At last Wednesday’s Council meeting, a motion was passed asking the new provincial Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing Paul Calandra to review a controversial expansion of Ottawa’s urban boundary, an expansion that seemed suspiciously reminiscent of the recent land swap scandal that has rocked Premier Ford’s government and led to the resignation of former housing minister Steve Clark.
Similar to what transpired in other parts of Ontario’s Greenbelt, former minister Steve Clark unilaterally expanded Ottawa’s urban boundary by adding 654 hectares of farmland that our city’s planners had deemed in 2020 to be inappropriate for development. Shortly before Clark added those lands to our urban boundary in 2022, a group of individuals listed as donors to the Ontario Progressive Conservatives purchased that farmland.
The provincial government provided no rationale for their decision, and city staff made it abundantly clear that we had more than enough available land to meet our housing targets, and that the development of farmland goes against the province’s own policy of protecting valuable agricultural land.
While I’m pleased that Council passed the motion requesting that Minister Calandra review the province’s decision, it’s a little bit like asking the fox to watch over the henhouse. The original motion had sought that Council request an independent investigation from the Ontario Auditor General and the Ontario Integrity Commissioner, as they had done in the larger Greenbelt scandal.
In anticipation that Council would not pass such a motion, on September 26th I joined a group of 11 councillors who co-signed a letter requesting that Ontario’s Auditor General and Integrity Commissioner investigate this matter. You can read the full letter here.
This Fall, City Council will be making one of the largest decisions that we face this term, which is the decision over Lansdowne 2.0. Even if you never visit Lansdowne, this issue concerns you because of the massive financial implications. I want to briefly update you about changes to the timeline for the decisions coming soon before us, and to once again solicit your input.
At last week’s Council meeting, we made changes to the timeline for when decisions will need to be made. Originally, the staff report and recommendation on Lansdowne 2.0 was set to be released to the public on October 3rd. The matter was then going to be debated at the October 18th Financial & Corporate Services Committee meeting, before coming to Council for a final vote on October 25th.
Now, with the changes we just made last Wednesday, the staff recommendation will be debated at Financial & Corporate Services Committee no sooner than November 1st. Staff have indicated that they are still aiming to release their report and recommendations as close as possible to October 3rd.
And so, this has bought us some more time to properly review the information we’ll be presented, as we weigh this decision. This also gives people in the community more time to assess the information, especially the community groups and individuals who have submitted very detailed questions concerning the deal’s financial implications.
I will do my best to inform the community about the staff recommendations as soon as they are made public, both on social media and in my next newsletter. But I am asking residents of Ward 9 to pay close attention to this matter, and to let me know your positions on it. You can write to my office at [email protected] with the subject line “Lansdowne 2.0”.
Public Transit Concerns
I have written before about the problem of a public transit “death spiral,” the decline in transit systems that occur when routes and services are cut in order to save money. I remain concerned that we are seeing this play out in Ottawa. I am concerned that Council’s commitment to limiting property tax increases to 2.5% and increasing fares at the same time will only make this problem worse. I cannot be the only person noticing the increasing congestion on our roads and highways during morning and afternoon commutes. It’s not the only reason, to be sure, but it seems apparent that in the absence of regular, convenient, affordable service more and more people are opting to drive. If we are going to succeed at making Ottawa a livable, affordable city, we will need to take this problem seriously and ensure we are building a transit system that is available when and where people need it most.
780 Baseline and The Central Experimental Farm
Last week, Council approved a zoning by-law amendment to allow new towers to go in at 1081 Carling, against the objections of a few councillors (myself included) and representatives of the Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC), the federal department responsible for the operation of the experimental farm. At committee, the Deputy Minister for AAFC made an articulate case against approving developments that would seriously threaten the viability of research on the farm. I am concerned about the course we are taking as a Council, pushing ahead with developments in the absence of a clear, shared vision for the Farm and the city. While I wholeheartedly support intensification of our city, particularly along important transit corridors like Carling and Baseline, I don’t want us to pursue those projects at the expense of the Farm, one of our city’s jewels and a historical fixture for well over a century. I believe there are solutions to this issue. I firmly believe that we can bring more housing to these important corridors and still preserve the viability of the Farm. I have reached out to AAFC and have been granted a meeting with the Deputy Minister in late October to discuss some options and possible solutions. With the development application at 780 Baseline pending approval, solutions cannot come soon enough.
Budget 2024 Consultation
At the November 8th City Council meeting, councillors will be presented with the draft 2024 budget, which we will then vote upon at the City Council meeting on December 6th. Over the next several weeks leading up to the budget approval, councillors will be engaging in public consultation with residents and community groups, as we try to advance the best budget possible.
Readers of this newsletter are already aware that I’ve expressed my concerns over the proposed budget direction (with its proposal of a 2.5% increase in property taxes, as well as a 2.5% increase in transit fare, among other concerns).
I am eager to hear your thoughts and positions on the 2024 municipal budget. What are your priorities? Where do you want to see more investment, or less investment? Are you willing to see your property taxes increase if you can see positive results from it? Please write to my office at [email protected] with the subject line “Budget 2024”.
