The Conflict in Israel and Gaza
Conflicts far from home sometimes have a powerful resonance that make those conflicts feel so much closer and more deeply personal. This is one of those moments. The shock of the October 7 terrorist attacks on Israeli communities and the rapidly escalating conflict in Israel and Gaza is bringing feelings of fear, trepidation, and anger into our communities. I would urge everyone to reach for their most compassionate selves in this moment. Talk to your neighbors. Extend compassion. Listen to those most affected, hear their concerns, offer them comfort. And do your best to be an advocate for peace and justice. This is one of the hardest of times and we must do everything we can to protect and care for one another.
At the upcoming City Council meeting on November 10th councillors will vote on the recommendation for Lansdowne 2.0. This will be the single-biggest financial decision that Council will make during this term. And Lansdowne is one of the city’s most valuable public assets, the “jewel in the crown”, as it’s frequently described.
To be as transparent as possible, my current position is that I would not support the staff recommendation for Lansdowne 2.0. I still have time to deliberate and discuss this with residents and with my colleagues, but I have significant concerns with what has been proposed. To get a sense of what many residents are concerned with, readers may wish to watch a recording of a recent public meeting called “Let’s Talk Lansdowne”, which was a public forum attended by over 300 residents expressing their concern over this project.
I will publish a more detailed statement on my position in time for my next newsletter, but I will summarize my concerns here:
- At a time when our municipal budgets are quite strained, the City of Ottawa is facing far greater challenges and priorities than Lansdowne.
- The cost of the project has increased from $330 million to $419 million but includes several compromises that diminish the project’s public realm components. In other words, residents are paying more and getting less. To make matters worse, the projected cost would likely be more by the time construction actually begins.
- The city’s financing of Lansdowne is based on taking on massive amounts of public debt, with a plan to pay off that debt through revenue projections which seem overly optimistic.
- None of what is being currently proposed for Lansdowne addresses the transit and transportation issues that Lansdowne users and area residents are currently experiencing.
- Whereas there is currently a roof over the north stands at Lansdowne’s football field, the current plan for Lansdowne 2.0 does not include a roof over the north stands. This will severely impact the fan experience, which could further impact the financial viability of the site.
- At a time when we need to increase density, the current proposal for Lansdowne removed one of the three towers, removing hundreds of new housing units from the site.
- The current proposal has no affordable housing units.
- Rather than allocate 25% of the revenue from the sale of the air rights to affordable housing, as per the city’s policy, the current recommendation is only allocating 10% of the sale’s revenue.
Despite my own position on this, I know that many residents will have a different position. I also am aware that there is a risk in not proceeding, as the costs required to repair this municipally owned asset will only increase over time.
And so, I am repeating my request to hear from you, so that I can make a vote that best reflects not only my own assessment, but the will of the residents of Ward 9. So far, most of the emails that I’ve received from residents are asking that I do not support the staff recommendation for Lansdowne 2.0. But public opinion is most often shared when it is against something. When people support a position, they are typically less inclined to communicate about it.
Please do continue to share your thoughts on Lansdowne. You can email my office at [email protected] with the subject line “Lansdowne 2.0”.
Residents across Ward 9 are quite likely aware of the increase of speed racing across the city, and certainly across Knoxdale-Merivale. With a lot of racing along arterials and corridors like Merivale, Woodroffe, Baseline, Hunt Club and Slack, our ward is seeing (and hearing) more speed racing than most wards.
Last week I had a productive meeting with Ottawa Police Chief Stubbs, where we discussed several of my concerns regarding policing in our city. We certainly discussed speed racing, as well as the issue of speeding and traffic safety in general. During our tour, we stopped at St. Monica’s School on Merivale, which continues to be one of our ward’s most dangerous traffic safety sites. Chief Stubbs echoed my position that automated speed enforcement (ASE) cameras are one of our best deterrents against speeding, and I will continue to advocate for an ASE placement at this location. Chief Stubbs also agreed to push for some onsite police enforcement at this location, as a short-term solution.
