July 3, 2024, Newsletter


Belated Happy Canada Day! 

Before I get to the newsletter, I wanted to let you all know that my office slows down a little during the months of July and August, as my team and I take our much-needed vacations. As part of this, we won’t be publishing our bi-weekly newsletter on July 16th. Our next issue will come out July 30th. 


The implications of Council’s decisions 

When I hear news about a species that is threatened by extinction, I see it as a barometer of our own human species’ failure to act as responsible stewards of our natural environment. And so, it was discouraging to read in the news last week that “an Ottawa-area freshwater turtle is under threat of extinction in the west end of Ottawa within the next few years due to the mass urban growth near its habitat.” 

In other words, urban sprawl in Kanata has placed the Blanding’s turtle on the brink of extinction.   

In a city that will grow as much as Ottawa will over the next several decades, urban expansion will inevitably happen. But as caretakers of the city’s future, the common thinking is that we should limit sprawl as much as possible: by concentrating most of our growth within the greenbelt through intensification, and when we do expand the urban boundary, we do so with modest expansions land immediately adjacent to already-developed areas. Not only does this have the least adverse impact on natural ecosystems, but it’s also the most fiscally responsible manner to grow. A study by Hemson Consulting in 2021 concluded that it costs the City of Ottawa far more to service new low-density houses on undeveloped land than it does for high-density infill development, which is profitable to the taxpayer.   

Then there are times when the sheer foolishness of our choices – choices that fly in the face of all common sense – is so severe that it demands investigation.  

I’m talking about Tewin.  

For anyone who is not familiar with what the Tewin project is, then I strongly recommend that you spend some time on the internet doing a little research, because the implications that the Tewin land expansion will have on you and future generations of Ottawans is significant. In the map below, the proposed Tewin lands are the ones circled in red. Briefly:  

  • When city staff proposed new lands for urban expansion as part of our New Official Plan, they did not even propose Tewin for consideration because it scored so low against the city’s assessment criteria. But former Mayor Jim Watson had other plans, and so here we are. 
  • Tewin is to be a new suburb of 800 hectares (445 hectares for residential development) far outside the urban boundary, with an initial population projection of 16,500. The proposed density (number of residents per acre) is extremely low, making it the kind of far-flung, suburban sprawl that cities are supposed to stop doing. 
  • The Tewin landowners have already been involved in heavily controversial and secretive instances of tree-clearing, ostensibly for the purposes of farming, but with many suspecting that the true plans are for further expansion.  

If the Tewin project continues, it will cost taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars. We’ll be spending money that we don’t have on an objective that we shouldn’t be pursuing. Even if the developers pay for the initial costs of infrastructure, the City will be responsible for the lifelong operation and maintenance of that infrastructure. And the City has proposed that taxpayers pay $160 million to “oversize” the watermains that will service Tewin, stating that it’s best to pay now for the growth that Tewin can anticipate in the 22nd century. I applaud city staff’s commitment to such long-term infrastructure planning. It’s too bad that it’s for such an impractical project.  

But there’s a new element of concern with the Tewin project. At a recent committee meeting, councillors learned that the Tewin landowners (including Taggart, which is the main development company) have a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the City of Ottawa. Briefly, under this MOU, the Tewin landowners are paying the salaries and benefits of three City of Ottawa planning staff, who work exclusively on the Tewin project. This news got the attention of several councillors – including me – who pressed for answers on the matter. The Ottawa Citizen’s Bruce Deachman wrote a critical column on the subject which included his opinion that “this project smells like a fish market on a hot day”. Here’s what Deachman wrote about my involvement at this committee:  

“Questioned Thursday by Knoxdale-Merivale Coun. Sean Devine, city staff said that such hiring was not common practice and they were unaware of any similar arrangements at the city. Further pressed by Devine, staff said that city management would be unable to reassign any of the three to different files if it wanted, making it easy to wonder if they really fit the definition of city employees.”  

Since that committee meeting, I brought a Councillor’s Inquiry to the last Council meeting, asking for a formal confirmation of the details of this staffing MOU, as well as seeking more information on whether our city’s legal had considered the potential implications of such an unorthodox arrangement.  

All this to say: there is a lot more digging that needs to be done on the Tewin project. If we are complacent on this matter, we risk committing ourselves to an ill-advised project that could cost us dearly for as far into the future as we can see.  

And now I’d like to talk about Lansdowne 2.0.  

