Free Transit December
OC Transpo will be offering unlimited free service on all forms of transit (buses, O-Train and Para Transpo) to customers in December, in recognition of the considerable disruption faced by transit users following the suspension of O-Train Line 1 service.
This month of free transit won’t make up for the many errors the city has committed in the procurement, construction and operation of light rail, but it will provide some relief and offer some data as a pilot project.
As part of this month of free transit, OC Transpo is making it as easy as possible for customers:
- From December 1 to 31, fare gates at all O-Train stations will be opened and fare boxes and smartcard readers on all OC Transpo buses will be covered.
- Monthly December passes will not be sold.
- Presto customers with auto-renew subscriptions will see a one-cent charge which will be credited back to their account.
- U-Pass customers or customers with a school board issued pass do not need to tap their card at O-Train stations or on OC Transpo buses.
- All Para Transpo trips during December will be at no charge.
- Regular fares continue to apply to transit customers travelling on the Société de transport de l’Outaouais (STO) system. Customers who had a monthly pass on their Presto card in November and U-Pass customers should tap their card as they board but no charges will be applied. Other customers will need to pay the applicable STO fare.
Free Transit Motion
At this month’s Transportation Committee meeting, we tabled a motion which will be considered at the Transit Commission for the city to study the use of Free Transit as a policy tool to reach our future transit modal share targets. We must look at every way possible to reduce congestion, save costs on road widening, and consider free transit on clogged corridors like Bank Street for more efficient and sustainable transportation.
The city already uses free transit, extensively. We offer free transit for young children. We have two Seniors Days each week, where senior residents can ride for free. Special events at Lansdowne offer free transit to all ticket-holders (and for smaller events, the city doesn’t ask for a surcharge). We have free transit on Canada Day and New Year’s Eve. And now, of course, we’ve seen free transit all month long.
It’s clear we know that free transit is a useful policy, so now we just need to determine how best to implement it.
The motion will now be considered by the Transit Commission in the New Year.
Rideau Winter Trail
Access to cross-country skiing, snow shoeing, hiking and fat biking will be even easier this winter for many residents of Capital Ward. The Rideau Winter Trail, a recreational trail that runs along the Rideau River, is maintained entirely by volunteers. This year, it has been extended by a few kilometres this year, and will run from Donald Street to Bank Street. Last year was the first full season for the trail, and after a year of active fund raising, there will be approximately 12 kms of recreational trail that can easily be accessed by foot, bike, LRT (the trail is seconds from Hurdman station) and bus.
Longer term, the hope is to groom all the way to Mooney’s Bay. This will take significant financial and volunteer resource, but with the necessary support, it remains the long-term goal.
For more information, please follow the Rideau Winter Trail on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, or visit their website. If you are interested in volunteering, please email [email protected]. You can donate to help support the trail via their GoFundMe.
Greenfield, Main, Hawthorne Update
The City of Ottawa is preparing to renew aging infrastructure and revitalize the right of way in the northern section of Old Ottawa East as part of the overall Greenfield Avenue, Main Street, Hawthorne Avenue et al. reconstruction project.
The Greenfield Avenue, Main Street, Hawthorne Avenue et al. reconstruction project is a multi-year project. Advanced construction work commenced in late summer 2021. In 2022, extensive underground and road construction work will occur, with expected completion in 2024, pending budget approvals.
Earlier this year, our office secured a win at Council to ensure the hydro poles would be buried when the work occurs. We also worked with staff to secure funding through the Investing in Canada Infrastructure Program (ICIP) COVID-19 Resilience Stream in the amount of $226,000. The funding will contribute to the construction of the new safe-for-all-users intersection at Colonel By Drive and Main Street/ Echo Drive which is included in the current advanced works contract.
Over the coming months, the following work can be expected:
- Road geometry modifications at Colonel By Drive and Main Street will continue to improve roadway navigation for all users.
- Sewer and watermain installation work will begin on Main Street and Echo Drive in early January, 2022.
The construction of the Lees Avenue multi-use pathway is planned to proceed in Spring 2022.
We have also been asking the Ministry of Transportation not to expropriate the properties and buildings along Hawthorne Avenue. We are seeing very positive responses on those requests. This would be an important win for the community, as the businesses and properties along the stretch would have been greatly missed. Thanks to all the residents and the Old Ottawa East Community Association who are working with us to ask the Ministry to change its plans. The buildings at the Corner of Main Street (The Organic Salon and Gordon and McGovern) would still need to removed for construction but we are in talks to preserve and reinstate the old gas station heritage features.