Over the next several months winter I will be collaborating with the OPS and a small group of councillors to advance some more effective and long-term solutions to address speed racing. Several of these initiatives will be challenging, as they require changing provincial. Some of the initiatives that my team and I are researching and considering include:
- Stiffer fines and longer impoundments
- Wider use of automated speed enforcement camera, including the deployment of mobile cameras
- Exploring the use of noise cameras
- Exploring methodologies used by other police forces across Canada, including initiatives to divert speed racing off city streets and over to sanctioned racetracks
- Exploring the options for prohibiting the use of loud after-market exhaust systems
This week at Transit Commission, Councillors were briefed by OC Transpo, Alstom, and Rideau Transit Group [RTG] on the root cause of the LRT axle bearing issue, as well as the proposed solutions and timeline for implementing them. While we are closer to figuring out wat happened, there are still some troubling signs ahead. For one thing, whereas Alstom (the train manufacturer) believes that it has identified the root cause, RTG (the consortium managing the project) is not yet convinced. OC Transpo has stated that this is matter for the commercial partners to resolve on their own. Residents can get a comprehensive account of what was discussed in this report from CBC.
Further compounding all this is timeline for the proposed solution. Testing of the proposed new axles won’t begin until Summer 2025, with Summer 2026 being described as the date for when all trains will be retrofitted with the new axles. This continues to be a major failure for our city.
Alstom identified the root cause of the axle bearing issue as emanating from “excessive lateral loads”, which caused components of the wheel box assembly to fail. To get more of a sense of the technical problem, please watch this video prepared by Alstom.
Alstom claimed that its trains were consistently put under stress greater than what the axle bearings were designed to endure. Alstom highlighted that stress loads were most severe near Hurdman Station, where the track has some of the tightest turns. This is also the site where an LRT derailed in 2021 while returning to the maintenance yard.
Alstom has prepared a 1000-page report documenting their assessment of the technical problem, an assessment that RTG is hesitant to agree to. And since this is a P3 (public-private partnership) project where Alstom is contracted by RTG, neither the public nor even Councillors may view this report to assess it for ourselves.
In their report, Alstom provided 9 recommendations for RTG to implement, in order to reduce the stress on the axle bearings. However, RTG has said that to fully implement these recommendations would require lengthy shutdowns of the LRT system, and that there are no immediate plans to implement all 9 recommendations. Rather, RTG plans to continue increased inspections and running trains at slower speeds; as well as implementing a new top of rail lubrification system, which RTG claim can reduce lateral loads by up to 40%.
Meanwhile, Alstom is working on developing a new axle bearing for the train cars that would be capable of withstanding higher lateral loads. This is intended to serve as a more permanent fix. The challenge is that the process for implementing the new axle bearings fleetwide poses a significant challenge and the earliest estimated date Alstom saw feasible for implementation was late 2026.
It is the firm position of myself and many councillors that Ottawa’s taxpayers must not bear the financial burden of any of these proposed solutions, and that these costs must be borne by RTG and Alstom.
It is incumbent upon RTG that it properly considers the recommendations provided by Alstom, in-order to bring the LRT to a level of service residents deserve. While I appreciate LRT shutdowns are an inconvenience to many, the current state of the LRT has left residents with little, to no confidence in the system. If a planned shutdown to fully implement the recommendations is how we achieve a reliable LRT system, and how we avoid future unplanned shutdowns; I believe that it is a trade-off many are willing to take.
I’d like to take this opportunity to update you on changes to our office team. Last week we said farewell to Alexandra Seymour, our office manager, who has taken a new position with the House of Commons. We wish Alexandra the best of luck in her future career. We ask for your patience with us over the next few weeks as we work at hiring Alexandra’s replacement. In the meantime, we are happy to welcome Leila Esperance, who will be interning with us until mid-December. Leila has volunteered in the House of Commons, is a member of the Model United Nations Association and Model Parliament, and is pursuing a bachelor's degree in Political Science and Philosophy at the University of Ottawa.
Does your building have a backup generator?
Do you or someone you know live in an apartment building of six stories or more? Do you know if that building has a backup generator for use during power outages?
Readers of this newsletter may recall that our office has been concerned about the safety issues faced by vulnerable residents who live in multi-storey apartment buildings that don’t have emergency backup generators. As has happened repeatedly during lengthy power outages, these vulnerable residents are often without electricity, water, light, and even the ability to exit their apartments, often for several days.
