- Councillor's Corner
(Scroll down for Statement on Ottawa’s Growth Management Strategy)
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
May 25th 2020
Residents of Findlay Creek and Ottawa’s south end will soon have a shorter commute time on Bank Street.
Councillors George Darouze and Carol Anne Meehan have worked tirelessly behind the scenes with city staff to expedite the widening of Bank Street from two lanes to four lanes from Valley Squire Furniture to Dun Skipper Drive.
Back in 2013, Council delayed the widening until 2031. Councillors Darouze and Meehan have been pushing for this vital upgrade to happen sooner, in 2022.
Thanks to the Councillors’ hard work, and the level of community engagement on this important issue, residents will no longer have to fight traffic trying to get to and from home. Instead, they will be able to spend more time with family and friends.
As a team, Councillors Darouze and Meehan will continue to work with city staff and Council colleagues to ensure the funding is approved during the 2021 budget process.
Design work is scheduled to begin in 2021 and construction is set to start in 2022. This is a tremendous win for our community that will improve the quality of life for residents, families, and businesses and is a timely investment by the City to upgrade local infrastructure.
Check out our video update here!
Ottawa is projected to grow by 400,000 people between now and 2046.
Where will everyone live? And how will this impact our Ward?
In the Growth Management Strategy report, city staff presented Council with three options on how we accommodate the population growth:
City staff have recommended that Council adopt the Balanced Approach scenario. This approach would add between 1,350 and 1,650 gross hectares of residential land and strategically located employment land to Ottawa’s urban area. Yesterday the joint City Planning & Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committees approved the balanced approach. I support the Balanced Approach scenario and voted for it yesterday. The expansion will go to full council May 27 for a final vote.
Over the past year I’ve had conversations with many residents and stakeholders on this issue, via phone calls, drop ins to my Open Door, emails, and consultations held with Osgoode Ward Business Association, Osgoode Ward Advisory Committee, and the Ottawa Federation of Agriculture. You are engaged and you care a great deal about the future of our community, as do I.
There are five main themes I’ve heard with respect to plans to manage Ottawa’s growth:
Considering this feedback, as well as the very detailed report prepared by City planning staff on the impacts of the three options, I support the Balanced Approach scenario.
I worked with my colleagues Councillor Eli El Chantiry and Councillor Scott Moffatt to ensure rural-specific issues were at the forefront of discussions about Ottawa’s future.
Many residents have expressed a fear of ‘suburban sprawl’ coming into our rural villages. It is so important that we preserve the identify of our rural villages. We do not want them swallowed up by urban growth. I am very pleased that the city will maintain a one-kilometre buffer around villages to protect our unique communities. We must keep our distinct villages with their distinct feel.
By the same token, a modest expansion to our urban boundary is important so that we can accommodate growth. Without expansion, development outside of the City of Ottawa boundaries will no doubt continue, with an increasing number of people who will still need to commute on Ottawa roads while we pay for the repairs and lose out on other revenues and development charges. Provincial guidelines dictate that these development charges are our sole source of widening and expanding roads around Ottawa. In the end, it would cost Ottawa residents more money and we would lose out on much needed services if these developments were not within our boundaries.
I also heard from residents about the importance of protecting the agricultural lands that surround Ottawa. Protecting our prime agricultural lands from development is of utmost importance to me and always has been. Under no circumstances do I support developing on prime farmland and I will always fight to defend against this.
The Province of Ontario requires municipalities to protect prime agricultural areas for long-term use for local agriculture. The purpose of a Land Evaluation and Area Review system, or LEAR, is to assist in the identification of these prime agricultural areas. The City spent years putting its current LEAR evaluation together and we intend to continue to rely on it to guide our future growth decisions. The City is not looking for future expansion on LEAR lands which are the prime agricultural lands.
I voted in favour of Councillor Eli El-Chantiry’s motion to strengthen the protection of agricultural land even further. The motion makes sure lands in an Agricultural Resource Area will not be included in any evaluation or in the expansion of the urban boundary. The motion goes beyond what was implemented by the LEAR. In the end, if the decision to expand proceeds, Council will be the final authority on which lands are included.
As a city, we also need to protect our prime aggregate resources like sand and gravel for years to come. To that end, I introduced a motion to recognize and protect the importance of mineral aggregate production. My motion passed and the Urban Grown Strategy will now be amended so that staff be directed not to score, evaluate, consider or rank in any way residential candidate parcels adjacent to or within 200 metres of Bedrock Resource and 200 metres of Sand and Gravel Resource Areas as identified on Schedule A and B of the Official Plan, unless the landowner can provide evidence by a qualified subject matter expert that the resource will be exhausted by 2036.
The Balanced Approach allows our City to accommodate almost 40% more people in our City through intensification in built-up areas and some very modest growth to the urban boundary on lands that are not agricultural, wetlands, floodplains or other important natural areas.
Property owners given more time to pay property tax bills and water utility bills
City Council today approved a property-tax relief package and water payment grace period for residents and small businesses impacted by COVID-19.
Property owners will have a grace period for payment of interim property taxes and will not incur a penalty if they were unable to pay before the deadline of March 19. The grace period will extend the deadline to Wednesday, April 15. The interim property tax bill covers 50 per cent of the entire property tax bill.
Council also approved the 2020 Property Tax Hardship Deferral program to assist qualifying residents as well as businesses that have an assessed property value of up to $7.5 million. The assessed property value criteria of up to $7.5 million captures 91 per cent of all commercial properties in Ottawa. The program extends both the interim property tax deadline (March 19) and the final property tax deadline (June 18) to Friday, October 30.
