June 18, 2024, Newsletter


When the public purse doesn’t serve the public good 

There’s a regular segment of my newsletter that will soon be coming to an end. Not because I don’t find it valuable, but because the Ontario government has made it impossible for us to continue.  

In the Public Health & Safety segment of this newsletter, we have consistently reported the findings of the Ottawa COVID-19 Wastewater Surveillance program. But earlier this month residents learned that the Ontario government is terminating the program that has served as a monitoring and early warning system for incoming waves of COVID-19 as well as a growing list of infectious diseases.  

By the time it shuts down on July 31st, this invaluable program will have become one of the largest wastewater surveillance programs in the world, creating invaluable data for public health officials. This closure comes not only as COVID-19 is once again resurging throughout the world, but at a time when other regions are increasing their wastewater surveillance to monitor the spread of H5N1 avian flu. Coincidentally, Ottawa Public Health recently reported that its capacity to respond to infectious diseases is strained as reported cases rise and become more complex. 

This provincial decision to cancel funding for the wastewater surveillance program comes within weeks of Premier Ford announcing that his government is spending hundreds of millions of public dollars to accelerate the timeline for getting beer sales into convenience stores.  

How are these decisions over the spending of public money serving the public good? 

My concern is not only with the provincial government. Don’t get me started on the fiscal responsibility of the current federal government, who didn’t have the proper oversight in place to prevent an $80,000 budget to develop the ArriveCan app from ballooning into $60 million.  

And our municipal government is also making decisions over public spending that residents should be concerned with. 

As I’ve said before, we have reason to be concerned about the state of the city’s finances. Our debt has skyrocketed in recent years. Last month city staff produced asset management plans that demonstrate a $5 billion gap in required infrastructure investment over 10 years to maintain or replace those assets. Long-term plans for road infrastructure show a billion dollars of costly new or widened roads servicing areas outside the Greenbelt at a time when we should be concentrating our growth plans inside the Greenbelt. The Tewin expansion alone will cost the city hundreds of millions of dollars to service without advancing our core priorities.  

Then there’s the pending cost of paying out settlements from lawsuits with taxi drivers, and the ongoing legal risks and exposure due to our perpetually challenged LRT system. And I haven’t even mentioned the high cost of Lansdowne 2.0, for which Council eagerly awaits the Auditor General’s report on June 24th 

Are these costly measures serving the best possible public good? Or are they the results of bad decisions and misaligned priorities?  

At this week’s Environment & Climate Change Committee, we approved the City’s Solid Waste Master Plan, as well as the long-term financing proposed for the implementation of that plan. When it comes to the eventual replacement of Trail Landfill, and whether to get a new landfill or to replace it with a waste-to-energy facility (e.g. an incinerator), councillors learned that the City has proposed a further extension of the Trail Landfill, as well as a plan to delay acquiring a new replacement system for as long as possible, and that we’d be making annual contributions to our depleted reserves in order to pay for it at a future time. In other words, we’ve launched a long-term savings plan before making a big purchase. 

But of course, delaying the purchase means it will cost more in the end, due to inflation. And when staff were asked about the prospect of acquiring the assets sooner by paying for them through debt financing, we heard staff speak with concern about the irresponsibility of taking on “high debt”. Yet staff did not express similar concern about using debt financing to pay for Lansdowne 2.0. 

If the city is willing to take on debt with Lansdowne, can’t the city take action to use debt financing to invest more greatly in the housing crisis, which is posing more and more of a threat to the next generation’s quality of life, and their ability to afford living in Ottawa. Or could we spend more on the proposed mitigation measures required to meeting our targets for GHG emissions as part of our Climate Change Master Plan?  

As mentioned above, there’s a $5 billion gap in funding required for maintaining municipal assets over the next ten years. This means we’re going to be short $500 million per year for 10 years for things like road maintenance or transit infrastructure or sewer infrastructure or recreational facilities or libraries. Lansdowne 2.0, alone, has a price tag north of $400 million. Which investment delivers a better return for the public good? 

Too often, politicians make decisions based on shortsighted vision, or a cynical sense of who is meant to benefit from the public purse, or just plain laziness. We make decisions based on how they will impact our re-election chances. We make decisions based on supporting the private interests of those who helped get us elected in the first place, or those who have the most influence at City Hall. Unfortunately, that intense focus on who can help us politically means we often make decisions without much thought for the residents who will live with the consequences of those decisions, long after we’ve left office.  

