City Council Updates
City council met three times in these past two weeks.
At the first meeting, the Governance Report was tabled. This is the framework that will establish how committees will be set up and what they'll be responsible for. It was a disappointing report, and a number of Councillors worked to make changes that would bring more democracy to the workings of council.
Unfortunately, the mayor backed the Report and was able to ensure enough votes around the council table to get it passed without substantial changes.
On a more positive note, I was able to bring forward a motion to improve transparency at City Hall. The motion was to change the functioning of the Property Standards and Licence Appeal Committee to ensure that original public complainants were kept notified of any appeal and that they could have standing in front of the committee to make their case. This motion passed unanimously.
The Nominating Committee met on Tuesday of this week. At this meeting, the mayor's slate of committee nominations was presented. Bay Ward councillor Theresa Kavanaugh objected to the secrecy surrounding the nominations, but, again, the mayor's wishes carried the day.
This process was a significant loss for urban residents, and everyone residing within the Greenbelt, as councillors for these wards were shut out of all committee chair positions, and are woefully under-represented at the most powerful committees, like the Finance Committee (FEDCO) and the Planning Committee.
But, again, there's a bright spot. I've been selected as Vice-Chair of the Environment and Climate Protection Committee. I know environmental issues are important to Capital Ward residents, so I look forward to crafting sustainable initiatives for the city.
On Thursday, city council met about retail sales of cannabis. City council decided to "opt-in" on cannabis and to also press the provincial government to give the city more powers to properly regulate cannabis shops. I voted in favour of both of these measures. In it is past time for the city and the province to take a mature, progressive view of cannabis sales and cannabis use. We need to move away from the black market and have a safe and legal framework for selling cannabis. At the same time, we need the provincial government to give cities the necessary powers to properly zone and regulate cannabis stores, to avoid clustering of stores.
I have an update on the Old Ottawa South Integrated Road Sewer and Watermain construction project:
The underground work including watermain and sewer, has been completed. All roads in this phase have been paved with base layer asphalt for over winter. Temporary sidewalks are be provided for the winter where concrete sidewalks have yet to be constructed. Remaining work on this phase, including concrete sidewalks, landscaping and final layer of asphalt is expected to be completed in Spring 2019.
Unfortunately, the early winter weather has impeded some of the work, and thrown off some schedules, so here's what the city is doing to account for these issues:
- Working longer hours and weekends, where practicable, to speed up the work.
- Temporary asphalt surfaces are being laid in some areas to ensure that winter maintenance activities are not affected and so that the permanent work can be done when conditions are more favourable.
- Ongoing assessment to ensure that the quality conforms to the required standards.
I also have an update on the Flora Footbridge! This is an exciting project for the ward...one we've been waiting on for a hundred years!
(Seriously. A crossing was first proposed a century ago.)
Here's where we stand:
- There will be a winter shut down on site, starting in late December for approximately seven weeks. Work will continue off site with the railing fabrications in North Bay.
- All the railings are up on the main span of the bridge.
- The lily pond walls are finished and excavated.
And don't worry, the area underneath the bridge will be accessible for skaters during the winter.
The best part, we're still on track to open in Fall 2019.
I've also been given an update on the "Glebe Neighbourhood Cycling Project". Much of this project has been ready for use since September 2018, including:
- Raised asphalt cycle track, concrete islands, planters and new catch basins to facilitate the bikeway on Glebe Avenue
- New modifications to existing pavement markings to the bikeway network for the other streets, including Fifth Avenue and Holmwood Avenue, in the Glebe Neighbourhood
- The green thermoplastic (paint) on Fifth Avenue at Bank Street is weather dependent and will be completed as soon as feasible in 2019.
News from Queen's Park
The Ford Government has unveiled its "Restoring Ontario's Competitiveness Act". This is the act that is being dubbed the "Open for Business" law. It will have major ramifications for cities, as it could allow the circumvention of the application approval process and also eliminate the right of appeal to the LPAT in some instances
You can download the act or read an explainer on it. If you want to comment, you have until January 20 to contact the provincial government and our local MPP.
New Crossing Guard in the Glebe
The city has announced funding for a number of new crossing guards across the city, and that will include a new crossing guard at First Avenue and O'Connor.
Unfortunately, the city has not yet approved a crossing guard for Bank Street and Fifth Avenue, but we're working with city staff on this, and we are expecting positive results.
Become a Snow Mole!
Okay, that sounds a little odd, but this is a great program. I met with a representative from Senior Watch Old Ottawa South. They're concerned about icy sidewalks, lack of proper snow clearing, and other issues that affect mobility in winter.
On January 8, they invite people to gather at the Old Ottawa South Firehall at 10:30 AM to conduct a Snow Mole audit. This will entail walking through the neighbourhood and cataloguing the winter maintenance issues for sidewalks and other pedestrian infrastructure.
And if you can't make it in January, they'll do two more, one in February and one in March.
Winter Recreation Registration
The City of Ottawa is helping residents fulfill their New Year’s resolutions and start 2019 in a fun and active way. Thousands of classes for all ages and interests are starting soon at City recreation and cultural facilities. So if you're interested, it's time to register!
The online Recreation eGuide and Mon guide francophone des loisirs offer a variety of instructional and recreational opportunities for all ages and abilities. Here are just some of the fun ways you can make the most of the winter months while keeping warm:
- Stretch your muscles and strengthen your core in the fitness studio, weight room or warm pool.
- Dance away your winter blues by moving to world rhythms and jazzy beats.
- Get messy creating masterpieces for your home.
- Take up the piano, guitar or a martial art.
- Boost your team spirit by curling or playing volleyball or basketball.
Please note that a client barcode and family PIN numbers are required to register for recreation programs. Visit ottawa.ca for more information.
The City Wants to Hear from You
The City is currently seeking input on two initiatives. Please let them know what you think:
Significant Woodlands Guidelines: The City invites residents to comment on draft guidelines for its new Significant Woodlands policies, which will help protect and identify these areas. Residents can submit written feedback at [email protected] before Monday, December 17. The City’s Planning Committee and City Council will consider the new guidelines early in 2019.
Child Care Survey: Do you have a child 0 to 12 years old? The City wants to know about your child care needs and experiences in order to shape child care services in Ottawa. Take the survey by December 16 and you could win one of two iPads.
It's the Season for Caring and Sharing
There are 6,074 Ottawa families turning to the Caring and Sharing Exchange’s Christmas Exchange Program for food assistance this Christmas. This is a wonderful organization very worthy of support. You can donate directly the program, you can donate your empties to any Beer Store on December 15th, or you can get matched with a family through their Sponsor-a-Hamper program.
Come Down to City Hall Next Week!
If you're downtown, feel free to come by our City Hall office to say hi! We're on the second floor, and you can ask to pop in and meet the team. That said, the office will be closing for the holidays on December 24th, and we won't be back until the new year.
And speaking of the holidays, I hope you and yours have a wonderful time. I'm looking forward to serving you and bringing great things to Capital Ward in 2019