The City will provide relief to residents who receive a water bill, adding an interest-free 30-day payment grace period on all unpaid water bills issued before Wednesday, April 1. For water bills issued between Wednesday, April 1 and Friday, October 30, the City will grant a 30-day extension on the due date. These measures will provide residents 47 days to pay their bill. Those on pre-authorized payment plans with water bills issued between April 1 and October 30 will also have their due dates extended and no action is required. The City has extended suspension of all water service disconnections until October 30.
Additionally, all unpaid Corporate Accounts Receivable invoices that the City issued before Wednesday, April 1 will have an extra 30 days to pay, interest free. All Corporate Accounts Receivable invoices issued between Wednesday, April 1 and Thursday, April 30 will also have a 30-day due-date extension.
More details on the programs and the qualifying criteria are available on ottawa.ca.
Council declared the Office of Councillor for Cumberland Ward to be vacant. Council approved interim delegations of authority to Orléans Ward Councillor Matthew Luloff, Osgoode Ward Councillor George Darouze and Innes Ward Councillor Laura Dudas to help provide support on matters related to Cumberland Ward until a new Councillor is sworn in and takes Office.
Considering the COVID-19 pandemic, Council did not set a date for a by-election but instead directed staff to report back to Council within 60 days to present options and timelines for filling the vacancy. The former Councillor for the Ward, Stephen Blais, resigned the position earlier in March following a successful run to sit as a Member of Provincial Parliament.
Mayor Jim Watson declared a state of emergency in the City of Ottawa, which was followed by a verbal update on the COVID-19 pandemic by Ottawa’s Medical Officer of Health Dr. Vera Etches. More detail about the state of emergency can be found on ottawa.ca.
Council directed staff to provide rental adjustments or any businesses that rent space within a City facility that has closed in response to the COVID-19 Pandemic. The adjustment will reflect the amount of time these facilities remain closed.
Summary description: The City will issue a Notice of Default to Rideau Transit Group, the company that maintains the Confederation Line.
App alert: Council takes unprecedented action to address LRT issues.
Council takes unprecedented action to address LRT issues
March 9, 2020 – The City of Ottawa will issue, within 24 hours, a Notice of Default to Rideau Transit Group, the company responsible for maintaining the Confederation Line, following direction from City Council. This escalation of the City’s legal rights is in response to Rideau Transit Group’s failure to address significant issues with train and station availability, and the multiple failures that have continued across the light-rail transit system since the start of the service. There will be no interruption to rail service, and the City and municipal taxpayers are protected under the Project Agreement.
A Notice of Default is a contractual notice advising Rideau Transit Group that it is in default of its obligations under the contract. Rideau Transit Group then has an opportunity to remedy those defaults. This is a strong tool in the contract available to the City.
"This is a strong escalation of the City’s legal rights under the Project Agreement,” said Mayor Jim Watson. “We signed a contract for a reliable system to support our City’s high transit ridership of 10,000 people per hour per direction – and to support our future ridership growth. The acceptable levels of service and reliability are detailed in our contract with RTG, but they are not being met.”
Rideau Transit Group is a general partnership formed by ACS RTG Partner Inc., SNC RTG Partner Inc. and Ellis Don RTG Partner Inc. Under the Project Agreement, Rideau Transit Group is responsible for the design, construction and maintenance of the Confederation Line, including the vehicles and stations.
The City is also asking RTG to take a much more active role in compelling its key sub-contractors – including Alstom – to improve their performance on an urgent basis.
“I firmly support the City’s decision to use every tool available in a very solid Project Agreement to secure better LRT service for our transit customers,” said Councillor Allan Hubley, Chair of the Transit Commission.
Since the system was launched in September 2019, there have been considerable failures on the Confederation Line. In response, the City has taken numerous actions to push Rideau Transit Group to address the issues that lead to these continued failures:
“We have been taking actions against RTG for months in an effort to have them resolve the issues on the Confederation Line,” said City Manager Steve Kanellakos. “We are not seeing the improvements that we expect to see six months after the launch of this system. Through Council’s direction, we will use this Notice of Default to ensure they resolve the issues that have significantly affected residents.”
Council directed staff to prepare and deliver a Notice of Default to Rideau Transit Group that will require Rideau Transit Group to provide a plan and schedule by March 31, 2020 that will set out how Rideau Transit Group intends to fix these ongoing issues. Council also delegated authority to the City Manager to take any other actions required under the Project Agreement to give effect to Council’s decision. Staff will report back to Council at its meeting on Wednesday, April 8.
Construction to build Ottawa’s first film and television soundstage campus could soon be underway. The Finance and Economic Development Committee today approved financing a $40-million loan to the Ottawa Film Office.
In partnership with TriBro Studios, the film office would build and operate the campus at the National Capital Commission’s Greenbelt Research Farm at 1740 Woodroffe Avenue. It would include four soundstages and office space for production, animation and training. Once open, it would create approximately 400 full-time jobs.
The Committee also approved the creation of a new Film By-law. The by-law would create a no-fee film permit and provide film and television production companies with a streamlined application process to film on City property and access City services. The new by-law would support the growth of the local television and film industry, and help the Ottawa Film Office promote Ottawa as an attractive destination for media production.
The Committee approved selling portions of three closed roads located at 933 Gladstone Avenue to Ottawa Community Housing Corporation for $1. The housing corporation plans to build a mixed-income community with affordable housing on the land, which is near transit.
