Capital Ward Bulletin: Winter, and winter events, in the Capital are here!

Happy New Year, everyone! We hope that everyone was able to enjoy some time over the holidays. It was a quiet time at City Hall, but things are starting to get busy…and events in the city are getting busy, too.

Bus route review update

In November, we provided an update on the results of OC Transpo’s route review. We raised numerous issues with OC Transpo and passed along resident feedback, seeking to get a number of improvements to plan.

The changes we were able to achieve included:

  • Maintaining access to Carleton via route 111.
  • Replacing the service of route 5 from Billings Bridge to downtown with route 18.
  • Keeping and extending service along route 10 all the way through Rideau Centre, downtown and to Greystone Village.
  • Routes 41 and 292 will service Heron Park via Clementine.

At the time, we did not have updated maps of the changes, but OC Transpo has now provided those maps, and we have posted them our website. You can also read more about the bus route review at OC Transpo’s website.

As more information about the OC Transpo route review comes up, we keep you informed through this bulletin, our website and social media.

Hawthorne Avenue speed limit

For the purpose of safety and consistency, we are pursuing a speed limit reduction to 40 km/h on the corridor of Hawthorne Avenue, Pretoria Bridge and Elgin Street between Main Street and Catherine Street. A speed limit of 40 km/h would give this stretch of road the same speed limit as Main Street and the rest of Elgin Street, as well as other Traditional Main Streets like Bank Street, making the speed limit on these streets more predictable for drivers.

If you have thoughts on this change, please let us know by email [email protected].

Seniors Health Innovations Hub—community feedback questionnaire

In August, Seniors Watch Old Ottawa South introduced the Seniors Health Innovation Hub (SHIH), and they are now working to expand and formalize this initiative. They’ve launched a survey to find out what is missing for healthy aging and who is willing to participate in their vision for an age-friendly community. Consider taking their survey by January 31.

You can also learn more about SWOOS at the Old Ottawa South Community Association website, and you can also read their Guide to Healthy Aging in the Community.

2023-2024 Outdoor Rink Program and Sledding Hill information

Winter weather has begun to arrive in our city, and we know many residents will want to get outside and enjoy what the season has to offer. The city has many outdoor rinks and sledding hills for everyone to enjoy, but the city wants to make sure everyone enjoys them safely and responsibly. To that end, they have provided tips to help keep people safe.

Skating tips for residents

  • Rink users should always wear a CSA certified hockey helmet.
  • Children under the age of 7 should be accompanied by a responsible person aged 14 and up.
  • Respect signage indicating the rink is closed. It means volunteers have recently flooded or the ice is too soft for skating.
  • Avoid walking on the rink, as this is hazardous and damages the ice surface.
  • Keep all pets off the rinks. Please do not use boarded rinks as dog runs.
  • For the safety of users, hockey is not permitted on puddle rinks (non-boarded rinks).
  • Hours of operation and access to warming facilities (where available) for supervised rinks is determined by the local community operator at each location.
  • Take the time to thank the volunteers who dedicate their time to creating a rink in your community and lend a helping hand when possible.
  • Report any site hazards or deficiencies to 3-1-1 or the Seasonal Recreation Office.

Sledding tips for residents

  • Only sled at designated approved sledding hills. A full listing can be found at ottawa.ca/sledding
  • Always wear a proper helmet – ski, snowboard, or CSA certified hockey helmet
  • Check the weather before sledding and avoid sledding during icy conditions.
  • Sit or kneel on your sled and avoid going headfirst.
  • View hill descriptions at ottawa.ca/sledding  to verify the hill you are visiting is appropriate for young children or new sledders.
  • The City of Ottawa recommends that young children avoid sledding on hills identified as fairly steep or steep and stick to hills with a gradual slope.

More information on skating at outdoor rinks can be found here.

More information on sledding can found here.

Community Winter Pentathlon

Happiness Habits 613 and the Heart Institute are kicking of February with a super family-friendly FREE pentathlon at Lansdowne Park. The pentathlon will include five event: snowshoeing, tobogganing, winter bowling, running/walking and a winter workout. This event is for people of all ages and all abilities.

The pentathlon will be held on Saturday February 3 from 11:00 am to 3:00 pm. You can register for it here.

Your Capital Ward

Photo by Christine Honsl

If you have a photo you’d like to share in an upcoming bulletin, please send it to [email protected], with the subject line Your Capital Ward. Please give us your name for attribution…or tell us if you’d rather not have your name shared.

Christmas tree disposal options

Has your festive fir completed its holiday mission? Give it a second life! Check out ottawa.ca/christmastrees for reuse and donation options.  

The city also collects real Christmas trees as part of the green bin program. Please remove all decorations and place at the curb no later than 7 am on your scheduled collection day. Setting out waste before collection day during the winter increases the risk of items becoming frozen in snowbanks. Trees that are still decorated or wrapped in plastic or are frozen in snowbanks are not eligible for collection. 

