The roar of the crowd, crime trends, harm reduction strategies, bird-friendly measures at City Hall, traffic, coach houses and more.
Councillor for Capital Ward
In this issue
Every year, the mid-July City Council meeting marks a “school's out” moment at City Hall. Though it's not quite the same elation kids feel when a glorious 10 weeks of liberty beckon, I definitely feel relieved knowing I have a few weeks of true vacation ahead of me, and maybe even a couple of extra long weekends.
Summer holidays are a time to reconnect with all the other things that inspire us the rest of the year: More exercise, getting out into the wild, seeing other parts of the province, the country or even the world, and of course spending time with family and friends. I am a firm believer in the importance of taking a break — for mental and physical health and for regaining a perspective on what it is we are called to do in life.
I try to model that belief by living it myself. So let it not come as a surprise that I cannot be reached for the next couple of weeks. I won’t have a Blackberry with me, and I won’t be checking in with the office. Sure, my staff will have a way to reach me should a truly urgent issue arise, but they have never had to do so in my six years in office. That’s a good thing. Ottawa has excellent emergency responders, and an elected official is not an emergency responder.
If your holidays don’t align with mine, and you do need help from my office, be reassured that I have excellent staff who will continue to do what they do all year round. Give them a call or send an email — they'll be glad to help. But I hope you too get your "school's out" moment this summer.
Among the unusual items that cross my desk or land in my email inbox, here's a doozy: The good folks at TD Place sent out a notice that they would be having a “practice noise simulation.”
What, we need to practice simulating noise? Isn’t there enough real noise coming from Lansdowne? Do they need to work harder at making noise?
Joking aside, I thought I’d offer the following explanation for those who wonder why they are hearing crowd noises emanating from the stadium at noon on a weekday.
Quite simply, the atmosphere during a football game with 24,000 or more enthusiastic fans is very different from the near silence of a daytime practice. That means players who are preparing for game-time conditions don’t really get those at practice. Calling plays during a huddle, a quarterback calling audibles at the line of scrimmage — these are critical to preparing for the big moment in the game ahead.
So the next time you hear the roar of the crowd when the stands are empty, you can say to your neighbour, "That's just the RedBlacks doing practice noise simulation!"
City Hall walkway now bird-friendly
When scores of Bohemian Waxwings were killed or injured by colliding with glass at City Hall in early April, Councillor Catherine McKenney and I, along with City staff, took action to prevent further bird fatalities at the raised walkway between the main building and the Heritage wing.
Brown kraft paper was installed inside the walkway as an immediate and temporary measure until a more permanent and attractive solution could be implemented: Small white vinyl dots applied in a dense grid pattern on the exterior of the glass.
The dots, applied according to current best practices recommended by Safe Wings Ottawa, create a visible barrier, causing birds to avoid what was previously an invisible and deadly obstacle. Since the installation was completed in early June, no more bird collisions have been recorded at the passageway, which in addition to Waxwings is known to have killed sparrows, warblers and other species in the past.
Scientists estimate that one billion birds die every year from colliding with windows in North America. Because glass is not a naturally occuring material, birds are easily tricked by the reflections of nearby trees and other natural features, or by transparent glass blocking what appears to them to be a safe passage.
While the problem of window strikes is commonly associated with highrises and other very large buildings, an estimated 44% of collisions occur at residences, where the trend toward large windows and clear deck railings is contributing to an increasingly dangerous urban environment.
Visit the Safe Wings website to learn more about window strikes and how you can prevent them at your home and your workplace.
The 2015 Crime Trends Reports for the City of Ottawa and individual wards provides a snapshot of police activity for the period of January 1 to December 31, 2015, compared to the previous year and to the five-year average. These statistics include all founded Criminal Code of Canada offences reported to the Ottawa Police.
Highlights from the report for Capital Ward include:
The top 5 criminal concerns in Capital Ward were:
Download the full reports here:
Ottawa Public Health invites you to complete an online survey on enhancing harm reduction services in Ottawa, for example by increasing the number of service locations, by expanding the hours, and by introducing harm reduction dispensing units and supervised injection services.