As we did last year, I will be joining my colleagues Councillor Theresa Kavanagh (Ward 7) and Councillor Laine Johnson (Ward 8) for a joint public consultation. This meeting will be held on October 23rd. For more info on that event, please see below.
There's a resident in Ward 9 that could be facing eviction because she's in contravention of the City of Ottawa's Property Standards By-Law, due to a history of having excess debris in her front yard and carport. The resident is willing to rectify the situation, but due to a disability, this person could use some help. I’ve spoken with the property manager, and there's an agreement that the eviction notice will be lifted if the yard can be cleaned up. The resident has allowed me to try to organize a volunteer action.
While I recognize that it’s not typical for a Councillor to be involved in this way, this is a problem that can be solved, and in this current housing environment I’m very much hoping to keep this tenant housed.
Briefly, the resident has a car port that is full of things (building materials, craft materials, wood, tools) which needs to be organized, or brought to other locations, or recycled. We're looking for people to do some general labor, people who are handy and/or good at organizing physical spaces, or people with vehicles willing to transport.
This is in the Trend Arlington neighborhood. We anticipate that this work will happen between October 7 - 15, pending availability. To sign up for this volunteer action, please complete our sign-up form.
Solid Waste Update
Last week, Council approved the strategy for a new solid waste contract in 2026. The approach will see some changes in scheduling to improve efficiency and build in greater flexibility in our solid waste workforce. Why so early? The City is developing a new Solid Waste Master Plan, to be completed in early 2024. The plan will guide how we manage solid waste over the next 30 years. As Ottawa grows and changes, we need to make sure our waste services evolve to meet new needs and challenges. The goal is to make sure we are meeting our waste reduction targets and ensure we are providing the best possible service to Ottawa residents. Proper use of the green bin is crucial to meeting that goal and our Solid Waste team unveiled a new video last week to help residents make the most of our green bin program. Check it out!
Enter the Rain Ready Contest for a chance to win a rain ready project for your home!
Help Ottawa by becoming rain ready for your chance to win a rain garden, soakaway pit, or professional landscape design! With two prizes up for grabs, there’s never been a better time to prepare for rainfall. First prize is a professionally designed and installed rain garden or soakaway pit. Second prize is a professional landscape design tailored for the unique water management needs of your property.
To enter, take action at home by redirecting your downspout or installing rainwater collection to limit runoff and slow the flow of rain. Easy actions like these can have a significant impact on how ready your property is, and our city is for rain. Plus, by taking these actions, you’ll contribute to making Ottawa’s waterways healthier.
Submit proof of you taking action on the City’s website. Contest winners will be announced in mid-October, with first prize installation in Spring 2024.
For more details on the contest, eligibility, and how to enter, visit Ottawa.ca/rain
Got questions about the contest? Feel free to reach out to [email protected].
Tree planting in Ward 9
Every year the city’s Forestry Services department plants thousands of new trees on public land across the city, including trees in parks, at City facilities and along streets through Forestry Services’s lifecycle tree planting program. This tree planting also includes projects for the Schoolyard Tree Planting Grant Program and trees requested by residents for planting on their property easement, through the city’s Trees in Trust program.
This year’s tree planting program began September 28th, and will run until mid-November, weather permitting. Residents should expect to see, typically a few weeks prior to planting, utility locate flags and paint on the ground that should not be removed or mowed until planting has been completed.
The list that we were provided with involves the planting of 132 new caliper-sized trees in Ward 9. We can’t wait to see them!
Our office recently received a notice from the Forest Management branch providing info on the continuation of their tree stump removal operations, to address stumps on public land still not removed from the May 2022 derecho. Forestry’s contractor just finished up 500+ uprooted stumps on streets, and are now moving on to city parks. It is their goal to start this work in Fall 2023, making their across parks in Ward 9 from East to West. Contractors will be removing uprooted stumps as well as grinding regular stumps that are onsite.
Tree By-Law Amendment Survey
In June 2022, Council directed staff to consult with the public on amending the Tree Protection By-Law, seeking to reduce the size of Distinctive Trees in the suburban area of Ottawa (in other words, trees that would require a permit) from 50 cm to 30 cm in diameter. This change would bring the tree by-law permitting rules for the suburbs in line with those for the inner urban area of Ottawa. We are requesting your input through a survey available on Engage Ottawa, which will be available until October 10, 2023. Thank you in advance for your continued support and care of the City’s trees and forests!
Pedestrian crossing at St. Monica’s on Merivale
Our office continues to hear from residents regarding the ongoing speeding and safety concerns in front of St. Monica’s School. As the Councillor advocates for additional traffic calming measures, there is also the need to improve St. Monica’s pedestrian accessibility, and pedestrian safety. A current proposal of a pedestrian crossing provides residents with a safe way of crossing Merivale Road. Staff are in the phase of assessing the feasibility of such a project. The objective is to identify the best location for a pedestrian crossing of Merivale Road with the aim of improving access to St. Monica’s.
Emerald Plaza Library Fall Programming
Wondering what’s on at the Emerald Plaza branch this fall? Look no further!
