The weather is slowly getting better as we welcome in the Spring season, but it looks like winter will have one last blast this weekend! Please take care out there.
This past week was packed with City committee meetings and meetings with community members.
Monday was the Planning and Housing committee. The highlight was approving an affordable housing development in Orleans on a church property at 360 Kennedy Lane. 81 units of affordable housing will be built on this property. The committee also endorsed a municipal housing pledge from Mayor Sutcliffe with strategies to encourage construction of 151,000 new homes across Ottawa by 2031. The Province assigned Ottawa its target as part of a larger plan to support construction of 1.5 million new homes across Ontario in the next nine years.
Tuesday was the Environment and Climate Change committee where the major controversy was dealing with the issue of a massive amount of tree removal next to the proposed Tewin land development. Over 25,000 trees were removed in the middle of the night with no notice to the neighbouring properties. The reason given by Tewin/Taggart was that this land in question was damaged by the derecho and a decision was made to prepare the property for agriculture. Many delegations came to the committee meeting to express their concern for this decision to remove such a large quantity of trees without informing the city. The committee agreed upon a direction to staff to investigate and report back on potential changes to Exemption 82 (7) of the City’s Tree Protection By-law to require landowners to obtain a formal exemption with evidence provided and communicate with neighbours, the local city councillor and City staff prior to tree removals including where a permit is not required by By-law (e.g. where the activity is exempt from the provisions of By-law). I asked that I work with city legal staff to further inquire about bringing this matter to the provincially regulated Normal Farm Practices Protection Board to ensure that this removal of trees was justified.
The City’s Environment and Climate Change Committee also approved that the City enter into an agreement with Theia Partners and Envari Holdings to connect a Wastewater Energy Transfer (WET) system to the City’s sewer system. The WET system will capture thermal energy from wastewater for low carbon heating and cooling for the planned Dream LeBreton development. As the City’s first such connection, this will be a pilot project.
Wednesday was City Council meeting and a fairly quick one this week. The 360 Kennedy Lane development application decision was given a final vote and passed unanimously. There was also a motion on the National Capital Commission and their decision to install embassies on their property just east of Tunney’s Pasture. This was a controversial request however the NCC was prepared to override the city at the Ontario Land Tribunal if council refused this project. Local councillor, Jeff Leiper negotiated an arrangement that would bring in more active transportation infrastructure to this area and allow easier access to NCC property.
Wednesday evening my office hosted a virtual public meeting on an update on Stage 2 LRT construction in Bay Ward. I appreciate the strong turnout of residents who asked a variety of questions on this project. As we know the project in the western side of the Stage 2 LRT area is delayed by 17 months although much has been accomplished in the construction. A recording of the meeting is now available along with the slide presentation presented by the Stage 2 LRT team.
Thursday was the Transportation Committee meeting. I am not a member but joined in to listen to a presentation on safety measures report and to speak out on concerns of residents in Bay Ward for better infrastructure to slow down traffic and keep streets safe for pedestrians and cyclists. I also put forward a notice of motion to permanently reduce the speed on Woodroffe Avenue between Richmond Road and Carling to 40 km per hour rather than just during school hours. I am putting forward this motion in preparation for the speed camera that will be installed in front of Woodroffe Avenue Public School in the next round of speed camera installations for this year. This motion will be debated at the next Transportation Committee on April 23rd.
Thursday evening, I attended the Rideau Valley Conservation Authority board meeting for which I am a member. I appreciate all the work RVCA does in working with the city of Ottawa on our flood watches and ensuring our shorelines are monitored. This work for the Spring Freshet season is in progress with no news to report at this time.
Thursday was also Ontario Budget Day. As a municipality the city of Ottawa depends on a strong support from the province to run programs such as social services, childcare, housing, public health and transit to name a few. Overall the budget was a disappointment for the city. There was promises of some funding for supportive housing but the budget came short for funding for transit which will leave the city to tackle a $39 million deficit without provincial assistance. This lack of funding for transit is a real blow to the city and I am very concerned on what this will mean for transit service in the coming year. As well there is still uncertainty on how infrastructure to support new housing development will be paid for, given the recent provincial legislation (Bill 23) to reduce development charges.
I am very disappointed that the province has cut funding to community service centres such as The Olde Forge instead of helping them to expand programing and their excellent work with older adults in our community. This will have a direct effect on our community. For more information, please refer to our local MPP, Chandra Pasma’s website. Chandrapasma.ca or the province’s website at Ontario.ca
Today, Friday, I took part in a team effort for Ottawa Community Housing in the Great Food Sorting Challenge on behalf of the Ottawa Food Bank. As Chair of OCH I am proud of the team of staff who work every day on behalf of OCH tenants. This was a fun team building exercise for OCH staff for a great cause. I hope everyone will continue to support the Ottawa Food Bank as the need is great.
I wish everyone a safe and happy weekend!