I am writing this to you as I sit on a train on Sunday afternoon, on the way home from the Federation of Canadian Municipalities’ conference in Toronto. As you may know, my last job before running for office was on the communications team at FCM, so I had attended this conference for several years as a staffer. But it was truly an amazing experience to be there this year, as a newly elected councillor.
I did my best to soak up knowledge and connect with councillors and mayors from across Canada. What amazed me was that no matter where people came from, they told me about struggling with the same challenges we face in Ottawa. This includes the housing affordability crisis, homelessness, addiction, and climate resiliency. I learned about Toronto’s pilot Community Crisis Service – an non-police alternative that many of us are working to bring to Ottawa.
I also had the chance to go on a bike tour of active transportation infrastructure near Toronto’s waterfront. I got to learn about the city’s Vision Zero Road Safety Plan while riding a BikeShareTO bike. It got me dreaming bigger about ways we can improve mobility, safe cycling and pedestrian infrastructure in our own city. I know I am not the only councillor who thinks it’s about time we got our own publicly managed bike share system in Ottawa.
Still, what hampers our city and so many others across the country is the inadequate way that cities are funded – created as “creatures of the province” in the 1800s. In 2023, cities are facing big and complex challenges including rising homelessness, weather disasters and the need to massively slash GHG emissions and scale-up public transit.
As FCM CEO Carole Saab said in her speech at the conference, “We need to enable and empower our towns and cities—not down the road, not a few years from now, but today, with all orders of government doing what Canadians expect us to do, working together to figure it out.”
I look forward to chatting with you in person at all of the outdoor events that are coming up in Somerset Ward, including the Chinatown Night Market, Italian Week, Ribfest and our very own Minto Park Sale. If we had not had a chance to meet yet, please come and say hi. It is through one-to-one conversations and our collective action that we will build better city for everyone.
Public pressure wins more housing money
Thank you to everyone who emailed Housing Minister Steve Clark and Premier Ford to demand that Ottawa get its fair share of money to fight homelessness and build affordable housing. Your advocacy, along with the Mayor, council members and community partners, helped convince the Ontario government to contribute another $24 million to affordable housing in Ottawa.
This came after the Ford government announced that we would only be receiving 0.4% of new homelessness prevention funding, despite Ottawa being the second-biggest city in Ontario. Councillor Troster was active in the media advocating for the support that our city needs to help end the housing and homelessness crisis. You can read her recent op/ed in the Ottawa Citizen here.
Supporting Bill 5: harassment has consequences
During last week’s council meeting, Councillor Troster presented a motion that was seconded by Councillor Kavanagh, to express support for Bill 5, The Stopping Harassment and Abuse by Local Leaders Act, introduced by Orléans MPP Stephen Blais. The bill would mean that any councillor found to have committed acts of serious harassment and abuse could be removed from office. As we saw during the last term of council, there are currently few consequences for elected officials who behave this way. Everyone deserves a safe workplace, especially young women at City Hall. The motion passed unanimously, so Mayor Sutcliffe will now write to the province to express council’s support for Bill 5.
More council updates
Council approved an investment plan to spend $48.5 million in provincial funding in 2023 and 2024 under the Homelessness Prevention Program. The plan is to provide long-term housing allowances, a landlord damage fund for Ottawa’s Housing First program, outreach to those living outdoors, emergency shelters and transitional housing, and a variety of other services and supports. The City will also pilot a new housing benefit for large families experiencing chronic homelessness and continue to fund a project to prevent singles in receipt of social assistance to enter the shelter system.
Council approved an approach to investing $31.8 million over the next two years in social housing funding from the Canada-Ontario Community Housing Initiative (COCHI). COCHI is a provincial and federal program that seeks to keep community housing affordable, renew or repair existing social housing, and expand the community housing supply. The Province has allocated nearly $15.3 million for Ottawa in 2023-24 funding, and just over $16.5 million in 2024-25 funding. More than $28 million in COCHI funding will be invested to repair and retrofit existing social housing in Ottawa.
Council also received an overview of Ottawa’s 9-1-1 telephone service for 2021 and 2022, including key performance metrics and call volume statistics. Calls to 9-1-1 have increased steadily since 2020, with the Ottawa Police Service now handling approximately 350,000 calls a year. Average daily calls increased from 779 per day in 2020 up to 871 per day in 2021 and 955 per day in 2022.
The city is working with the Ottawa Police Services Board and key stakeholders to implement Next Generation 9-1-1 – a new digital system that will eventually allow residents to send real-time text messages, photos and videos to 9-1-1 operators.
O-Train Line 1 partial closures for planned maintenance: June 5-19
From Monday, June 5 until Monday, June 19, Rideau Transit Group will be performing work on O-Train Line 1 at varying times for two weeks. Where possible, maintenance will occur during the evening hours to minimize impacts to customer travel. Regular O-Train Line 1 operations will resume on Tuesday, June 20.
During the work, O-Train Line 1 service will continue, but will be partially closed in some sections of the line at specific times. R1 replacement bus service will be available and will run frequently to provide service coverage during the partial closures.
