February 13, 2024 Newsletter


The Value of Collaboration 

If the residents of Grenfell Glen noticed that the skies may have been a little quieter this past Fall, it could be due to some creative solutions to a long-standing nuisance.  

During my campaign to be your City Councillor, the residents of Grenfell Glen clearly had one issue that was top of mind: the persistent noise from low-flying planes departing from the nearby Ottawa Flying Club (OFC), which is one of the city’s premiere flight schools. This had been an issue that had gone on for years, with residents bringing their concern to city officials, who then escalated the matter to federal counterparts, right up to Transport Canada. Complaints were logged, requests to stop the flights went unheeded, and the problem persisted, with no solutions in sight.  

When I had my meeting with the Ottawa Flying Club back in 2023, my goal had been to enter the conversation not as an antagonist, but as a collaborator. As a good faith broker. And so rather than launch a futile effort to have them cease operations, my goal was to see if we could find common ground and a mutually beneficial solution.  

And so, I asked them to alter their flight path.  

In the map below, the red line shows the original flight path. In that route, planes took off from YOW, passed over Merivale Road, then turned north to fly directly over Grenfell Glen. Residents in this quiet, peaceful area would hear the loud engines of the low-flying planes dozens of times per day during the school’s busy Fall sessions.  

I proposed a simple adjustment. What if you fly along Merivale Road? 

In the map, the green line represents the new flight path that I negotiated with the OFC. By flying north along Merivale, the noise from the plane engines blends in with the sound of trucks and cars already emanating from this busy arterial corridor, creating less of a disturbance. And since the planes are now closer to the airport, there’s a greater expectation to see and hear planes in the first place.  

It even works better for the student pilots and the school, since there’s a lot of fuel savings.  

When the Ottawa Flying Club and I agreed to this solution, we did so without announcing it. We wanted to see how residents reacted to the change without having known about it. Sure enough, both the OFC and my office have noted a significant decrease in noise complaints.  

So why am I talking about this in my newsletter? 

In my office we often talk about the principles of “mutual gains bargaining”, which is an approach to negotiations based on the premise that both sides in a negotiation have something to gain from the negotiation. More specifically, it emphasizes collaboration over confrontation, empathy over antipathy, concession over aggression.  

As I mentioned in the first newsletter of 2024, my plan is to be more strategic this year. My team and I have identified a list of projects and initiatives that we’ve set our sights on, with significant progress already being made. But we’ve been very clear in our tactical approach. If we can be authentic and transparent with whom we negotiate, if we can respect and even seek to advance the mutually held goals of those we negotiate with, and if we can instill confidence by bringing credible, thoughtful ideas and solutions to the table, then we’ll get more done together.  

Further down in this newsletter’s “Planning & Development” section, we go into detail about the recently approved planning file at 780 Baseline. But what my office is particularly proud of is that the modified decision we arrived at was the result of many conversations with all stakeholders involved, where my team and I advanced creative solutions that benefited all parties. I was particularly surprised and grateful when my colleague Councillor Riley Brockington singled me out (positively) in his comments about the final vote on this file at Council last week. 

In the coming weeks, I’ll be sharing some more information on how I’ve taken this collaborative and creative approach to advancing innovative solutions to some of our city’s key areas of concern, whether in Land-Use Planning, or Housing, or Transportation Planning.  


Updates from City Hall 

The big news that came out of City Hall this week (yesterday, in fact) was the long-awaited announcement of the results of the City’s application to the federal Housing Accelerator Fund. On Monday I joined Mayor Sutcliffe, several of my Council colleagues, as well as the Ottawa Caucus of federal MPs to hear the news that Ottawa would be receiving $176.3 million, which was more than we had even asked for!  

Among many items that this funding will contribute to the City’s housing crisis, this new money will help fast-track 4,400 new housing units over the next three years and spur the construction of 32,600 homes over the next ten years. 

But the funding comes with conditions. The media release announcing the deal said that it "will allow for more housing options in the city, including more rental, affordable, and missing middle-housing, with up to four units as-of-right through their comprehensive By-Law Review process."  

It’s important to recognize that this funding, and what it will accomplish, is still only a fraction of what’s required to meet the housing demands of our quickly growing population. This concern was reflected in Mayor Sutcliffe’s comments at the event:  

"This announcement is a down payment, a huge down payment. It's a down payment on building more affordable housing in our community, it's a down payment on building more homes throughout the city, it's a down payment on getting things built faster," said Sutcliffe.  

