Improving downtown security, banning fossil fuel ads and more!

“You can't rely on bringing people downtown, you have to put them there.” That is a quote from the great Jane Jacobs from her seminal work, The Death and Life of Great American Cities. I have been reflecting on that statement a lot lately, as we work to revitalize Ottawa’s downtown core in the face of post-COVID workforce changes.

There is no denying it, Centretown has changed a lot in the last few years. The shift in the federal workforce has meant we are missing roughly 80,000-100,000 people who would have commuted in and out of the core prior to the year 2020. This has forced some businesses to close and significantly reduced the number of public transit riders. It has led to more empty storefronts and less eyes on the street. This, coupled with the ever-worsening homelessness and addiction crises, has led to a general feeling of unwellness and lack of security in some of our downtown neighbourhoods.

Many of you attended our large community forum on neighbourhood security in August. We heard from residents, business owners, social service providers, the Ottawa Police, and people with lived experience of addiction and homelessness. That meeting and the subsequent conversations at community events, block meetings and in my inbox, propelled my office to demand more resources to tackle these very real challenges in Centretown.

We have made some significant progress. Thanks to our community’s advocacy, we were able to secure $200,000 in funding to allow the continuation and expansion of the Homeless Crisis Outreach Program run by the Somerset West Community Health Centre. And as you may have heard, Centretown was selected as the location of a new, non-police, 24/7 crisis response service, which will launch this summer.

Many of you have expressed a desire to see more community police officers “walking the beat” in Centretown. I am happy to say that the new funding for Ottawa announced by the provincial government earlier this week, includes more resources for public safety downtown. In order to qualify for the funding, our city has to submit a new security plan for the core within 120 days. My office will be reaching out to key community stakeholders to help ensure that residents and business owners have input into what this plan may look like.

At our city council meeting this week, I pushed staff to ensure adequate consultation on this safety initiative, as well as funding for upstream, community-centred approaches. I am inspired by the work that Inner City Health is doing in Sandy Hill and the Byward Market, training people with lived experience as neighbourhood block leaders. This has the potential to provide useful training and employment opportunities for street-involved folks, while also beautifying the neighbourhood and establishing “good neighbour” agreements in troubled parts of downtown.

We are also working hard on the “putting people downtown” part of the equation, by encouraging more conversions of empty office buildings into apartments. Just this week, District Realty announced that they will be converting an 11-story office building on Elgin into residential units. And CLV Group is in the process of converting their second building, this one on Laurier.

This is in addition to the “soft conversion” that the city will be doing to turn a former office building on Queen Street into transitional housing for newcomers. I have been working with city staff, fellow councillors and the development industry on policy levers to encourage more adaptive re-use of vacant office space.

I am also thrilled that as part of Budget 2024, we were also able to secure $200,000 in funding for public realm and pedestrian projects. Our office is currently working with the Centretown and Somerset Village BIAs to plan some fun pilot projects and outdoor activities for the summer – stay tuned for more information on that.

As always, the Ward 14 is here for you. Don’t hesitate to email us at [email protected] if we can be of help.

Warmly,

Ariel

PS – If you missed our Meet the Helpers meeting last week, here is the slide deck from our team’s presentation, explaining some of the wins we have been able to achieve for our community over the last few months.

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Councillor Troster with students from University of Ottawa, who worked with city mentors to study housing and homelessness strategies in cities around the world. The future is bright!

Saying no to fossil fuel ads

Many of you have written to our office demanding that our city divest itself of advertising from fossil fuel companies. Councillor Troster agrees that it makes sense to critically examine municipal advertising policies to ensure that they meet our city’s climate change goals. As a meeting of the Finance and Corporate Services Committee last month, Councillor Menard put forward a motion directing staff to review a "change to the updated Advertising Using City Assets and Programs Policy that would examine options around fuel advocacy advertising." It passed committee unanimously and was officially passed by City Council this week. Thank you to everyone who advocated for an end to fossil fuel ads on city property, your voices made a difference.

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Elm St Sewer Reconstruction Info Session

 

Join Coun. Troster's office and City of Ottawa staff for a drop-in information session for the City Center/Elm St sewer reconstruction. 

Where: Rochester Room, Plant Recreation Center (930 Somerset St W)

When: Between 5 and 7pm, April 10th 2024

Donations for Cornerstone’s newest supportive housing building

Cornerstone Housing’s new supportive housing building at 44 Eccles is opening this month! Ahead of opening, Cornerstone is asking for donations to help set up these new homes. If you have items from the list below you can donate, email [email protected] or call 613-254-6584 ext. 521 to set up a drop-off time.

  • 50 pairs of new underwear (any size)
  • 46 brooms and dustpans
  • 46 mops and buckets
  • 46 floor cleaners
  • 46 all-purpose cleaners
  • 92 sponges and cleaning cloths
  • 46 plungers
  • 46 bathmats
  • 12 nonslip square shower mats
  • 46 toasters
  • 46 electric kettles

Minto Park Sale

It’s that time of year! We’re excited to announce that this year’s Minto Park Sale will be held on June 8, 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 form below. 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. Here is the link to sign up.

Request for Input on Ottawa’s tree planting programs

The Tree Planting Strategy has been launched and the city needs your input! The strategy is the feature project under the city’s Urban Forest Management Plan for this Term of Council. It will focus on how Ottawa can achieve its urban canopy cover target of 40% over time. It will shift the city’s tree planting approach from reactive to proactive and it will use the City’s canopy cover data for neighbourhoods to prioritize tree planting in areas of Ottawa that need it the most.

The first step is a review of the city’s existing tree planting programs. Through a series of surveys, staff are gathering information on existing tree planting programs and ideas for future programming. Your feedback is needed!

The city is requesting your input through a survey available on Engage Ottawa, which will be available until April 15, 2024.

OC Transpo Route Changes

Later this year, OC Transpo will launch a new bus network, focused on frequency, local service in your neighbourhood, and connections to O-Train Lines 1 and 2.  

Visit octranspo.com/NewWaysToBus to learn more, review route-by-route changes and explore the new system map. You can also ask questions or request additional materials, by sending OC Transpo an email at [email protected], calling 613-560-5000, or connecting via Facebook, X, or Instagram

2024 Household Hazardous Waste Drop-off Event Schedule

Every year, the City of Ottawa hosts drop-off events to ensure that household hazardous waste is safely collected, transported, and appropriately recycled or disposed of. This helps to protect the environment and decreases the risk of toxic materials ending up in our collection vehicles or landfills. The events are planned, managed and executed by trained and certified waste management professionals in accordance with applicable laws. Any collection, handling and transportation of hazardous waste must comply with applicable provincial and federal legislation.

The events complement existing diversion programs across the City of Ottawa, including the City’s Take it Back! Program. This option means residents can dispose of hazardous waste like light bulbs or household batteries at their own convenience. Residents can search for an item in the Waste Explorer to find retailers nearby that accept it. Paint, for example, is our most collected material at drop-off events. This item can be dropped off daily to many retailers across the city. Our Take it Back! Program is an efficient way for residents to dispose of items, while giving materials directly back to the producer.

In 2023, the City of Ottawa hosted nine one-day drop-off events. Nearly 15,600 residents attended these events, disposing of approximately 503 tonnes of household hazardous waste. This year, the city will be hosting nine single date drop-off events from April 21 through to November 2.

Find dates and times online here.

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