A Focus on Emergency Preparedness
I have some positive news to report on advancing our city’s Emergency Preparedness programs, but even the good news comes with the very sobering realization that the road ahead is likely filled with challenges that will be hard to prepare for.
First off, at last week’s Emergency Preparedness & Protective Services committee meeting, I was proud to pass a motion brought by Councillor Theresa Kavanagh, and with the collaboration of Ottawa Fire Chief Paul Hutt. Briefly, our successful motion starts the process of creating an inventory of hi-rise buildings in Ottawa that do not have emergency backup power. The goal for such a list is to provide our emergency first responders with a tool to help them prioritize their response during an extensive power outage, since residents in hi-rises that lack backup power are often among the most vulnerable.
During a recent briefing for a small group of Councillors and the Mayor, Hydro Ottawa CEO Bryce Conrad re-affirmed his position that Ottawa needs to prepare for the fact that more frequent and more powerful weather events are to be expected, and that they will inevitably lead to more extended power outages. And while all levels of government need to put more mitigation and response measures in place, residents must also take an increased responsibility. One of the best things that residents and households can do is to prepare an Emergency Kit to help them get through the initial 72 hours of a power outage.
Finally, I was also glad to take part in another small group of Councillors (myself, along with Councillors Laine Johnson and Riley Brockington) as we met with the Director of Public Safety Service to start a process of how the City of Ottawa can support the organization and mobilization of residents and community groups when it comes to on-the-ground recovery efforts for natural disasters and other emergencies. From my experience organizing local recovery efforts after the 2018 tornado and 2022 derecho, I know that our city has thousands of skilled and capable residents who are ready to help when needed, but we just need effective systems to coordinate them.
“We’re pumping the brakes.”
There was a contentious vote at our May 10 City Council meeting, where Council was set to vote on whether to approve the proposed High Performance Development Standard (HPDS), which is a set of voluntary and required standards that raise the performance of new building projects to attain a level of sustainable and resilient design. These “green development standards” have been successfully used by many municipalities across Ontario, including Toronto having adopted HPDS as far back as 2008.
Rather than approve the HPDS, Council passed a walk-on motion (the motion passed 14 to 10) from Councillor David Hill to delay the implementation to align with updated provincial standards that are scheduled to be produced in the coming months.
It was a frustrating day at Council. We had an opportunity to take decisive action for building energy efficient homes. As I said in my remarks: “We're falling far beyond other cities. Here we are, with a vital opportunity, and we're pumping the brakes."
This was a risky decision, as there is no guarantee when the province will produce their updates, and all building projects that commence between now and then won’t be subject to HPDS. And it’s important to note that while the implementation of HPDS to new building projects may slightly impact the purchase price of new housing, these new standards in building design will also save homeowners and renters far more in utility and retrofit costs over the long-term. And so, the delayed implementation of HPDS has an adverse impact on climate resiliency and affordability.
But this deferral also has an impact on our city’s ability to act independent of pressure from the provincial government. The City of Ottawa did extensive consultation on the HPDS, with experts in the field, industry, and the public. Staff also included a provision that they would adjust to any provincial changes. The successful deferral motion opens the door to weakening the HPDS and delays implementation until potentially the winter of 2024. As this was one of the more contentious debates at City Council so far this term, you can watch the lively debate on the City’s YouTube channel, starting at 13:20. My remarks start at 51:30.
Waste Diversion Strategy
By now most Ottawa residents have heard that the City of Ottawa is considering changing the process for curbside garbage collection, moving toward a Partial-Pay-As-You-Throw (PAYT) program. While this proposed new policy has generated much concern over the past few weeks, what many residents don’t realize is that for the majority of Ottawa households this new program will have very little impact, other than having to attach tags to your garbage cans.
Under the proposed bag tag policy, each household would be allocated 55 tags, which would allow them to put out an average of 2.1 garbage cans for every two-week collection cycle. That’s the equivalent of 240 litres of solid waste every two weeks! This doesn’t include what residents can put out in their blue, black and green bins. But based on the exhaustive study that preceded these proposals, nearly 75% of Ottawa households are already meeting this standard!
And there’d be no additional cost for residents to use these 55 tags, beyond what you already pay as the solid waste fee on your property tax bill. Residents who require more than 55 tags would purchase them at a cost of $3 per tag.
I want to assure residents that I have been working with staff to address the potential gaps and inequities in the proposed PAYT program, like how it would impact large households, or families disposing infant diapers, or persons with incontinence of other bio-medical waste, or multi-generational families, or even its impact on thrift stores.
