March 12, 2024 Newsletter


Tragedy in Barrhaven 

All of Ottawa was shaken last week by the devastating tragedy that took place in Barrhaven on March 6th. I am certain that you are just as shocked and heartbroken as I am.  

I’m a father of four kids between the ages of 15 and 7. For this Sri Lankan family, in addition to the death of the wife and mother, four children were killed, the oldest being 7, and the youngest only 2 months old. It hurts to even write that. For the young father and husband that survived. I talked with a friend of mine, also a father, about the anguish of the father and husband who survived this horror. Neither of us could begin to fathom it. Our hearts are with him. 

On the day after the tragedy, I reached out to senior leadership at Ottawa Police Service and Ottawa Paramedics, to express my concern for the wellbeing of the officers and paramedics who attended the scene. Nothing in their training can prepare them for that.  

Understandably, there will be calls for justice, or calls for more mental health support. All of that has a place. But for now, I hope that everyone can hold space in their hearts for the emergency personnel suffering a new level of trauma, and for the surviving members of a family that is enduring unbelievable suffering.  


Focus on Housing 

At last Friday’s Audit Committee meeting, we heard a disappointing report from Ottawa’s Auditor General on the state of housing in Ottawa. Specifically, Auditor General Nathalie Gougeon’s report implies that the City of Ottawa is not meeting its own targets to build affordable housing, among other findings.  

Considering the current need and considering how that need will only increase as our population grows, the implications of this are significant. A lack of affordable housing options will negatively impact every resident of the city, no matter their economic state. And, even though I’m not on the Planning & Housing Committee, or the Community & Social Services Committee, or the Emergency Shelter Crisis Task Force, I believe that it’s imperative for every Councillor to try to improve the situation when it comes to affordable housing, whether across the city, or here in our own ward.  

Here are some of the efforts I’m working on in Ward 9:  

  • On February 26th I was proud to have hosted Hamilton City Councillor Nrinder Nann at a meeting with Ottawa City Councillors and local housing stakeholders to discuss how Ottawa can learn from Hamilton’s recent success in passing an anti-renoviction bylaw. I was joined by six other councillors and their staff, along with representatives from the Alliance to End Homelessness Ottawa and ACORN Ottawa. Since that meeting, I’ve been working with a small group of Ottawa councillors to follow the lead of other Ontario municipalities that have acted on this (London, St. Catherine’s, Toronto) by seeing what we can do to emulate the approach Hamilton took.  
  • Over the past several months I’ve been working on a proposal that was brought to me by a local non-profit housing company, which is promoting a new financing model for the construction of affordable housing. Under their model, they can build housing at a much lower rate than it is currently being built in either the for-profit or non-profit sectors. In April, I will be facilitating a meeting where this non-profit housing company will pitch their concept to City of Ottawa’s senior housing staff.  
  • I continue to advocate for the City of Ottawa making parcels of surplus city-owned land available for development by non-profit housing. This is a key recommendation from everyone in the affordable housing sector: that governments at all levels make more publicly owned land available for the express purpose of getting more affordable housing built. There are several parcels of city-owned land in Ward 9 that I have been focusing on, and I hope to bring more news on this matter over the coming months.  


Fixing the intersection at Merivale & Viewmount  

After last year’s near-fatal accident where a Merivale High School student was struck by a vehicle at the intersection of Merivale and Viewmount, my office organized a day-long traffic assessment of this site, where we were joined by Ward 8 Councillor Laine Johnson, the City’s traffic assessment specialists, and local advocacy group School Streets Ottawa. Since then, my office has been working to prepare recommendations for significant modifications to this intersection. Among the recommendations we propose are modifications to how vehicles pass through the intersection, to the location of bus stops to decrease vehicle congestion, and to operations at Merivale High School.  

Last week one of my staff and I paid a visit to this intersection, so that we could review our plans while at the site. While we were there, we witnessed three dangerous incidents involving students during outdoor recess. While some of these incidents are the result of student recklessness, some of them are the direct consequence of school operations. We spoke to one teacher on schoolyard duty, who mentioned that teachers and parents have long been raising their concerns with the school’s administration, with concerns going unheeded. 