This fact was further demonstrated by the new Economic Development Update from Q3 of 2023, which reported “a 39.2 per cent year-over-year decrease in housing starts from 4,598 to 2,797 housing starts.” 





Funding our Future 

Ottawa is facing a revenue crunch. And we need to get serious about addressing it. 

At last week’s meeting, City Council unanimously passed a motion asking the Mayor to write a letter of support for reassessing the fiscal arrangements between municipalities and the Ontario government. Ontario municipalities are facing a serious revenue challenge, and they lack the tools and flexibility to properly address it. The motion recognizes the need to “promote the stability and sustainability of municipal finances across Ontario.” 

As things currently stand, if a municipality needs money to fund a program, maintain its infrastructure, or build new facilities, its options are limited. It basically boils down to raising property taxes (or, in more limited ways, other service fees like parking rates) or borrowing the money (e.g., paying for Lansdowne 2.0). Borrowing can, obviously, be a powerful tool. But there is a limit to how much borrowing a city can do before it starts to harm the overall bottom line. It’s a serious conundrum. 

As Councillor Devine has mentioned before, Ottawa is going to have to start wrestling more seriously with that conundrum this year. Years of property tax stagnation, increased costs due to inflation, and the need to maintain and upgrade infrastructure to deal with increasing wear and tear due to climate change are placing more and more pressure on municipalities. We must start questioning the usual way of doing things and start to propose realistic solutions to the problem. 

The good news is that Ottawa does have some room for movement, even with the traditional tools. Property taxes are comparatively low here in Ottawa compared to other Ontario cities. You can see from the chart below that Ottawa ranks well below other cities in how much property tax the average homeowner pays on the average-priced home in that city. By that measure, Ottawa’s taxes are relatively low.  

But simply raising taxes slightly is not a complete solution. We need to be more creative and focused on what we want for our city in the years to come. 

As anyone who lives here knows, Ottawa also suffers from a size problem. The city’s vast footprint brings some unique financial challenges. It costs a lot to maintain oversized networks of roads and infrastructure—networks that often deliver services to sparsely populated neighbourhoods and regions. Ottawa is destined to grow between 40 and 50 per cent over the next couple of decades and it’s time for us to come to grips with our density challenges and start encouraging—or even incentivizing—development that creates more cost-effective communities.  

The recent introduction of a simple but helpful tool on the city’s web site—the Online Property Tax and Assessment Look-up—makes it very easy to compare the relative tax-base value of one property to another. Many municipal watchers have begun doing just that, and they can now see that more densely populated city blocks in the downtown core are more economical and tax-friendly than continued outward sprawl at the edges of our community.  


We need to take a good long look at those dynamics and start to make choices that will put our city in a better fiscal position for the long term. That’s one of the key things Councillor Devine will be focused on over the coming months. We will continue to engage with those advocating for innovative, fiscally prudent, environmentally friendly solutions and push the city to adopt the best of those ideas. Stay tuned and watch this space for more information in the weeks ahead. 



Solid Waste Master Plan: Open House March 15 

One of the most important discussions we will have as a city during the Term of Council is happening right now. We need to decide how we will manage our solid waste over the next 30 years. There are serious decisions to be made and the city is interested in hearing your thoughts. From now until March 7, you will have several opportunities to get directly involved in the conversation to determine the Ottawa’s Solid Waste Master Plan.  

This latest phase of engagement gives residents an opportunity to review the draft plan and provide their comments. And the first opportunity for Ward 9 residents to do that is fast-approaching. City staff will host an Open House at the Nepean Sportsplex on February 15th from 7:00pm to 9:00pm in the Richmond Ballroom. Councillor Devine will be at this event to hear what residents think about the future of waste management for our city. For more info visit our website for details on in-person and virtual engagement opportunities.  



Hydro Ottawa Outreach: Keeping Ottawa Connected 

On February 21, Councillor Devine will host Hydro Ottawa for their Keeping Ottawa Connected presentation, which is a targeted series of outreach initiatives delivered to communities across Ottawa that have seen their power supply adversely impacted by severe weather events over the past few years. There will be two Keeping Ottawa Connected presentations in Ward 9. This first event on February 21 is focused specifically on Parkwood Hills, Skyline and Fisher Heights with the area to be covered by this initial event represented in the map below. For more info visit our website.  



