Somerset Ward mailer volume 15: Protecting the Experimental Farm, standing up for trans kids and more

Dear neighbour,

The thing that constantly amazes me about this job is that I never know what I am going to learn a lot about very quickly. In the last few months, I have had to study up on the Transportation Master Plan, the right-of-way guidelines governing front-yard gardens, and the regulations governing zoning amendments. This week, it was all about the shadow impacts of a potential high-rise development on the Experimental Farm.

Dear neighbour,

The thing that constantly amazes me about this job is that I never know what I am going to learn a lot about very quickly. In the last few months, I have had to study up on the Transportation Master Plan, the right-of-way guidelines governing front-yard gardens, and the regulations governing zoning amendments. This week, it was all about the shadow impacts of a potential high-rise development on the Experimental Farm.

Yesterday, the Planning and Housing Committee heard from scientists at Agriculture Canada about the ways that tall buildings could impact important crop research – the kinds of experiments that lead to better food security across Canada. It was an interesting conversation, though definitely a tough one.

Our city’s Official Plan calls for intensification in the core, particularly on Carling and Baseline. The more we expand suburban sprawl, the more we threaten precious farmland and undermine efforts to fight climate change. But we all know that the Experimental Farm is a very special and cherished space in our city – a place that few want to see compromised by development.

I voted against the development in question, but it did get approved by the Planning and Housing Committee. This was not particularly surprising, given that we do not currently have any guidelines to protect the Experimental Farm, or any real understanding of what kind of development could threaten its crucial ­­crop research. I was grateful that Councillor Brockington brought a direction to staff, asking them to work with the federal government to figure out how our Official Plan may impact the farm and what we can do to mitigate any potential harm. Because we need more housing, but we also must protect Canada’s food security.

Yesterday was tough for another reason for me and for members of Ottawa’s 2SLGBTQ+ community. Many of us gathered together to counter-protest a rally that sought to undo protections for queer and trans kids in public schools. It was devastating to see so many people taken in by disinformation and a genuine misunderstanding of the public school curriculum. I know I want my child to grow up learning about empathy toward people who are different than her and also to see families like ours both accepted and celebrated at school and in the community.

Ariel with MPP Joel Harden and Winnipeg MP Leah Gazan, at the rally to protect trans kids on Thursday 

Once again, the counter protestors outnumbered the haters, but it was disheartening to see the magnitude of the backlash against the queer and trans community in this particular political moment. But please know that Ottawa is an overwhelmingly welcoming city and that the Mayor and I stand unequivocally with the queer and trans community. This is tough, but we will get through it – together.



Somerset House: things are finally happening

Many residents will be relieved to hear that after more than 15 years, plans are finally underway to repair and restore Somerset House. The iconic building at Somerset and Bank has been in a derelict state of disrepair for far too long. The proposed design, which was approved by both the Heritage and Planning Committees, will add a three-story red-brick addition on the site of the collapsed eastern wing, while restoring the existing heritage structure. If all things go according to plan, we should see shovels in the ground later this fall. Finally.

Standing up for pedestrian safety

After hearing from dozens of residents, Councillor Troster spoke out about a city road safety ad that placed the blame on pedestrians for getting hit by cars when crossing the street. You can listen to her interview on CBC Ottawa Morning, explaining why we need to make streets safer for pedestrians, cyclists and other vulnerable road users.

Elgin St Farmers Market: collecting donations

On Sunday September 24 and Sunday October 8, Eva Davis, Residence Coordinator for the John Howard Society and our Councillor Ariel Troster will be joining members from the Centretown Community Association at the Elgin Street Farmers Market from 9am-1pm!

We are reaching out to members in the community to donate a gift from the list below for our new neighbours who will be moving into the supportive housing building for women at 494 Lisgar Street:

  • House coats: M, L and XL
  • Slippers: M,L, XL
  • Pajamas: M, L, XL
  • Undies, M, L, XL
  • Socks
  • Hygiene supplies: shampoo, conditioner, body wash, loofah, bars of soap, bubble bath
  • Bath towels
  • Laundry baskets
  • Gift cards for Dollarama, Tim Hortons, etc.
  • Travel mugs, reusable water bottles, coffee mugs
  • Cleaning supplies

“Kidical Mass” bike ride

On Sunday, September 24 join Bike Ottawa, For Our Kids, and School Streets Ottawa for a fun celebration of biking geared towards children and their unique needs in our city. We will meet at 9:30am at Silvia Holden Children's Park and ride at 10:00 am along the Queen Elizabeth Drive active-use Parkway. Everyone is welcome! More info here.