As a City Councillor, the operations of schools are outside of my jurisdiction. But the safety of all Ward 9 residents is my concern. As such I will continue to lobby city staff and OC Transpo for changes, but I will also be working with the OCDSB school trustee and the administration at Merivale High School for some much-needed changes.   


Keynote Speaker at Synapcity 

Last week I was honoured to join three of my colleagues (Councillors Troster, Plante and Menard) as keynote speakers at the graduation ceremony for Synapcity’s Civics Boot Camp. In addressing the next generation of city builders and change makers, I used the opportunity to deliver a speech on the importance of healthy public discourse in the face of an increasingly antagonistic and hostile political climate, as a means of maintaining a strong and healthy democracy.   

In referencing last month’s resignation of Gatineau Mayor France Belisle, and the staggering fact that almost 10% of Quebec’s municipal politicians have resigned since 2021, my speech ended with a reminder that democracy is as valuable as it is vulnerable, and that if we all want to keep it viable, we must all contribute to its maintenance.  

Waterloo Transit Ridership 

Regular readers of this newsletter will recall my ongoing concern over the state of public transit in Ottawa, and more specifically regarding recent changes to OC Transpo’s service changes, which I fear will lead to decreased ridership, followed by ensuing budget cuts and further service cuts. As I’ve mentioned before, this is frequently referred to as the “death spiral” faced by public transit.  

An example of this concern in Ottawa is the recent changes coming from the Bus Route Review, where changes to bus routes (including the removal and consolidation of several routes) will lead to 75,000 fewer hours of bus service in Ottawa.  

This week we saw news coming out of Kitchener-Waterloo, where that city has taken a different approach than Ottawa’s, with strong results.  

A new report out of Waterloo has shown that ridership is increasing significantly, with a 48.3% increase in ridership from 2022 to 2023. The report attributed this success to Waterloo’s decision to increase service levels by adding an additional 18,000 hours of annual service.  Naturally, the increased ridership brings in new revenues, with Waterloo transit seeing $8.5M of increased revenues for 2023.   


Performing at CAPO 

And now it’s time for a shameless plug, but it’s all for a good cause. On April 5th I’ll be joining several other amateur musicians as a solo performer at the next fundraiser for CAPO (Capitol Professionals Open Mic). For this event, CAPO will be raising funds for Big Brothers and Big Sisters of Ottawa.  



Woodroffe Watermain Project Update 

Urgent additional repair work is needed for the Woodroffe watermain, a critical asset that will have significant impacts if it fails. Work is to begin March 4 and end by mid-April. The remaining works are expected to be completed later this spring. Check out Woodroffe Watermain Info for more details. 


LRT Phase 2 Update 

Progress on the O-Train Extension Project continues to be seen across Ottawa. This year will be another big year for the expansion of the O-Train network with the opening of Lines 2 and 4, testing and commissioning in the east, and tunnel progress in the west. 

O-Train West Extension 

Track installation and station construction continue to progress. Excavation of the cut and cover tunnels that run beneath Kichi Zìbì Mìkan are complete with the structure anticipated to be completed later this year. 

O-Train East Extension 

In 2023, crews completed track installation and are now focused on installing the overhead catenary system. Construction on stations and pedestrian bridges continues.  On February 25, the first Alstom train travelled from Blair Station to Montréal Station, marking the beginning of testing in the east. Handover of the system and launch of the east extension is planned for 2025. 

O-Train South Extension 

On the O-Train South extension, station construction is almost complete, and train and signal testing along the line is ongoing.  Training of rail Operators and additional staff is underway. 

For more updates on the O-Train extensions, check out the new project website. 


'Tis Pothole Season 

Like many things after this overly-warm winter, pothole season has arrived early in our city. City crews are preparing for the annual spring clean-up. That means, as the temperatures warm up, you will start to see increased activity to get the roads back into fair-weather shape. The two main activities you’ll see are street sweeping and pot-hole filling. Don’t hesitate to report any potholes you come across. You can do that easily by filing a 3-1-1 report online or by calling 3-1-1. 