LRT Provincial Inquiry
Last month, the Ontario government announced that it would be launching a public inquiry into Ottawa’s light rail system and all the problems we have been experiencing. It is good news, and I want to thank MPP Joel Harden for his advocacy at the provincial level for this, but it is too bad that the city, itself, did not support more accountability and a public inquiry when a motion was brought forward twice by Councillor Catherine McKenney.
I supported Councillor McKenney’s motion, but it was opposed by a group of Councillors who often vote in lockstep with the Mayor despite the independent nature of city government and objections of large numbers of residents. We’ve seen this occur on multiple issues this term such as the vote on the Chateau Laurier, the vote to give a tax break to a Porsche dealership, the votes to increase transit fares during the pandemic, the votes to increase sprawl in the city, amongst many others. Here is how Councillors voted on an LRT public inquiry:
Elimination of Gas-Powered Leaf Blowers
Rideau-Rockliffe councillor Rawlson King has introduced a motion to ban gas-powered leaf blowers used by city of Ottawa workers. These devices emit gratuitous amounts of environmental pollution, as well as contributing greatly to the noise pollution residents already endure. I will be supporting Councillor King’s motion and would like to see us expand this action city-wide.
The motion will be coming to the Environment Committee in the New Year.
A Better City Budget
This week, city council passed the 2022 budget. While there are a number of good projects for Capital Ward in the upcoming budget, there are still serious issues with the city’s budget process and city-wide objectives. Next term of council, we need a more inclusive and more thoughtful budget process. For more information on ideas I have to change the priorities in the city budget, you can read my op-ed in the Citizen from last year.
Preparing for a Changing Climate
The flooding in BC and Newfoundland these past weeks is a stark reminder of the importance of ensuring we are prepared for our changing climate. Ottawa will become much warmer over the coming decades, with more intense rainfall and more extreme weather events. While the city has many measures in place to protect against flooding, heat waves and weather-related emergencies, it’s important to prepare for the future. In addition to reducing Ottawa’s emissions through Energy Evolution, the City is developing a Climate Resiliency Strategy to assess how Ottawa is vulnerable to climate change and identify strategies to mitigate the greatest climate risks. The Climate Resiliency Strategy involves three steps:
- Understanding how Ottawa’s climate will change in the next 100 years (a detailed study was completed in 2020)
- Assessing who, what and where Ottawa is vulnerable to changing climate conditions (2022)
- Developing a strategy and action plan (2023)
You can read what we’ve heard from residents so far in the Interim What We Heard Report. If you would like to receive updates on the Climate Resiliency Strategy and other climate change news subscribe to the city’s climate change e-newsletter.
Have your say on the proposed High Performance Development Standard
The City is developing a High Performance Development Standard that will support sustainable and resilient design in new developments. The proposed High Performance Development Standard seeks to apply minimum performance measures to new development through the review and approval of site plan and plan of subdivision applications. It includes metrics that will protect our environment, public health and safety, and respond to climate change.
The High Performance Development Standard will help the City meet the sustainable and resilient design objectives in the Official Plan as well as contribute to greenhouse gas reduction targets. The largest share of Ottawa’s greenhouse gas emissions (46 per cent) come from buildings. New buildings that are designed to be energy efficient will reduce emissions and save on costly retrofits in the future.
Visit Engage Ottawa to find out more on the measures and phasing and provide your feedback.
Your Capital Ward
We’re trying something new with the Capital Ward Bulletin, and we hope people like the idea. We want to share your pictures of Capital Ward. In each bulletin we’ll share a photo sent in to us from residents.
For our inaugural Your Capital Ward, here’s a shot from the Rideau River near Windsor Park submitted by Jamie Broughman
If you have a photo you’d like to share, please send it to [email protected], with the subject line Your Capital Ward. Please give us your name for attribution…of tell us if you’d rather not have your name shared.
We’ll keep this up as long as we get photos, and we’ll use as many of the photos we receive as we can.
Transportation Master Plan Phase 3 Engagement
The draft Transportation Master Plan (TMP) policies and proposed active transportation projects are now available online to the project website. Residents are invited to provide feedback on the policies and projects proposed for delivery from 2023 onwards.
Residents can provide input on close to 70 proposed policies that will guide our transportation decisions and networks to 2046 and help Ottawa fulfill its vision from the New Official Plan of becoming the most liveable mid-sized city in North America. The City has also identified candidate pedestrian and cycling projects for implementation between 2023 and 2046.
The draft policies, candidate active transportation projects, and feedback activities can be found at www.ottawa.ca/TMPUpdate. The website also contains a series of one-page documents to highlight key policies pieces.