The Committee formalized the City’s hiring practices for the three officials who report directly to Council. The City would follow best practices from the Ontario Ombudsman to recruit and appoint the Auditor General, the City Manager and the Integrity Commissioner, and to review the performance of the Auditor General and the City Manager.
Items approved at today’s Committee meeting will go to Council on Wednesday, March 25.
Special Joint Arac & Planning Committee
The Strategic Road Safety Action Plan was approved at Transportation Committee.
I was very happy to see for the first time ever, that a Safer Rural Roads plan is included.
The Road Safety Action Plan includes the following actions to be implemented to make rural roads safer.
The plan also includes implementation of measures to address high-risk drivers, reduction of collisions at intersections, as well as measures to make roads safer for vulnerable users.
For more information on the Ottawa Safer Roads Action Plan, please visit the city website here: https://ottawa.ca/en/parking-roads-and-travel/road-safety/safer-roads-ottawa-program
The Brand New Official Plan
With amalgamation, we were promised thriving and prosperous villages in the rural area, but with so many restrictions, we were limited and could not see the growth we expected and looked forward to. It has become clear to the city that one size does not fit all, especially with the urban, suburban and rural areas across Ottawa.
Over the past 5 years I have been listening to your feedback and working with staff daily to fulfill these needs. This has been my commitment and drive, to open the doors of opportunity for our villages and general rural area to expand forward into the future, while retaining the beauty and uniqueness that our ward has to offer. I am very thankful for the input and consistent commitment and feedback contributed by Osgoode Ward Business Association (OWBA), Osgoode Ward Advisory Committee (OWAC), Ontario Federation of Agriculture (OFA) and other stakeholders. Endless hours were spent in public consultations and in round table discussions to get us to where we are today.
I am proud to announce the brand New Official Plan, that finally delivers new opportunities in livelihood and business ventures, previously restricted or not allowed.
To read all the details and what the plan encompasses for Ward 20, please follow this link to my website. https://www.georgedarouze.ca/blog/brand-new-official-plan
Council Approves 2020 Budget
Ottawa passed a major population milestone in 2019 – reaching the one-million mark. Our residents live in dozens of communities that spread across a large geographic area. Ottawa has more than 1,000 working farms within its borders – and is the largest rural municipality of Canada’s big cities.
But as our city continues to grow, so too does the challenge of keeping Ottawa affordable for those who live and work here. The way we connect communities and keep residents moving plays a big part of this year’s budget, with significant investments in transportation infrastructure: roads, bridges, culverts and active transportation projects like cycling lanes and sidewalks. This includes the on schedule completion of the resurfacing of River rd and Snake Island dr, as well as the much needed resurfacing of Dalmeny rd between River and Gordon Murdock.
The draft 2020 Budget includes a $7.5-million investment in transit, with major bus service enhancements. The City will also spend $817 million in 2020 on Stage 2, to extend our newly opened light-rail transit system even farther east, west and south.
The City is also devoting more funds to repaving and road safety projects to keep our city moving. Investing in both transit and transportation together does far more than simply ease traffic congestion. It connects us with one another and with the businesses and services we use each day, helping create jobs and foster a stronger economy and a higher quality of life for all. With 75 per cent of the capital budget dedicated to infrastructure spending, this budget continues our commitment to maintain and upgrade roads, parks and water infrastructure, enhancing the mobility of residents and decreasing our flood risk.
The draft 2020 Budget finds balance by limiting the burden on taxpayers while maintaining the standard of service residents have come to rely on from their City. Homeowners will see that property tax increases have been capped at three per cent.
But it’s important to remember that affordable doesn’t mean the same thing to all residents. This year’s budget also builds on considerable past investments for Ottawa’s residents who are most in need, for instance with $15 million in new funds for affordable housing. Added support for community agencies is also included, along with continued support for long-term care and our Older Adult Plan. Communities are stronger when everyone has a safe place to call home and share in a good quality of life.
The City continues to rely on prudent financial planning at a time of financial uncertainty from upper levels of government and volitivity in global markets. We have worked hard to ensure that the draft 2020 Budget is respectful of each dollar contributed by taxpayers, reinvesting those revenues back into our shared infrastructure and the countless services we provide to residents.
We remain committed to building a strong and vibrant Ottawa for the future.
For more city-wide Budget information, please visit the city website here https://ottawa.ca/en/news/council-approves-budget-2020-increasing-support-housing-transit-and-road-safety
For Osgoode Ward 20 highlights, please visit my website here: https://www.georgedarouze.ca/Budget2020
November 27, 2019
I am very thankful for all the input and assistance received to help pass a motion today at council, that protects the unique short-term rental experience in rural areas. This motion would allow short-term rentals in secondary dwellings, coach houses and other similar types of units in the rural areas of Ottawa.
I am supportive of regulating short-term rentals and am looking forward to seeing these policies implemented. I want to ensure that when we are implementing a new policy and looking to resolve an issue, that we aren’t creating another one. Rural Ottawa does not always have the same types of issues that we see in Urban or Suburban areas, such as parking availability.
In the rural wards we have farm houses, coach houses and barns. Many of our homes are built with a second entrance that can be considered a secondary dwelling. We offer a unique experience that not many other large cities can provide. I often see travelers visiting from European countries like Sweden and the Netherlands, who choose to stay at short-term rentals in Osgoode Ward so they can experience our dairy farms and our crop operations.