Transit rally: We're done waiting!

On Tuesday, September 26th join Free Transit Ottawa, Ottawa Transit Riders, Horizon Ottawa and Ecology Ottawa at Marion Dewar Plaza for a rally to fix public transit. The rally begins at 11:30am and features live music and speakers from local community groups. 

Learn more and RSVP here.

Temporary detours downtown during Bronson closure

Bronson Avenue, between Laurier Avenue and Slater Street, will close from 6 am on Wednesday, September 27 until 10 pm on Thursday, October 12. 

This upcoming temporary closure is to facilitate deep excavations for sewer and watermain work as part of the Albert/Queen/Slater/Bronson reconstruction project.   

Community Safety and Well-Being Plan human library

We're thrilled to invite you to an enriching event that embodies the essence of community connection and personal growth – the Human Library! On September 27, 2023, in partnership with the City of Ottawa, the Ottawa Public Library – Main Branch will transform into a space where stories come to life, offering you a chance to listen, learn, and engage with the diverse experiences of our community members.  

Learn more online here.

Workshop: Who can help me with this old house?

Heritage Ottawa has developed an introductory workshop designed for owners and prospective owners of older homes to help you learn how to care for your historic property. You will have access to professional experts who will share their knowledge and practical know-how, whether your house is Victorian, Arts & Crafts or Mid-century Modern. 

The day-long workshop includes six sessions, each developed by professionals in their fields, covering a range of topics on the conservation of your older home, including how to research its history, where to find restoration grants, how best to approach its maintenance and repair, and more.

Learn more online here.

Help choose the location and design of the splashpad at Dundonald Park

Dundonald Park is getting a splashpad next summer. We need your feedback on the potential location and design. You can check out the various options on Engage Ottawa and share your opinion. Our office is also working to make other concrete improvements to the park. If you want to share your ideas, email us at [email protected].

Park vs. school: an unfair choice

Community members in West Centretown have raised the alarm about the proposed development at 1010 Somerset/Plant Bath and how it could impact Plouffe Park. Councillor Troster has been clear that our community should not have to choose between a much-needed French public school and beloved (and rare) greenspace.

Please take the time to weigh in on the city’s Engage Ottawa page for the 1010 Somerset development – you voice will make a difference in the final site plan. And if you are interested in joining the campaign to make the plan work better for the community, contact the Dalhousie Community Association.

New zoning By-law on Engage Ottawa

The City of Ottawa is developing a new comprehensive zoning by-law for approval by Council in 2025. The by-law will implement the policies and directions in the new Official Plan approved by the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing on November 04, 2022. Once approved, the new Zoning By-law will replace the current Zoning By-law (By-law 2008-250).

You can learn more and provide feedback online here.

Tap and ride with O-Payment

New from OC Transpo! Tap your credit card or mobile wallet to pay for your fare on all OC Transpo buses and O-Train Line 1. Payment by credit card and mobile wallet will charge an adult fare ($3.70). Ride as much as you want all day and you’ll automatically be capped at the price of a day pass ($11.25). Ride all month and you’ll automatically be capped at the price of an adult monthly pass ($125.50). OC Transpo is the first transit agency in Canada to introduce fare capping for credit card and mobile wallet payments.

Transfer easily by tapping the same card or phone on your next trip, as long as you’re within the transfer window. Remember to tap only the card you wish to pay with to avoid accidental charges to other cards in your wallet.

O-Payment is not available on STO. If you transfer regularly to STO, a Presto card is a better option for you.

Para Transpo customers have had the option to pay with credit and debit cards since April 2023 using a separate system managed by Presto. Transfers with credit card or mobile wallet are not available between Para Transpo vehicles and buses or the O-Train. If you transfer regularly between Para Transpo and buses or the O-Train, a Presto card is a better option for you.

Track your payments and print receipts at

Stay tuned for more! Payment by debit card will be available in the future.

For more details, visit


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