Harm reduction strategies aim to reduce the health, social and economic impacts of drug use through services such as needle and syringe programs, methadone maintenance treatment, supervised injection sites, overdose prevention training, testing for HIV and hepatitis C, pregnancy testing, vaccinations, and outreach and education programs. For more information, please visit ottawa.ca.
Your input can help ensure that our community's public health needs continue to be met and improved. The survey is anonymous, voluntary and confidential. The feedback received will help guide decisions about expanding harm reduction services, and will be included (without identifying information) in a summary report that will be posted on the OPH website.
After some feedback from both the OSCA Traffic & Safety Committee and the community regarding speeds, the City of Ottawa is implementing flex-stake traffic calming on Aylmer Avenue from Barton Street west to Bronson Place.
Installation should be completed by early August. If the flex-stakes prove effective at reducing speeds on Aylmer, this approach may be expanded in upcoming years. If speeds to continue to be a concern, the City can investigate other options in the future.
Should you have any questions or concerns about this initiative, please feel free to let us know.
As part of longer-term planning for Aylmer Ave., a speed display board will be installed on the street in late 2016 to monitor both traffic speed and volumes, for a period of up to eight months. The results will help guide appropriate future traffic calming measures for this corridor.
Note that the current speed limit on Aylmer, like on all residential streets in Ottawa unless posted otherwise, is 50 km/h. As this is likely too high for this street, the flex-stakes will have no speed indicator on them and will act as an impediment in the roadway to slow cars down. The flex-stakes will be removed during the winter to allow for snow clearing operations.
There's still time to share your opinion as part of the City of Ottawa's Functional Design and Transportation Study for the continuous corridor of Elgin St. between Laurier Ave. and Queen Elizabeth Dr., and Hawthorne Ave. from the Pretoria Bridge to Main St.
Please take two or three minutes to answer one or both of the separate surveys for Elgin and Hawthorne by this Friday, July 15. Your responses will be confidential and will be provided to the project team for review and consideration in the final design concepts.
The City of Ottawa has been working on a zoning study to determine appropriate zones and standards to permit secondary dwelling units within accessory structures in residential neighbourhoods. These types of dwelling units, often referred to as coach houses, are essentially a small apartment or suite in the backyard of a home or along a laneway.
The City already permits a secondary dwelling in a detached, linked-detached, semi-detached or townhouse dwelling in any zone where that dwelling type is listed as a permitted use. The current definition of a secondary dwelling unit is:
a separate dwelling unit subsidiary to and located in the same building as an associated principal dwelling unit; and its creation does not result in the creation of a semi-detached dwelling, duplex dwelling, three-unit dwelling or converted dwelling.
The City has reviewed and considered all the feedback received during and following two public consultation outreach sessions (September – November 2015, and February 2016) and is proposing amendments to the Zoning By-law and Official Plan to permit coach houses.
Congratulations to Paul Clarke of Citizens for Safe Cycling, and to the Ottawa Centre EcoDistrict, winners of the 2015 Bruce Timmermans Awards for their outstanding commitment to Ottawa's cycling community.
Timmermans was a longtime cycling educator and advocate. Since 1999, this City of Ottawa award has built on his legacy by recognizing and celebrating individuals and organizations that share his commitment to cycling.
Clarke, winner of the individual award, leads Citizens for Safe Cycling's Advocacy Working Group and plays a co-ordinating role between cyclists, City and NCC staff, and the private sector. Paul has provided valuable insight on more than 30 projects, including street designs for O'Connor, Main, Churchill and Laurier.
He has also consulted on the O-Train pathway, construction of light rail transit, the Trillium Line extension, and the widening of the Airport Parkway. By working with City Council and City staff, Paul continues to illustrate the effectiveness of being engaged, and of encouraging other cyclists to do the same.
EcoDistrict, which won the organizational award, is dedicated to reducing downtown Ottawa's overall ecological footprint. Their mission is to make the downtown core more sustainable, socially vibrant, and attractive to businesses. Since it was founded in 2012, EcoDistrict has striven to increase bike ridership through a variety of initiatives. They have worked with the City to establish bike rack locations and encouraged cyclists to track and report cycling issues along common downtown commuter routes.
For more information on the awards and past winners, visit ottawa.ca/bta.