While preparing this motion, Councillor Eli El-Chantiry and myself were sure to tread carefully. We worked closely with By-Law and Regulatory Services (BLRS), General Manager of Emergency and Protective Services Anthony DiMonte and his team, General Manager of Planning, Infrastructure and Eco Development Steve Willis, Community and Protective Services Chair Councillor Jenna Sudds, our legal department and many others. We heard from our residents as well and I would like to say a special thank you to the Osgoode Ward Business Association and the Osgoode Ward Advisory Committee for their input. We looked to ensure we were not going to impact anyone else. As councillors, it is important we are careful when we implement policies as we know not one size fits all. Short-term rental platforms do need to be properly regulated.
This has been a great experience for myself as I had taken time to speak with many different city departments as well as other councillors for input and feedback. This really goes to show that good conversation and collaboration gets good work done.
APPLE ORCHARD/PARKWAY & STAGECOACH INTERSECTION
November 5, 2019
I would like to clarify some of the misinformation circulating about Apple Orchard/Parkway & Stagecoach intersection.
Many of you may know that I live very close to this intersection and have been aware of the community concerns about its design since 2012 when we received a letter at our homes explaining the situation and potential options. While the intersection met the warrants for a traffic control signal and requests for a roundabout, funding for the changes was 10-15 years away.
During my first year in office, I worked with staff to find a solution so we wouldn’t have to wait over a decade for traffic safety changes. While speaking with staff, it was found that traffic was coming from drivers on Manotick Station, driving over to Stagecoach via Apple Orchard, to use the traffic signals on Stagecoach to safely enter Mitch Owens Drive.
Seeing the cause of the issue, I was able to push to have staff action a solution by re-aligning Apple Orchard to meet with Parkway at the same point on Stagecoach within my first two years as Councillor, securing money for safety and to relieve traffic on Apple Orchard by constructing the traffic signal lights at Manotick Station and Mitch Owens in 2017. Throughout this process in 2015 and 2016, the GCA and residents were consulted and supported the plans to use a 2 way stop. I was also informed by staff that with growth to the community, the two-way stop control would need to eventually be converted to an all-way stop control.
Since the realignment, my office and I have received safety concerns at the intersection and were asked to find a solution or “fix it”. In accordance with my mandate to provide community safety, I brought these resident concerns to traffic staff asking them to review the intersection and how well it was performing.
They found that by adding the much-needed traffic signals at Manotick Station Road, the warrants for traffic signals came down from 100% to 89% due to a reduction in traffic volume at the intersection. We also relieved traffic crossing Gough Road to Dozois Road going up to Mitch Owens Road, as well as traffic cutting through the Emerald Links subdivision. The traffic study, which was completed this year, also indicated that the intersection now met the warrants for a multi-way stop.
Now that the City is aware that the location meets warrants for a multi-way stop and it has funding to install the stop signs within it’s existing budget, staff must move forward with the installation of the multi-way stop, which does not require public consultation. Failure to install the multi-way stop is a very serious safety concern, and it is staff’s position that there is a higher likelihood of a serious collision occurring if the current 2-way stop remains in place versus implementing the multi-way stop control. Therefore, knowing that warrants are met and not doing anything will reduce safety, leaving status quo is not an option that staff can support. I do support staff decision in this matter as I believe safety should be prioritized and I cannot go against staff’s decision.
I hope moving forward everyone will continue to abide by our Provincial Highway Traffic Act and if you see anyone driving unsafely at anytime, report this with Ottawa Police Services online or by phone.
If you have any safety concerns for the community, please feel free to email me at any time at George.Darouze@Ottawa.ca.
July 12, 2019
The Chateau Laurier file has been underway for 1231 days (over 3 years) and for the last 889 days deemed complete. LARCO, a private business that owns a private building, has followed all the rules set out for them to appease City and public requests. They have willingly removed parking from their property with no questions asked, paid their designers and architects for over 5 different designs as well as multiple edits spending millions of dollars in the process.
Most farmers and private home owners would rather the government stay out of their personal lives and even created “Government Back Off” signs that we still see today. Yet the overwhelming sentiment from that same public is asking City Council to step in. Many of you when going through a city application process have come to me stating that this is a long, costly process and feel the city is too involved in their property. I ask you now, how you would feel if after multiple edits, thousands of dollars spent and an approval in hand, were told to start all over again?
It’s important to know that the City of Ottawa has received a letter that if their Heritage Certificate was revoked, the owner will bring the city to tribunal and court stating that we, the city, have acted in bad faith as their application is in fact complete. Our own legal team has reviewed the history of this file and advised that we will lose if this happens. This result in costing the city tax payer hundreds of thousands in legal staff time on top of the staff hours already spent in over 200 meetings discussing this matter. What’s more concerning is the courts would likely allow LARCO to use their earlier designs which were larger, less favourable to the public but most cost effective for them.
Councillor Dudas was correct in stating that when the requirements were laid out, that the parameters should have been more specific, with less room for interpretation. However, those general guidelines from the Built Sub Heritage Committee have led us to where we are today. This concept drawing does meet the given requirements (height, width, materials, shape, etc.) given to the company by the committee and therefore, we do not have the right to request another expensive design from a private business nor is that an option at this point.
The only question being asked was: do we revoke an already approved permit that has met its required criteria? While I do not like the design provided this is still not the decision placed in front us. Therefore, I cannot, in good conscience vote in favour of retracting the permissions previously given to a business that has fulfilled their side of an agreement, just to waste tax payer money in court knowing we will lose because of people’s emotional attachment to a building. I also believe that it sets a poor example to any business that may wish to work with our city, as it would only go to show we cannot make clear decisions and that it is difficult to work with our policies.
