February 27, 2024 Newsletter


"Respectfully, I disagree.” 

As a writer, I know that every good story has a protagonist and an antagonist. In literary terms, the protagonist is typically the lead character. The person on a quest. The antagonist is usually whoever (or whatever) gets in the protagonist’s way, creating the story’s conflict. Sometimes we refer to the protagonist as “the good guy” and the antagonist as “the bad guy”. 

I remember learning that the best way to create a good antagonist is not to make them “the bad guy”. They are simply another protagonist on a different quest.  

It’s not hard for politicians to find antagonists. If I make my opinion known publicly on social media or in my newsletter, someone will let me know that they take an opposite view to mine. That’s to be expected. In fact, I welcome it. However, the way we express opposing views in the public sphere is of fundamental importance. It can either build society up, or it can bring society down. As one of my team members likes to remind me: politics is the art of managing differences.  

Last week, we heard the shocking news that the Mayor of Gatineau, France Bélisle, resigned from her office, claiming “a hostile climate for municipal politicians”. Shocking, but not surprising. In fact, during her resignation speech, former Mayor Bélisle mentioned a staggering statistic: 741 municipal politicians have resigned since the 2021 Quebec municipal elections.  

Here’s another thing that happened last week. At our City Council meeting, councillors got a security briefing, in the wake of an incident in Edmonton in January, when an individual fired a gun and threw a Molotov cocktail in Edmonton’s City Hall.  

The “hostile climate” that Bélisle referenced includes many of the same antagonists that any politician deals with, including me. On any given day, politicians contend with having inadequate resources to meet escalating crises, whether economic, environmental, or societal. On any given day, politicians contend with incompetence or unethical conduct within the government they operate in. On any given day, politicians contend with members of the public that express their opposition in ways that are rude, condescending, hostile, and even violent.  

And as residents, you contend with your own antagonists, including politicians that you no longer trust or have faith in. 

But here’s what I’m desperate to avoid: this hostile climate cannot continue. Our system of government depends on competing positions being openly and freely debated, protagonist versus protagonist, without threat of aggression or recrimination. It depends on a social contract, signed by all who participate in it, that we all practice the art of managing our differences. We should all get better at the phrase “Respectfully, I disagree.” Because our system of democratic, representative government “of the people, for the people, by the people” does not come with a lifetime warranty. It is susceptible to failure. So, let’s all try to be better protagonists.  


Climate Change & Road Use 

In recent issues of this newsletter, I spoke about some upcoming priorities to address climate change and housing. Believe it or not, changing the way we address parking in our cities plays a significant role in both the housing crisis as well as the climate change crisis. After all, emissions from vehicles are a leading contributor to climate change. And the more convenient we make it to drive cars, the more we’ll all drive. Parking takes up a lot of space and there’s a far greater need to prioritize people spaces, particularly during a housing crisis.  

This year we’re going to see some proposals for parking reform coming to Transportation Committee, including plans to charge for parking on weekends, as well as plans to increase parking rates based on demand. These will certainly be hot debates at City Council. 

Regular readers of this newsletter will already know that I’m eager to advance these kinds of reforms. And I’m a driver, too, so I know that this will inconvenience me. And so, to keep the discourse on parking going, I wanted to share a few more related thoughts:  

  • I’ve recently joined the Urbanism Book Club, which is a monthly book club meeting where the discussion focuses on many issues related to urban planning. For March, we’ll be reading and discussing Curbing Traffic “The Human Case for Fewer Cars in our Lives” 
  • There’s a well-known video on Youtube called The High Cost of Free Parking, which provides an interesting history on how parking took over cities and the high costs it places on residents.   
  • Later this year I’m hoping to find a school in Ward 9 that will participate in the School Streets pilot project, where eligible schools close off the street in front of the school to vehicle traffic (except buses and emergency vehicles), so that families are encouraged to walk or cycle to school. My colleague Councillor Stephanie Plante launched her own School Streets project in Vanier Ward.   


Policing protests 

On February 17th, Ottawa saw protesters return to our downtown streets to recognize the 2nd anniversary of the invocation of the Emergencies Act during the 2022 Freedom Convoy.  After several hours of demonstrations at Parliament Hill, a smaller number of the protesters gathered at night in a parking lot at Queen Street and Kent Street. Accounts from the scene report belligerent and aggressive exchanges from protesters to Ottawa Police and Ottawa By-Law officers, as well as the blatant and illegal use of fireworks. 