Residents will also be invited to attend a Public House on the proposed TMP in Q1, 2022. Event details and registration instructions will be shared on the project website early in the New Year. Residents are encouraged to sign up to be notified through the project newsletter.
The transportation planning decisions we make today will shape our city of tomorrow! Play an active role in the future of Ottawa. Complete the feedback activities today!
OC Transpo Buses Go Electric!
Have you seen the new electric buses OC Transpo has? They started rolling out on our streets last month.
I was happy to work with Somerset Councillor Catherine McKenney and city staff to ensure this was a term of council priority. We'll be quickly scaling this up with federal support, with the purchase of 74 battery electric buses and charging infrastructure in 2022, and a total of 450 electric busses by 2027.
New EV Charging Stations
This year, the city is rolling out 26 new electric vehicle charging stations across the city, and Capital Ward is getting two of them! One will be located in front of 186 Main Street, in the buffer between the cycletrack and the street, and the other will be at Hurdman Station Place, just north of 1510 Riverside Drive.
The Climate Change and Resiliency Section has launched public engagement to identify more locations for the installation of electric vehicle charging stations in Ottawa.
Hydro Ottawa has received funding from Natural Resources Canada through the Zero Emissions Vehicle Infrastructure Program to support the installation of electric vehicle charging stations in Ottawa. The Climate Change and Resiliency Section will be applying for this funding to fill existing gaps in charging stations in Ottawa with a focus on equity.
Funding through this program is limited to $100,000 per application so locations that fit the following criteria will be prioritized:
- Higher population density/more multi-unit residential buildings
- Higher proportion of rental property
- Less frequent public transit
- Areas with lower levels of household income
These types of locations are typically not well served by electric vehicle chargers that are owned by private companies. Residents who live in multi-unit residential buildings also often face barriers installing charging infrastructure at home. By selecting these areas, the City is looking to fill existing gaps to ensure more residents have access to a reliable charging station.
Residents can identify locations where they would recommend charging stations are installed on the Public Electric Vehicle Charging Stations Engage Ottawa page. Only locations which meet one or more of the criteria will be considered at this stage. Other locations will be considered if more funding becomes available.
Belmont at Bank Street Crossing Guard
We have been hearing positive feedback from residents about the crossing guard we had implemented at Belmont and Bank during the ongoing construction there. We now have agreement with the city to keep the crossing guard for the morning and afternoon school runs until the end of June, 2022.
In Spring 2022, city staff will do a count of kids walking that route with associated traffic to determine if a crossing guard can be made permanent after the construction is completed.
Bank Street Height & Character
Recently, city council approved a new secondary plan to clarify the types of development permitted on or directly adjacent to Bank Street, between the Rideau Canal and Highway 417.
The Bank Street in the Glebe Secondary Plan would make future growth in the area more predictable by defining permitted height and density. The plan would help ensure intensification happens in ways that protect the Glebe’s heritage character and build on the community’s pedestrian-oriented nature.
While the plan identifies where taller buildings might be appropriate, most of the area would remain limited to four storeys. Some six-storey development would be permitted on larger properties while buildings taller than nine storeys would only be considered on Isabella Street, at the very north of the area.
It took a lot of work to get to this point—and not just by the city. The Glebe Community Association, Glebe BIA and local residents put in many hours over the past few years to make this plan a reality. It was a great collaboration, and it will allow for missing middle intensification in a considered way.
“Name That Park!” at Fifth Avenue and O’Connor
You may have heard that changes are coming this spring to the park at 625 O’Connor Street by Fifth Avenue and the fire station. Our office will be supporting a redesign through cash-in-lieu of parkland funds, which include new seating, additional shade trees, a bike rack, pergola and a winding pathway.
The Glebe Community Association has been instrumental in the park redesign, and we are grateful for their inputs. Please email your naming suggestions for the park and rationale to [email protected] by January 10 using the subject line, “Name That Park!”. We will post an online survey in the new year to crowdsource the most popular option.
Eugene Forsey Park Update
Some people may have noticed city crews out last week surveying Eugene Forsey Park. This is in preparation for park improvements that are scheduled to start this spring. With recent development funds and our ward’s cash-in-lieu of parks funds, we’re able make a number of improvements, including:
- Resurfacing the basketball court and increasing its size
- Replacing the posts, rims and backboards on the court
- Replacing the chain-link fence bordering the court
- Improving the connection to the accessible pathway
There are a number of mature trees in the park, and the plans for the basketball court will ensure they are maintained.
Kaladar Park Splash Pad Construction
Construction on the splash pad at Kaladar Park has begun.