And just as importantly, I’ve been seeking assurance that our city staff are also looking at long-term solutions as we develop our Solid Waste Master Plan. These potential solutions include options other the use of landfills, such as incineration or waste-to-energy models. There also needs to be decisive and effective action taken on producers and manufacturers.
This policy will be considered at the June 5th meeting of the Environment & Climate Change committee, before rising to Council on June 14th for final approval. I anticipate that there will be several modifications proposed, and a lot of debate. As our city continues to lag behind other municipalities across Ontario in terms of our waste management, I hope that we take a bold step forward for the sake of our city’s future.
Traffic Safety Around Schools
Last week one of my staff and I attended École Laurier-Carrière, which is a Ward 9 school in the French Catholic School Board, to observe their early-morning student drop-off process, which is their highly-successful Kiss & Ride system. My office has already engaged with many of Ward 9’s English schools out of a growing concern about traffic congestion and safety issues surrounding student drop-off and pickup times.
What we observed at École Laurier-Carrière was quite impressive, and something that we hope to learn more about and share with some of our English schools. At Laurier Carriere, they were able to get approximately 400 students arriving by foot, car and bus into the school without any appearance of congestion, chaos or risk, and it took about 6 minutes.
50th ANNIVERSARY OF NEPEAN SPORTSPLEX
June 8 marks the 50th anniversary of Nepean Sportsplex. When it first opened in 1973, Nepean Sportsplex was the largest recreation complex in Canada and is still the City of Ottawa’s largest recreation centre.
Over the past half century, Nepean Sportsplex has had a huge impact. It’s been a central place for bringing people together to participate in sports, events, cultural and community programs. So many friendships and memories began at Nepean Sportsplex and the City of Ottawa has lined up a few initiatives to celebrate this special milestone:
- A special logo (below) was created to commemorate the anniversary
- 50-cent drop-in pricing on June 8: Relive the days when the cost of a drop-in activity was just $0.50. For one day, dozens of activities for only 50-cents!
- Share a memory: Submit a favourite story or photo involving the Sportsplex from the past 50 years and be entered for a chance to win a prize.
- Trivia contest: Test your knowledge of the Nepean Sportsplex for a chance to win a prize.
Update on Tree Debris
Residents in Ward 9 have been more than patient over the past seven weeks as we waited longer than most wards to have tree debris from the April 5 ice storm collected. Councillor Devine has been in regular contact with our Public Works staff and has expressed his frustration over why the response in Knoxdale-Merivale has been so slow.
As of Friday May 19, approximately 53% of Ward 9 has been serviced. Based on maps that were shown to us, the areas that remain include all of Trend Arlington, as well as all of the areas between Merivale and Fisher, and between Colonnade and Baseline.
The Councillor was informed that starting Tuesday May 23rd Knoxdale-Merivale will see four chipping/collection crews coming into our ward, and that they expect to complete Ward 9 over 2 – 3 days. You can get updates of this schedule on the city’s Storm Cleanup website.
Here are the current completion numbers by ward:
- Alta Vista: 100%
- Kitchissippi: 100%
- Bay: 100%
- Rideau-Vanier: 100%
- Somerset: 100%
- Riverside South-Findlay Creek: 100%
- Capital: 100%
- Kanata North: 99%
- Stittsville: 98%
- Kanata South: 98%
- Orléans South-Navan: 85%
- Rideau-Rockcliffe: 82%
- Gloucester-Southgate: 80%
- Beacon Hill-Cyrville: 77%
- Osgoode: 76%
- College: 67%
- River: 60%
- Rideau-Jock: 54%
- Knoxdale-Merivale: 53%
- Orléans East-Cumberland: 43%
- Barrhaven West: 39%
- Orléans West-Innes: 38%
- West Carleton-March: 35%
- Barrhaven East: 23%
Some of the debris that’s been collected has been turned into woodchips and is available to residents – free of charge – at the Nepean Sportxplex. Residents are advised to bring your own shovel, gloves and container for easy transportation.
Craig Henry Drive
Residents of Craig Henry should already have noticed the infrastructure work along Craig Henry Drive that commenced a few weeks ago. The Councillor and his staff took a tour of Craig Henry Drive last week to meet with work crews and view the progress of the work and were quite pleased with what they saw. The Councillor recorded a series of videos which you can watch here.
Here’s an overview of the improvements to Craig Henry Drive:
- Repaving of both sides of the Drive from Aldridge to Knoxdale
- Adding 5 new speed cushions between Greenbank and Conover
- Adding 2 new pedestrian crossovers at Conover and Bertona
- Adding 3 new sidewalk segments for safer access to bus stops
- Adding 2 new bus shelters
- Integrating improvements to below-grade sewer lines and above-grade electrical wiring
Ditch and Culvert Maintenance
Ditch and culvert maintenance is a shared responsibility between property owners and the City. Depending on the location of the ditch, these responsibilities vary. Residents can visit the City of Ottawa’s website for more information. The image below offers some helpful tips for residents.
