Term of Council Priorities
Now that City Council has finally slowed down a little, I wanted to take the opportunity to let you know about the Term of Council Priorities process that we just completed last week. Over the last few months, I joined my fellow councillors and the mayor on a process where we each identified our own priorities and concerns, whether for our individual wards or the city. The goal of this process was not only to find common ground and consensus, but to ensure that our list of final priorities was short. Because if we end up with too many priorities, then we have no priorities at all.
At last week’s July 12 Council meeting we approved our 2023-2026 Term of Council Priorities – a focused vision that will help steer the actions of City staff over the next four years. These four priorities aim to create an Ottawa that:
- has affordable housing and is more livable for all
- is more connected with reliable, safe and accessible mobility options
- is green and resilient
has a diversified and prosperous economy
I am very pleased with this list of priorities, since not only does it align with my own personal values and principles, but because it reflects the most common issues that were raised during my 2022 election campaign, which were the need to address housing and general affordability, the need for safer active transportation and more reliable transit, and the need to address our city’s resilience and emergency preparedness.
Along with the four priorities, Council identified three long-term goals to accomplish over the next 10+ years to provide a vision for the future of Ottawa as a national capital that is prosperous, sustainable, inclusive and resilient. The goals will help create a city:
- where residents experience a good quality of life and live in neighborhoods that are diverse, inclusive, safe, connected, accessible and affordable
- where residents benefit from a healthy, sustainable and equitable built environment that supports efforts to address climate change
that is economically diversified and prosperous, attracting people to Ottawa to live, work, play, invest, learn and visit.
Over the next few months, the City of Ottawa will be making public our 2022-2026 Strategic Plan, which will be based on these Term of Council Priorities.
Hydro Outages in Ward 9
Readers of this newsletter will know that I have frequently raised the alarm about the increasingly unreliable state of electrical power in our city, especially as it pertains to residents of Ward 9. Over the past several years, and even over the past two weeks, specific areas of Ward 9 continue to be exposed to power outages more frequently or more severely than other parts of the city. Most recently, the northeastern neighbourhoods of Ward 9 (Fisher Heights, Skyline, Parkwood Hills) have experienced significant outages on July 5, July 9 and July 13. While the ongoing labour disruption at Hydro Ottawa has likely contributed to the length of time it has taken to restore power during some of these outages, the issues impacting Ward 9 residents pre-dates the Hydro Ottawa strike.
Earlier this week I issued a statement on my website offering as much information as was available about these recent outages, as well as laying out a plan of action for addressing these issues. Please read the statement, and I look forward to discussing this issue with residents over the summer months.
Fatal Collision Review Committee Report
Throughout my election campaign, and since I took office, the issue of traffic and road safety continues to be among the most pressing concerns among residents of Ward 9. Last week, Council received a report from the Fatal Collision Review Committee (FCRC) that backed-up the validity of these concerns.
The Fatal Collision Review Committee (FCRC) was established in 2017 and is a multi-agency initiative under the mandate of the Coroners Act, comprising the Ottawa Police Service, the City of Ottawa, Ottawa Public Health, and the Eastern Regional Supervising Coroner’s Office. Its mandate is to facilitate the sharing of information following fatal collisions and determine if any recommendations can be made to prevent future deaths in similar circumstances.
Last week, the FCRC released their Annual Report which provides a detailed analysis of fatal collisions that occurred between 2017 and 2020 in the City of Ottawa, along with recommendations focused on engineering, enforcement and education. Residents can download a copy of the FCRC 2020 Annual Report. My colleague Councillor Laine Johnson wrote a great thread on Twitter that encapsulated many of the concerns affecting both of our suburban wards, but here are just two of the relevant issues:
- Motor vehicle occupants account for the highest percentage (95%) of reportable collisions, as well as the highest percentage (52%) of fatalities. However, the remaining percentage of reportable collisions (5%) are attributed to “vulnerable road users”, which make up for a disproportionately high percentage (48%) of fatalities.