Planned Power Outage in Fisher Glen Area 

On March 18 there will be a planned outage in the Fisher Glen area, as Hydro Ottawa will be upgrading electrical equipment that will impact customers on the streets listed below. Residents may notice increased construction presence throughout the day. Traffic control and lane reductions will be implemented to ensure that roads and sidewalks remain safe for residents and staff. Construction activities will occur on the City of Ottawa Road Right-of-Way allowance and Hydro Ottawa easement in rear backyards - a legal right of access for Hydro Ottawa to install and maintain its electrical distribution system. 

All affected customers will be contacted by Hydro Ottawa by phone, text or email - depending on the communication preferences indicated on their account - and informed by a written notice delivered to their door, if applicable. Further, notifications will be provided if the power outage extends beyond the original duration time. 

  • Affected streets: Argue Drive, Chesterton Drive, Farm Gate Crescent, Four Season Drive, Juniper Court, Saginaw Crescent, Scholars Court, Shadetree Crescent and Viewmount Drive 
  • Date of work: March 18; or, in case of postponement, March 19 
  • Time of work: 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. 
  • Impacted customers: 362 


Cleaning the Capital 

The long-awaited spring season is right around the corner and the Cleaning the Capital Spring Campaign will proceed with registration starting March 15, with cleanup projects taking place between April 15 and May 31. Cleaning the Capital is a citywide cleanup that occurs in the spring and fall of every year, bringing Ottawa residents together as a community to help clean litter from our public spaces. Cleaning the Capital is an exciting opportunity for residents to show their civic pride and help maintain a beautiful city.  

Participants can register their cleanup projects by using the online form 

The registration form populates an interactive map with pins that display the location, date, and time of all registered cleanup projects. Participants can choose from a variety of public spaces to clean, including green spaces and community parks, roadsides, shorelines, or even areas around bus stops. Cleanup kits, which include garbage bags and gloves, will be made available for pickup by registrants at one of ten City of Ottawa facilities across the city.  


Key Spring Campaign Dates 

  • March 15: Registration opens 
  • April 15 to May 31: Cleaning the Capital Spring campaign 
  • April 22: Earth Day 2024 
  • May 3: Registration closes 
  • June 15: Deadline to submit online cleanup reports 


Waste Diversion in Parks 

Ottawa’s Solid Waste Services has several initiatives coming this year to help our city improve its waste management. One program is the Waste Diversion in Parks Pilot Expansion, where the city has added to the number of parks that will have fully serviced waste diversion facilities (i.e. different bins for waste, organics and recycling). Our office was asked to make recommendations for suitable parks to be added to the program. We’re happy to report that Ben Franklin Park will continue to be a part of this pilot, and that General Burns Park will be newly added to the list of serviced parks.  


Have Your Say: The Water Rate Structure  

To ensure fairness and to help balance the costs to maintain our water, wastewater and stormwater infrastructure, the city needs to periodically review how usage rates are charged. With that in mind, the city is now actively reviewing how it recovers costs to deliver water services. Part of that process is hearing from you, the residents. You can have your say by visiting the city's Engage web site for more information and complete the Water Rate Review survey before the end of July 2024.  



NROCRC Community Needs Assessment 

The Community Resource Centre for Nepean, Rideau, and Osgoode (NROCRC) is having a good look at the programs and services it provides and is interested in hearing from the community about what works and what else might be needed. If you have something to say and would like to participate in this community needs assessment, you can take a 5-minute survey and provide your input! 


Open Gym at Sir Winston Churchill Public School 

Great news for your school-aged children who are looking for an active outlet on the weekends. The gymnasium at Sir Winston Churchill Public School will be open to all children from ages 6 to 17. The open sessions are free and will begin on Sunday, March 24, and continue every Sunday afternoon through May 26. Children between 6 and 10 years old will have access between 1:30 and 2:30, and those between 11 and 17 will have access from 2:30 to 3:30. If you have any questions, you’re welcome to give them a call at 613-226-2208. 

Help shape the future of Ottawa’s Special Events 

The City of Ottawa is home to a wide range of festivals and special events, both big and grand, and small and local. In order to make sure things go smoothly, the city has a number of by-laws that regulate these events. The city wants to make sure it is doing what it can to support all this lively activity in the best way possible. With that in mind, there is a consultation underway about those special event regulations and the city is interested in hearing what you have to say. You can get involved easily by taking a few minutes to fill out this online survey. Have your say and let’s keep the festivities going! 