Road Safety Action Plan: Focus on Distracted Driving 

Distracted driving is an inexcusable high-risk driving behavior that can come with a very high cost – including your life or that of others. From 2017-2021, there were 79 fatal and major injury collisions attributed to distracted driving on our city roads.  

Tips for winter driving: Remember to always clear all snow and ice from your vehicle and, if possible, warm your car before you start driving. Snow-covered mirrors or foggy windows are unneeded distractions, especially when the weather has already created less than ideal road conditions. Winter driving requires lower speeds and keeping a safe distance away from other vehicles, two things that are challenges for distracted drivers. 


Winter Walk Month 

This February we are celebrating Winter Walk Month! This month we invite all students to walk to school as often as possible to promote active transportation and good habits. Studies have shown that kids who undertake active transportation, such as walking, cycling, or use public transit growing up are more likely to continue as adults. To learn more about the environmental and health benefits to active transportation check out the Winter Walk Month Campaign by the EnviroCentre.  




Speeding on Knoxdale Road 

Our office is reviewing Temporary Traffic Calming implementations for 2024. One road which we consistently hear from residents about is Knoxdale Road. In a broader effort to better understand and respond to our residents’ concerns, as well as to help us advocate for improvements, we are seeking input regarding any concerns that residents may have regarding traffic safety along Knoxdale Road. Please email our office at [email protected] with the subject line “KNOXDALE”. 


Update on Craig Henry Drive Renovations 

As many residents from Craig Henry and its surrounding areas are acutely aware, the Craig Henry Drive traffic calming project is still in progress. The Councillor arranged a site visit on Thursday with Traffic Services staff to address our concerns and hear about staff’s plans for ongoing work.  One of the major issues raised by residents is poorly installed speed cushions along Craig Henry Drive. As residents may notice, some of those have been removed. Those cushions were significantly higher than the required specifications, and it was prudent to remove the cushions prior to winter, to facilitate snow clearing during the winter months. While we transition into spring, residents can expect to see the work along Craig Henry Drive resume, which will consist of the re-implementation of speed cushions to the acceptable standard. Please note that this additional work will not be paid for by the City, but by the Contractor.  

One common question we’ve heard from residents was– “Why are there more speed cushions in some sections and less in others?” 

Staff informed us that there are more speed cushions on the western segment than on the eastern segment of Craig Henry because: a) it’s based on known locations of collision history and limited visibility, b) higher speeds have been recorded on western segment, and c) there are more street-facing houses on the western segment, which increases pedestrian traffic.  

Another common concern our office heard about was potential damage or wear-and-tear that speed cushions can have on vehicles. During our test drive, staff from Traffic Services provided us with the following driving tips:  

  • Rather than drive your vehicle in between the two speed cushions (where you’d be aiming to have one tire traverse each speed cushion), it’s recommended to aim the centre of your vehicle over the inside lane side speed cushion. 
  • Sudden braking at the speed cushion will cause the weight of the car to shift forwards, lowering the suspension and the front of a vehicle, resulting in vehicle bottoming out. It is advised to traverse a speed cushion at constant speed. 
  • Finally, be sure to traverse the speed cushion at or below the recommended speed of 30 km/hr. 



Vacant Unit Tax Reminder 

If the Vacant Unit Tax applies to you, we wanted to remind residents that you have until March 21st to submit your declaration. There will be a $250 penalty this year for late submissions. To find out more please visit the City’s website. It’s very simple to submit your declaration online, but residents can also call 613-580-2444, or book an in-person appointment. The City has also prepared a video on “How to complete the Vacant Unit Tax declaration.” 


Play Free: City of Ottawa Drop-in Activities 

Throughout 2024 children and youth (aged 17 and under), and accompanying adults have the chance to participate in free drop-in activities! This includes skating, swimming and sports like basketball, badminton and more. Learn more about all the free activities available in the city here.  


OC Transpo’s Transit App 

Our office is happy to share information pertaining to a partnership between OC Transpo and the Transit app launched last summer. 

Transit is the premiere app for transit trip planning. There’s no sign up required – just download the latest version of the app. 

Over the past several months there have been several upgrades to OC Transpo’s GPS and data feed that will keep improving the app experience for customers, including improved predictions for first-stop times, and adaptive changes when buses are detoured due to weather, traffic, etc. The expanded service offers free additional features to what has existed to date, including: 

  • Wider geographical range for real-time bus tracking 
  • Full transit schedule, instead of only short-term departures 
  • Fun interactive features such as theme options, a custom avatar and nicknames, and more! 