Throw it away? No way! In honour of Circular Economy Month, the City of Ottawa is sponsoring a free Repair Café on Saturday, October 14 at City Hall (Jean Pigott Place), 110 Laurier Avenue West. Repair Cafés are an international concept with the goal of reducing landfill waste, teaching new skills, and building community!
This event is hosted by the Ottawa Tool Library. Volunteers will be ready to help repair your items and share their expertise around everything from darning socks to re-wiring kettles.
Come and learn more about the Ottawa Tool Library and waste reduction, while saving an item from the landfill! Visit ottawa.ca/wastereduction for more.
Ward 9 Consultation for 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 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. The link will be provided closer to the meeting date. The Budget Consultation will take place on October 23 between 6:30-8:30 PM.
Fisher Heights Park Renovation Survey
The proposed concept plans for the Fisher Heights Park: Life-Cycle Replacement of Play Equipment project is now up for public consultation on Engage Ottawa. Please note that the end of the comment period is October 16th, 2023.
If all goes well with the consultation, then the construction drawings will be prepared over the next few months with the hopes of going out to tender for construction within the first few months of 2024. We can hope for construction to commence in early summer of 2024, pending contractor’s availability.
Our office is aware that nearby Parthia Park is also going to be undergoing a similar life-cycle renewal, which is great. It’s our goal that the construction of both parks don’t overlap too much, to prevent residents from this area from being deprived of two parks at the same time.
Nominate an immigrant entrepreneur
Every year the City of Ottawa proudly celebrates and recognizes the success and economic contributions of local immigrant entrepreneurs through its annual Immigrant Entrepreneur Awards. Residents may use the online form to nominate a deserving candidate up until October 20th. The 2023 winners will be announced on Friday, November 10, 2023, at a special award ceremony.
PUBLIC HEALTH & SAFETY
It’s October and we are well into the fall season with kids back in school and people fully engaged at work. And with that comes respiratory virus season. It’s important to keep in mind: if you are not feeling well, stay home and take care of yourself. Many areas of the province are experiencing increases in the number of COVID cases and Ottawa has been seeing recent increases in the wastewater signal. You can help protect yourself and others by wearing a good quality mask when you’re in shared indoor spaces.
Ottawa Public Health Strategic Plan
We had a recent briefing with Dr. Vera Etches, Medical Officer of Health for Ottawa. One thing on the radar of Ottawa Public Health caught our attention, particularly. OPH is committed to healthier communities, of course. But a key piece of that is supporting the city in building more compact, more complete neighbourhoods that allow people to access all of the services they need within easy reach of their front door. The reason for that is pretty intuitive: the closer services are, the more likely people are to walk or bike rather than climbing into their cars. Anything that helps reduce our city’s reliance on automobiles is good in our books! We’ll be looking to OPH for continued support as we try to make our city more livable for everyone.
Alternative Response Pilot Project: Centretown
We received some great news last week about a new “alternative response” pilot project for the Centretown neighbourhood in Ottawa. The project will provide a new way to access assistance for residents experiencing a mental health or addiction crisis, rather than calling the police. This is a long-awaited change and one that Councillor Devine fully supports. The hope is that this pilot will serve as an effective test-run for a process that can eventually be rolled out across the city. The approach has been tried in multiple cities around North America and has been effective is providing the help residents need while reducing the involvement of police officers in what is, fundamentally, a health issue.
COMMUNITY NEWS & EVENTS
Critical Mass Ride
On October 14th the Councillor will be participating in the next iteration of the Critical Mass Ride, which are a series of bike rallies aimed at celebrating active transportation and advocating for greater awareness of the needs for better active transportation infrastructure. The October 14th event will start at 10:00am at the Canadian War Museum.
On September 24th Councillor Devine was proud to speak at the #KidicalMass event, which is an offshoot of Critical Mass Ride which emphasizes the importance of advocating for active transportation for youth riders. This was a very well-attended event, and it’s exciting to see a growing enthusiasm for active transportation in Ottawa.
Ecology Ottawa Breathe Easy Campaign
On September 26th Councillor Devine joined staff from Ecology Ottawa as they conducted a local air quality test as part of their Breathe Easy campaign, where they will be measuring air quality at 46 different locations across the city.
Age Friendly Housing Community Conversations
Knox United Church Fish Fry
Support Knox United Church through their fish and chips takeout dinner fundraiser! Call 613-820-3936 to place your pre-order before the deadline of Saturday, October 10th at 10:00am. Scheduled pickup times will be the same day between 4:30pm and 7:00pm.
Nepean Sports Wall of Fame: 2023 Induction Ceremony
This Fall, twelve local sports stars will be inducted into the Nepean Sports Wall of Fame, with the Class of 2023 inductees bringing the total number of honoured athleted to 94. The diverse group of 12 honorees, including some of Nepean’s best and brightest athletes and builders, will be officially recognized at an October 26th ceremony at the Nepean Sportsplex. Photos and bios of all 2023 inductees are available here.
City View Craft Fair
The City View Annual Craft Fair will be held on 4 November 2023 from 9AM to 1PM at 50 Capilano Drive. Find everything from gifts to decorations and more!