Councillors will be debating and voting on multiple issues over the next two weeks before we recess for the summer. Many of those decisions will set the course for our long-term planning for the next several decades. As always, I make my decisions based on the Mission Statement that I’ve had in place since I took office, which includes the phrase: “I will be guided by a commitment to seek out nothing short of the best solutions possible for the people who depend on me.”  

Please know that when I have my hand on the public purse, whether it’s to close it, or to open it, to fill it, or to empty it, I will always do my best to ensure that I have the greater public good in mind.  


NROCRC’s Tools 4 School 

I’d like to end this issue’s Councillor’s Message on a positive note. 

The Nepean Rideau Osgoode Community Resource Centre (NROCRC) is running a program called Tools 4 School, which provides free school supplies to eligible low-income children and youth in their catchment area. This week, my office donated 4 brand new student backpacks and 4 gift cards from Staples. But they still need about 100 more. For any Ward 9 resident that purchases a new student backpack to donate to this cause, my office will pick up and deliver the bag to NROCRC, and we’ll also contribute an additional Staples gift card. If you’d like to participate, send an email to [email protected] with the subject line “Tools4School”.  



This week’s heat wave 

Temperatures through the first 4 days of this week are extremely high, with temperatures reaching high-risk levels right up until Thursday. For vulnerable residents, or any other residents who are looking for measures to help keep cool over the next few days, Ottawa Public Health has updated its website to provide useful health and safety information, including an easy-to-use interactive map where you can enter your address, and get a list of the 20 closest locations for where you can cool off.  


Rat Infestations 

Unfortunately, our office has started to notice an increase in emails and phone calls reporting rat sightings in Ward 9, just as other Councillors have noticed increased rat activity in their own wards. As the summer months come, so do the rats.   

While there are certainly measures that the City of Ottawa can take, the most effective measures to control rat activity in residential neighborhoods come from residents. If rats are provided with food and shelter, they will stay in that location. We frequently get emails from residents who complain about neighbours whose behaviours and habits are directly contributing to increased rat activity.  

The City of Ottawa does have a Rat Mitigation Working Group, which recently released a memo of upcoming initiatives. The recommended actions obviously focused on continuing with resident education, but it also included renewed activity on sewer baiting, as well as developing a new online reporting tool so that city staff can best track rat activity. 

More recently, Councillor Laine Johnson brought forth a motion to get the City to support the acceleration of Health Canada’s approval of a new form of rat fertility control, which is a new method of rat population control being used successfully in the U.S. But of course, that path will take some time. 

For now, we’d like to offer the following:  

  • Please notify our office of any rat sightings in Ward 9. To do so, please send an email to [email protected] with the subject line “Rat Sighting”. Please provide your name, the address of the rat sighting (whether it’s your address or another address), as well as a brief description of the activity.  
  • Please review Ottawa Public Health’s Rat Control website, which provides a lot of useful information for how to inspect, prevent and respond to rat infestations.  


Watermain maintenance work in Craig Henry / Arlington Estates / Trend-Arlington 

Residents in Craig Henry may have noticed some infrastructure work happening on several streets last week. This work is part of the City of Ottawa’s Cathodic Protection Program, which is a maintenance program run annually to help protect municipal watermain infrastructure against corrosion and to extend its lifespan.  

Cathodic protection is a process that involves using a Hydro-Vac truck to do localized excavations on the lawn portion of the right of way, and then dropping in a series of magnesium rods (or “anodes”) to the outside of a metallic watermain or water service line, which then provides corrosion protection to the watermain. For more technical information on the cathodic protection process, residents can review the Cathodic Protection Handout.   

City staff will be marking locations in preparation for work, which will involve drilling small 30cm holes on lawns. There will be noise associated with the work, but the work will be completed quickly, and holes are refilled on the same day. There will be no impact to water quality. Traffic and pedestrian impacts will be minimal. City Inspectors are always on site to ensure work proceeds normally and resolve any issues that may arise.   

Work in Craig Henry, Arlington Estates and Trend-Arlington began on about June 10th and runs until about June 28th. For a more detailed schedule of work on a street-by-street basis, please consult the 2024 Ward 9 Cathodic Protection Program Schedule 


Road Closure & Detour for Capilano Drive 

To perform connection services for the new construction taking place at 56 Capilano Drive, starting on June 17th and until June 28th, Capilano Drive will need to be closed between Kerry Crescent and Gilbey Drive. Access to homes and businesses on Capilano will be maintained throughout the construction, although minor delays may occur. All other traffic will be directed down Merivale Road to Meadowlands Drive and then East on Meadowlands Drive. Traffic will continue on Meadowlands Drive to Eagle Lane and continue West to Beaver Ridge. Please note that the street closure will not impede access to your destination; it will only add a few extra minutes to your travel time due to the detour. Detour signage will be posted along the impacted streets.  