In addition to the enhanced features noted above, customers can also check departure times, track their bus, and sign up to receive service alerts as notifications. 


Ottawa Humane Society: Dog Anxiety Webinar 

The Ottawa Humane Society is offering a webinar series in March to help dog and pet owners with furry friends who are anxious or stressed.

Over the course of the pandemic, some families welcomed a new dog into their family that lacked the necessary resources and support to train and socialize their pets, resulting in an increased incidence of problematic behavior 

In a broader effort to curb problematic pet behavior in the City, our office wanted to share this info with residents. The course offers practical, science-based information for pet owners and pet professionals to better understand stressed out, anxious pets and learn how to better understand and help our furry friends. As people return to a somewhat normal routine, there are concerns that pets will miss having their owners around all the time and experience “separation anxiety.” Learning how to tell when your pup is anxious will give you all the answers you need to build a healthy, happy future with your pet. 



Woodroffe Waterman Project Update 

It's Done! The Woodroffe Ave large diameter watermain repair project temporary reinstatement work has been completed. City staff from Drinking Water Services were also quick to commission the repaired section. Both Woodroffe southbound lanes and the Slack left-turn lanes are now fully open. Final reinstatement works will be completed in the spring. We will be sure to keep residents informed when the time comes.  



Ward 9 Pop-Up Office Hours 

Our office is finally resuming our monthly Ward 9 Pop-Up Office Hours sessions, where residents can have a short, one-on-one, in-person meeting with Councillor Devine. Throughout 2024 we'll be hosting these sessions across the ward, with the first one being held on March 7 to serve residents in the Trend-Arlington and Craig Henry communities. For more info and to book a meeting, please visit our website.  


Ward 9 Volunteer Squad 

Over the next several weeks and months Councillor Devine will be working with the City’s Emergency Management branch to devise a structure for engaging residents from across the City as part of our emergency response framework. The Councillor is keen to do this not only based on his own personal experience leading volunteers during several disaster response efforts, but also out of his own appreciation for the merits of community volunteerism.  

With that in mind, Councillor Devine is launching a preliminary Ward 9 Volunteer Squad, which will be open to residents from across Ward 9 who wish to support Councillor Devine in a variety of engagement activities across the ward. Students seeking their required volunteer hours are eligible for this initiative. Sign up at our Google Form if you’re interested! 


Presentation on Human Trafficking 

On March 1st at 3pm, Bay Ward, College Ward, and Knoxdale-Merivale Ward are honoured to co-host the team at Voice Found, a local non-profit organization, for an important Presentation on Human Trafficking. For over 12 years, Voice Found has supported survivors of childhood sexual abuse and human trafficking in Ottawa. This informational one-hour presentation will explore the nature of human trafficking and its impact in Ottawa, how to take action, and resources available for support. The presentation takes place at Ben Franklin Place (101 Centrepointe), and will be delivered by Voice Found’s dedicated staff, and will conclude with a Q&A. Space is limited, so please RSVP to [email protected] if you are interested in joining us. 



Fundraiser: Coldest Night of the Year 2024 

On February 24th Councillor Devine and his office will be participating in the annual “Coldest Night of Year” fundraiser event, when communities across Ottawa will participate in #CNOY2024 to walk together to raise awareness and funds for raise money for local charities serving people experiencing hurt, hunger, and homelessness.  

Councillor Devine’s team will be participating in the only #CNOY2024 event happening in Nepean, which will take place at The MET Church in Ward 9. The Nepean #CNOY2024 event will be raising funds for Ottawa Innercity Ministries, a faith-based organization supporting those experiencing poverty and homelessness.  


Funding Opportunity for Environmental Projects 

Are you looking for an opportunity to put your environmental ideas into action? The City of Ottawa is now accepting applications for the 2024 Community Environmental Projects Grant Program (CEPGP). CEPGP provides funding to non-profit organizations interested in undertaking small-scale, community-based initiatives that support an environmentally sustainable Ottawa. The application deadline is Friday, April 5, 2024 at 4:00 p.m. Successful CEPGP grant recipients must complete their projects by June 30, 2025. For details on eligibility criteria, the application process, profiles of past projects, and to apply, please visit the city website.  