My Rec Pass—Engage Ottawa

The City of Ottawa has launched a survey and public consultation sessions through Engage Ottawa. Entitled “My Rec Pass”, this proposed new model for recreation membership passes and admissions is intended to simplify and address discrepancies in the current structure to give clients options and value based on how they use recreation services.

Complete your Vacant Unit Tax declaration before March 21

It’s time for Ottawa homeowners to complete their online Vacant Unit Tax (VUT) forms at ottawa.ca/vut for each residential property they own before the March 21 deadline. A $250 late fee will be applied to all declarations filed after the deadline.

To complete the declaration, visit ottawa.ca/vut, click Submit declaration, and log on with the roll number and access code—found on last year’s property tax bill or information notices that will be sent by email or Canada Post.  Email notices will be sent to those who provided their email addresses on last year’s declaration. Please also check your junk folder.

Residents registered with MySeviceOttawa can go directly to the declaration from their property tax account.

Alternate and accessible declaration options available

The city has set up declaration options for residents who require accessibility related supports, and for those without access to the internet or digital devices—like computers, tablets and other hand-held devices:

Telephone option

  • Call 613-580-2444 where an agent will help complete your declaration over the phone
  • Call 613-580-2400 to contact the City using Canada Video Relay Service

In-person option at Client Service Centres

City’s Client Service Centres can provide in-person assistance for completing the declaration. Priority will be given to scheduled appointments. Visit ottawa.ca/csc for locations and appointments. the hours of operation are Monday to Friday, 8:30 am to 4:30 pm. The three rural centres are open one day a week from 8:30 am to 4 pm.

All property owners must declare

Even though the VUT does not apply to principal residences, it is mandatory for all residential property owners to complete the declaration every year. Principal address property owners only need to provide their name, contact information, select principal address and click submit. Full participation ensures the City’s data is up-to-date and accurate.

Helping make housing more affordable

The intent of the VUT is to help address Ottawa’s current housing supply shortage. It acts as an incentive for residential owners to either rent or sell vacant properties, adding more units helps stabilize and lower marke tprices and rents. Revenues generated from VUT will go directly to City’s budget for constructing more affordable and supportive housing.

Residential properties vacant 184 or more days may be subject to tax

Properties that are not used as a principal residence and were vacant 184 or more days in the previous calendar year could be subject to the one per cent tax on the final property tax bill.

Residential property owners need to indicate if their property was vacant 184 or more days during 2023 calendar year. The owner can select any of the specified exemptions—such as legal or estate issues, hospitalization or death of owner, or renovations—that is applicable for their reason for the vacancy. The owner must also provide relevant information, like a building permit or application number, court order number, date of death or the name of the person in care and name of the health or senior care facility.

False claims could receive fine

If a declaration is not filed—even if it is a principal residence—it will be deemed vacant and the VUT will be applied. All declarations will be eligible for an audit and false claims could result in a fine up to $10,000.

Learn more about the Vacant Unit Tax at ottawa.ca/vut. Information summary is also available on the website in Arabic, Somali, Simplified Chinese and Spanish. 

Commemorative Naming Policy Review

The city is requesting your feedback regarding a review of the current Commemorative Naming Policy for Municipal Streets, Parks and Facilities. Information gathered from this public engagement initiative will assist us in the development of a revised policy that values the perspectives and uniqueness of Ottawa.

To get involved, complete an online survey on Engage Ottawa to share your feedback on the Commemorative Naming Program and help shape a revised policy that will contribute to Ottawa’s legacy for generations to come.  

Ottawa Public Health Update—Fostering a positive relationship with food

Fostering a positive relationship with food is IN, following fad diets and food trends are OUT.  

January is a time when many of us feel pressured to make changes, especially to our health. It’s common to see a lot of information and advertising in the media about ways to lose weight, try a new fad diet, or cut out certain foods etc. It’s normal to feel the pressure and overwhelmed, but OPH Registered Dietitians are here to provide some tips for healthy eating habits and to remind you that it’s more than food, how you eat is important too. 

Start off the new year with some non-diet healthy eating habits:

What better way to cook, share, and enjoy your food then to try recipes from Unlock FoodCanada’s Food Guide or Cookspiration. These include a variety of recipes that are quick, easy to make and will suit your nutritional needs.  

Check Ottawa Public Health’s X (twitter) and Facebook page for more tips on food and nutrition. You can also find a dietitian near you, or visit Canada’s Food Guide webpage to learn more about healthy eating habits.  

Council received the Draft Solid Waste Master Plan (SWMP) and approved the 2024 Solid Waste Services budget

On December 6, Council received the Draft Solid Waste Master Plan (SWMP)(External link) and approved the 2024 Solid Waste Services budget. The budget includes items to support the ongoing implementation of the Curbside Diversion Policy and the Multi-residential Diversion Strategy, two component projects of the SWMP that were advanced early to increase the diversion rate of household organics and recyclables.

