Lights on Bikes

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Councillor David Chernushenko and Ian Grabina installed bike lights at this morning's event at Clegg and Echo, with Safer Roads Ottawa and the Old Ottawa East Community Association.

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Ontario bringing back photo radar for school zones

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By Haley Ritchie, Metro

Cameras capable of catching and ticketing speeding drivers will soon be coming to Ottawa’s busiest school zones.

On Tuesday, Premier Kathleen Wynne announced the province will introduce a bill that would give cities in Ontario the power to approve and install photo radar cameras.

The announcement was made at Elmdale Public School alongside Mayor Jim Watson, Ottawa police Chief Charles Bordeleau and Ottawa Centre MPP Yasir Naqvi.

In May, city council voted to ask the province for special permission to install photo radar cameras. Right now, cities don’t have that power.

It will still be months before speed cameras are installed in school zones. The legislation will be tabled before the end of November and needs to pass through the legislature. After that process is complete, the discussion of where to put cameras will come to city council.

Somerset ward Coun. Catherine McKenney said she believes installing the cameras is a priority for council and will be asking for them in her ward.

"I think kids across the city deserve a safe way to walk to school. We don’t have the criteria yet for how we’ll evaluate that, but I think that each of us will be looking at particularly dangerous areas where we have a high rate of collision and a high rate of kids walking to school," she said.

The second part of Tuesday’s announcement will allow cities to control their default speed limit on residential roads.

Right now the speed limit is 50 kilometres per hour, but Watson said on Tuesday morning that council would consider lowering Ottawa’s default speed to 40 kilometres per hour.

Naqvi said money raised from the tickets will go to directly to municipalities, and will likely offset the cost of equipment and enforcement.

What’s in a name? City’s environment committee takes on climate change

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By Jennifer McIntosh, Ottawa Community News

Two members of the public wanted to get the city’s environment committee to change more than its name on Nov. 1.

As part of the midterm governance review, the environment committee will change it’s name to the environment and climate protection committee to better reflect the work it does, said committee chair David Chernushenko.

“It’s symbolic, but it’s more than that,” Chernushenko said.

But Donna DuBreuil, president of the Ottawa Carleton wildlife centre, wanted more than a name change.

DuBreuil said it makes little sense for the city’s agriculture and rural affairs committee to deal with urban wildlife concerns and urban forest management, since most of their work deals with the city’s rural area.

“Wildlife and bio diversity is an integral part of the city’s environment,” she said.

Debbie Laws, a member of the board of directors for the Ottawa Valley Wild Bird Care Centre, said the centre dealt with thousands of injured birds last year.

The number of injured birds topped 3,300 last year, she said – a 35 per cent increase over the previous year. And for a small, not-for-profit, the increase in winged patients puts a lot of pressure on the budget.

“I find it odd that birds and wildlife don’t fall under the environment committee’s mandate,” she said. “It’s responsible for the common green spaces and natural areas. The committee should also be responsible for the birds and wildlife that need those areas for their survival.”