Enhancing Tree Equity in Ottawa 

In efforts to promote equitable access to the urban forest canopy across Ottawa, a new initiative is underway to develop a Tree Equity Scoring Process. This process aims to identify neighborhoods in need of more trees through a comprehensive methodology designed to support tree equity at the local level. 

The proposal, discussed at the recent June 18th meeting, outlines a strategic approach to assess and enhance tree canopy distribution across the city. By leveraging proven best practices, including the Tree Equity Score methodology developed by American Forests, the initiative will analyze tree canopy cover data alongside socio-economic and health indicators. This holistic approach will prioritize areas where planting trees can have the greatest impact in addressing inequities and enhancing community well-being. 

For more information and updates on this initiative, stay tuned for upcoming newsletters in the following weeks as the project progresses. Together, we're working towards a greener, more equitable future for all residents of Ottawa.


Final Property Tax Deadline is June 20 

The City reminds residents that the payment deadline for their final property tax is June 20th. You can pay your bill at most financial institutions, at any of our City of Ottawa Client Service Centres or online by payment card at Ottawa.ca/paytax. 

It’s important to note that a penalty of 1.25% for late payment is added the day following the due date and the first day of each month thereafter.  


Lansdowne 2.0 Civic Centre Site Plan 

The next phase of development at Lansdowne is gearing up and the city needs your input. The first project up for discussion in the new event centre. The city is developing a site plan for the facility and wants your thoughts on what should be included in the new venue. There are a couple of opportunities to do this in-person. This first is June 18 (tonight) at 6:30pm inside the entrance to Gate 2 at the TD Arena. The next one is on Sunday, August 11, between 9am and 3pm at a booth in the Lansdowne Farmers’ Market. Drop in, see what’s under discussion, and let them know your thoughts. You can also stay on top of the progress at Lansdowne through Engage Ottawa. You can read about the project and there will be several opportunities to provide your input over the coming months. 


Wildlife Strategy Review 

On Monday we participated in a Joint Meeting of the Agricultural & Rural Affairs Committee, along with the Environment & Climate Change Committee, to debate staff’s recommendation of a list of Action Items to make up their new Wildlife Strategy. As many residents are aware, the main issue of contention was staff’s recommendation to continue the practice of lethal beaver trapping, in limited and specific circumstances, while “exploring alternatives, where feasible” for non-lethal methods. Several councillors, including Councillor Devine, expressed concern about the staff recommendation, which has also aroused a significant amount of public concern. We were very pleased with the motion brought forward successfully by Councillor Clarke Kelly, which will seek a lot more specificity to the exploration of alternative measures.  

We were also pleased to have table our own successful motion at this joint committee meeting. Our motion aimed at supporting the Ottawa Humane Society (OHS) and addresses the financial burden OHS faces due to the cost of overnight emergency veterinary services for sick and injured wildlife. 

Currently, the Ottawa Humane Society collaborates with the Ottawa Animal Emergency & Specialty Hospital, providing necessary veterinary care outside of OHS's operational hours. While other Ontario municipalities, such as Burlington, Perth, and Windsor, have agreements that allocate these costs to the municipality, OHS has been covering these expenses themselves. 

In 2023 alone, OHS was invoiced $22,000 for emergency services rendered to 252 wild animals delivered by By-law staff. This cost is anticipated to rise significantly, potentially reaching $50,000 in 2024 and beyond due to increasing veterinary service costs. Such financial strain impacts OHS's overall capacity to provide essential services to all animals across the City. 

Approval of the motion brought by Councillor Devine ensures that these costs will be brought forward to the 2025 budget for consideration as a potential grant to OHS from the City, providing much-needed financial relief to the Ottawa Humane Society and allowing them to continue their vital work for all the earthlings in our community.


Ottawa Islamic School 

As mentioned in previous issues of this newsletter, our office is very pleased to have been involved in building good relationships between the Ottawa Islamic School in Fisher Heights and the residents of the community that live in proximity to this school. Residents of the area have dealt for many years with prolonged delays to the school’s construction project for their expansion, which had been quite an eyesore for residents.  

