The O'Connor Bikeway is a hot topic, so this is a good time to remind everyone that staying safe on our roads is a shared responsibility. All users need to pay attention, follow the rules, drive, cycle or walk defensively, act predictably, and make sure they are visible.
Other current issues include a proposed supportive housing project, the new rate structure for water services, and the 2017 budget. Read on for more news, and don't miss the underwater video highlights from Brewer Pond, or my annual Seniors' Luncheon this Thursday.
O'Connor Bikeway safety
The O'Connor Street Bikeway officially opened on Oct. 25, providing a combination of protected two-way bike lanes, painted one-way bike lanes and shared-use lanes connecting Fifth Ave. to Laurier Ave., along with bike boxes, signal phasing and other features to improve the safety of cyclists.
Unfortunately, within hours of the ribbon cutting ceremony, a cyclist was injured by a driver turning left across the lane. However, this collision does not mean the bikeway is poorly designed. It does mean that drivers, cyclists and pedestrians all need to learn how the new infrastructure works.
Because O’Connor was a one-way southbound street, drivers and pedestrians are not used to checking both ways for cyclists before they turn or cross, and cyclists wary of "right-hooks" may not yet be used to watching for "left-hooks".
In response, City staff launched an intensified awareness blitz and have installed temporary digital signs reminding drivers to watch for cyclists when turning. In addition, Ottawa Police presence has been increased temporarily at intersections, and City staff are conducting studies to review the behaviours of drivers and cyclists at unsignalized intersections along the corridor.
Staying safe on our roads is a shared responsibility, and all users need to pay attention, follow the rules, drive, cycle or walk defensively, act predictably, and make sure they are visible.
For more information about the O'Connor Bikeway, including educational videos and FAQs, visit ottawa.ca/oconnorbikeway.
The Springhurst Park remediation project in Old Ottawa East was completed this week and the park is now open for normal use.
The project involved removing 0.5 m of potentially contaminated soil, placing a geotextile barrier on top, and adding clean soil above the geotextile.
We ask park users to please be respectful of the areas that were seeded, and to remain on the pathways where possible.
Multi-residential buildings diverting more waste
As part of Waste Reduction Week Oct. 17-23, the City of Ottawa recognized the top 10 most improved multi-residential buildings in terms of waste diversion rates, and seven of those were in Capital Ward.
I recently visited two of those buildings to present certificates of recognition to the property owners/managers, superintendents and tenants. At 330 Queen Elizabeth Dr., they recycled 28.4% of waste in 2016, up from 22.1% in 2015, and diverted 3,578 kg of recyclable material from the landfill from January to June 2016. At 170 Lees Ave., they recycled 17.3% of waste, up from 12.5% in 2015, and diverted a whopping 7,776 kg of recyclable materials.
The other top buildings in Capital Ward are: 612 Bank St., 615/617 Bank St., 200 Pretoria Ave., 540 Cambridge St. S., and 211 Second Ave.
More than 500 multi-residential properties, out of a total of 1,700, have signed up for the City's multi-residential green bin program since 2011.
On top of that, 88,105 blue bags have been delivered to apartments since that program was launched just over a year ago. The City of Ottawa, in partnership with Progressive Waste Solutions, provides the bags free of charge to building owners to give to residents.
Planning Committee voted on Tuesday to apply to the federal government to buy the parcel of land at 289 Carling Ave. for $1, in order to build new supportive housing units. The 1,270 square-metre property, just west of Bronson Ave. at Bell St. in Capital Ward, is owned by Canada Lands Corporation and currently serves as a parking lot.
While the value of the lot is estimated at $2.5 million, the City hopes to acquire it through a program that makes surplus federal property available for housing projects to reduce homelessness. If successful, the City would transfer the land to a housing provider to develop for social housing, and engage in public consulations as part of the process.
The building's height and size, developer and potential occupants have not yet been determined, but City staff say the property is suitable for a five- or six-storey development containing up to 55 bachelor apartments.