Residents should know by now that I am not a supporter of the Lansdowne 2.0 project. Even when the price tag for this project was listed at $419 million, I thought that it was irresponsible of the City of Ottawa to spend this much money and take on this much debt on a project that will only serve a small portion of Ottawa residents, and at a time when we have so many more urgent priorities to address. And recently, with the amazing success of the PWHL Ottawa team, who averaged over 7,000 tickets sold per game last year, people have started to ask about the practical wisdom of building a new 5,000 seat arena to replace the current 8,000 seat arena. If the PWHL Ottawa team’s success continues, then ticket prices could skyrocket to meet demand, or the team could go find another city to play in. 

But the news we got last week from the Ottawa Auditor General was eye-opening. The OAG did an “agile audit” on the financial plans for Lansdowne 2.0, and what she found was concerning. Not only did she conclude that the construction cost estimates for Lansdowne 2.0 are likely to be under-estimated by about $75 million (turning this $419 million project into a $500 million project), but she observed what some of identified as a “triple whammy” of concern:  

  • The construction cost estimates were too low 
  • The revenue projection estimates were too high 
  • The projected operating costs were also too low 

Both the Ottawa Auditor General and the Ernst & Young consulting firm engaged by the City to examine its project finances referred to our financing plans as “optimistic.” Journalists have suggested that when auditors refer to your financial plans as “optimistic,” it’s tantamount to saying that they are unfeasible.  

I’ll be as transparent as I can: I need you to be concerned. I’m concerned. I’ve tried to make this as clear as possible in recent issues of this newsletter. In my opinion, an opinion shared by many, the City of Ottawa is making some very suspect financial decisions. Today, it’s the Blanding Turtle that faces extinction. Tomorrow, it might be our cash reserves, or transit, or any of the municipal services and programs that residents depend on.  


Threats to Councillor Plante 

This past week an Ottawa resident was arrested and charged with engaging in threatening conduct directed at Councillor Stephanie Plante, as well as with knowingly conveying a death threat by email. Obviously, this is very troubling news for my colleague and her family, and I’ve spoken with Councillor Plante to offer my support, as well as with city staff to address concerns about enhanced security for my colleague.  

But I hope that all Ottawa residents take this news seriously, and that we all play our part in de-escalating the toxic culture of harassment and intimidation of public officials. Because it truly hurts all residents.  

While I have never received any threat as extreme as Councillor Plante’s, my email inbox and social media feed routinely see messages and commentary filled with insult, ridicule, harassment, and sometimes aggression. I’ve had a few “I should come find your house and tell you this to your face” messages.  

Don’t get me wrong. Criticize me. I readily accept that my choices, actions, or inactions can frequently merit criticism. I do not expect, nor do I want, that everyone shares the positions that I hold. 

But too often, the criticism is delivered with such malice and thoughtlessness that the politician’s natural response is “I’m not paid enough to put up with this.” And don’t forget: many politicians at all levels of government are resigning and leaving public office for this very reason.  

And so, the keyboard warriors who engage in this critical sport should ask themselves: “What is my goal?” Are you seeking to discourage competent, talented, experienced people from holding public office? That could be the outcome.  Are you hoping to get aggressive, combative people to hold public office? That could also be the outcome. Another outcome could simply be that politicians who once were empathetic, compassionate and open-minded choose instead to put up walls and stop listening. That doesn’t help anyone. But it’s a possible outcome. Because an interesting strength/weakness of politicians is that we are human beings, after all.  


Renovictions in Ottawa 

Last Friday several councillors got news that over 100 tenants had suddenly received eviction notices at an apartment building on Richmond Road in West Ottawa. While the building is not in my ward, I joined several councillors as well as the local MPP Chandra Pasma in trying to get as much information as we could so that we could organize some form of effort to assist these residents.  

On Sunday, I joined MPP Chandra Pasma and Bay Ward Councillor Theresa Kavanagh in a canvass of the tenants at this building, so that we collect as much information as we could, and so that we could try to inform residents about their rights as tenants and what their options are when faced with these kinds of renoviction notices. It became immediately apparent that these residents were under extreme stress and anxiety, with a lot of misinformation going around, and several residents clearly being pressured to make a choice that’s likely not in their best interest.  

What I saw grown men crying in their doorways, perfect strangers desperate for information and guidance, and vulnerable tenants contemplating options that they couldn’t afford. What I saw was a perfect example of what the City of Ottawa needs to pass an Anti-Renoviction By-Law as soon as is humanly possible. 