In the end, the application guidelines have been met by LARCO and it was the City of Ottawa’s lack of attention to detail and unclear instructions that failed in this process. I hope that we as a City, along with staff, committees and council will learn from this experience and avoid these kinds of mistakes in the future.
STANDING COMMITTEE ON ENVIRONMENT PROTECTION, WATER AND WASTEWATER (SCEPWWM)
At the committee meeting on Tuesday, members approved contracts until 2023 with our current curbside waste collection service providers. To support native pollinators, such as bees, butterflies, ants and beetles, the Committee directed staff to plant a pollinator garden and install a native bee hotel on City property. The Committee also approved declaring a climate emergency in the City of Ottawa, which was a very hot topic. SEE HERE FOR MY STATEMENT ON WHY I VOTED AGAINST THE MOTION.
Declaring a Climate Emergency in the City of Ottawa
At the Standing Committee on Environmental Protection, Water and Waste Management on April 16th 2019, I voted against the motion to declare a ‘Climate Emergency’ in the City of Ottawa. Yes, climate change is a real issue. There is absolutely no denying that, and that is not my rationale for voting no.
First and most importantly, the motion spoils the incredible effort the City has shown in the last decade in being a proactive and responsible leader in the environment community. This motion wants us to “deepen” our commitment to protecting our economy, our eco systems, and our community from climate change. As stated within the motion, the City is ALREADY committed to protecting our environment; we do not need the title of ‘climate emergency’ to continue doing so. We have over 30 key departmental initiatives towards addressing climate change, including the Air Quality and Climate Change Management Plan, the new Official Plan, Energy Evolution, Green Building Policy, and many more initiatives within city reports, by-laws, and programs that seek to reduce environmental impacts and greenhouse gas emissions. In addition to initiatives within the City’s programs, Ottawa is also an outside member of the Partners for Climate Change Protection of Federation of Canadian Municipalities, joined the Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate and Energy, and has been recognized multiple times as a top green employer, among many other partnered initiatives. This motion signals to residents that the City has not been doing business with climate change in mind in an adequate fashion, despite the City’s comprehensive list of initiatives aimed at reducing energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions. Could the City find areas to improve? Very possible. But this motion undermines the initiatives our City already does; initiatives our committee should be celebrating much more often.
This motion also calls to establish a Council Sponsors Group comprised of representatives from the Standing Committee on Environmental Protection, Water and Waste Management, Planning Committee, Transportation Committee, Transit Commission, the Ottawa Board of Health and the Councillor Liaison of the Environmental Stewardship Advisory Committee. This Council Sponsors Group would be comprised entirely of members who already sit around the committee table for Environmental Protection, Water and Waste Management, which is where these climate issues should be discussed. This raised a red flag for me; as the City is working to streamline information and processes, creating a separate group with the same members seems to work against this strategy. If we want to talk about new environmental initiatives that the City can take on, this committee can handle it on its own.
If there is one item with which I agree it would be item number eight of the motion which calls us to work with senior levels of government to provide the City and the public with resources to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. At the federal level, gas taxes have been implemented and downloaded to the taxpayers. The province, in their budget released last week, will be investing $400 million for emission reductions and will be working on a climate impact assessment. We should be working with these senior levels to get funding and support from their climate change initiatives, and take advantage of what our taxpayers have already paid for.
I want to thank all residents who have contacted me over the last two weeks about this committee item. I received lots of feedback, and I want you to know I considered each and every one of your voices when making my decision at the committee table today. Despite differences between federal, provincial, and municipal climate change initiatives, there is only one taxpayer who pays. Climate change is a global issue; the City of Ottawa does take this issue seriously, and we have many great energy saving, emission reducing, and green programs already in place support that claim. As a member of this committee I am fully supportive of new or improved initiatives the City can take on to reduce emissions or transition to even more green programs. As most of the motion references policies and reports already undertaken by the City, the only difference the City will see from today to tomorrow will be that Ottawa will have a membership in news headlines for the ‘Climate Emergency Club’.
SOUTH NATION CONSERVATION (SNC) BOARD OF DIRECTORS MEETING
Attended my monthly Board of Directors Meeting at South Nation Conservation on Thursday. On the agenda were a few recognitions of SNC staff for their years of service, some request for approvals for plans and applications, and updates on ongoing programs and initiatives. See South Nation’s website here.
The City’s Auditor General Ken Hughes presented his Annual Report to the Audit Committee this week, with disappointing results. His audit included a review of City Leases; The Social Housing Registry; Corporate Security; Compliance With Ambulance Service Documentation; Public Works and Environmental Services Contract Management; Frozen Services And Hydrant Management And Maintenance; Recreation, Cultural And Facility Services Management Processes; and Building Engineering And Energy Management. Overall, the AG gave 30 recommendations where the City can and should improve, especially for management procedures; the City has agreed to all 30 of these recommendations. See the full report here.
The committee also received the Auditor General’s work plan for 2019, and received an update from the AG for investigation into a transfer of funds to a fraudulent supplier. See the media release for the investigation here.
At City Council, a new work plan was approved for the City’s planning team that will result in a new Official Plan by the end of March 2021, 6 months sooner than the original November 2021 initially proposed by staff.
Council also approved funding to permanently staff the well-loved enhanced Temporary Traffic Calming Measures Program, and a streamlined study process for permanent traffic-calming plans. The new process will prioritize neighborhood streets where small changes would have big impacts, allowing the City to address traffic issues in more neighbourhoods with a goal of making streets safer for all users.
Other approvals included changes to the Road Activity By-law which includes restricting road cuts into pavement less than three years old, expanding peak-hour restrictions on road work, increasing notification timelines, and more.