Our office has now got Ottawa Fire Services compiling an inventory of buildings across the city that do not have emergency generators, so that they may prioritize their response during emergency responses. To assist in the creation of this inventory, we’re reaching out to the residents of Ward 9, particularly those who live in apartment buildings that are 6 storeys or more. If you, or someone you know lives in such a building in Ward 9, we want to know the following:
- Does your apartment building have a generator?
- What services is it able to provide to residents in case of a power outage?
Please send your answers (including your building’s address) to [email protected] with the subject line “Emergency Generators”.
Upcoming Highway 417 Closure
Drivers and Transit riders take note: Ontario’s Ministry of Transportation will be closing Highway 417 this week in order to complete the rapid bridge replacement over Percy Street. The full closure will begin at 8 pm on Thursday, October 19, but access ramps and lanes will begin closing an hour before that. It will last until around 6 am on Tuesday, October 24. Here are the sections of the highway that will be affected for the duration:
- Eastbound lanes between Carling/Kirkwood and Metcalfe
- Westbound lanes between Metcalfe/Catherine and Bronson
Hydro One Merivale Transformer Station Update: Vegetation maintenance
This week we got a brief update from Hydro One concerning work being done on the Merivale Transformer Station Modernization Project. We are told that work is progressing smoothly, and that Hydro One is actively putting together the community investment plan and will reach out to us next week with more details.
We also learned about their upcoming vegetation maintenance in the high-voltage transmission corridor in our community starting in October. The map below shows a purple line which represents the area they will conduct this maintenance, starting with the Merivale Station in the west, and going east to the Hawthorne Transformer Station. The red circle represents the area within Ward 9.
Hydro One is responsible for maintaining a safe distance between vegetation and power lines to keep the corridor safe for public use, and to allow easy and safe access for their crews. This important work ensures that Hydro One can continue to provide a supply of safe and reliable electricity.
As part of their work, Hydro One’s Forestry Technicians will selectively identify for removal and trimming trees and other vegetation that could pose a risk to the electrical system. In advance of work starting, their team will deliver notices to adjacent property owners and will engage with residents one-on-one in the event work is required on their property. Hydro One Forestry Technician will make every effort to contact property owners in advance.
Winter Removal of Flex Stakes
Traffic Operations will begin removals of flex stakes and delineators starting Oct 20th. However, if the weather is reasonable through the remainder of the fall, flex stakes may be left in for longer. We look forward to re-engaging with many of you in Spring 2024 as we seek to continue to address areas of concern throughout the ward. Please, always feel free to reach out to our office to share any concerns that you may have.
Hazardous Waste Update
Got hazardous waste? Check the Waste Explorer to find retailers who take back your items today! Can’t find one? Visit our Household Hazardous Waste event on Sunday, October 22 at the Innes Snow Dump, 2170 Mer Bleue Road. More details: http://ottawa.ca/HHW
Extended collection hours during peak leaf and yard waste season
It’s officially peak leaf and yard waste season. Twice a year, in the fall and spring, waste collection operators have until 8 pm to pick up separately set out leaf and yard waste to accommodate the increased volumes of yard waste. Green, black & blue bins and garbage will continue to be picked up as usual between 7 am and 6 pm. And did you know setting out your leaf and yard waste separate from your green bin saves money because it can be composted at the Barnsdale leaf and yard composting pad at the Trail Waste Facility? Setting leaf and yard waste out separately will be required in 2026, as part of the 2026 Residential Curbside Collection Contract. To learn more about our green bin program and leaf and yard waste, visit: Ottawa.ca/greenbin.
Public Meeting: Budget 2024
Join us for the 2024 City of Ottawa Budget consultations with your Councillor and City Finance staff.
Bay Ward, College Ward, and Knoxdale-Merivale Ward are hosting a joint meeting where we invite you to ask questions and provide feedback ahead of the Budget being tabled at Committees and City Council. The Budget Consultation meeting will take place on October 23 from 6:30pm – 8:30pm.
The meeting will be hosted in a hybrid format with an in-person option in the Chambers at Ben Franklin Place (101 Centrepointe Drive) and a virtual option. Participants are asked to RSVP, whether attending in person or virtually. For those attending virtually, the link will be sent after you RSVP. For more information and how to RSVP, please visit our website.