Infrastructure plans for Ward 9 

This past week our office received our annual briefing on planned infrastructure projects for Ward 9, which is a wide-ranging list of projects covering all aspects of municipal infrastructure, e.g. roads, sidewalks, parks, water infrastructure, facilities, etc. As usual, there are projects in the list that we are excited about, as well as projects that raise questions about how they were prioritized over other perceived needs.  

As we mentioned in a previous newsletter, our office is referring to the next several months as our Summer of Infrastructure. And that includes analysis of this project list. Since the list lays out plans for the next 5 – 7 years, and since each year’s project phases need to be confirmed during budget season, our office will now spend the next few weeks reviewing the list and talking with staff. Our aim is to provide you with a summary of what’s being proposed at some point in early August, which will give us plenty of time to hear your feedback before we deliberate over Budget 2025.  


Exciting news from Merivale High School 

Many residents of Ward 9 and frequent readers of our office newsletter may be familiar with the dangerous intersection of Merivale and Viewmount, adjacent to Merivale High School. Our office and staff have been working to address various concerns, and progress has not been slower than we had hoped. However, we could not help but share the work of two students at Merivale High School and their innovative solution. 

Two 16-year-old Merivale High School students, Rohan Bahl and Matthew Zhou, developed the Traffic Helper app, which uses AI to plot the safest travel routes in Ottawa based on historic accident data. The project started as a Grade 12 assignment and expanded significantly, driven by a desire to prevent accidents after a classmate was injured. The app allows users to prioritize safety over time and distance. 

And there may even be a way of integrating this work into developing solutions for traffic planners. Bah said that their app “has potential applications for city planners and can predict the safety and traffic flow implications of adding a traffic light, for instance, to a given intersection.” 

We certainly commend them for their work and are interested to see how these tools could help advance pedestrian safety in the future.  


Inquiry on supervised beaches 

Residents may recall the recent tragedy of a youth who drowned at Britannia Beach on June 3rd, which was a few weeks before the June 15th launch of having City of Ottawa lifeguards on active duty at municipal beaches.  Over the past few weeks our office has been doing research into the circumstances that allow other municipalities (e.g. Toronto, Gatineau) to have lifeguard supervision at their public beaches as early as June 1st. And so, at last week’s Council meeting Councillor Devine brought forth an inquiry to staff which would seek information that could help position the City of Ottawa to have supervised public beaches earlier in the summer. It’s our hope that we may be able to implement changes in time for summer 2025.  


Craig Henry Drive update 

We’ve received several emails from residents in Craig Henry expressing confusion and frustration over the delays and changes for the Craig Henry Drive traffic calming project. We’ve spoken with staff about this recently, and Councillor Devine took a drive along this road last week to get a proper sense of the project status. The Councillor observed that the project is nearly complete, with only a small number of speed humps (eastbound lanes and westbound lane) still needing to be replaced. We noted that the white arrows have now been painted onto all speed humps, including those that require replacement. The white arrows will be repainted once the work is complete, which will start the week of July 22 and take two weeks to complete.


Capilano Drive Road closure extension 

Please be advised that the road closure on Capilano Drive, originally scheduled from June 17th to June 28th, will be extended until July 12th to complete connection services for the new construction at 56 Capilano Drive. The closure will affect Capilano Drive between Kerry Crescent and Gilbey Drive. Access to homes and businesses will be maintained throughout the construction, though minor delays may occur. During this period, traffic will be directed down Merivale Road to Meadowlands Drive, continuing east on Meadowlands Drive to Eagle Lane, and then west on Eagle Lane to Beaver Ridge.  Detour signage will be posted along the impacted streets to guide traffic.  


Blackrapids Farm visit 

Councillor Devine’s family were farmers in Prince Edward Island, so he’s got a soft spot for farms, especially dairy farms. And so, he was quite excited to take a visit out to Blackrapids Farm on Prince of Wales in Ward 9. After experiencing a devastating fire in 2017 that wiped out their farm and entire herd of livestock, Peter Ruiter’s family farm has had an amazing recovery, and now stands as an example of innovative, contemporary family farming in Ontario. Councillor Devine joined his River Ward colleague Councillor Brockington in a very encouraging discussion with farmers about an innovative process they’ve embarked on for methane gas capture. As many people know, cow manure is an important farm fertilizer, but it also contains dangerous methane gas that is high in greenhouse gas emissions. But that gas can also be used as energy.  

Blackrapids Farm works with another farm on a process where the manure is transported from Blackrapids to another site, where the methane is siphoned off to be used as an energy source, and then the methane-free manure is transported back to Blackrapids Farm to be used as fertilizer. It’s an amazing process that showcases the innovation of Ottawa’s farmers.  