Meet the Python Pothole Patcher
It’s still pothole season in Ottawa, and this year we’ve added an impressive new tool to the toolkit! The City of Ottawa has secured 4 Python Pothole Patchers. These mobile units can fill a pothole in less than 2 minutes, with the operator working safely from inside the cab. The Python has already made a couple of appearances in Ward 9, and we hope to see it back soon!
Community Engagement Series
Over the past few months, we’ve experimented with some new formats for community engagement. While the conversations that we’ve had at these events have been great, the attendance numbers have been consistently low. And so, over the summer we’re going to test out a few more models, including the possibility of some in-person, outdoor encounters. For now, here are some of our upcoming Community Engagement Series events:
- On June 4 we’re hosting a Sunday Soiree
- On June 15 we’re hosting our next Thursday Night Think Tank (sneak peek: the subject will still be on mobilizing a civic-minded “volunteer brigade”)
- On June 19 we’re holding our next Ward 9 Office Hours
- On June 25 we’re hosting a Sunday Soiree
OC Transpo wants to hear from you on Ottawa’s future bus network
Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, there have been significant changes to how customers use transit. Considering this, and the upcoming opening of Stage 2 O-Train extensions, there is a need to review the service planning principles that are used to shape OC Transpo’s bus route network to better match customer travel patterns.
Your feedback is important, so the following open houses have been organized:
Tuesday, May 23
Virtual, Zoom Link
6:30 pm to 8:30 pm
Wednesday, May 24
Nepean Sportsplex, 1701 Woodroffe Avenue
6:30 pm to 8:30 pm
Thursday, June 1
City Hall, Champlain Room, 110 Laurier Avenue West
6:30 pm to 8:30 pm
Registration is encouraged and can be completed on OC Transpo’s website. If you cannot attend the sessions listed, there are alternative ways to share your views:
- Complete the OC Transpo Bus Route Review survey.
- Email [email protected].
You can find out more about the project on OC Transpo’s website.
Khalsa Aid’s Historic Food Drive
On May 13 Councillor Devine joined several of his Council colleagues, along with the Mayor and other dignitaries in attending and supporting the Ottawa Sikh Society and Khalsa Aid in their historic car rally food drive, which collected over 40,000 pounds of food (over 70,000 meals) to help address food insecurity in Ottawa. This was the largest single-day food drive in Ottawa history!
Virtual Open House for Infrastructure Master Plan
The Infrastructure Master Plan (IMP) is a strategic document that sets growth-related goals, objectives, and priorities for municipal infrastructure related to water purification and distribution, wastewater collection and treatment, and stormwater management, supporting the City’s New Official Plan project. The Official Plan provides a vision for the future growth of the City and a policy framework to guide the City’s physical development.
Join the City of Ottawa on June 14, 2023, from 6:30 to 8:30 pm for a virtual open house on the draft Infrastructure Master Plan. You must register in advance to participate. The meeting will include a presentation of the outcomes from work completed following the consultations from summer 2022 and will allow the opportunity for the public to provide comments and ask questions of the study team.
This public consultation will also provide the following:
- A review of the study objectives and environmental assessment (EA) process as a Master Plan
- An overview of feedback on and edits to draft infrastructure policies
- A presentation of draft recommended infrastructure projects
- A presentation on recommended programs to support intensification
- A look at next steps
Updates to the City of Ottawa Use and Care of Roads By-law 2003-498
Staff are interested in resident feedback regarding proposed regulations to allow for residential gardening, little free libraries and retail vending in the City’s right of way.
Curious what a right of way is or what each of these projects entail? The project website has definitions, explanations of the projects, proposed changes, FAQs as well as contact information of staff who can answer any additional questions.
Staff will be bringing these proposals to Transportation Committee in June for debate and a recommendation to Council on a final decision regarding approval. To learn more about these proposals and stay up to date on the process please visit the project website. Feedback can be sent directly to [email protected].
Blue Whale School Visit
On May 12 the Councillor was invited to speak to a small group of students at the Blue Whale Children's Centre, as they learn about the different levels of government. They had questions about three topics: garbage, what pets are illegal, and tree-clearing at Tewin. The photo of Councillor Devine at the chalkboard was part of him explaining the urban boundary and where the tree-clearing took place.
PUBLIC HEALTH & SAFETY
Levels of respiratory viruses in Ottawa largely remain stable. Influenza activity has decreased since last week. COVID-19 and RSV activity are similar to the week prior.
