Well, it’s been an interesting week or two at City Hall. We've seen the 10 Oblats proposal in Old Ottawa East get rubber-stamped at Planning Committee and City Council, ignoring all the hard work the community put into the Secondary Plan. City Council allowed the unpopular expansion plans for the Chateau Laurier to go ahead. And we’ve heard that RTG plans to handover LRT this summer.
Old Ottawa East Community Plans Broken
The recent decision at Planning Committee and at City Council to rubber-stamp the developer’s request to alter the years of work that went into the community design plan in Old Ottawa East is one reason that I am calling for the break-up of the Planning Committee.
The Old Ottawa East community came out in large numbers to speak to the committee. It was wonderful to see such passion and engagement from residents. It is unfortunate that their reasoned and thoughtful words could not carry the day.
Currently, there is only one councillor from an urban ward on the committee, and he provided the only vote at committee against the developer and in defence of the Secondary Plan. When the vote came to council, we had a total of nine councillors voting against the proposal (including one councillor who supported the proposal at Planning Committee, but switched his vote at council), but that wasn’t enough. Council is always inclined to approve what committee decides, so under the current system, the urban wards are always at a structural disadvantage when it comes to planning and development issues in our neighbourhood.
You can watch my intervention on this at City Council where I asked members of council to reconsider the Planning Committee decision that put the interests of a developer over those of the community. We lost the vote 14-9. Six of the 14 votes in favour of the developer came from councilors who took money from executives (or their family members) of that developer.
Breaking Up the Planning Committee
This week, my office released a report about the city’s planning and development process, and the need to implement meaningful democratic reforms. The primary recommendation is to break up the Planning Committee into two committees, allowing for more representative decision-making.
This wouldn't be a completely novel idea at City Hall. Currently, all development applications pertaining to rural wards are dealt with at the Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee. In addition, the Committee of Adjustment is broken into three panels—one for the urban wards, one for suburban wards and the third for rural wards.
Click here to download the report [PDF].
Click here to download this press release [PDF].
I was quite disheartened about what happened at City Council last week. First, on Wednesday council went ahead and approved the most recent design for the Chateau Laurier addition. I do not support the design, and I believe council should have rescinded the conditional approval given last year. Sadly, a majority of my fellow council members felt differently, allowing this addition to go ahead.
At that meeting, Councillors Rick Chiarelli and Diane Deans put forward a motion to reconsider, which gained support to pass. This should have meant that council would vote on it again in August, having another month to reconsider the application and a chance to work with the owners. Instead, the mayor pushed through a meeting for the very next day, giving councillors less than 24 hours to reconsider.
This isn’t how democracy is supposed to work. As elected representatives, we’re supposed to listen to you. When a legitimate motion to reconsider is passed, the mayor should not be sabotaging that process by forcing a meeting the following afternoon.
There is a democratic deficit at City Hall. This is a problem, but it’s not insurmountable, and I will continue to fight for our city for the remainder of this term of council.
Flora Footbridge Community Opening
This Saturday at 4:00 PM, join the community associations of Old Ottawa East, Old Ottawa South and the Glebe for an informal opening of the Flora Footbridge. There will be cake, lemonade and ribbon-cutting at the centre of the bridge. See the event poster here.
More Safety Improvements Coming to Capital Ward
Road safety is incredibly important to residents of Capital Ward. Since I came to office, we’ve been able to make a number of improvements to our streets. We’ve got needed crossing guards on a number of school routes. We’ve seen the elimination of beg buttons in Old Ottawa South. We’ve had “zebra crossings” painted in the crosswalks along Bank Street in the Glebe. Work will soon begin on the Heron Road Separated Cycling Facilities.
Just last week, the Rideau River MUP underpass at Bank and Riverside was opened. This will help divert bicyclists and pedestrians away from the Bank and Riverside intersection as they enjoy the riverfront park. See a short video of the new MUP here.
But there’s still more to come. This summer should see the implementation of a crosswalk at Lycee Claudel. I know this has been something the community has sought for a few years, and I’m happy to say that it’s finally coming to fruition.
Within the next year, we’ll see the implementation of a signalized crossing for pedestrians and bicyclists at Seneca Street and Colonel By Drive. This will give more people access to the path along the canal.
My office is very happy about these safety improvements, and we look forward to doing even more to make Capital Ward the safest ward in the city for active transportation throughout our term of office.
Summer Community Events at Lansdowne
Looking for some fun this summer in Capital Ward? Check out all the events going on at Lansdowne Park. There are free concerts, outdoor movie nights, water plaza activities and much more! Check the city’s website for details.
Committee of Adjustment Vacancy
The City of Ottawa is currently recruiting for a citizen member to serve on the Committee of Adjustment!
Make a difference by becoming a volunteer member! The City could benefit greatly from your expertise and knowledge and in return, you would gain insight and knowledge of how the City works.
To be eligible, you must be a resident of the City of Ottawa and must be 18 years of age or older in order. Employees of the City of Ottawa are not eligible. Membership will, as much as possible, reflect Ottawa’s diversity and demographics in such areas as gender, official language, geographic representation, race and disability.
Crime Prevention Ottawa is Recruiting for Both our Board of Directors and our Community Forum
Ottawa residents can make a difference in their community by becoming a volunteer member of Crime Prevention Ottawa’s Community Forum. The Community Forum is an advisory body. It gives feedback to the Board of Directors with regard to planning and operations and advises with regard to emerging issues in the community, priorities and successes.
Residents of the City of Ottawa who are 18 years of age or older are eligible for appointment. Individuals who reside outside of the city may be eligible if they have made a significant contribution to the Ottawa community.
Eligible candidates for the Board of Directors will be invited for interviews by a nominations committee consisting of current Board members. A reference check will be conducted to determine fit. Applications for the Community Forum will be assessed by the committee and selected candidates will be proposed to the Board for approval.
If you want more information please review our Terms of Reference and the Board of Directors appointment policy or the Community Forum appointment policy. For information about our work, please see www.crimepreventionottawa.ca.
Please submit a short letter of application outlining your qualifications, specific skills, interests and background. You may apply to both the Community Forum and the Board of Directors, though we ask that you please indicate which stream you are interested in. Applications may be submitted by electronic mail or regular mail. Please submit your application by Friday, August 23, 2019, to:
Francine Demers, Crime Prevention Ottawa
110 Laurier Avenue West-Ottawa, ON K1P 1J1
Email: [email protected]
Thanks so much for your fight for us, Shawn. We need more councillors like you, who can put the best interests of the people of Ottawa ahead of the plans of the development corporations. If we could have a less corrupt Planning Committee structure, and then a rigorous discipline of following the official plans without compromising based only on last-minute developer demands, that would be an improvement. The amalgamation exacerbated the problem we had, since the rural councillors are, in general, less sensitive to the problems and pressures we face in the downtown areas of the city. So we lose votes such as those that you mentioned here. Tough to undo the amalgamation. But the Planning Committee is a good one to work on. (Also the Committee of Adjustments). I support the work you’ve been doing. Even if you don’t succeed completely, I hope you make some progress and energize others to help.