- When accounting for fatal collisions by geographic area, whereas the rural areas of Ottawa involved the highest percentage of fatalities (likely due to higher speeds), the areas referred to as “suburban inside Greenbelt” (including Ward 9) reported the second highest percentage of fatalities. This is likely due to the higher number of vulnerable road users (e.g. pedestrians and cyclists) involved, as well as the circumstances of our area’s sub-standard road design.
The findings of this report reinforce my concern that Ward 9 (as a “suburban inside Greenbelt” area) has significant issues which must be addressed, and that the safety concerns of “vulnerable road users” must also be taken into consideration.
To address these concerns, the FCRC Annual Report makes a series of recommendations in the areas of Enforcement, Education and Education, including:
- That the City of Ottawa develop a comprehensive strategy to reduce speeds on Ottawa roads. This will include the use of various forms of traffic calming measures, as well as the increased use of automated speed enforcement cameras.
- That the City of Ottawa conduct an in-depth review of collisions involving road users aged 55 years and over, an age cohort that is over-represented in fatal crashes and reportable collisions.
- That Ottawa Police Services continue targeted enforcement for peak crash periods to help curb risk-taking.
On Monday July 18th, Ottawa residents were once again frustrated to learn of a new system-wide closure of the LRT Line 1 network, after a routine inspection revealed an issue with a bearing. Out of “an abundance of caution”, OC Transpo made the quick decision to implement the closure of the train and all Line 1 stations, as well as initiating R1 Replacement bus service along the LRT route. Our office realizes that this is not only another frustration and inconvenience to transit users, but another cause of concern to all Ottawa residents who have paid for this asset.
In this newsletter, we will provide information that was relayed to us by OC Transpo General Manager Renee Amilcar.
As of Tuesday morning, OC Transpo is providing the following service levels to our customers:
- R1 bus service is running between Tunney’s Pasture and Blair station
- To support R1 service, as of 5:00am there are 12 buses in operation providing customers with service every 10 minutes. During peak periods we will have 28 buses providing service approximately every 5 minutes.
Signage has been installed in O-Train stations to ensure customers are aware of R1 service
This is what customers can expect until further notice:
- R1 service will be operating from Tunney’s Pasture to Blair Station until further notice
- R1 service will start at 5:00 am and operate until 1:00 am. Our Transit Operations Control Centre is working to balance service delivery to support customers as best as possible, with a goal of 5-minute bus service
- Staff are scheduled to be at all major stations to support customers during their commute
- Additional signage is being installed to ensure customers are provided with accurate information during their trip
- Regular updates are being provided to customers on our social media and posted on our website. Customers are encouraged to visit OCTranspo.com for the latest information
Here’s what OC Transpo has provided as an explanation of what took place. They have indicated that the bearing issue is similar to the axle bearing issues that have occurred in the past.
- During a routine 50,000 kilometres inspection of one of the light rail vehicles, excess grease on one axle was discovered
- Upon further investigation an axle check was done, and it was determined that the bearing play was over the threshold at which it could stay in operation
- The safety of OC Transpo customers and staff is their number one priority and, out of an abundance of caution, Line 1 service was suspended to allow for a complete investigation
- OC Transpo staff is focused on working with RTG and Alstom on the investigation
- All light rail vehicles are being safely returned to the Maintenance and Storage Facility. This will allow for every single axle to be inspected and checked for any play within the axle hub
Alstom is conducting inspections of the track
Please monitor OCTranspo.com for more updates.
Ongoing NCC clean-up
There are certain areas in the ward where there remains a significant number of fallen trees from the derecho laying on the forest floor. In some cases, these dried-out trees could represent a significant public safety hazard, especially in extended hot and dry conditions where the risk of forest fire increases. The areas around the Pinhey Forest near Woodroffe and Slack is just one such example.