Merivale Food Map 

Readers of this newsletter are already aware of Councillor Devine’s plans for the re-development of Merivale Road into a mixed residential / commercial neighborhood deserving of the title “The Heart of Nepean”. Last tear Ward 9 resident Hans Moor (best known as @HansOnTheBike) created an exciting map of the growing number of restaurants and eateries that had been popping up on Merivale. Hans has recently completed an update of his map which shows just how much Merivale Road is changing and thriving. Check it out, and then go visit one of these fantastic spots!   



Ottawa Film Office: Film, Television and Animation Career Fair 

As a board director of the Ottawa Film Office, and as a long-time member of the film and television industry, Councillor Devine is excited to welcome aspiring artists, young professionals and filmmakers to the Ottawa Film Office’s annual Film, Television and Animation Career Fair, taking place on February 29th. Ottawa’s screen industry is booming, and this event is a great opportunity for making connections, building your profile, or just finding out what Ottawa has to offer. There will be an Industry Panel Discussion from 3pm – 4pm at Cineplex Lansdowne, followed by the career fair from 4pm – 8pm at the Horticulture Building in Lansdowne Park. For more info on this event, click here.  




Respiratory Virus Update 

We are well into the winter respiratory virus season and the news this week is mixed. First, the good news: levels of COVID-19 in the community appear to be dropping. That’s great news because they were at near-record highs in the last few weeks. While the level is dropping it’s important to exercise some caution. While levels of RSV are also more moderate now, flu levels continue to rise and remain high. 

There is a lot you can do to help stay healthy, including keeping your vaccines up-to-date and wearing a well-fitting mask if you find yourself sharing indoor air with a lot of people. Your caution can help protect yourself and the vulnerable people around you. For more information, you can check out Ottawa Public Health’s Respiratory Viruses page.  



Ottawa Public Health Immunization Clinic. 

Ottawa Public Health is holding an Immunization Clinic at St. Rita's School in Ward 9 on Feb 14th. No appointment necessary. 



Become a Crossing Guard! 

Join the Ottawa Safety Council’s (OSC) dedicated, community-minded team of Adult Crossing Guards!  

Great reasons to join the OSC’s crossing guard team: 

  • Make a real difference in your own community! 
  • Get to know your neighbours 
  • Help local families 
  • Become a trusted face in your neck of the woods  
  • Enjoy supplementary income and perks 

Being a Crossing Guard provides a meaningful employment opportunity that puts a smile on everyone’s face. Interested in learning more? Get all the details on becoming a crossing guard from their website or contact Ella at [email protected] 




780 Baseline 

The proposed development at 780 Baseline came to Council last week after passing at Planning and Housing Committee the week before. As reported in our last newsletter, the development application was split into two parts in late November with the first part (a single, 24-story tower along Fisher) receiving zoning approval and the second part (two towers along Baseline) sent back for further investigation and discussion. Of concern was the impact the proposed towers might have on the operations of the Central Experimental Farm given the increased shadowing the new towers would bring to the fields along Baseline. The city, Agriculture and Agri-foods Canada, and the developer have been in discussions since then, attempting to reach a consensus about the issue. Councillor Devine has worked hard with all of the parties involved, encouraging them to work towards the best possible outcome. As a result of a motion developed by Councillor Devine and introduced on his behalf by Councillor Brockington, the developer will have increased flexibility in the height of the building podiums along Baseline Road that may help reduce the overall height of the towers. It will be several years before the project's second phase begins construction, and all parties involved have committed to continue working together towards the best possible solutions during the site planning process. We will continue to monitor the file and encourage everyone involved in the file to keep the best interests of the neighbourhood, the farm, and the city in mind as they move forward. 


1545 Woodroffe 

Our office received notice late last week that the site plan approval for 1545 Woodroffe is being extended to allow the developer more time to get the project underway. The risk of not extending the approval is that the developer would then have to start the process from scratch which could result in even more delays. Councillor Devine is eager to see work get underway on the site and is hopeful that work will begin this year. Our office will keep an eye on the file and continue doing what we can to encourage the project to move forward. 



Winter Carnivals 

It was awesome to be back in the community these last two weekends joining residents at the Manordale-Woodvale Community Association Winter Carnival and the Parkwood Hills Winter Fun Day! Lots of great activities, and always delicious hot chocolate.  


Join us at the Glens Winter Carnival on Feb. 18 from 1:30-3:30pm for some more Winter Fun! 

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