To see all items that came to Council this week, see the City of Ottawa’s website here.
This term I will be sitting on the Board of Directors for Rideau Valley Conservation Authority (RVCA). Osgoode Ward resident Jamie Crawford sits by my side this term, being a member on the board as well. At the Board of Directors meeting, RVCA staff gave us an overview of their Annual Report, their flood warning communication program, and more. I will be promoting resources from RVCA in the near future! See their website at https://www.rvca.ca/.
At FEDCO this week, we received an update on the Confederation Line; everything is moving forward smoothly. We also received the City of Ottawa 2019 Municipal Accessibility Plan (COMAP) Update Report; Planning, Infrastructure and Economic Development Department 2019 Work Plan; and Lansdowne Partnership Plan Annual Report.
Transportation Committee this week approved a streamlined study process to speed up implementation of traffic calming plans and improve safety for all road users. The Committee also approved design guidelines to ensure traffic calming measures are applied consistently to retrofits of existing streets.
The meeting also touched on winter maintenance, which was a major item of concern to committee members, especially with this year’s brutal winter. We directed staff to review the City’s winter maintenance quality standards, with a fulsome report coming back to Transportation Committee in 2021. To address winter maintenance in the meantime, we also directed staff to internally review the City’s winter operations before next winter season to identify short term improvements that can be made. I mentioned to staff that their review should consider how it deploys equipment when one area of Ottawa gets more precipitation than other areas, as this has been a recurring issue in recent years.
Highlights from this week’s ARAC meeting was a presentation about the rural economic development strategy and action plan, as part of a staff report on the Planning department’s 2019 Work Plan. There are many important policy reviews taking place over the course of the year. The Committee also approved terms of settlement on Official Plan Amendment 150 that clears up concerns of three separate appellants; these changes make minor revisions to some mapping.
Last Friday, Premier Doug Ford came to Ottawa. Premier Doug Ford and Hon. Jeff Yurek, Minister of Transportation, announced that the provincial government is committing $1.208 billion to the City of Ottawa to build Stage 2 of LRT. Ontario's government is supporting this project to shorten commutes, relieve congestion and build better transit.
Council received a report on the implementation of the corporate succession plan and approved the change in title and scope for two statutory officer positions, the City Treasurer and City Clerk. The plan comes as a result of the announced retirements of the General Manager of Community and Social Services on April 30, 2019, and of the General Manager of Corporate Services and City Treasurer in January 2020. There are a few more changes that will be taking place. See more information here.
Council also approved allocating $1.2 million from the Vehicle-for-Hire Accessibility Fund to projects that will improve accessible transportation services for residents, following extensive public consultations. The General Manager of Emergency and Protective Services has been directed to try to negotiate an increase to the surcharge to further improve accessible transportation services.
I am honoured to now represent SNC as their Vice-Chair after today’s Board of Directors vote. I am also happy to report local resident Gerry Kautz will be joining the team! South Nation Conservation is a very important organization that monitors water levels, natural habitats, and promotes stewardship programs. I will be keeping you updated on SNC initiatives and news over the next few weeks!
Note: I was not able to attend this week's committees or the budget meeting, as my father passed away. His funeral service was held at the same time as the City Council meeting for the 2019 Budget.
Transportation committee last week approved the draft operating and capital budgets, and sparked many discussions about winter maintenance and traffic calming. A report also came to committee about their pilot project on broadband back-up alarms on snow removal vehicles and equipment. The pilot project was a success, and the City will be installing these alarms on the remainder of the fleet before next winter season. Transportation staff mentioned during the meeting that they would be bringing a report in the spring with new initiatives for traffic.
At this week’s FEDCO meeting, staff provided members with an update on the Confederation Line of LRT. Transportation General Manager John Manconi delivered the news that although RTG has had significant progress, they will unable to make the March 31st deadline. RTG will release a new deadline in the near future, but it is expected that LRT will be handed over to the City during Q2.
Council voted on the 2019 Budget this week. Although I was not able to attend the budget meeting, I feel it right to provide my residents my perspective on this year’s budget.
From roads, culverts, traffic, and emergency services, I believe the final 2019 Budget has successfully addressed many priorities for Osgoode Ward. The budget dedicates $42.7 million to upgrade Ottawa’s rural infrastructure, including bridges, guiderails and culverts, with $1.7 million targeted for our ward. With the growing frequency of rain events and large snowmelts, these infrastructure items serve as our best defence for flooding, mitigating erosion, and protecting the health of our roadways.
Osgoode Ward will receive $6.5 million to resurface roads including Mitch Owens and River Road, and $1.7 million for new major culverts across most villages. The 2019 winter operations budget is increasing by $2.4 million, for a total of $70.8 million. Osgoode Ward will also see over $830,000 for improvements within Parks and Facilities to replace the roof at Kenmore Community Hall, exterior walls and dehumidifiers at Larry Robinson Arena, and the foundation wall at the Vernon Community Centre; all three much needed improvements to our local community buildings.
I look forward to providing you with more details on projects for this year as the next few months unfold!
Community safety is always a top priority for Osgoode Ward. There will be over $7 million city-wide in the budget to invest in traffic control devices, pedestrian crossovers, the well-known Safer Roads Ottawa program, traffic-calming measures, and more. The traffic-calming budget for each Councillor has risen to $50,000 from $40,000 in this year’s budget, providing more resources for safety initiatives in our communities. There will be $589.7 million for community and protective services, which includes funding for 14 staff for the Ottawa Paramedic Service and 2 emergency response vehicles to maintain the response times to increasing call volumes as approved by Council. The 2019 OPS Budget will add 30 more officers into the Ottawa Police Service this year for traffic enforcement, the guns and gangs unit, and to strengthen community policing. I have been a very vocal advocate for more emergency services throughout my time in office and during my campaign, and I am happy to deliver this improvement of service to my residents through the 2019 Budget!