As many of these areas of concern lie within the Greenbelt, our office has been in touch with our contacts at the NCC to advise them of our concern and to inquire about their plans. The NCC has told us that clean-up post-derecho to remove storm debris and tree limbs off the Greenbelt floor is ongoing, but that Greenbelt trails are clear and safe for public use.
The NCC did concede that this clean-up effort will be a multi-year effort as the storm had devastated a large part of Greenbelt canopy. In Pinhey Forest, for example, the NCC reports that about 70% of the tree canopy was damaged.
NCC staff have told us that they have a “priority list” of areas for clean-up, and have requested that our office share our information on priority areas on NCC land within the Greenbelt, to help ensure that our areas of concern overlap with theirs.
To help us to this, we’re asking residents to assist in the following manner:
If you’re aware of large sections of fallen trees on NCC lands within the Greenbelt, please email [email protected] with the subject line “Fallen NCC Trees”. Since our goal is to pinpoint locations, please send a marked-up screenshot of a Google Maps image identifying the location. We’ve attached a sample map image below to give an indication of how you might present this information.
NCC asked us to let residents know that this clean-up phase is not intended to remove and trim trees on private property, or healthy Greenbelt trees on NCC federal lands that may be near private property. It is also not intended to remove all-natural vegetation on GB lands, close to homes.
Update on Ward 9 Infrastructure Projects
As mentioned in earlier editions of this newsletter, our office is working on a new feature for our website which will provide updates on specific infrastructure projects happening in Ward 9. Residents can always view a City of Ottawa map of planned construction projects, but we thought we’d provide a brief highlight on some project currently underway in Ward 9:
- Parks & Recreational Facilities: The Nepean Sportsplex is undergoing a wide range of improvements, including upgrades to several dehumidifiers and repairs to facility scoreboards. In Trend Arlington, the community will soon see commencement of work on a 30’ x 50’ Trend Arlington Outdoor Pavilion, slated for completion in Fall 2024, and with a public consultation process to be launched this week on Engage Ottawa. And several parks in Ward 9 are scheduled for equipment renewal and other upgrades over the coming years, including Gilbey Park (completion Summer 2024), Parthia Park (Fall 2024), Pineglen Park (Winter 2024), Fisher Heights Park (Summer 2024), as well as the resurfacing of the General Burns Park parking lot (Fall 2023)
- Traffic Safety: Along with the implementation of our office’s recommendations for Temporary Traffic Calming measures across the ward over the next few months, there are several projects underway within the more comprehensive Neighbourhood Traffic Calming program. These include the completion of permanent traffic calming measures on MacFarlane (completion in Fall 2024), new speed cushions on Conover Street (public consultation to begin this summer) as well as the likely commencement of a Neighbourhood Traffic Calming study of Knoxdale Road, hopefully this year. We are also pleased to announce that the city received $50,000 to fund a traffic calming study of Merivale Road near St. Monica’s School, where we continue to advocate as a placement for an Automated Speed Enforcement (ASE) camera.
Roads, Sidewalks & Pathways: Both sides of Craig Henry Drive have been recently re-paved from Aldridge Way to Knoxdale Road, with the addition of several speed cushions and new pedestrian crosswalks. Over the remainder of the summer there will be additional work, including more speed cushions from Aldridge Way to Greenbank, additional pedestrian crosswalks, as well as some new sidewalks segments added to support bus platforms, with work to be completed by Fall 2023. Along West Hunt Club Road, the segment from Cedarview to Greenbank will soon have crack re-sealing work done, and the segment from Knoxdale Road to Woodroffe will soon be entirely re-paved. In terms of sidewalks, there will be repairs and remediations to the pathway link from Parkmount Crescent to Canfield Road (August 2023), as well as the multi-use pathway on Woodroffe near Fallowfield (August 2023). A new tactile surface will be added to the sidewalk servicing the pedestrian crosswalk at Bellman Drive and Glencoe.
- Other Infrastructure: Following a recent shooting incident, a new streetlight is being installed on Kerry Crescent to provide greater safety.
