A more collaborative and collegial City Council
The spirit of collaboration is alive and well at City Council, where a collegial tone dominates our discussions and debates. This was clearly demanded by residents I spoke to during my campaign, and it’s something that I’ve worked at since taking office. I believe that the respectful way in which I spurred last month’s garbage debate is supporting a culture at Council where we can disagree on contentious local issues without being antagonistic. And I’m seeing the results of this positive approach.
Our June 28th City Council meeting was quite positive, where we accomplished many things with hardly any conflict. The more that we as a Council continue to disagree respectfully – and we will disagree - the more we'll be willing to find places where we do agree.
I'm also proud of some of the small things that I’ve done recently to advance this positive culture, even if they were behind the scenes. Good politics is as much about quiet conversations as it is about loud ones. These efforts have included:
- Being the only non-urban councillor present at a downtown rally promoting enhancements to cycling safety;
- Having a productive and respectful discussion with a fellow Councillor to get them to repeal a costly and unwarranted traffic initiative that would’ve come at the expense of previously approved measures;
- Quiet negotiations with staff during the middle of an Environment & Climate Change Committee meeting to get productive changes made to our Use & Care of Roads By-Law.
Sometimes progress happens not with force, but with grace. By simply showing up and listening, or by expressing disagreement in a respectful and friendly way, or by commending the good intentions of staff, but inviting them to go a little further.
Council & Committee Updates
The past two weeks have seen a lot of work getting done at Council and on Committees, as councillors and staff push to get tasks accomplished before things slow down for the summer months. Here is a summary of recent developments.
At our June 28 Council Meeting we made significant enhancements to the Use & Care of Roads By-Law, which will provide residents and community groups with more opportunities to undertake gardening projects and install free library boxes within the City’s right-of-way (ROW). The ROW typically includes the first several meters between the curb/sidewalk and your property line. I was one of several Councillors who worked with staff to pass the following amendments to make the By-Law less restrictive:
- Residential gardening will be permitted to the edge of roadways where no raised curb exists;
- Little libraries will be permitted 0.5 metres back from the roadway;
- A wider range of invasive species will be added to the list of plants prohibited from the ROW;
- Height restrictions for plantings in the ROW be imposed at 1 meter rather than 0.75 meters, aside from visibility triangles and as already otherwise specified around City infrastructure like hydrants, hydro poles, and bus stops;
- Staff is directed to review the matter of allowing planter boxes on the ROW as part of its report back on the growing of food on the ROW before the end of Q2 2024.
- Staff is directed to allow for a wider variety of food-producing trees as part of their Trees in Trust program.
Other updates from the June 28th Council Meeting include:
- We approved the Ottawa Paramedic Service’s 2022-2026 Investment Plan, which would see a dramatic increase in the number of paramedics;
- We approved a recommendation for staff to explore a Bike Share Program and report back to Transportation Committee in 2025 on an appropriate bike share model;
- We approved recommendations for a set of financial incentives to improve the state of the city’s Accessible Taxi Service;
- We approved the workplan for the Urban Forestry Management Plan;
- We approved the conversion of a large former convent building into residential units;
- We delegated authority to the Chief of Ottawa Fire Service to prohibit the use of consumer fireworks, should there be sufficient risk.
Although it’s not specifically a Ward 9 issue, I have certainly heard from many Ward 9 residents expressing concern over the Lansdowne 2.0 development that comes before Council in Fall 2023. As many residents are aware, this will be one of the more significant (and expensive) files that Council will vote on this term and must be examined very closely.
Several residents wrote to me echoing concerns that had been expressed in a joint letter written to the Mayor and Council, which had been authored by 5 local experts in finance and governance. While the letter conveyed the importance of the Lansdowne 2.0 project, it also requested greater transparency over the financial details of the project, claiming that the normal rules preventing disclosure of private contract information should be waived, claiming that “disclosure exemptions cannot be used when the public interest in disclosing the information is greater than the reason for the exemption.”
Generally, I support the ongoing development of the Lansdowne site, including the building of a new, small arena to replace the existing one at the site. If we’re going to aim for this area to be a functional and successful leisure and entertainment district, then we need to go all the way with it. However, I still have significant concerns with the project:
- Transit and transportation issues on Bank Street must be addressed to allow for the proper flow of tens of thousands of visitors during events;
- Depending on the height permitted for the residential towers, there should be a higher percentage of affordable housing included;
- There must be a greater investment in the site’s public realm to encourage local residents to want to use the space;
- Finally, and most importantly, there needs to be true transparency over the financial nature of the deal between the City and OSEG, as the City should not be bailing out OSEG.
