temporary Traffic Calming
Our office appreciates our ward’s Community Associations for contributing their suggestions regarding Temporary Traffic Calming measures (which are different than the more permanent, more expensive Neighbourhood Traffic Calming program described above). On February 3rd, the Councillor will be submitting traffic calming recommendations to city staff for Spring 2023 implementation. These are temporary traffic calming measures which are implemented and reviewed on an annual basis, and we will continue to engage with our residents and communities to seek out and deliver the most effective and efficient traffic calming measures possible.
Our office has received numerous emails about coyote sightings, especially in the Gilbey Park area. Residents may report coyote sightings via 3-1-1 or online. If a coyote is posing an immediate threat or danger to the public, call 9-1-1 immediately. Reporting a coyote sighting simply informs the City’s data collection efforts to track coyote movements, and the creation of a service request does not mean a By-law Enforcement Officer will be dispatched to attend.
We are keenly aware of this issue and concerned about the proliferation of coyotes in the area. Currently both the municipality and the province are handing off jurisdiction over this matter. City staff were directed by City Council to develop an updated Coyote Management Strategy that is expected to be released this year for public review and comment before it is presented at Committee for approval.
We hope to continue hearing from residents and utilise City data in order to advocate for improved plans and policy on coyote mitigation.
As mentioned in the Councillor’s Update, we hosted an online Public Meeting last Thursday evening to update everyone on the status of the 780 Baseline development application. The meeting was well attended with more than 100 residents participating to hear presentations and pose questions. We heard from the developer about the current state of the proposal and from city planning staff about the next steps in the process. The Councillor presented his current position on the application, as well as some context for his deliberations on this application, and to development across the ward. If you’d like to catch up on that meeting, you can watch a recording of the meeting.
The primary purpose of that meeting was to ensure that the public, and especially the residents of Ward 9, have the information needed to come to an informed view about the development. It’s important that residents have an opportunity to have their views heard. Residents may contact our office at any time. Another route is to submit your remarks to the city planner assigned to the file by emailing him at [email protected]. The planning department takes into account well-informed, planning-based comments from community members. So, if you have something to contribute, don’t be shy. Finally, it’s important to point out that this process is a long way from over. There will be opportunities to provide input and feedback right up to and including the Planning Committee meeting when this proposal is finally brought forward for a vote.
Looking to the future - Merivale
Discussions about development will be front and centre in Ward 9 for the next few years. And it’s important that we, as a community, play an active part in that evolving discussion. After all, the development we approve today will determine the shape of our city for years to come. With that in mind, the Councillor has begun a process of engaging community leaders, experts, and urban planning enthusiasts in a wide-ranging discussion about the future of Merivale Road. It is an important main street corridor, and it runs right through the heart of our Ward. It’s time we talked about what a future Merivale could look like and how it could best serve our community. Stay tuned!
COMMUNITY NEWS & EVENTS
The Tanglewood Hillsdale Community Association is also hosting their Tanglewood Winter Carnival on January 28th. And the Manordale Woodvale Community Association is hosting their own Manordale Winter Carnival on February 4th. As with many community associations, MWCA has their outdoor rink up and running, but they are on the lookout for volunteer rink attendants, which is a great way for local students to get their volunteer hours.
The Craig Henry Community Association is holding their Annual General Meeting on January 30th at 7:30pm, where Councillor Devine will speak to local priorities for this community, as well as answer questions from residents. Craig Henry residents interested in attending this virtual ZOOM meeting can access the meeting with this link on January 30th. To vote at the meeting you must be a paid member, which is $10 per household.
Gilbey Park Renewal
The City of Ottawa is looking for feedback from residents in the Skyline / Fisher Heights / Parkwood Hills neighborhoods on two proposed concepts for new play equipment in Gilbey Park, as the existing play structure and equipment have surpassed their intended service life. The playground needs upgrading to comply with the City’s accessibility requirements and to respond to the needs of the neighboring residents. There have been two proposals put forward by the Parks and Planning department which can be found at the city’s Engage Ottawa website. Residents must sign in or register to respond to the survey, which closes January 29th.
The Nepean Horticultural Society is hosting a vermiculture workshop with the Box of Life founder Akil Mesiwala on Thursday, January 19 at 7:30 pm at the City View United Church. This event is free for members. Masks are strongly encouraged.
Hydro One Energizing Life Community Fund
There’s a deadline coming up on January 31st for eligible community organizations to apply for up to $25,000 in funding from Hydro One’s Energizing Life Community Fund, which is meant to support projects that focus on the physical, psychological and emotional safety of communities. Eligible organizations can apply for projects that demonstrate a focus on the safety needs of their local community.
Thanks for your engagement!