Another Closure to Highway 417
Due to installation of the O-Train West extension pedestrian bridge, Highway 417 and select ramps will be closed in both directions between Woodroffe Avenue and Greenbank Road from Friday, July 28 at 11 pm until Monday, July 31 at 5 am. Full details on ramp closures and detours can be found here.
Lansdowne 2.0 Consultation
One of our city’s more prominent development projects is Lansdowne. For 175 years, Lansdowne has played various important roles in this city. Today, it is the centre of a major urban redevelopment project. Our city’s experiences with the first phase of Lansdowne’s development have fueled important conversations about public transportation, housing, entertainment, and the importance of transparency in government financial arrangements. All of these pieces play a role in the discussions being generated by the proposed next phase of development—Lansdowne 2.0.
For Lansdowne 2.0, the city is engaging a broad-based public consultation exercise. The decisions made about the ongoing development of Lansdowne will have implications for the immediate neighbourhood in the Glebe but also for our city as a whole. The decisions made about Lansdowne 2.0 will have implications for future projects in other parts of the city.
City staff have begun public consultations for the project. One was held on July 13th, and another is planned for Wednesday, September 6 at 6:00pm. More information about the project and the public consultation sessions can be found on the city’s web site. It is an important conversation and you are both welcomed and encouraged to join it.
Community Engagement Series
Regretfully, our office will be cancelling the currently scheduled Thursday Night Think Tank for July 27. For the remainder of the summer, we will soon be publishing news of two Pop-Up Office Hours events that we’ll hold outdoors in a park in Ward 9. Stay tuned for more details.
Auditor General’s 2024 Workplan Survey
The Office of the Auditor General (OAG) is currently engaged in a process to identify priorities for her office’s 2024 annual workplan. During the spring, she met with members of Council to obtain their feedback and identify potential areas for inclusion into the OAG’s upcoming workplan. New this year, the OAG is seeking public input into the areas that Ottawa residents and business owners believe could benefit from an independent audit. To accomplish this, the OAG has launched an online survey which is open until July 31. The survey is accessible on Engage Ottawa and takes approximately 5 minutes to complete.
PUBLIC HEALTH & SAFETY
For the last eight months, we have been providing you with Public Health updates on the status of COVID-19 and other respiratory viruses in our community. This will be our last regular update for a while. It remains important to understand the current levels of disease in our community to help people appropriately manage their risk. We are happy to see that current levels of COVID-19 appear to be lower in our city than they have been in a while. That’s welcome news. While the levels are lower, however, it’s important to understand that COVID is still present in our community and still presents a serious health risk. The best advice continues to be that you monitor your health and stay home if you are experiencing symptoms. Masks continue to be recommended in indoor public spaces. We will continue to monitor the situation and, if levels begin to rise again with the return to work and school in September, we will resume providing updates to ensure you have easy access to good, accurate information.
OPH Neighbourhood Health and Wellness Hubs
Routine vaccinations and services continue to be offered at Ottawa Public Health Neighbourhood Wellness Hubs, including at the Emerald Plaza Library. For the most up to date schedule, see below. For a full list of hubs and their offerings, click here.
Rat Control & Prevention
While the issue of rat and rodent infestations hasn’t yet impacted Ward 9 to the same degree it has other parts of the city, we wanted to share some information with our residents as a preventative measure. Rats are common pests that can damage property, contaminate food, and spread disease, so it’s important to prevent infestations. Should you notice any indicate of rats on your property or in your neighborhood, the first step to deal with rat issues is to contact 311. For more information, please refer to Ottawa Public Health’s website on rat control.
PLANNING & DEVELOPMENT
Update on Islamic School construction
Our office is fully aware of the long-standing tension and community frustration over the extended constructions delays over the Ottawa Islamic School, which has continued to experience delays at its Fisher Heights location for well over a decade. Our office has been sensitive to the concerns of residents, as well as the concerns of the school and student community it serves. However, action and movement is certainly needed, and so our office has been in dialogue with the school as well as with relevant city staff. We have already made contact with the school principal and will be meeting with her in the Fall.
