“When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, "Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.”
The issue of how to promote development that benefits the entire community is a thorny one. On one hand, we are in the midst of a housing crisis, and we don’t have nearly as many homes as we need for a city that is growing.
Well, winter is undeniably here. The cold snap has been great for winter sports, including skating on the Rideau Canal (while it lasted!), but my thoughts always turn to people experiencing homelessness in this weather. City staff have been working around the clock to ensure that no one must sleep outdoors in the frigid cold. I have been supporting this work as a member of the Emergency Shelter Crisis Taskforce.
Happy New Year! I hope you were able to get some downtime and the ability to connect with friends and loved ones over the last couple of weeks. I am back from a family trip and gearing up for a busy few weeks at City Hall and in the community. While things have been relatively quiet since I last wrote to you, I wanted to update you on a few key issues.
I was surprised and frustrated to learn that by-law had begun issuing tickets for the use of megaphones during the Palestine solidarity rallies that have been happening weekly downtown. I have attended many other authorized and unauthorized rallies, virtually all of which used megaphones.
What a year it’s been. It has been an absolute honour to represent Somerset Ward at City Hall and to engage with residents on issues big and small. I couldn’t have done this without an amazing team and I want to tell you more about them and the work they have done for the community.
Our city did something big yesterday – something that Ottawa has never done before. We increased the affordable housing capital budget to $30 million, double what is in the long-range financial plan. And we did this because residents like you took action. I could not be more grateful.
As I write this to you, my head is very much in the books – the city budget, that is. My staff and I are busy analyzing hundreds of spreadsheets, to make sure that we are making the investments that will move our city forward and serve the residents of Somerset Ward well.
We have all noticed the changes in Centretown. More boarded up storefronts, less vitality, more people sleeping rough or using drugs in public. It is within this context that Somerset Ward Councillor Ariel Troster, took the initiative to assemble a community safety panel. Panel members included Ottawa Centre MPP Joel Harden, Dawn Lyons (Somerset West Community Health Centre), Bobby Jamison (Centretown resident with lived experience with drug use), Michael Wallack (President of the Centretown BIA), and Constable Paul Stam (community police liaison officer). The meeting was attended by residents and businesses from downtown Ottawa.
Below is a report outlining the takeaways and results from this meeting.
It was an intense couple of days at the joint Planning and Finance Committee meeting to discuss Lansdowne 2.0 last week.
The word “renoviction” is not just a buzz phrase, it’s an unfortunate reality for so many people in our city. The story is often the same – a long-term tenant who is paying a moderate rent is told that they must vacate their apartment so the landlord can do necessary renovations.
Land use planning is political. The decisions that we make about how to use city-owned land today will have an impact on our children and grandchildren’s future. At every council meeting, we begin with a land acknowledgement, reminding ourselves that Ottawa sits on the unceded and unsurrendered territory of the Anishinaabe Algonquin People.