Seminar: Harnessing Success to Reduce Crime
On October 30th at 7:00pm, the Federation of Citizen Organizations invites you to an online seminar that will spark new and constructive ideas on how to dramatically reduce crime. They are bringing together Dr. Irvin Waller and Dr. Melanie Baina, both experts in crime prevention. Dr. Waller has worked extensively with the UN and for other countries. Dr Bania did her PhD on crime in Ottawa and has worked at the municipal level across Canada. There is more information about them on the Poster. While the purpose of the seminar is educational, participants may end up thinking of new ways to play a role in reducing crime through their programs. Interested participants can register for the online seminar here.
Parthia Park – Play Structure Replacement
The Parthia Park play structure replacement project is now up for public consultation on the City’s public engagement website: Engage Ottawa. Please note that the end of the comment period is posted as October 31st, 2023. The City is looking for your feedback on two concepts for new play equipment in Parthia Park in Nepean. The existing junior play structure and equipment have surpassed their intended service life. The play equipment must be replaced to meet current safety and Accessibility standards. Other Park amenities will be untouched. Construction is expected in summer of 2024.
PUBLIC HEALTH & SAFETY
Updated COVID vaccines and flu shots
Ottawa Public Health (OPH) is expecting the 2023/2024 respiratory season to be an unusual one, with respiratory viruses like influenza (flu) and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) circulating much earlier than normal and simultaneously with COVID-19. So get your shots!
OPH recommends that everyone 6 months and older get the annual flu vaccine and the new, updated XBB 1.5-containing COVID-19 mRNA vaccine. Flu and COVID-19 vaccines are particularly recommended for people at high risk of severe illness from flu and/or COVID-19 as well as health care workers and first responders.
The shots are now available for high-risk people and will be available to everyone as of October 30th. You can find more information here.
Ottawa Public Health: Children’s Vision Health Month
October is Children’s Vision Health Month and OPH has plenty of vision health promotion activities happening now and throughout the year. OPH has a role to highlight the importance of eye health and encourage parents to take their children and youth to a local optometrist.
This month, close to 20,000 vision health postcards will be distributed to junior and senior kindergarten students in 225 schools across Ottawa. Factsheets will be distributed to schools and posted on strategic school bulletin boards. This information will help parents, teachers and school staff identify students who might have vision problems, and how to make an appointment with an optometrist.
On Thursday, October 19th, Dr. Joshua Smith will be the guest optometrist for a Vision Health Day on the Parenting in Ottawa Facebook page. We will share information addressing Amblyopia (lazy eye), the use of drops for children and OHIP eye exam coverage. Check out the Parenting in Ottawa Facebook page on October 19th to join in the discussion.
PLANNING & DEVELOPMENT
This significant development has never left our radar, as Councillor Devine has been in regular conversation with city planners, the developer, and representatives of the experimental farm. The ongoing goal is to find a path that best meets the shared goals of everyone involved. In the meantime, the developer has submitted their revised plans. You can access those plans on the city’s Development Website. The plans reflect the current state of the conversation but talks continue. It is expected this application will come to planning committee some time later this fall. Stay tuned.
COMMUNITY NEWS & EVENTS
Tanglewood Halloween Event
If you live in or close to Tanglewood, check out the Tanglewood-Hillsdale Community Association’s Trick or Treat Event on Sunday October 29th.
Parkwood Hills Halloween Event
Community Association Annual General Meetings
Over the past several weeks Councillor Devine has attended the annual general meetings of several of Ward 9’s community association (The Glens, Merivale Gardens, and Fisher Heights), and will be attending a few more in the next week (Trend Arlington, Country Place.) These meetings are a great opportunity for the Councillor to hear each community association’s priorities and also to engage directly with residents in a transparent group setting. If you have a community meeting or event that you’d like to invite the Councillor to, please email us at [email protected]
Wildlife Speaker Series—Bats!
The City’s Wildlife Speaker Series is bringing bats into the spotlight, to help demystify these creatures of the night! On October 26 at 7:00pm, you can spend the evening learning about the various types of bats that share our city, what they do in the winter, and the threats that they face. Did you know that several of our local bats are nationally and provincially endangered, and others may soon be added to the list of species at risk? You can learn more about the talk and find the links to join on the City’s website.