During last week’s Council meeting I was glad to see Councillor Shawn Menard give a direction to staff to provide Council and the public with an update on the Lansdowne 2.0 consultations, so far, as well as next steps to refine any proposed changes to the development, no later than the end of July 2023.
There will be a lot of discussion about Lansdowne 2.0 over July and August, and I encourage residents to email me at [email protected] to share their views.
Alternative Response for Mental Health Calls
I am very pleased to report that at the June 27th meeting of the Community Services Committee, the City approved a strategy for the first phase of a safer alternative response for mental health and substance use crises. This is something I campaigned on, and I’m proud that the City has taken a step in this direction. Responding to great public demand for similar programs already operating in Toronto, the program would initially run for three years in one geographic location, starting in 2024. A new emergency number (and not 9-1-1) would triage calls and dispatch responses. A 24/7 mobile service would respond to calls, led by civilian professionals with expertise in mental health and substance use crises. This matter will rise to Council on July 12, with more details to come.
Last week my team and I, along with Ward 8 Councillor Laine Johnson and her staff, were proud to host a group of City of Ottawa Senior Planners on a walking tour of Merivale Road, as part of our long-term plan of transforming Merivale Road – from Baseline to Viewmount - into a people-focused residential and commercial space. We have received very encouraging news that during 2024 a new Secondary Plan covering Algonquin College, Baseline Road and Merivale Road will be launched, which will be a multi-year planning process that will set the stage for the future of development along Merivale.
I’m also excited to have hired spatial designer Duncan Rae to work with me as we advance this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Duncan’s visual designs and keen insights in urban planning are instrumental in conveying our ideas for Merivale, and planning staff was excited to hear what we had in mind.
For the remainder of this summer, Councillor Johnson and I will be meeting with local businesses on Merivale to communicate our vision and to begin the discussion of creating a Merivale BIA.
Coach / Councillor Devine
Readers of this newsletter might recall the many times I’ve talked about the importance of volunteering, and the role that it plays in building strong communities. And so, on a personal note, I wanted to share a little bit about one of my favourite volunteer roles, which is as a coach (and organizer) with the Trend Arlington T-Ball & Softball league. The best part is when we all “take a knee” at the end of the game and sing “Take Me Out to the Ballgame”! I’m looking forward to next season already!
Summer Vacations & Working Hours
Over the course of July and August, members of my team will be taking summer vacations, including myself. I’ll be away from the office July 6th – 12th, during which time I won’t be accessible, except in case of emergency. To reach my staff please email [email protected]
Feature on Ward 9 projects
Now that things are slowing down a little at City Hall, we’re going to use the summer months to add a new feature to our newsletter and website, which will be an ongoing list of infrastructure projects and their progress, including parks & recreational projects, road and sewer maintenance and renewals, traffic-related projects, and other projects of common interest. Stay tuned for more!
Updates on Recycling
Effective July 1, there are two significant changes coming to our city’s recycling programs:
- Ottawa is launching a new program called Individual Producer Responsibility (IPR) that makes producers of products and packaging responsible for recycling the materials they supply. Whereas producers will now have to pay for the costs of recycling their materials, nothing will change in the service to residents. Ottawa is one of the first municipalities in Ontario to make this transition.
- Also effective July 21, hard and soft cover books are no longer accepted in the black bin. There are also many organizations that accept book donations. To find them, search Ottawa.ca/wasteexplorer.
Hydro Ottawa Workers Strike
Last week Hydro Ottawa announced that negotiations between itself and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) had failed, and almost 400 Hydro Ottawa workers are now on strike. Hydro Ottawa has warned City Council that this strike may result in longer timelines to repair regular outages. However, should there be a large-scale outage such as last year’s derecho, Hydro Ottawa expects that workers would return to their posts. City Council is keeping a close eye on this ongoing situation.
OC Transpo: new Transit app
Transit is a free-to-download mobile app available on iOS and Android devices. Now available to OC Transpo users, it is designed to help customers, like you, navigate public transit. The Transit app enables riders to:
- Plan their trip
- Check departure times for OC Transpo buses and the O-Train
- Track their vehicle while they wait at the stop
- Sign up to receive service alerts as notifications on their device
For more information, and to download the Transit app, click here.
