Somerset Ward mailer volume 4: Budget season

I am writing this letter as I spend some time with my family on the long weekend, taking a moment to breathe after an intense couple of weeks at City Hall. Our deliberations on the 2023 budget continue, with city committees hearing from community delegates and passing each section of the budget that will rise to Council on March 1st.

Last week, I dissented on the section of the Planning and Housing budget related to affordable housing, because I believe that $15 million for new construction is not nearly enough. It's been three years since Ottawa declared a housing and homelessness emergency. Since then, the number of people sleeping outside has doubled. Over 12,000 people remain on the waiting list for subsidized housing.

Between 2019 and 2020, 8,619 people experienced homelessness in Ottawa, 46% of them for the first time. The yearly capital spend on affordable housing has not changed since 2019. In real terms, in the face of record inflation, this is a cut.

I am writing this letter as I spend some time with my family on the long weekend, taking a moment to breathe after an intense couple of weeks at City Hall. Our deliberations on the 2023 budget continue, with city committees hearing from community delegates and passing each section of the budget that will rise to Council on March 1st.

Last week, I dissented on the section of the Planning and Housing budget related to affordable housing, because I believe that $15 million for new construction is not nearly enough. It's been three years since Ottawa declared a housing and homelessness emergency. Since then, the number of people sleeping outside has doubled. Over 12,000 people remain on the waiting list for subsidized housing.

Between 2019 and 2020, 8,619 people experienced homelessness in Ottawa, 46% of them for the first time. The yearly capital spend on affordable housing has not changed since 2019. In real terms, in the face of record inflation, this is a cut.

Every single day, people call and email the Somerset Ward office to say they are losing their housing, that they are being illegally evicted, that they can’t afford to leave a partner, that their social housing is crumbling, that they’re being renovicted or demovicted.

If we want to solve homelessness, we need to build more non-profit housing. Even Scotiabank agrees that the situation is “urgent” and that our response must be “ambitious.” It is MUCH more affordable to invest in housing than it is to allow people to continue suffering the indignity of homelessness.

I hope that by the time the budget makes it to its final vote on March 1, we can find a way to increase our investment in affordable, non-profit housing. There’s no time to waste.

Warmly,

Ariel

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Somerset Ward Budget Consultations Recap

On Wednesday February 15, we held a community conversation about this year’s budget with Councillors Leiper and Menard. City staff, Vivic Research and The Coalition for a People’s Budget gave presentations to help us understand and digest the city budget and we had an amazing Q&A session with community members.

We had discussed some of the key needs in our community, with affordable housing and social services being some of the highest needs. We also got to talk about how we could implement new revenue streams for the city, the real dollar impact of the Vacant Unit Tax and how we can improve budget consultations for 2024.

A recorded version of this event is available here.

Downtown Revitalization Taskforce

The Downtown Ottawa Revitalization Task Force wants to hear from residents, local stakeholders, and experts on how to reimagine Ottawa’s downtown core. They have launched a public engagement tool to hear ideas and feedback from all of us.

The Task Force was created in 2022 by MP Yasir Naqvi to explore ideas and create recommendations that will assist policymakers in reimagining the future of downtown Ottawa. To assist us in this effort, the Task Force is opening up the conversation to hear from a variety of different voices and groups across our community.

Share your feedback today.

Black History Month

February is Black History Month. Throughout the month, there are activities and events highlighting the contributions and achievements of Black Canadians. While it is important to learn about the history of Black people in Canada and celebrate their achievements, we should also use the opportunity to address systemic racism that erased Black people from the history of Canada in the first place.

Below are some recommendations for self-guided learning:

The Ottawa Public Library also invites residents to explore and reflect on how Black communities have resisted oppression in the past and continue to do so today through a variety of activities.

Resources to help our neighbours

Whether you’re reaching out for yourself or for a neighbour, we know it can be difficult to access resources in the community. On our website, we have links to community health centres, food banks, victims’ services, harm reduction and much more.

If you need assistance accessing services in the community, reach out to our office and we’d be glad to help.

Have your say: current EngageOttawa surveys

2023 City of Ottawa Budget

It’s your city and your budget, so we want to hear from you! Your feedback helps inform the City’s budget priorities and contributes to decisions about investments in services that you want and need. Using this online tool, you can ask questions, or share ideas about the budget.

Right-of-Way Patio By-law and Guideline Review

As part of the 2022 Patio Innovation Program, city staff were directed to review and report on potential permanent amendments to relevant by-laws in advance of the 2023 patio season. The proposed amendments to relevant by-laws aim to ensure the continued success of Ottawa’s patio program and help streamline the permit system.

 

 

 

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