Riverain Park Renewal project has now begun

I am pleased to announce construction work for Phase 1 is underway, with work expected to wrap up for Summer 2021 use. I want to thank everyone who participated in the two well-attended public consultations for Riverain Park. It is fair to say residents are very passionate about this beautiful park. A new splash pad, adult fitness equipment, off-leash dog area, a new basketball court, a new horseshoe pitch, resurfacing of the tennis courts with pickleball, new pathway & lighting improvements.

To note, a dock on the shore of the Rideau River, a skate park, and the rehabilitation to winterize the fieldhouse will be part of the fall 2021 Phase 2 construction.

During our two public consultations, I received several questions regarding the history behind Riverain park.  

The National Capital Commission (NCC) owns Riverain Park, and it has been green space since at least 1928. On Dec. 21, 1967, the former City of Eastview agreed with the NCC to lease the land for $1 a year for 21 years. There was the option to renew the agreement, which continues today. If we look at an 1887 map of the area, we can see at least three houses on the park’s land. 

With the 1967 agreement with the NCC, the City of Vanier became responsible for building the park amenities, in consultation with NCC had to be consulted and approve of the plans. I guess some things never change…

Visit https://ottawa.ca/en/city-hall/public-engagement/projects/riverain-park-improvements to learn more about Riverain Park investments.

Recent Fires in Vanier

The anxiety and concern around Vanier’s recent fires in the community is one I wholeheartedly share. I want to assure everyone that City and enforcement bodies are refocusing to support our community (investigation, information, and proactive monitoring). There are several initiatives underway with City partners, including Ottawa Fire Services and Ottawa Police, to support Vanier residents at this time. I will continue to reach out to owners of vacant buildings and push for action on their property (demolition, rebuilt, sale). Along with City officials, in addition to visiting those properties, we are connecting with construction site owners and neighbours to share information on how to keep properties safe and compliant with City standards.   

Our Ottawa Police Neighbourhood Resource Team is engaged in monitoring the vacant buildings, the fire sites, and construction sites in Vanier.

I am asking you to help us protect each other from fires and thefts by being hyper-focused on reporting via Ottawa Police at 613-236-1222, ext. 3770 and reporting any Property Standards concerns (debris, etc.) to the City via 311. The City and I are concerned about these trends, and we are here to support the community.   

Here is the latest on our efforts: https://mathieufleury.ca/recent-fires-in-vanier/

A Great Loss

On Aug. 27, these arsons also targeted the heart of our community: the Vanier Sugar Shack. The Vanier Museopark’s insurance will cover the building and its content. At this point, we are likely looking at a complete demolition of the building; that is not the end of the story. 
 
We will rebuild! 
 
The City of Ottawa and I commit to supporting Muséoparc in quickly rebuilding this important Vanier landmark.  I am confident that with the appointment of a new interim Executive Director, Madeleine Meilleur, this rebuild will be well-managed. The goal is to rebuild in Summer 2021. 
 
While the details of what the April Maple Festival may look like, working with the organizing team, my office and I will make sure they have the support they need for a modified festival. 
 
Vanier is a united and strong community.  
 
Support the Muséoparc’s fundraising efforts by visiting: https://museoparc.ca/en/

Rideau Street

I am pleased to say that work on Rideau Street and William Street Renewal Project aims to be complete this year. You will soon see the results of a completely reconstructed Rideau Street from Sussex Drive to Dalhousie Street, including William Street, re-establishing it as Ottawa’s main downtown street.

I encourage you to walk down Rideau Street and experience the wider sidewalks. The street has been completely redesigned for all modes of transportation. Check out the new bi-directional cycling track; Pedestrians can enjoy the new benches, street lighting and landscaping additions, including more trees and greenery. Full project details can be found here: www.ottawa.ca/rideaustreet

Montreal Road 

We are moving along nicely with the Montreal Road Revitalization Project, which is planned to be completed in 2022. The work will require several bus routes operating along Montreal Road to detour in the spring of 2021. We hosted a consultation outlining the proposed changes that will be occurring to OC Transpo routes 12,15,20, and other transit impacts during the 2021 Montreal Road detour on Nov. 18th. For those who may have missed the information session, more information is available here: ottawa.ca/en/city-hall/public-engagement/projects/montreal-road-revitalization.
 