Since February 17th, there has been a lot of discussion about how our law enforcement officers respond to different protests. And I use the word “different” intentionally, because there is a perception that our law enforcement branches take a different approach to different protests.  

I have two concerns in this matter.  

My first concern is that not only should there be a consistent approach to all protests, but the very existence of a perceived difference in policing is a threat to our credibility.  

Over the last several months, our law enforcement officers issued well over a dozen Noise By-Law fines (each one at $490) to protesters for using megaphones during pro-Palestinian and pro-Trans protests. The use of megaphones is quite typical of public protests, and we should be wary of clamping down on normal forms of protest. To be clear, I do not believe protesters should be fined for using megaphones. But it is worth noting that no Noise By-Law fines were issued to Freedom Convoy protesters on February 17th, despite the use of megaphones, and despite the precedent already set issuing fines at other protests.  

In fact, Ottawa By-Law was advised by Ottawa Police not to engage. A quote from Ottawa By-Law Director Roger Chapman reads:   

“Due to safety concerns for officers attending the Freedom Movement demonstrations on February 17 and the risk of escalation, officers were advised by the Ottawa Police Service of safety risks and not to engage members of the crowd.” 

A media release from Ottawa Police Services reads:  

“On Saturday evening, Ottawa Police and City Bylaw attended for complaints of fireworks at Queen and Kent streets. The crowd there was volatile, and police chose to de-escalate the situation and encouraged the group to leave.” 

This brings me to my second concern, which is over the effectiveness of how Ottawa Police responded to what they themselves describe as escalations of public disorder.  

During the night-time gathering of protesters in the parking lot at Queen Street and Kent Street, Ottawa Police and Ottawa By-Law were present on scene. It has been accurately reported by police and journalists that protesters were acting aggressively towards officers. And so, the decision made by Ottawa Police Services to depart the scene to de-escalate the situation may be seen as a reasonable tactic.  

But then came the fireworks, and the potential danger that they pose to public safety. And the lack of police response.  

During yesterday’s Police Services Board meeting, Chief Stubbs made a comment that the use fireworks was over by the time police returned to the scene. But in one video, you can see an Ottawa Police officer watching as protesters set off fireworks in the parking lot. The officer watches the fireworks, then gets into his car, and then leaves. More fireworks happened after that.  

The decision to withdraw the only officer on scene after observing the illegal and potentially dangerous discharge of fireworks seems like a poor choice. One would think that fireworks would be sufficient to call back more officers to the site, especially considering there were bystanders, families and children in the vicinity, even some trying to access their cars in this same parking lot.  

As an elected official my responsibility is to protect the interests of the city and its citizens. This responsibility includes ensuring that residents have trust and faith in our public institutions, especially those institutions tasked with our protection. I am completely sympathetic to the increasing strain that a growing number of protests has placed on the resources of Ottawa Police Services, but I am equally sympathetic to the public’s right to demand effectiveness and consistency in how law enforcement carries out its duty.   


“If we build it, they will come.” 

Several of my Council colleagues from Ottawa’s rural wards are frequently known to comment that Ottawa is 80% rural land. That’s certainly an interesting statistic, but here’s another perspective, taken from a recent opinion column in The Ottawa Citizen by local architect Toon Dreesen 

More than 50% of Ottawa’s population lives within the National Capital Greenbelt, generating nearly 60% of the property tax revenue on 12% of the city’s land. More than half of our projected future population growth is expected to live in already urbanized land.” 

When it comes to providing municipal services on infrastructure on a per capita basis, I’m confident that Ottawa’s rural wards fare much better than many urban and suburban wards. Take libraries, for example. Also from the article: “There are 34 libraries in the city; 53 per cent of them are outside the greenbelt, despite this area having less than half the population. Some wards have no libraries while some rural wards have three or four.” I hear this from my colleague Councillor Riley Brockington all the time. River Ward, which neighbours Knoxdale-Merivale Ward, does not have a single City of Ottawa library.  

The City of Ottawa’s Official Plan has made clear the intention to situate most of our projected population growth within the Greenbelt, which is a direction I support. But if urban and suburban wards – including Ward 9 – are to take on a higher ratio of growth, then the city needs to invest our fair share of resources into our wards. “If we build it, they will come.” 