The City would contribute about $7 million to the project, which would provide stable housing for chronically homeless people, along with health care and other on-site support services.
New approach to funding water, wastewater and stormwater services
On Oct. 26, City Council approved a new fee structure for municipal water, wastewater and stormwater services to ensure a stable and predictable source of revenue to operate and maintain our extensive network of water-related infrastructure. In addition, the new rate structure aims to better align the fees with the levels of service in different parts of the city.
The approved new structure does not increase the amount of revenue to the City, but reallocates who is paying for what, in what is meant to be a more logical manner.
Residents of Capital Ward will notice two main changes to their water bills once the new rate structure is fully implemented in 2018. The first and most significant is the introduction of two fixed fees, one for water service and one for wastewater service. These connection charges address the instability and declining revenues associated with the purely consumption-based fee structure that has been in place since 2001. Under the new system, residents will still pay for each cubic metre of water used, but these rates are reduced to account for the new fixed fees.
The second change is a new stormwater fee based on the property type (e.g., single home, apartment, etc.). It's important to note that this new stormwater fee is not a new charge for residents who receive water bills, but simply reflects the removal of stormwater costs from the former "sewer surcharge" volumetric rate.
More than 85% of households will see little or no change to their monthly costs. An average household consuming 16 cubic metres of water per month may see an increase or decrease of about $2.
Lower-volume users will notice an increase thanks to the new fixed fees. Under the previous rate structure, however, many low-volume users were only contributing a fraction of the cost associated with bringing these important services to their doorstep, which was not a sustainable way to operate the system.
The City of Ottawa's 2017 draft budget will be tabled at Council on Nov. 9.
In addition to the public consultations held over the past several weeks, residents have the opportunity to provide input during the review phase leading up to Dec. 14, when the final budget will be approved by Council.
Committe meetings to discuss the draft budget are scheduled as follows:
All meetings are held at City Hall, 110 Laurier Ave. W. Visit ottawa.ca for more information on the budget.
This summer, a student from the Fish Ecology and Conservation Physiology Laboratory at Carleton University monitored the new culvert that connects Brewer Pond to the Rideau River for use by aquatic species. This culvert was installed in 2014 by the Rideau Valley Conservation Authority as part of their pond restoration project to improve connectivity between the river and the pond and avoid the annual fish kills that were occurring due to low oxygen levels.
Hours of GoPro footage captured several smallmouth bass, various sunfish, snapping and painted turtles, muskellunge, beavers and other species using the culvert and the habitat around it. Watch this video for some of the highlights captured over the summer.
The restoration project was made possible by City of Ottawa, Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry, Muskies Canada Inc, Institute of Environmental Science, Carleton University, Minto Homes Ottawa, Richcraft Homes, and the Rideau Valley Conservation Authority.
Did you know that 70% of working Canadians are concerned about psychological health and safety in the workplace? Research has shown that mental health disability claims have overtaken cardiovascular disease as the fastest growing category of disability costs in Canada.
While the workplace isn’t always part of the problem, it can be part of the solution.Ottawa Public Health has released a new series of Have THAT Talk videos based on the National Standard for Psychological Health and Safety in the Workplace. The 2- to 4-minute videos provide realistic examples and strategies for creating a mentally healthy and safe workplace.
For more information about the initiative, visit haveTHATtalk.ca.
Parks Canada will soon begin the second phase of its project to rehabilitate the concrete walls of the Rideau Canal in downtown Ottawa.
The first phase, on the Queen Elizabeth Dr. side between Bank and Bronson, was completed earlier this year. Work to rehabilitate and repair the Colonel By Dr. side between Bank and Pig Island is expected to begin in November.
The second phase should be mostly completed before the start of navigation season in May, with some additional work required on the cap of the wall and the pathway before this section of the pathway would be reopened, likely in June.
Pedestrians and cyclists will likely be detoured when necessary along Echo Dr., parallel to the pathway, with temporary crossings installed at either end of the detour route.