Parkwood Hills Fun Day 

The Ward 9 Office is thrilled to share a recap of the recent Parkwood Hills FUN DAY held on June 22nd. It was an incredible community event that brought us together for an afternoon filled with laughter, activities, and delicious food. Highlights included a mouth-watering BBQ generously hosted by Ward 9 City Councillor Sean Devine, ensuring no one left hungry. Attendees had the chance to connect with valuable local resources, enjoy live performances by Junkyard Symphony and Luv2Groove, and bounce around in the lively bouncy castles. 

The success of the day was made possible through partnerships with Nepean, Rideau, and Osgoode Community Resource Centre, enhancing our offerings and community support. We extend sincere thanks to our sponsors Dow Honda and Hydro Ottawa for their generous contributions. Special recognition goes to the enthusiastic volunteers from our community whose dedication was instrumental in making the FUN DAY a memorable experience for all. Looking ahead, we are excited about future events and opportunities to continue building a strong and vibrant community in Parkwood Hills. 


Student innovators at Sir Robert Borden 

Last week Councillor Devine was invited to Sir Robert Borden High School to review the Sustainable City projects of Mme Caitlin O’Brien’s Grade 8 students. Having never done this before, the Councillor wasn’t sure what to expect, but was quite impressed by just how well-aligned the students’ ideas were with what the city itself is focused on for our own sustainability goals.  


Survey: Medhurst Park splashpad 

Residents may recall our office’s involvement in helping get a new City of Ottawa splashpad at Medhurst Park in the community of Tanglewood, which is one part of Ward 9 that has no pools, wading pools or splashpads close to. In addition to securing funding from Hydro One, we also offered our support to the Tanglewood-Hillsdale Community Association in preparing funding applications, including an application to the City of Ottawa’s Community Partnership Major Capital Program, where successful applicants receive municipal funding that matches their own contribution for projects. For Tanglewood-Hillsdale's splashpad project, this could represent $200,000 in City of Ottawa funding to match the $200,000 that Councillor Devine secured from Hydro One.     

The City of Ottawa has recently launched a survey on Engage Ottawa seeking input on the five projects that are under consideration for municipal funding. The Medhurst Park Splashpad is one of those projects. We invite Ward 9 residents to participate in this survey, in the hopes of increasing the project's chances of being funded. The survey has one question, which asks respondents to provide input on any of the five projects. The survey will be open until July 17th 



Ottawa Public Health warning: increased risk of overdoses 

Ottawa Public Health, along with the Ottawa Police Service and the Overdose Prevention and Response Taskforce are issuing a strong warning to city residents: a serious threat has emerged in the city’s unregulated drug supply. Monitoring of that supply has detected the confirmed presence of a very dangerous additive in unregulated opioids: etonitazepyne, a form of nitazene opioid known by the street name “Pyro.” The drug is used to “cut” other opioids. The challenge is the drug is approximately 10 times more potent that fentanyl, a drug that has been at the forefront of the ongoing overdose crisis in Canada. In Ottawa, Pyro has turned up in counterfeit tablets of hydromorphone (Dilaudid). Samples are pictured below. For more information about the dangers of nitazenes, you can refer to Ottawa Public Health’s page on common stimulants found in the unregulated drug supply.  


Valvular heart diseases screening 

The Centre for Valvular Heart Disease at the University of Ottawa Heart Institute is hosting an upcoming free screening event for Valvular Heart Diseases. Scheduled for Tuesday, July 16, 2024, at the South Nepean Satellite Community Health Centre, this event is aimed at individuals aged 65 and above with no known heart issues. The screening aims to detect early signs of valvular heart diseases, contributing to better heart health awareness and care within our community.


Respiratory Illness Updates 

Ottawa continues to fare well with lower levels of respiratory virus infection. The levels continue to hold at the reduced levels we’ve seen for a few weeks. Be aware, however, that levels of COVID-19 are beginning to rise in other communities and, as you travel about during the summer holidays, you would be wise to be aware of what is happening in the regions you travel to. As always, exercise caution, wear a good mask in setting where you are sharing the air with lots of people, open your windows, and use filtration indoors if it’s available. 


#ResidentsMatter traffic enforcement 

We are pleased to announce that the Ottawa Police Service (OPS) has launched the Residents Matter (#ResidentsMatter) late-night traffic enforcement initiative. This initiative is a significant step towards addressing the speeding issues that have been a primary focus in much of Ward 9. Officers will be taking a zero-tolerance approach to all speed, impaired driving, unnecessary noise, and related dangerous and disruptive driving behavior on city streets and roadways. 