The next step in the SWMP process is Engagement Series 3 which will be held virtually and in-person in Q1 2024.

Council also approved the recommendations to initiate the Environmental Assessment process for the Trail Waste Facility Landfill (TWFL) expansion(External link) and provided direction to begin the feasibility study for Waste-to-Energy Incineration and Mixed Waste Processing.

The expansion of the landfill (within its current footprint) will extend the life of this asset while providing time for the recommended SWMP reduction and diversion actions to reduce waste going to landfill, which will extend the life of the facility even further providing time for city Council to make a decision and implement the city’s next solution.

The Waste-to-Energy and Mixed Waste Processing feasibility study will examine the differing opportunities and pros and cons of each technology compared to traditional landfilling. The study will examine the technologies in the Ottawa context and analyze their social, environmental and financial implications. The results of the feasibility study and business case will be used to help choose the most sustainable, long-term residual garbage management option for the city.

Thawed: Keeping Ottawa’s water flowing

Winter is here, and while we all love to enjoy the many pleasures the season has to offer, frozen pipes isn’t one of them.

With rising and falling temperatures and the potential for severe and uninterrupted cold, frozen water pipes can be a reality for some homes. As the frost levels deepen, the ground becomes a frozen block of ice, and some water lines – the underground pipe that connects a home or building’s plumbing to a city watermain – may run right through it.

But fear not the freeze! The city’s warm and helpful team at Water Linear Customer Service is here for you.

Meet Tom and Robert. They are part of the First Response Team that works hard all winter to keep your pipes thawed. They want you to have the information and tools you need to ensure Ottawa’s great tap water can continue to flow.

Ways to prevent frozen water pipes

Here are a few tips on how you can protect the water service pipes on your property from freezing:

  • Keep your heat on. Make sure the indoor air temperature in your home never falls below eight degrees Celsius, even if you only plan to be away from your home for a couple of days. 
  • Keep your water lines warm. Particularly in basements that tend to be cooler, leave the door open to areas that have water lines or your water meter so heat can reach them.
  • Insulate pipes near exterior walls. Wrap foam pipe insulation around pipes on exterior walls, in crawl spaces, or in the attic that are more likely to freeze.
  • Keep your garage closed. Garages often have water pipes hidden in the ceiling to service upstairs bathrooms. If left open, they could also allow cold air to get into your home.
  • Disconnect all hoses from exterior taps. Without the hose removed, the outside taps can’t drain and will freeze. Older taps often have a shutoff valve located in the basement ceiling, locate these, and shut them off for the winter.
  • Leave your water line buried. The snow acts as insulation and clearing snow from above allows the frost to dive down to your water line.
  • Know the location of your interior shut off valve. Locate your homes’ water shut off valve in advance and verify that it works so it can be shut off quickly in the event of a burst pipe due to freezing.

What you should do if your water pipe freezes

If you suspect you have a frozen water line due to lack of water to your taps, call 3-1-1 to place a service request. The First Response Team will triage the issue with you and determine whether on-site support is required.

The city provides clean and safe drinking water to more than 950,000 residential, commercial, and industrial customers delivered through more than 3,200 kilometers of underground pipelines. That’s a lot of water and pipes! If a water service pipe freezes, the First Response Team will work to restore water service to the affected property as soon as possible.

Residents at risk

Approximately 2,000 Ottawa homes and businesses are estimated to have water pipes that are not buried as deeply or insulated as well as others. Depending on the location and installation year of a water service pipe, it could be at risk of freezing.

The city will issue a seasonal run water advisory to vulnerable properties when frost reaches the appropriate depth. The city relies on a model that uses the average daily mean temperature, as observed by Environment Canada at the Ottawa International Airport to predict frost depths and mitigate the potential risk of frozen water services. Frost monitoring begins once daily temperatures are consistently below zero degrees Celsius.

Learn more

You can find more information at ottawa.ca/FrozenServices or call 3-1-1.

211 is here to help! 

Dial 211 for local information and referrals on community, social, government and health services. 211 is a three-digit phone number that provides free, confidential and multilingual information and referrals to clients looking for community and social services in Ottawa. You can visit 211Ontario.ca for more information. 

Neighbourhood Health & Wellness Hubs

OPH works with the City of Ottawa and community partners to deliver integrated services closer to where people live, by providing additional access to drop-in health and social services at no cost. There are currently 13 Neighborhood Health and Wellness Hubs that offer a range of services, including:  

  • COVID-19, flu, school and routine childhood vaccination  
  • Dental screenings  
  • Mental health and substance use health services and wellbeing support 
  • Parenting support and  
  • Financial assistance services.  

The hubs provide an opportunity to speak in-person with OPH and/or City of Ottawa staff. No appointment is needed. Different services are offered at different locations.  More information can be found at OttawaPublicHealth.ca/NeighbourhoodHub.

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