You can stay informed on this important main street renewal project work by signing up to the City’s newsletter via: ottawa.ca/visionvanier.

Residential street renewal in Sandy Hill  

The residential streets in the heart of Sandy Hill have been quite busy over the last few months.    Current infrastructure work underway includes underground work and total road construction on Mann Avenue, Range Road, and Templeton Street.   
 
The project will see the replacement of the community’s watermain, sanitary and storm sewers, service connections, and all transportation infrastructure, including the road, sidewalks and bus stops.
 
Before the end of this year’s construction season, the City will plant trees along Mann Avenue and Range Road. Planters and landscaping will be added along the strip mall on Mann Avenue between Chapel Street and Goulbourn Avenue in 2021. As well, the redo of Russell Avenue will begin next year. The full project details can be found here: 
ottawa.ca/en/city-hall/public-engagement/projects/mann-avenue-range-road-russell-avenue-and-templeton-street

Ottawa Public Library  shelves late fees for good   

If you need a book, chances are the Ottawa Public Library has it. 

OPL is one of the best and is the largest bilingual (French/English) public library service in North America.  

With a library card, you can access information and services through the library’s 34 branches, log on online, or pick up a book at one of the two mobile libraries. There is even a vending machine-style book lending service. And while OPL services close to one million residents, there have been several barriers that can literally block a user from getting a book over the years.  But all that is changing.  And for the better.  

For as long as many can remember, the library has charged late fines for overdue items. In the current model, late materials accumulate fines, and if these items are not returned, they become “lost” after 35 days. The customer is then charged for the cost of the item (replacement) and the accumulated overdue fines. Accounts owing $50 or more go into collections 60 days later.  The overdue fines can add up quickly, and even if the materials are returned, it creates a barrier to further library use.   

More than 9,000 residents with late fees in Rideau-Vanier ward owing and more than 1,000 residents with accounts blocked or in collections because they didn’t return their books.  

On Nov. 3, the Ottawa Public Library Board presented and adopted a new approach to addressing this issue. No more fees. Now those with blocked accounts will see an immediate positive impact with the move to this fine-free model.  

Called the Materials Recovery Model, the new model does not have overdue fines to pay above the replacement cost, and nothing is owed if the item is returned.  

Removing the fear of owing money on a book and thinking it makes more sense to keep it and forgo using the library anymore, this new model’s goal is to ensure materials are returned and no judgement – or fines – occur.  

Cardholders can also keep using the library even if materials are late – something the old model would not allow.  

In Rideau-Vanier Ward, we have two local branches, Vanier and Rideau, and a neighbouring branch, St. Laurent Complex.  

All cardholder accounts will see removing any late fees, and they will be unblocked if the fees on the account go below $50.  

I am encouraged that this new model will allow for everyone to read anything and everything they desire – just as the library has always intended.

For all library activities visit: https://biblioottawalibrary.ca/en

Support our small businesses this holiday season

This Holiday season will be unlike any other we have celebrated in Ottawa. The current pandemic has impacted all our lives in ways I think it is fair to say we never could have imagined. Every year, I enjoy shopping local, hosting events and supporting local businesses along the way. But this year, our small businesses need our support more than ever.  Many are barely getting by and sadly we have even seen some close their doors. Small businesses along our streets – The ByWard Market, Beechwood Avenue , Montreal Road, McArthur Avenue, Laurier Avenue E., Rideau Street –  they make up a huge part of who we are as a community – I can’t imagine our neighbourhood streets without them; many, we have relied on for decades. So please, this holiday season, shop local.  Support your local shops, restaurants and specialty stores. Many have made significant changes to accommodate shopping since March, and it’s important we remain there for them.