This project will increase recreational opportunities within Kaladar Park by replacing the existing wooden spray posts with a new splash pad. The new splash pad has been relocated to accommodate the servicing requirements and meet accessibility requirements. Construction of the splash pad, accessible pathway and landscaping will start in the Spring 2022 and to be completed by Summer 2022. I want to thank the Heron Park Community Association for their collaboration on this project.
For more information on the project, visit the city’s Public Engagement website at: https://engage.ottawa.ca/kaladar-park.
New Lansdowne Indoor Skatepark—They’re Hiring!
This winter, the city will be running a free indoor skatepark in Aberdeen Pavillion at Lansdowne Park. The program will run from 6:30 to 8:30 Tuesday evenings between January 4 and April 12.
Also, do you want to help the city run the indoor skateboarding program? The city is looking to hire. To learn me, check out the job posting.
67 Springhurst Avenue Re-Development
The owner and developer of 67 Springhurst Avenue is inviting residents to provide feedback on a potential development of two three-unit buildings and eight townhouses on the site. Rear, side, and front yards would comply with the zoning bylaw, possible small variances to accommodate the angled lot.
Please email Chris Jalkotzy of Modulink Planning & Design at [email protected] to give feedback or find out more.
French Catholic School at the Deschatelets Building Updates
The City and the French Catholic School Board (CECCE- Conseil des écoles catholiques du Centre-Est) are making progress on the opening of an elementary school and community centre/gym in the Deschatelets building and an adjacent parcel.
Most recently, the CECCE and City staff have met twice to revise an Offer to Lease Agreement which will bring forward responsibility, financing and roles of each party in the community center and gym. The CECCE closed on a tender process at the end of November for a Construction Management Team, and are planning to request a partial building permit to proceed with stabilization of the Deschatelets building. We’ve also encouraged negotiations with Regional group to secure additional space behind the building for a children’s play area. We feel confident in this.
The city is finalizing a report on the survey consultation for the community center/gym and forecourt park, to be released shortly. At this point, CECEE is targeting a school opening date of December of 2022.
Community Laundry Co-op (CLC) Fundraiser
CLC is a grassroots charitable co-operative that provides accessible and affordable self-service laundry for low-income and isolated families and individuals. It serves as a valuable support network for its members, many of whom struggle with mental health issues, addictions, and developmental and/or physical disabilities. The Co-op also provides training and mentoring through its Contract Laundry Service social enterprise which offers laundry and delivery services to local clients at competitive rates, providing further opportunities for members to gain work experience, develop their skills and supplement their income.
The Community Laundry Co-op (CLC) has just launched their annual fundraiser. If you are able, please consider donating. They do important work in our community. Information on donating can be found here.
770-774 Bronson and 557 Cambridge Development Proposal Update
We have been working diligently to ensure that this development application submission at the corner of Bronson and Carling is significantly reformed. We have provided rigorous feedback about the transportation planning, the need for public park space, good urban design with shadowing considerations, affordable housing and parking concerns.
We have held multiple meetings with staff and residents, including an afternoon walk around the site to discuss the specific challenges of the property. We have submitted a number of changes to the proposal and city staff have been very receptive to our concerns, and have expressed these concerns as well.
Currently, we expect the developer to make a resubmission based on our feedback and we do not have a set date for when this application will go before the Planning Committee.
We will keep the community updated as more news comes.
IMPORTANT: due to increased transmission of the Omicron variant in Ottawa, capacity limits are being reinstated in some settings as of Monday, December 20 at 12:01 am. Please take the time to read the Letter of Instruction from Dr. Vera Etches: ottawapublichealth.ca/en/public-health-topics/public-health-orders-and-instructions.aspx
For all information about COVID-19 vaccinations and protocols, visit the Ottawa Public Health website.
Children born in 2016 or earlier are now eligible to schedule a COVID-19 vaccine appointment through a variety of channels including the COVID-19 vaccination portal and provincial contact centre at 1 (833) 943-3900. For the latest news, visit the new COVID-19 vaccination and children 5 to 11 years old web page.
Drop-in appointments are available on a first-come first-served basis during clinic hours. If the clinic is very busy, appointment cards may be given with a return time. Ottawa Public Health is working with Ottawa school boards to promote after-school clinics to parents and guardians, and students at the school, and to students at other nearby schools.
For more information on third doses, click here.
Ottawa has had a very high vaccination rate ever since vaccines have been made available to each age group. It’s been an important part of our fight against the spread of the pandemic. With the emergence of the Omicron variant, it’s important that we keep this trend going.
Thank you for reading this.
All my best,