House to Home Break-In 

A few weeks ago, an Ottawa non-profit called House to Home that helps refugees furnish their homes experienced a break-in, stealing thousands of dollars’ worth of stock, leaving them unable to fulfill their mission of providing much-needed support to some of our city’s most vulnerable residents. Over the last two years, House to Home has furnished the homes of over 850 refugee families. Due to increasing demand, they had recently moved to a new facility (which came with new expenses), and then suddenly they experienced this most frustrating break-in.   

My office has previously sponsored House to Home and their work, and we made another donation when we heard this news. I encourage anyone who can to make a contribution and help them get back to serving our community.   



Parking and the (Not-so) Curious Case of Buffalo 

Ottawa has experienced a dramatic shift in its traffic and parking patterns since the beginning of the pandemic. There are a few reasons for the shift we’re seeing: 

  • More people are working from home, more often, and fewer people are consistently commuting into the downtown core for work every day.  
  • Younger generations are less likely to own a car and are more likely to look for other options for getting around, like improved pedestrian and biking infrastructure, and better public transit options.  
  • The city’s population is growing rapidly and bringing with it an increasing need for affordable and accessible housing. 

Put all of this together and you have a recipe for a change in the relationship between housing, roadways, and parking infrastructure. Some cities, like Montreal, Gatineau, and Paris, are tackling the issue with new approaches to parking fees, setting those fees based on the size of a vehicle’s engine—the larger the engine, the higher the fee. If you’re looking for even more innovative solutions, though, look no further than Buffalo. 

For many years, the standard practice in North American cities has been to require a minimum number of parking spaces for new residential developments, proportional to the number of units being built. That has impacts on a city’s density, what can be built where, and can drive up the cost of residential development, significantly. Buffalo took on the problem with major changes to its requirements around parking and new residential developments.  In 2017, it became the first American city to do away with parking minimums, completely (it was quickly followed by a number of cities across the U.S.). The result? People living closer to the services they need, most of them a short walk or transit ride away, and less space taken up by large expanses of wide-open asphalt parking lots. We can make our cities more livable, more affordable and less harmful to the environment if we really want to. 



Vacant Unit Tax Declarations 

Property owners have until March 21, 2024, to submit their Vacant Unit Tax declaration. Late declarations this year will be subject to a $250 fine. You can find all the information you need on the city’s Vacant Unit Tax website. You can also submit your declaration online (the quickest and easiest method), or by phone, or in-person.  


Property Flooding Survey 

On August 10th, 2023, the city of Ottawa experienced historic rainfall, which led to flooding incidents across the city. Several areas in Ward 9 were among the most heavily impacted areas. Shortly after the event, Councillor Devine’s office collected data from several residents whose properties had flooded. Since then, the city of Ottawa has begun to conduct its own investigation, which will hopefully lead to recommendations for mitigation and prevention measures. To ensure that the city is working with the most accurate information possible, we are asking that any residents who experienced flooding on August 10th to please complete our Property Flooding Survey. Even if you have already contacted our office about flooding, please complete the survey. And if you have neighbors who experienced flooding, please feel free to forward them this information. All information will remain confidential.  


Grants for Environmental Projects 

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. Past funds have been awarded to a wide range of projects including:  

  • Community workshops 
  • Education campaigns 
  • Environmental rehabilitation 
  • Greening initiatives, such as planting native species 
  • School projects, such as pollinator gardens 

The application deadline is Friday, April 5th at 4pm.   
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 complete an application form, please visit the program website. For more information on CEPGP, please contact Tara Redpath, CEPGP Coordinator, at 613-580-2424 x 16822 or at [email protected]. 

Hydro Ottawa Presentation: Keeping Ottawa Connected 

On April 17, Councillor Devine will host Hydro Ottawa for their second Keeping Ottawa Connected presentation in Ward 9, 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. This session will focus on the communities of Country Place, The Glens, Merivale Gardens, and Tanglewood. The event will run from 7:00pm - 8:30pm at the Nepean Sportsplex at 1701 Woodroffe Avenue. The info session will take place in the Sportsplex's Richmond Room, which is accessible through Entrance #4 at the rear of the Sportsplex.   