Check out the online schedule for a full outline of service during this period.
Next pop-up office hours: June 9 at Happy Goat on Elgin
Join Councillor Troster at the Happy Goat at 326 Elgin for pop-up office hours from 10am-12pm on Friday, June 9. Feel free to drop by with any questions, or just to say hello!
Minto Park sale: June 10!
It’s that time of year! We’re excited to announce that this year’s Minto Park Sale will be held on June 10, from 9am to 3pm at Minto Park. The sale is a beloved Centretown tradition, and we’re pleased to bring it back for this year. The annual no yard, yard sale is a great opportunity to bring out all your odds and sods and see if they can find new life with another neighbour.
To fill out a request for a table, please fill out the online form. If you have difficulty filling out the form, or are unable to do so, please reach out to us at [email protected]. Please note that tables will be booked on a first come first serve basis. FILLING OUT THE FORM DOES NOT GUARANTEE A TABLE SPACE – you will receive a follow up email with more information, and to confirm your space. If there is sufficient interest, we will open up a wait list.
You can find more info, RSVP and register for a table here.
Public Works Big Wheels Expo: this Saturday
On Sunday, June 4, the City of Ottawa is hosting the Public Works Big Wheels Expo, a free event to shed light on what puts the ‘work’ in ‘public works.’ People (especially kids!) will be able to take a look inside these machines and learn about how they work. The event will include vehicles such as a garbage truck, a 25-ton rock truck, a road painting truck, a traffic signal display, a sidewalk sweeper, a hydraulic crane truck, and much more.
Date: Sunday, June 4 - Ottawa Titans gameday at 1 pm
Time: 11 am to 4 pm
Location: Ottawa Stadium, 300 Coventry Road
Somerset West Community Health Centre is recruiting board members
Somerset West Community Health Centre is looking for passionate and dedicated members of our community to join their volunteer Board of Directors. Board members must be willing to attend a monthly meeting and participate on one committee. The Centre can provide assistance with childcare for meetings, and for transportation for meetings when in-person meetings resume, if necessary.
SWCHC values the diversity of individuals on their board and in their programs and services. They welcome and encourage applications from members of Indigenous, Black and racialized communities, Two-Spirit, nonbinary, LGBTQ+ people; people with disabilities; and members of other equity deserving communities. To apply, fill out the online application and send a copy of your resume to [email protected]. Deadline is June 9.
Bus route review open house
OC Transpo wants to hear from you on Ottawa’s future bus network. Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, there have been significant changes to how customers use transit. Considering this, and the upcoming opening of Stage 2 O-Train extensions, there is a need to review the service planning principles that are used to shape OC Transpo’s bus route network to better match customer travel patterns. Your feedback is important, so the following open house has been organized:
Thursday, June 1
City Hall Champlain Room (110 Laurier Avenue West)
6:30 pm to 8:30 pm
Registration is encouraged and can be completed on OC Transpo’s website.
O'Connor Street safety improvements
O’Connor Street is a downtown arterial road in Ottawa. It is a north-south route, operating one way southbound, with a two-way protected cycling facility on the east side. This project is responding to the recommendations of a safety review of the O’Connor Street Bikeway, concerning southbound left and eastbound through movements across the bikeway.
The objective of this project is to upgrade the intersections of O’Connor Street and Nepean Street, Cooper Street and Waverley Street West with treatments to reduce vehicle speeds across the bikeway and to improve the visibility of cyclists and pedestrians. This work is to begin in June 2023 and will be completed in fall 2023.
More information about the project can be found here.
New low-rise infill housing design guidelines
The City of Ottawa will be hosting a virtual public information session on Tuesday, June 6th at 6:30 p.m. on the newly released draft Low-rise Design Guidelines. Residents are invited to attend the session to hear from City staff and take part in a Q&A about the guidelines.
The new 2023 guidelines will provide design guidance to City staff, industry and residents on how low-rise housing should be designed and delivered in the context of infill and intensification in the urban area of the City.
Register in advance here. For more information, email [email protected].
Hintonburg Pumphouse Conservation and Redevelopment Project
This is to notify you that progress is being made in developing design concepts to preserve the ruins of the historic Hintonburg Pumphouse and improve public use and access to the Ottawa River shoreline. Public engagement websites, information sessions, and site visits are now available.
A project webpage is available at Engage Ottawa, where you can learn about the history, opportunities, recommended design solutions and the next steps in the development of plans.
Full details can be found here.
Biking for and with kids!
For those who love to bike, for those who love kids, and for those who want climate action: You’re all invited to join For Our Kids for a family-friendly group bike ride!
We believe riding bikes is, first and foremost, fun! And it is an important part of climate action. But it can be intimidating for parents: how can I transport little kids, or big kids, where do I feel safe biking, how do I plan a route, what size bike does my kid need, does this helmet fit properly? That’s where meeting family bike friends can help! Come out and see a range of kid-toting bike options: child seats, trailers, long tails, bakfiets and ask any questions of the bike community
Get more info here: FOK OG Bike for our kids - For Our Kids