During Residents Matter’s first night on Friday, June 21st, 94 provincial offence notices were issued, including 28 for speeding and 12 for no muffler or improper muffler. Additionally, during a 6-hour period, seven drivers were issued Court Summons for stunt driving/street racing. Notably, some of this enforcement activity occurred in Ward 9: 

  • A driver was caught driving 145km/h in an 80km/h zone at Woodroffe Ave and Fallowfield Rd. 
  • Another driver was caught driving 154km/h in an 80km/h zone at Woodroffe Ave and Grenfell Cres. 
  • On Greenbank Rd at West Hunt Club Rd, a member of the public reported three vehicles racing. Police intercepted them, and each driver was charged. 

We are committed to making our streets safer, and initiatives like Residents Matter are crucial in achieving this goal. If you have any information about a late-night traffic-related problem location, a complaint can be filed online at: ottawapolice.ca/report. It only takes a few minutes, and the data collected assists us in allocation enforcement resources. 



New Zoning By-law: Interactive zoning tool tutorial 

The consultation period on Ottawa’s New Zoning By-law is underway. Over the coming months, there are multiple opportunities to learn about the draft bylaw and to provide feedback on it. To help with that process, city staff have created several tools to help residents become more familiar with the proposed bylaw, including a useful Interactive Zoning Map as well as an explanatory storymap that helps explain the overall approach of the draft zoning bylaw. The tools give you access to a lot of information, and staff have prepared a quick tutorial video to help you get the most out of the tools. 


Central Experimental Farm Working Group 

As many of you will remember, there has been significant discussion at Ottawa City Council and its committees over the future of the Central Experimental Farm (CEF) and its relationship to the growing city around it. The CEF is a treasured part of the city’s heritage and Councillor Devine has been consistently advocating for open discussions between the city and the farm to ensure that development around the farm happens with full awareness of its potential effects on the farm.  The Joint Working Group established earlier this year (a cooperative effort of the City, Agriculture and Agri-food Canada (AAFC), and the NCC) has now produced a go-forward strategy that has received the approval of City Council. Over the next year, the group will work to map out the research activities of the farm and contrast those with potential development scenarios along the Baseline corridor. The hope is that this work will assist in mapping out viable strategies for limiting the effects of future development on the farm. It’s promising progress. Stay tuned for more in the coming months as the work unfolds. 



Canada Day Events 

On Canada Day the Councillor joined up with colleagues, friends and neighbours to celebrate national pride in the nation’s capital. Councillor Devine kicked off the day along with the Mayor, several other councillors and some local provincial and federal elected officials at the annual Mayor’s Seniors Canada Day Breakfast. Following that he headed over to the Manordale-Woodvale Community Association’s popular Canada Day Pancake Breakfast. Then, then Councillor spent the afternoon and evening volunteering at the amazingly popular Trend Arlington Community Association Canada Day BBQ & Fireworks Show, which this year drew over 500 people. In addition to performing with his band The Suburban Legends, Councillor Devine got to continue his annual tradition of operating the fantastic fireworks show. 


 Kidical Mass in Ward 9 

Join Councillor Devine at Kidical Mass Ottawa for a fun-filled bike ride in the Borden Farm - Fisher Glen neighbourhood! Kidical Mass is a global movement associated with Critical Mass, but this one is focused on promoting cycling activity for kids and youth. Kidical Mass rides are organized, with planned routes, and adults acting as safety marshals. Everyone is welcome: participants of all ages, abilities, and caretaking responsibilities (grandparents, aunts, uncles, babysitters, and community members who love kids!). We will be travelling at a very slow pace. Whether your child is a pro on two wheels or just starting out, this event is perfect for riders of all ages, abilities, and skill levels. 

The event, co-hosted by Bike Ottawa, For Our Kids Ottawa-Gatineau, and School Streets Ottawa, will take place on Sunday, July 21 at General Burns Park. From 9:30-10:00am the group will gather to decorate bikes, with the ride starting at 10:00am.  You will find more details about the event and a sign-up page on Eventbrite.


Inverness Park Bike Rodeo 

If you live in the Parkwood Hills area, then come out and join us on Friday July 9th at 2:00pm for a Bike Rodeo, sponsored by the City of Ottawa. Our team will be out there promoting bike safety and meeting with young cyclists.  


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