Community Newspaper Columns

Councillor Chernushenko writes a regular columns for the local community newspapers OSCAR, the Glebe Report, The Mainstreeter, the Heron Park Herald and the Riverview Park Review.

Healthy food and healthy forests

July 2017

Ottawa Public Health (OPH) wants to know what you think about the practice of marketing unhealthy food and drinks to children and youth. By participating in a 15-minute online survey, you can help OPH develop public policy options and guide future education activities aimed at encouraging healthy eating habits at a young age.

Where companies place products and displays; prizes and deals; team sponsorships; commercials and online ads; the use of mascots, fictional characters or celebrities to promote products — all these things have been shown to influence young people’s food choices and, ultimately, their health.

To complete the survey, visit capitalward.ca/ophsurvey. For more information on the effects of marketing unhealthy foods to children and youth, visit capitalward.ca/marketing.


Protecting our urban forest

I am pleased to report that City Council recently adopted a 20-year Urban Forest Management Plan (UFMP). I wrote about this important project during the draft stage last year, and am doing so again because residents of Capital Ward have told us they believe protecting and expanding our urban forest is very important, and because I consider this an example of excellent public consultation and collaboration with stakeholders. That’s not always the case at City Hall.

Are we ready for the next natural disaster?

June 2017

Capital Ward got off lightly during a spring that had all the ingredients for a major flood. By the time the heavy rains of late April and early May hit the region, the “spring freshet”, or melting of accumulated winter snow and ice, had already passed in the Rideau River catchment area. While the waters of the Rideau lapped at many doorsteps, it caused no major damage to city infrastructure or property.

Sadly, the same cannot be said for many communities along the Ottawa River. Slow-moving weather systems brought sustained, heavy rain just when the river’s northern watershed was reaching the peak of its spring freshet. We all know what followed.

With the benefit of hindsight, there is much we can learn from this and other past floods.

First, never say, “It can’t happen here.” Major floods can happen anywhere — if not from the annual freshet, then from flash floods following intense rain. And in a changing climate where each degree of warming carries seven percent more humidity, we can expect more frequent, extreme local rainfalls, and a higher volume of water brought to specific areas. We are all exposed to a greater flood risk than has historically been the case.

While residents of the Glebe are not likely to be at significant risk from river flooding, there are low-lying areas and pockets of the community that have been affected in the past — and will be affected again — by isolated flash flooding, Many of us also have friends and loved ones in more flood-prone areas.

A report card on homelessness in Ottawa

May 2017

I recently attended an event hosted by the Alliance to End Homelessness, where they presented their 2016 Progress Report on Ending Homelessness in Ottawa. Having made affordable housing and homelessness a personal priority for this term of council, I took great interest in both the report and comments made at the event by leaders in this sector.

A simple message to share is that Ottawa (the city and the many organizations active in the Alliance) is making important progress on homelessness. But the needs are still great, and are even growing rather than shrinking in some areas.

Some specific findings include:

  • There were more than 7,170 “visible” homeless people in Ottawa in 2016, an increase of more than 5% from 6,815 in 2015. “Visible” refers to individuals using emergency shelters and does not include homeless people staying with friends, couch surfing, etc. The number also does not count the 40,000 households living in poverty and unable to pay rent.
  • More older individuals are relying on shelter services, particularly single women, with a 20% increase in women over the age of 50 and a 30% increase in women over 60 in 2016. For older women, safety is a primary concern and a factor in determining where they choose to stay. For example, if a woman has a long walk from a transit stop or the only options for housing are in an area where she feels threatened, she is more likely to choose a shelter.
  • The report highlighted the homeless population with dementia as well as new Canadians, including a large number of women and girls from Burundi, where women are being specifically targeted in a long-running civil war.

Room to move and play in a denser city

April 2017

With the City of Ottawa's intensification policies gradually translating into higher population density, it is essential that we invest in the kinds of infrastructure and institutions that residents expect in a livable city. Schools, libraries, health care and public transit come immediately to mind. Equally important, though, is an adequate and diverse supply of places to play and gather. These can be formal, such as community centres, pools, arenas and sports fields, or informal, such as greenspaces, play structures, multi-use pathways and riverside parkland.

There is a lot of movement in Capital Ward in response to this growing need. In fact, this is a time of considerable turnover, growth and long-term planning.

Brewer Park

Though Brewer Park is in Old Ottawa South, it is frequently use by Glebe residents, notably the rink, pool, fields and ball diamonds. Over the next five to 15 years, we can expect to see a lot of activity in some parts of the park, the result of a number of factors. These include changing demographics and shifts in the popularity of certain sports and activities; older facilities reaching the end of their viable life, meaning either major renovation expenses or taking a "clean slate" approach; and a strong community desire to reduce and consolidate the area currently used for driving through and parking on parkland.