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I hope you are enjoying time with friends and family and taking some time to rest and recharge this summer. I just got back from a trip to Montreal, where I re-connected with the city I went to university in 20 years ago. It was inspiring to see the transformative changes that have been made to the core since Valérie Plante was elected mayor. The rapid scale-up of safe cycling infrastructure and lush greenery-filled traffic calming installations was really something to behold.
Thanks to Alex Norris, a city councillor in Plateau Mont-Royal for showing me some of the greening and traffic calming projects that he worked on. Lots of inspiration for how our own city can and must do better.
Councillor Troster on a bike ride with Councillor Norris
Even while on vacation for a few days, Ottawa and the challenges we are facing were not far from my mind. Last Tuesday, we held a Community Roundtable on Neighbourhood Security with MPP Joel Harden and a panel of frontline workers. More than 200 people filled a room at City Hall and 100 joined us online. The level of engagement showed how much our community is deeply concerned about our neighbours struggling with addiction and homelessness and how we all want to ensure a community that is safe for absolutely everyone.
The panelists included a member of the Ottawa Police Service, a harm reduction peer worker, staff from Somerset West Community Health Centre and a representative from the Centretown Business Improvement Association. In the audience, we were joined by frontline workers, business owners, seniors, parents and residents living in community housing. Here is some of what we heard:
- Empty storefronts and less foot traffic in Centretown is decreasing the vitality of our downtown core
- Neighbours are noticing an increase in erratic behaviour and public drug use from people experiencing homelessness or struggling with addiction
- Business owners are seeing an increase in broken windows, theft, threats and petty crime
- Residents in community housing are frustrated with slow or no response from police when they call 911
- Outreach workers from community health centres and other agencies say they cannot meet the current need with the resources available to them
Despite the general feeling of frustration in the room, participants expressed a great deal of empathy for our most vulnerable neighbours and agreed that we need to work together to advocate for more resources devoted to the downtown core as part of the next city budget. My staff team is working to compile a detailed report on what we heard last week, and we are collaborating with Joel Harden’s office on next steps for community engagement and advocacy.
Neighbours attending our community safety meeting
At the meeting, Ottawa Public Health distributed 60 Naloxone kits and trained 40 people on how to use them. You can pick up a kit and get trained at any pharmacy. It could help you save a neighbour’s life. And here is the Who To Call list that we distributed at last week’s meeting – please print it out and post on your fridge or in your office. There are community-based resources available to you in addition to calling 911 during emergencies.
As always, I appreciate your compassion and deep care for Centretown – the best community I have ever lived in and one that I am proud to represent.
TONIGHT: House of PainT BBQ Bash & Art Market
Join us from 4pm to 9pm at Urban Art Collective (1088 Somerset St West) for a fundraiser BBQ and market help House of PainT recoup the money lost after last week’s storm!
Integrated Renewal of MacLaren Street and Lyon Street
Beginning the week of August 28, Lyon Street will be temporarily closed between Gilmour Street and Florence Street to facilitate the reconstruction of the watermain and combined sewer. This work is being conducted to improve the aging infrastructure in your community. More information about the project can be found at www.ottawa.ca/maclarenlyonstreets
Roots & Shoots Organic Farm at Red Apron
The Red Apron is thrilled to announce that this summer, we will be hosting Roots & Shoots Organic Farm, each Wednesday from 4:30 to 6:30, under our Patio. Drop by and shop for ‘fresh from the farm’ organic fruits & vegetables. This market will run every Wednesday until September or October, depending on the growing season. Grab your market basket and walk over to the Red Apron!
1010 Somerset on Engage Ottawa
The city is looking for your feedback on the draft concept plan for a proposed array of elements for a complete integrated and sustainable community hub. Anchored close to the Plant Recreation Complex and the O-Train tracks, north of the Corso Italia station, the intention is to develop a destination community, integrated with the residential development by Ottawa Community Housing to the south. Please note that the proposed site plan is subject to change based on community feedback – please share your thoughts.
You can learn more and provide your feedback online here.