We are very pleased to report that the Ottawa Islamic School has made a lot of progress in the last few months, as they worked on pouring the concreate foundation of the new extension, as well as completing the brickwork on the exterior facade. We're sure that Fisher Heights residents are happy with the progress, and our office looks forward to continuing productive conversations with the school’s leadership.   


Community Gardens & Greening Initiatives 

The City of Ottawa is in the process of reviewing the Community Garden Action Plan and other community-led green initiatives in order to improve related services, programs, and resources for Ottawans. Hoffmann Hayes consultant team is working with the City of Ottawa to review and improve the process and is seeking input from community groups and individuals about the future of community gardens and green initiatives in Ottawa. 

You can attend a Virtual Community Garden or Green Initiatives Open House on:  

  • June 20th from 7:00 - 8:30 pm: Hear from other community members involved in community gardens, learn about the review process and contribute your ideas, input and feedback. This session will focus primarily on community gardens.  
  • June 25th from 6:30-8:00 pm: Hear from other community members involved in green initiatives, learn about the review process and provide ideas, input and feedback. This session will focus primarily on green initiatives.  

There will be an opportunity for interested individuals and/or community groups to register for a chance to present their ideas, experiences, or stories during these events.  

To register for either session and/or for the chance to present at a virtual open house register online the Engage Ottawa Live Platform. You can also share your ideas, input, and feedback on community gardens and green initiatives through Engage Ottawa Live Survey. 


Parks and Facilities By-law Review 

In Ottawa, we’re passionate about our Green Spaces and Great Places!  

Recreation, Cultural and Facility Services (RCFS) is updating the Parks and Facilities By-Law to better serve our community. RCFS is reviewing possibilities such as safety measures, uses, accessibility of public information, and amenities. For more information about the scope and purpose of this initiative, visit the project's web page.  

Complete the survey – Green Spaces, Great Places – to share your thoughts and ensure everyone enjoys these spaces. The survey opens on June 10 and will run until the end of July. Help shape the future of our parks and facilities, ensuring they stay vibrant, inclusive, and reflective of our community's needs. 

Together, let’s make Ottawa even better! 



Zoning Bylaw – Virtual Information Session 

Draft One of the new zoning bylaw for the City of Ottawa is now available for review and comment. There are going to be several opportunities for you to have your say over the coming weeks and months. You can keep track of the progress through Engage Ottawa 

The next big opportunity is a virtual information session that will be hosted online this June 20th from 6:30pm to 8:00pm. The session will give an overview of the proposed bylaw and provide an opportunity for participants to ask questions. If you want to take part, you need to register online in advance. 

The City of Ottawa has also provided some new interactive tools to help residents better understand the changes that will come with the new Zoning By-Law. The city has published a storymap that explains how the new Zoning By-Law will help to achieve healthy, equitable communities and a more affordable city. If you use the storymap, select the segment called “Outer Urban Neighbourhood” to see how the provisions apply to Ward 9.  


Ottawa Humane Society Fundraiser Event 

The Ottawa Humane Society (OHS) is hosting the annual Wiggle Waggle Walk & Run at Lansdowne Park on September 29th. This event is a crucial fundraiser for the OHS, helping to provide for Ottawa's homeless animals. It offers a fantastic opportunity to show your support for the animals and connect with others who share this passion. Register today to take advantage of early bird pricing available until Canada Day! 



Crime in Ward 9 

Last week Councillor Devine me with Ottawa Police Service’s Inspector Ian Hayes, who will be the top-ranking officer for the new District West that will include Ward 9, once the OPS’s New District Model takes effect in Ward 9. This meeting was one of several interactions between OPS and our office, as part of a process to share insights and information about our ward.  

During the meeting with Inspector Hayes, Councillor Devine conveyed his support for the intentions of the New District Model, but the Councillor was very clear about significant concerns over the lack of response and investigative follow-up from OPS on several violent incidents that have affected Ward 9 residents. Inspector Hayes promised to look into these matters, as well as to improve communications between OPS and the Councillor.  

One incident was particularly concerning where a family in the Fisher Heights area waited two months for any significant action from OPS after an arson attempt at their home. After some consistent pressure from Councillor Devine, as well as the helpful intervention of our community liaison officer, OPS detectives finally began the investigation of this attempted arson. OPS released the security camera footage of the incident in a CTV News article, trying to see if Ottawa residents might recognize the two suspects involved.   