OC Transpo: Summer Service
OC Transpo summer service begins Sunday, July 2, with adjustments for service reliability, seasonal ridership, and construction, as well as the introduction of free transit for kids 12 and under. For a list of service adjustments taking place this summer, click here.
Community Engagement Series
Here are the next few online meeting groups and discussions:
- On July 16th we’ll be holding our next Sunday Soiree
- On July 27th we’ll be holding our next Thursday Night Think Tank
Later this summer our office is also planning to host a Summer BBQ & Music Town Hall, which will be an informal opportunity for residents from Ward 9 will be able to spend some quality time with the Councillor and his team. Details to come!
Councillor Devine spent his first Canada Day in public office by attending three separate celebrations of our nation’s birthday. The Councillor joined several of his Council colleagues at the Aberdeen Pavilion at Lansdowne along with Mayor Sutcliffe for the Mayor’s Annual Canada Day Seniors Breakfast. He then headed back to Ward 9 to pop in at the Manordale-Woodvale Community Association’s annual event, before heading home to the annual Trend Arlington Community Association Canada Day event, where the Councillor operated the BBQ and was part of the team that launched an amazing fireworks show.
PUBLIC HEALTH & SAFETY
Levels of respiratory viruses in Ottawa largely remain stable. Influenza, COVID-19, and RSV activity are similar to the week prior.
- Influenza: Data unavailable. Levels the week prior were low.
- COVID-19: Low levels and similar to last week.
- RSV: Data unavailable. Levels the week prior were low.
- Influenza: 1.0 percent. Low levels and similar to last week.
- COVID-19: 7.4 percent. Low levels and decreasing since last week.
- RSV: 0.7 percent. Low levels and similar to last week.
This information and much more can always be consulted on Ottawa Public Health’s website under the Respiratory and Enteric Surveillance Report.
Drowning Prevention/Water Safety
Summer is upon us and pools, beaches and water parks are now open. Did you know that drowning can occur in as little as 2.5 cm (1 inch) of water? There are many things you can do to keep you and your family safe around water. Here are some important water safety tips:
- Stay within arm’s reach of children at all times, when in and around water
- Ensure children and weaker swimmers are wearing a life jacket or a personal floatation device when, in and around water
- Distraction free supervision - don’t text, read or run in and out of the house when children are near or in water
- Ensure that your backyard pool is not accessible to children by using multiple layers of protection (e.g.: fences, self-closing gates)
- Don’t consume drugs or alcohol when supervising and swimming with children
- Keep safety equipment and a phone close
- Register yourself and your family in swimming lessons. Swimming is a life skill that lasts a lifetime.
For more information on water safety, please visit: Ottawa Public Health and https://www.lifesavingsociety.com/water-safety.aspx
It’s beach season!
Daily water sampling at the City of Ottawa’s supervised beaches began on Saturday June 17.
Water quality results are available at https://www.ottawapublichealth.ca/beaches. You can also find the most recent results on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.
Every day our summer students take five samples from each supervised beach to a lab for testing. That will be 1440 samples, or 288 litres of water, this year! Our students make observations around water clarity, wind speed and direction, wave action, and bird activity. They also analyze rainfall and water level data to help us make the best predictions of water quality that we can.
When the most recent results for water quality fail to meet Provincial standards we issue a swimming advisory, telling the public that swimming is not recommended at those locations.
COMMUNITY NEWS & EVENTS
A Company of Fools Presents: Hamlet
Ottawa’s own Company of Fools is bringing Shakespeare back to a park near you this summer, with a rare outdoor production of Shakespeare’s greatest tragedy – Hamlet.
Returning home to attend her father’s funeral, Hamlet discovers that another ceremony has already taken place: the marriage of her mother to her uncle. That’s right, her dead father’s brother. When Hamlet is visited by her father’s ghost demanding that she avenge his murder, Hamlet begins to wonder – is it she who has gone mad or everyone around her?
This 90-minute outdoor show promises an excellent professional cast, along with puppets, swordfights, and even the appearance of a scary ghost. All they need is you, so bring a lawn chair and a cash donation and enjoy one of their three performances in Ward 9:
- July 11th at Trend Arlington Park
- July 19th at Tanglewood Park
- August 23rd at Fisher Heights Park
Performances start at 7:00pm. Other nearby performances include July 12th at Lynwood Park in Bells Corners, and July 28th at Centrepointe Park. For more information and the rest of their summer tour schedule, click here.
Registration for Ottawa Raiders football