Council also approved Phase 2 of LRT as part of the budget vote. I would like to start by saying that Osgoode Ward tax dollars will NOT be paying for LRT. The LRT project is funded through a combination of transit tax – which we do not pay in our ward – development charges, and provincial and federal funding. Council’s decision on approving LRT Phase 2 will have no impact on other budgets, like road projects, that would be of higher priority for Osgoode Ward residents.
Staff have assured us that the Phase 2 procurement process has been crafted with lessons learned from Phase 1. There have been environmental assessments, 3rd party expert assessments, public consultations, and lots of Council approvals over many years getting us to this point. The process has also undergone rigorous oversight by the fairness commissioner, legal experts, financial experts, and procurement experts. Staff have confirmed that even with the increased cost, the project is still within the City’s Long-Range Financial Plan and is affordable under our policies.
With this information in mind, I am choosing to trust the recommendations from our city staff and their experts who have worked diligently on this project for years. I know that the City has had some setbacks with Phase 1, and there have been some worrying media articles about LRT over the last few weeks. Staff have addressed all concerns that arose from these articles and more, including clarifying that the system has been tested for -and does indeed work- in winter conditions. Yes, I do still have many reservations about this project, and will continue to be cautious and question any items as they come up, but I feel the LRT project should go forward. It will not only benefit the City but will also encourage economic development in the south end.
My residents have maintained during my time in office that we need a solution to our traffic issue in the south end. At this time, I believe that LRT can be one of many pieces in addition to other road widening projects that will help deliver that solution, in a double advantage to Osgoode Ward: we could reap the benefits of traffic alleviation from this project and expansion of rural economic development without paying for the system with our tax dollars. LRT Phase 2 is proposed to be a world-class transit system constructed ready-to-go on day-one, will continue to serve generations to come.
At the ARAC meeting this week, there was very short agenda; members approved two zoning By-Law amendments.
On Friday, February 22, the Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee held the first meeting of the Term of Council. The Committee approved its draft budget for 2019, which includes $7.2 million to renew rural infrastructure. This includes roads, bridges, and guiderails across rural wards. The Committee also approved changes to the Site Plan Control process to improve efficiency, which involves a new fee structure and a streamlined process for applications. The changes reduce the number of small-scale developments requiring Site Plan Control, freeing up staff time to focus on complex applications, and reflect the real cost of work associated with applications.
The City’s Audit Committee approved the draft budget for audit work by the Auditor General in 2019. The Committee received the audit plan from Ernst & Young for the audit of 2018 financial statements. Ernst & Young is the City’s external auditor on a five-year term ending in 2023. The audit plan sets out the work to complete the audit report that confirms that the City’s 2018 financial statements are in accordance with Canadian public sector accounting standards.
Council approved a work plan for the development of a new Official Plan for Ottawa. The work plan lays out a public consultation process and timelines starting early this year, to produce a new Official Plan by the end of 2021. Other items on the Agenda included appointments to Board of Directors, and approving changes to the Site Plan Control process from ARAC.
City Council, sitting as Committee as a Whole asked questions of staff and heard from 18 members of the public on the procurement of LRT Phase 2. Staff provided a presentation to members on costs, stations, and information on the preferred proponents. East-West Connectors is the recommended private-sector partner to design, build and finance the Confederation Line extension, which would add 12.5 kilometres of rail and 5 stations in the east and 15 kilometres of rail and 11 stations in the west. TransitNEXT is the preferred proponent to design, build, finance and maintain the Trillium Line extension, which would add 16 kilometres of rail and 8 stations in the south. Council will vote on the item at the City Council Meeting of March 6th 2019.
The SCEPWWM met on Tuesday morning to discuss various items, with the 2019 Budget being the main topic on the agenda. Staff provided an Annual Drinking Water Source Protection Status Update, followed by a presentation on the update and implementation of the Urban Forest Management Plan. The committee also approved to appointments to the Environmental Stewardship Advisory Committee for the term.
The storwmater fee was an item that attracted some discussion. The fee was set to increase in the draft Budget, and through working with staff and the Mayor’s office, we were able to reduce the increase to the minimum possible in this year’s budget. Most rural properties will now only see an increase of $4 a year on their bill. To put this in perspective, last year the city’s stormwater program collected only $1 million in stormwater fees from rural residents, while spending almost $13 million in rural stormwater culvert replacements. The stormwater fee funds the large-scale manmade engineered culverts under major arterial roads, like Mitch Owens, in the Ward. This fee was previously paid pre-amalgamation to the Regional Municipality of Ottawa-Carleton, and is now being paid under the name “Stormwater Fee” to the City of Ottawa. Stormwater is managed between municipalities, conservation authorities, and provincial bodies. The funds from the stormwater fee allow the City to maintain and upgrade our aging underground culverts; the City is essentially playing “catch-up” to get all our major culverts replaced after years of deterioration. I look forward to seeing construction begin in the summer, where we will see many new major culverts our main roads!