Consultation on Kichi Zībī Mīkan Parkway 

Parkways For People invite you to join an online community discussion on the future of the Kichi Zībī Mīkan Parkway being held on Zoom Monday, March 18th at 7:30pm.  

A discussion will follow short presentations by: 

  • Dr. Robert Zarr (connecting outdoor activity and our wellbeing) 
  • Dave Adams (speaking on the birth of urban trails and their stewardship) 
  • Sherry Wu (Ottawa Outdoor Gear Library), and  
  • The NCC (Parkways custodian).   

Register today on Zoom: 

Sunday March 17th, Parkways for People hosting an urban walk led by community member Siobhan Kirkland. The meeting spot is set for Remic Rapids at 2pm. Be ready for a two-hour walk along the beautiful river path.  No registration required. 


Coffee Houses on Sustainability 

On Sunday March 24th, the third Coffee House on Sustainability will be open from 9:30 to 11:30 am at the Glebe Community Centre, 175 Third Avenue, Ottawa ON. The Coffee House on Sustainability: Greenspace & Water will include three short presentations on ‘Sustainable Garden Practices’, ‘Urban Forestry’ and ‘Water Management’ (Conor Renouf, Rain Ready Ottawa). Please register for these free events at Eventbrite. Coffee and cookies will be available on a first come, first served basis but attendees must bring their own mug! 



Respiratory Disease Update 

We are now into the March break, with many families enjoying time together, travelling, and engaging in activities around our community. The good news is that levels of COVID and RSV in our community have remained stable over the last couple of weeks. Unfortunately, the flu remains a challenge with the number of cases increasing from an already high level. The key thing is to take what precautions you can: keeping your hands clean, avoiding large, indoor crowds in poorly ventilated places, and wearing a good mask when you are sharing space with large numbers of people. For more information you can check out Ottawa Public Health’s website. 


Keeping an Eye on Measels 

Unfortunately, largely due to declining levels of vaccination among children, measles is making a comeback in many places. While Ottawa has been spared, so far, cases have begun cropping up in several Canadian cities. And, with lots of families travelling over the March break, it’s likely that some of them will be exposed in places where more significant outbreaks have already begun (Europe, for example, has experienced a 4000% increase in annual cases over the last couple of years). Measles is a serious and very contagious disease. The best protection against it is to check that your family members all have up-to-date MMR (measles, mumps, and rubella) vaccines. You can learn more about measles and the vaccine through Ottawa Public Health. 


Traffic Safety Update 

During March, the City’s traffic safety communications are focused on reducing incidents of aggressive driving. From 2017 – 2021, 209 collisions causing death or major injury were attributed to aggressive driving, such as speeding.   

You’ve likely noticed an increase in the number of automated speed enforcement cameras around the city over the past couple of years. They work – data collected before and after installation shows an average of 200% increase in compliance with the speed limit, which in turn reduces the risk of collisions and injuries as a result.  The funds collected from fines are reinvested in the road safety engineering, education, and enforcement initiatives of the Road Safety Action Plan. 

As the weather warms up, more cyclists will be hitting the streets. Let's ensure everyone's safety by being mindful of cyclists while driving. Remember to give them plenty of space when passing, and always check your blind spots. Keep an eye out for cyclists when turning and use your signals appropriately. Cyclists, make yourselves visible with bright clothing and proper lighting, and always follow traffic laws. Together, let's make our streets safe and enjoyable for everyone. Thank you for being considerate and sharing the road responsibly! 

To learn of these many initiatives underway, please visit Road Safety Action Plan | City of Ottawa 



Manordale Softball 

The weather is improving... and that means it's time to hit the field and run the bases. Sign-up for the Manordale-Woodvale Community Association youth softball program begins next week and runs through mid-April. You can grab all the details from the poster, below, or send them an email at [email protected]. 


Barrhaven Lions Club Annual Pancake Breakfast 

Councillor Devine will be helping to flip the pancakes at the 36th Annual Barrhaven Lions Club Pancake Breakfast in support of the Quickstart program in support of early autism intervention. Come on out to Fire Station 47 between 9am and 11:30am on Saturday, April 27, fill your plate, support a good cause, and say hello! 


Older Adults Workshops 


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