- Influenza: Low levels and decreasing since last week.
- COVID-19: Low levels and similar to last week.
- RSV: Low levels and similar to last week.
- Influenza: 2.1 percent. Low levels and similar to last week.
- COVID-19: 7.2 percent. Low levels and similar to last week.
- RSV: 0.6 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.
Hydro Ottawa Emergency Preparedness Workshops
Residents of The Glens and surrounding areas are invited to participate in an online presentation by Hydro Ottawa called Keeping Ottawa Connected, which will be an information session to continue helping Ottawa residents learn about safety and preparedness measures for future power outages, as well as provide information on Hydro Ottawa’s response procedures.
As part of Emergency Preparedness Week earlier this month, Hydro Ottawa has assembled a lot of useful information on its Emergency Preparedness website. We’ve provided two useful info-graphics below, including tips on Keeping your Family and Home Safe, as well as Keeping Our Community Connected.
Rabies Prevention in Ottawa
Ottawa Public Health (OPH), like every other health unit in Ontario, conducts rabies exposure investigations whenever an animal interacts with a person in such a way as to potentially expose them to Rabies. Recent surveillance indicates that Ottawa and surrounding areas do not currently have terrestrial animals with rabies (only mammals carry rabies).
Human rabies cases in Canada are very rare, thanks to excellent prevention and control programs. Since reporting began in 1924, 25 people have died from rabies (7 cases in Ontario with the most recent being 2012 from an exposure outside the country). Prevention efforts are significant in that rabies in wild terrestrial animals and bats is endemic in Canada. The World Health Organization estimates that about 60,000 deaths occur from rabies annually (99% from domestic dogs that are unvaccinated and 40% of cases are children under 15 years of age.
Every animal bite to a human where the skin has been broken is investigated for potential rabies transmission. These investigations can take between one hour to several days to complete, depending on the circumstances that led to the exposure. Each case is risk assessed to determine whether rabies vaccination may be required. OPH has seen an increase in domestic animal bites since the beginning of the pandemic. One factor that may have contributed to this increase could be due to the “Pandemic Pets” phenomenon where individuals sought animal companionship during periods when restrictions limited other types of social interactions, resulting in an overall increase in pet ownership in Ottawa.
One very important aspect of preventing rabies is up-to-date vaccination of pets. However, there can be barriers for some pet owners due to financial challenges. OPH is hoping to be able to partner with local veterinarians and other City partners to be able to provide low-cost rabies vaccination clinics in the near future.
We can all do our part to take a bite out of rabies. For more information visit – Rabies - Ottawa Public Health.
PLANNING & DEVELOPMENT
Ward 9 Planning Roundup
While there may traditionally be more development activity in other parts of the city, there are a number of significant projects underway in Ward 9 and we expect that list will only expand as our city continues to grow. For those with an interest, you can explore all of the development files in the city through the Development Applications page on the city’s website. There, you will find detailed information about each project including its current status. Here are a few we are keeping an eye on in Ward 9:
- 780 Baseline: This zoning amendment proposal has been the subject of a lot of attention in the ward over the last several months. After significant public consultation and input from various stakeholders, the developer is preparing a revised proposal for the city’s consideration. We will be keeping a close eye on the details and will continue to press for changes that ensure this project meets the city’s standards and addresses the concerns of the community.
- 1545 Woodroffe: We have had a few inquiries about this commercial site that was damaged during the tornado. There are plans in place to rebuild a commercial property there and we expect to see significant progress on that site, soon. The application includes a new convenience store, coffee shop, and cannabis store, as well as a new gas station and car wash.
- 1500 Merivale: This is another high-profile project to redevelop the west end of the “triangle” near Baseline with five new residential mixed-use buildings. This project is approved and currently in site plan control. We expect to see activity on that site in the near future.
COMMUNITY NEWS & EVENTS
The General Burns Community Association is hosting their annual General Burns Fun Day on May 27th from 11am – 3pm.
Free Basic Computer Skills Course for Job-Seekers
People, Words & Change is a local non-profit that supports adult literacy that is currently offering free basic computer skills courses to job-seekers. The next course starts May 29. If you or someone you know could benefit, check them out.
Merivale United Church Plant Sale
Woodvale Pentecostal Church: The Big Give
On Saturday June 3rd from 9:00am – 12:00pm, be sure to check out The Big Give, hosted by Woodvale Pentecostal Church. This is a unique annual event where everything is free. And since this church is undergoing a massive renovation, take advantage of the opportunity to check out their new facilities.
Knox United Church Outdoor Services
Knox United Church has some special outdoor services coming up on May 28th and June 25th.