On February 21 Councillor Devine hosted Hydro Ottawa for a presentation focused on the neighborhoods of Fisher Heights, Skyline and Parkwood Hills. Over 40 people attended this session, which produced a lot of important questions from residents. Councillor Devine is working with Hydro Ottawa to get a summary of their proposed service improvements, which we will communicate to our residents as soon as possible.   


Ontario Electricity Support Program 

As of March 1, 2024, eligibility for the Ontario Electricity Support Program (OESP) will be expanded. The Ontario government is increasing the program’s income eligibility thresholds by up to 35 per cent, allowing more Hydro Ottawa customers to qualify for financial assistance through the program’s on-bill credits. To align with these recent threshold changes to OESP, Hydro Ottawa’s Low-income Energy Assistance Program (LEAP) will also see more residents eligible to qualify for financial assistance on March 1, 2024. Learn more about these upcoming changes on the Ontario Energy Board website 


Water Rate Review Consultation 

The City of Ottawa is reviewing how it recovers costs to deliver water services that residents rely on every day, and we want to hear from you.  

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. The rate structure will apply six guiding principles to identify opportunities for improvement:  

  • Fairness and equity 
  • Affordability 
  • Transparency 
  • Financial sustainability 
  • Economic development 
  • Resource Conservation  

To have your say, visit the city's Engage web site for more information and to complete the Water Rate Review survey before the end of July 2024. Public consultations will take place until fall 2024. More information on these consultations will be shared in advance and listed on Engage Ottawa. 


Solid Waste Survey 

This year is a big year for the future of Ottawa’s approach to handling its garbage. A new Solid Waste Master Plan is nearing completion, and city staff are interested in your feedback. 

Until Thursday, March 7, residents are invited to share their thoughts on the city’s draft plan. There are a few ways you can participate. One of them is to participate in the online survey on the Engage Ottawa website. Your feedback will help inform Ottawa City Council’s decision on the plan. 

If you don’t have access to the internet to complete the survey, you can call the Waste Plan team directly by calling 613-580-2400, extension 25550.


Seeking your feedback on Rain Ready Ottawa 

The city is looking for your input on the Rain Ready Ottawa pilot program. The goal is to learn from the pilot and see where the program might go in the future.  

Since launching in 2021, Rain Ready Ottawa has successfully led to the installation of hundreds of residential stormwater management projects like rain gardens, permeable pavement and soakaway pits.  It has engaged with thousands of Ottawans on how they can get rain ready. 

Tell us about your experiences with the current program and how the city can support you to become more ‘rain ready’. 


Ward 9 2024 Construction Forecast 

The following is a partial list of various construction and infrastructure projects happening across Ward 9. Most of these projects are listed on the city’s Planned Construction Projects website, and are scheduled for 2024, except as noted below.  

  • Craig Henry Drive (between Greenbank Road and Knoxdale Road): modifications to non-standard speed cushions 
  • McClellan Road (between Paula Crescent and Cramer Drive): sidewalk renewal 
  • Amberwood Crescent: sidewalk renewal 
  • Conover Street: implementation of traffic calming measures 
  • MacFarlane Road: implementation of approved traffic calming measures 
  • Greenbank Road (between West Hunt Club Road and Fallowfield Road): multi-use pathway renewal; design phase only 
  • Greenbank Road and West Hunt Club: intersection modifications (1 – 2 years) 
  • Grenfell Crescent (between Woodroffe Avenue and 300m eastward): road resurfacing 
  • Merivale Road (near St. Monica’s School): installation of Automated Speed Enforcement Camera 
  • Knoxdale Road (near St. John XXIII Catholic Elementary School): installation of Automated Speed Enforcement Camera 



Ward 9 Pop-Up Office Hours 

Our office is finally resuming our 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 from 4:30pm – 7:30pm to serve residents in the Trend-Arlington and Craig Henry communities. Visit our website to book a meeting, or email [email protected] with the subject line “Pop-Up Office Hours”. 


Save the Date: Ward 9 Seniors Summit 

Councillor Devine’s office has been working with a group of engaged seniors from across Ward 9 to start planning a Ward 9 Seniors Summit. We’ve just confirmed that this event will take place on Tuesday, October 1st, which is National Seniors Day in Canada. The event will take place during the afternoon at the Nepean Sportsplex. Stay tuned for more details in the coming months.  