As for the City’s involvement, we got the City to launch an Order Requiring Tests & Samples, which is a process whereby Ottawa’s Building Code Services department requires the school to provide documents attesting to the current state of construction, produced by consultants such as engineers and architects. Following receipt of the Order, the school submitted the requisite documents in early July. The consultants then provided reports to the City, which will be reviewed by the City’s building inspector. In the meantime, the school and its consultants have provided a timeline to ensure the building is repaired and protected from the elements, along with hopefully providing a completed exterior. This timeline includes site preparation by July 31, interior structural repairs completed by August 31, exterior windows installed by October 8, spray insulation completed by November 9, and exterior siding completed by December 19. Our office will continue to follow up with city staff to monitor the project timeline.
Planning work continues on the proposed development at 780 Baseline Road (the Lone Star Plaza). Those following the file will notice that the applicant has filed a new application for Site Plan Control. It’s important to understand that this new application depends on the existing application for a Zoning By-law Amendment. The plan for the site only goes forward if the application for a zoning amendment is approved. That application for a zoning amendment is in progress, with a revised application expected in the near future, and it is expected to come forward for approval by Council in the fall.
In general, zoning by-law applications determine the general planned use for the site and the height and overall size of the proposed development. Site Plan Control only proceeds once a zoning application is successful. The site plan allows City Staff to review details of the specific site layout. It includes things like the location and size of drive aisles, parking, landscaping, and overall building design.
It’s also important to understand that the site plan application is subject to the new requirements established by the Province. With the changes brought by Bill 109 and Bill 23, Site Plan Control approval is now delegated to City Staff. City Council is not directly involved in this process. That said, it is still important to provide your feedback to the appropriate City Planner so that it can be incorporated into their decision-making.
2009/2013 Prince of Wales
The city has received a Plan of Subdivision and Zoning Bylaw Amendment application for 2009 & 2013 Prince of Wales Drive. The site is located on the east side of Prince of Wales, abutting the Rideau River and Beachburg rail corridor. The proposal is to subdivide the two lots and develop seven residential lots and a private road to access the subdivision. More information about this application will be posted to the city’s website, very soon.
Canada Post Site on Leikin Drive
Canada Post is preparing to build a new parcel processing facility just south of Ward 9, on Leikin Drive. While this facility will be constructed in Ward 24, it may have some minor implications for the volume of traffic on the south end of Merivale Road. If you have concerns or comments about this new facility, feel free to provide comments to the city planners or get in touch with our office.
COMMUNITY NEWS & EVENTS
Trillium Park Pollinator Garden
Our office was thrilled to hear news that the Fisher Heights Community Association was the recipient of a $2,000 Community Environment Projects Grant Program award, for the design and construction of a new pollinator garden at Trillium Park. After encountering some difficulty in getting their grant submitted, Councillor Devine was happy to help ensure the application was properly reviewed. We with the Fisher Heights community success on this great project and look forward to seeing their new pollinator garden!
Shakespeare in the Park
Ottawa’s Company of Fools is bringing Shakespeare’s HAMLET to a park near you this summer. Since last week’s performance in Trend Arlington Park was cancelled due to rain, we wanted to remind Ward 9 residents of some upcoming performances in the ward. On July 19th you can see the show at Tanglewood Park, and on August 23rd you can see the show at Fisher Heights Park. All performances are at 7pm. Bring a lawn chair or blanket, some bug spray, and please support the company with their suggested donation of $20.
Music in the Park
On August 10th at 6pm, come out and enjoy an outdoor talent show in the field beside the Tanglewood Hillsdale Community Centre (30 Woodfield). If you have a talent that you would like to present to the community, please email [email protected]. The event will feature food for sale, and volunteers to provide child care.