Thursday morning I attended the South Nation Conservation (SNC) Board of Directors meeting. We received updates from SNC staff on ongoing projects and approved incoming initiatives. Among other things, I learned that data from our water monitoring initiatives shows the water stream in Findlay Creek at Blais road is a "cool" stream, which is good news! We have a couple new faces around the Board of Directors table this year, and I look forward to working alongside these new Board members. We also had the pleasure to honour two SNC staff members for their years of service. This organization and it's people do wonderful work!
I encourage you to visit their website. You will know more about South Nation Conservation, their work with the environment and what they do to help water quality and natural habitats!
Due to this week’s snowstorm, the pre-budget consultation scheduled for Tuesday evening at the Osgoode Community Centre had to be cancelled. I apologize to anyone who was planning to attend; Mother Nature is not always on our side. If you would like to provide your comments to staff, please email email@example.com.
Staff gave a presentation that provided an overview of some of their projects over the last year, highlights from programs to be launched under their 2019 work plan (including a pilot for public WiFi in 26 City Buildings across the city), and the successes and growth in their delivery to customers. Committee also approved the IT Budget, to be approved by Council on March 6th.
At a special City Council meeting this week, the 2019 Draft Budget was tabled. Among other key items, the draft budget suggests approximately $10 million to put into infrastructure including road resurfacing, culvert replacements, and bridge replacements. There is also over $10 million for intersection improvements, which includes new traffic lights for Bank & Blais Road, and intersection improvements at Bank & Rideau. City wide, the draft budget suggests 14 new paramedics, 32 new Ottawa Police Officers, and an increase in $10,000 per ward for Temporary Traffic Calming measures, including PXOs.
We are back to work and things are in full swing! This week we have a public consultation for the Riverside South Community Design Plan (CDP), and many meetings with city staff that will lead up to the 2019 Budget Process. Next week I will be attending OWBA’s Breakfast meeting, where city staff will be giving an update on rural economic development in the Official Plan.
This term we will be reviewing not only the Official Plan Amendment, but also the Transportation Master Plan. These are two major documents that will have a significant impact on development in the City of Ottawa. I will be keeping this “Councillor’s Corner” section updated with political information as we go through each process.
City Council this week voted on the Members for Committees, Boards, Commissioners, and City Liaisons for the 2018-2022 term. I consider it a privilege to hold the position of a Deputy Mayor, as well as a sitting member of Agricultural and Rural Affairs Committee, Audit Committee, Transportation Committee, Environment Committee and Information Technology Sub-Committee. In addition, I will sit on the Board of Directors for both South Nation Conservation Authority, and Rideau Valley Conservation Authority. As Deputy Mayor I will be attending events on behalf of Mayor Watson, reviewing all Rural Economic Development files across the City of Ottawa, sitting on the Finance and Economic Development Committee, among other duties required within this role. There will be multiple large files that will come to Council this term, including revising the Transportation Master Plan and the Official Plan Amendment, which have a large effect on rural areas. My portfolio this term has placed me in a leadership position; I will take the challenge of this higher profile to work towards a bigger vision for the City of Ottawa which will run on smart growth with sensible policies, especially for rural communities. I am deeply honored and humbled for the role set before me over the next 4 years.
At the Special City Council Meeting of December 13th 2018, City Council approved retail cannabis stores within the City of Ottawa.
Both the Federal and Provincial governments have established regulatory regimes for cannabis legalization. Given these tight frameworks, municipalities unfortunately own very few regulatory powers for retail cannabis stores. Essentially, the Province of Ontario has offered an all-or-nothing package deal to municipalities for retail cannabis stores. The Province will assume strict control and responsibility over store licensing and locations, permitted location for cannabis use, along with marketing and packaging of products. These regulations prohibit municipalities from licensing private retail stores and passing By-Laws to impose zoning restrictions, but does permit 15 days for municipalities to provide their comments on applications, and gives Municipalities access to funding for challenges associated with cannabis legalization.
In return, permitting retail stores will drive economic development and opportunity in Ottawa, as opposed to having those revenues exported to the Ontario Cannabis Store or to neighboring municipalities. The scope of financial incentives, programs, and support from the Provincial government towards any social or financial challenges associated with cannabis legalization is something not offered to municipalities who opt-out. Retail cannabis stores will provide Ottawans with access to safe products regulated by Public Health, the ability to receive information on products at the point of purchase, and provide consumer privacy.
I have been a huge advocate of economic development during my time as a City Councillor. Cannabis is now a legal and rigorously regulated product, available for purchase to of-age consumers; it therefore makes economic sense to opt-in to the all-or-nothing package deal the Province of Ontario has offered to Ottawa. We will work with staff to ensure there are educational programs for our youth, resources and training for our emergency services, and a wholesome approach to integrating cannabis retail stores into our City. Based on the information and advice provided by staff, the recommendation of Ottawa Public Health and the Ottawa Police Service, along with the support from the Osgoode Ward Advisory Committee, I fully support this decision by City Council. Mature, responsible decision making will allow Ottawa to take advantage of this new economic opportunity.
Council this week approved the 2018-2022 Council Governance Review that sets out the committee structure, policies and procedures for this Term of Council.
Also at Council, a report providing options on retail cannabis stores in Ottawa was tabled Wednesday Council will consider the Report on Ontario Cannabis Legislation and Cannabis Retail Stores at a special meeting on Thursday, December 13th 2018. Residents, groups and organizations are welcome to speak to the report on December 13th by registering as a public delegation. Because Council is meeting as Committee of the Whole, public delegations will be permitted to make a five-minute presentation to Council.
SNC’s Board of Directors, comprised of 13 members appointed by SNC’s 16 member municipalities, approved the 2019 SNC Budget at their November meeting. For more information, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.