Just Older Youth (JOY) Gardening Event 

Just Older Youth (JOY) invites seniors to a presentation by the owner of the Green Thumb Garden Centre. This is a great time to think about warmer days ahead and getting valuable gardening tips. The session will be followed by conversations and homemade refreshments. The event takes place February 29th from 1:00pm – 3:00pm at Arlington Woods Free Methodist Church, located at 225 McClellan Road. 


Ward 9 Volunteer Squad  

Over the next few months, Councillor Devine will be working with stakeholders to expand Ottawa’s volunteer base as a tool in our emergency management toolkit. To get the ball rolling, our office is launching a Ward 9 Volunteer Squad, which will be open to residents from across Ward 9 who wish to work with the Councillor in a variety of community engagement events and activities. Students seeking their required volunteer hours are eligible for this initiative. If you’re interested, then sign up at our Google Form 


Presentation on Human Trafficking  

On March 1st at 3pm, Bay Ward, College Ward, and Knoxdale-Merivale Ward are honored 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 attending. 


Ward 9 is looking for singers/groups to perform National Anthem 

Who wants to perform the national anthem? Every City Council meeting, a different Ward Councillor has the privilege of bringing in musicians to kick off the meeting with their rendition of Oh Canada! And Ward 9’s turn is coming on August 21. So, if you or someone (or a group, or a choir) you know would like to step into the spotlight and give us their best version of our national anthem, here is your chance! Drop us a line at [email protected] and give us your suggestions! 


Acorn Ottawa’s Eco-Tenant Survey 

ACORN Ottawa has a new campaign to help tenants mitigate the impacts of climate change in their units, by facilitating their access to retrofits. Check out their Eco-Tenant Survey to help collect better data on tenant issues related to energy efficiency. 


Coldest Night of the Year 2024 

This past weekend Councillor Devine was happy to sponsor and participate in the Coldest Night of the Year Walk, which is an annual series of fundraising events taking place across Ottawa to raise money for charities that address homelessness in our city. The Councillor joined up with supporters at The Met Church, where teams raised over $37,000 for Ottawa Innercity Ministries. Congratulations, and we’ll see you again next year! 



Respiratory Illness Update 

While rates of COVID in the community are beginning to trend steadily downward, it’s important to be aware that it is still very much present and affecting people—particularly headed into the March break. More than one thousand people have been admitted to hospital with COVID in Ottawa since the fall. So, play it safe. The benefit of being cautious are that it will also help protect from the other viruses circulating, like influenza, which is on a tear in the community at the moment. Rates are high and continue to climb. Have a look at Ottawa Public Health’s website for guidance on how to take precautions and keep you and your family healthy headed in spring break.  


Check your Measles Vaccine Status 

Just as COVID-19 levels once again appear to be easing off in the community, attention is turning to a new potential threat on the horizon: measles. 

Many countries around the world have been experiencing a recent, dramatic spike in the number of cases of this highly contagious and potentially dangerous infection. In Europe for example, there were more than 40-thousand recorded cases last year—40 times the usual number of cases. Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health has warned that parents should be cautious headed into the March break, particularly if they have travel plans to destinations where outbreaks are already happening. If you haven’t already, you should make certain that your family has up-to-date vaccinations against the disease. 


Overdose Prevention & Response Training Program 

Over the last few years, there has been a significant increase in the number of fatal and non-fatal drug overdoses in our community and across the country. It’s a crisis that needs our attention. One thing you can do is learn how to prevent and respond to an overdose. A new, online training module is now available through Ottawa Public Health. You can visit their website for more information and to take the training. 


Warning about Incidental Fentanyl Exposure 

Ottawa Public Health is putting out a warning about the potential hazard of incidental exposure to fentanyl. They have been receiving reports of people experiencing headaches, dizziness, nausea, and vomiting after being close to people inhaling or heating what is believed to be unregulated fentanyl. Ottawa Public Health is gathering more information about these incidents and is issuing this warning out of an abundance of caution. Please be aware of these potential added risks and, if you have experienced any of these effects, you can visit the Sandy Hill Community Health Centre or the Ottawa Inner City Health’s Consumption and Treatment Service and bring a sample of the substance for testing, if available. And, as always, if you suspect someone has overdosed, call 9-1-1 immediately. 


Pregnancy Circle 

Latest posts

Reach out

Connect With Us
Sign up for updates
Invite Sean to an event

Connect with Sean