Respiratory Infection Update 

Ottawa continues to cruise along at remarkably low levels of infection, across the board. It’s a welcome relief headed into the warm and beautiful weather of summer. In future issues of the newsletter, we will continue to provide you with updates on the status of the most common and serious respiratory infections circulating in the city. One challenge, however, is the province’s decision to end wastewater testing for all infectious diseases. This is a step backward in public health management. Some jurisdictions, like Peterborough, have elected to keep the program going on their own, however. Our office will continue to advocate for providing good, reliable information to Ottawa residents so that they can make the best decisions possible about managing potential risks to their health. 



Lyme Disease + West Nile 

With the warm weather and sunshine comes a couple of reminders about protecting yourself from a couple of other seasonal public health challenges: Lyme Disease and West Nile Virus. Ottawa Public Health (OPH) is reminding residents to take precautions when enjoying the outdoors by using good bug repellent to keep the mosquitos at bay and scanning for ticks on your body after you return from a hike through wooded areas or long grass. You can find lots of information about it on the OPH website. Be prepared and enjoy the beautiful weather! 


OPH Business Supports for Mental Health 

Businesses across Ottawa of all shapes and sizes have been affected by mental health and substance health issues. Having safe and fulfilling workplaces is a key part of any healthy community and knowing how to respond or where to turn for help can be a challenge for many. 

That is why Ottawa Public Health, in consultation with the Ottawa Board of Trade, business improvement areas, and community associations, has launched a mental health and substance use health Business Support Toolkit. The toolkit features a mix of practical tools and guides, along with learning and development opportunities on how to handle mental health and substance use health issues in the workplace. Check it out at: www.OttawaPublicHealth.ca/BusinessToolkit 



Parkwood Hills Fun Day Volunteer Call 

Mark your calendars for Parkwood Hills FUN DAY at Inverness Park, 76 Inverness Dr., on June 22nd from 1pm to 4pm! We're still in need of volunteers to help make this day unforgettable – if you're interested in lending a hand, please reach out to Megan at [email protected]. 

This exciting event, proudly supported by our Ward 9 office, promises an afternoon brimming with delightful activities for all ages. Indulge in mouthwatering free BBQ, explore valuable community resources, snag some awesome free swag, and be entertained by thrilling performances courtesy of Junkyard Symphony and Luv2Groove. Councillor Devine would also like to thank our corporate sponsors at Hydro Ottawa and Dow Honda 

Bring the whole family along for an afternoon of fun-filled adventure! Kids will have a blast bouncing around in our bouncy castles, and there's plenty more excitement in store. 


Nepean Creative Arts Centre Open House 

On June 23rd from 1pm – 4pm head out to the Nepean Creative Arts Centre in Bells Corners for an afternoon of live performances, art exhibits, workshops, demos and much more!  


Canada Day in Manordale 

Join Manordale Park for a spectacular Canada Day celebration on Monday, July 1, from 9:00 AM to 3:00 PM. This event promises to be a day filled with fun activities and community spirit for all ages. The festivities kick off at 9:00 AM with a delightful pancake breakfast, ensuring everyone starts the day off right. 

Throughout the day, there will be a variety of activities to enjoy. Kids can participate in classic games such as the egg & spoon race, potato sack race, and three-legged race, while adults and kids alike can test their strength and teamwork in the tug o' war or enjoy the thrill of the balloon toss. The entertainment continues with special attractions including an interactive session with Ray’s Reptiles from 10:30 AM to 11:30 AM, followed by a mesmerizing magic show by Luc Leduc the Magician from 11:30 AM to 1:30 PM. 

To keep everyone refreshed, cold drinks and free freezies will be available throughout the day. For those looking to satisfy their hunger, there will be food stalls offering hot dogs, chips, and pop. Admission to the event is free, making it the perfect opportunity for friends and families to come together and celebrate Canada Day in our vibrant community. 

We look forward to seeing you at Manordale Park for a day of laughter, games, and shared memories. Let's make this Canada Day one to remember! 


Shakespeare in the Park returns to Ward 9 

This year Ward 9 is excited to welcome Ottawa’s a Company of Fools back to parks across Knoxdale-Merivale, with their production of an innovative adaptation of Shakespeare’s violent, and action-packed tragedy of MacBeth. There will be three performances in Ward 9:  

  • July 11th at 7:00pm / Trend Arlington Park 
  • August 8th at 7:00pm / Tanglewood Park 
  • August 20th at 7:00pm / Fisher Heights Park 

For more information, or to view other schedule dates, visit a Company of Fools’ website.  

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