Key Topics:

Sugar Maple Festival to go Virtual

The beginning of spring has always been marked with one of the best festivals in this City – the Maple Sugar Festival, with our very own urban sugar shack boiling up locally tapped maple syrup. 

Snow, lumberjacks, soup – are a few of my favourites – and celebrating the end of winter and the start of the new season. But this year, like with many things in these new, unprecedented times, will be different. 

I wish I could say it is only because of the pandemic, but as many know, we also suffered a loss with the fire at the Sugar Shack amongst all the difficulties this year. Thankfully this is not where the story ends – there is intent on rebuilding – with online fundraising already underway on museoparc.ca and plans to rebuild to begin in 2022. 

As for the maple syrup season, I am happy to say that too has not dried up, but rather, the Sugar Festival and the season has been reimagined with our new reality. A reinvented Soupe Splash will take place in April. More information and full list of virtual events are available online at museoparc.ca.

The Journey Towards a Home For All

I am a strong supporter of affordable housing across our City. In both my roles as local Councillor and Chair of Ottawa’s largest landlord, Ottawa Community Housing, it’s clear that it starts with a vision based on the power of a key when it comes to solving homelessness. 

With over 13 000 people on Ottawa’s growing waitlist for affordable housing, we all collectively feel the impacts of these system failures. COVID19 has highlighted the dire need to do things differently. 

Over the last several months, we have seen the City put into action various temporary measures to support the health and safety of those experiencing homelessness. These measures are essential, but they serve as a reminder of the government’s historic systemic failures. 

I will continue to oppose the creation of new emergency shelters. They are expensive and do not provide residents with a key to their very own unit. Concentrating them in one area of our City also has significant livability impacts for all, now more than ever. We need to urgently move away from this outdated model and provide a variety of housing options in all parts of our City.  Right now, this pandemic period obligates us to do things differently. 

This is one of the many reasons I am proud to be the Chair of Ottawa’s largest landlord, Ottawa Community Housing. OCH is preparing for a recovery phase. We have built the capacity to deliver more than 10,000 homes to support local priorities, offering newer and greener housing solutions. Later this summer, we will see 140 new affordable homes available in Ottawa’s downtown at 811 Gladstone. 

In our community, at Richelieu Court the repurposing of stacked townhouses into family units will be a wonderful conversion towards units that are adapted and bring more affordability for families living in our City’s core.

OCH is working with the National Research Council to make our existing townhouse community buildings net-zero and also looking at community wide renewal strategies, such as Overbrook. These are the types of projects we need to see more of all across our
City. 

All government levels must work together to align investment and approaches to address this crisis. 

Housing is a fundamental right for us all.

Engage Ottawa

With the current pandemic climate the way we meet with friends, family and work has significantly changed and so has the way we consult and reach out as a city. This pandemic has forced us to give up all in-person public gatherings, but that doesn’t mean you can’t remain engaged in municipal public consultations. 

Most evenings you can find my team and I on a zoom meeting discussing proposals with our community.  The City has also put a lot more effort in connecting with residents during this period, and ensuring your voices can be heard via public consultations. This has been done using the online platform Engage Ottawa (www.engage.ottawa.ca). Some current consultation topics include COVID-19 Vaccines, Parks and Recreation Facility Master Plan, Winter Maintenance Quality Standards Review, and Anti-Racism and Ethnocultural Relations Initiatives. On a more local level, we have Vision Vanier and Vanier: Culture in Action. Engage Ottawa is an easy way to stay active in municipal affairs and a fun way to stay informed.

Drafting a plan: Building our future City

As many of you already know, the City began its multi-year process to develop a new Official Plan in 2019. 

The City started to develop the new Official Plan around the 5 Big Moves of growth, mobility, urban design, resilience and economic development. It will guide the physical development of Ottawa until 2046.

Since this has begun, I am pleased to have had planning staff present the plan to our communities – with specifics to each neighbourhood. 

Again, I was pleased to see residents in our Ward engaged, as the changes and additions being made to the Official Plan impact us all. 

If you haven’t already, the best place to catch up on all the City’s Draft Official Plan’s nitty-gritty details is available on engage.ottawa.ca under the New Official Plan. 

If you wish, you will be able to take a deep dive into the plan itself – from a City as a whole to specifically our area.  

In the plan, this is defined as the Transect approach, which means the City will plan by context. 

According to staff developing the plan, a change
from the previous approach to plan by land-use
recognizes the specific needs of neighbourhoods in different parts of the City.

Engagement is the Key to Getting it Right

The Transect approach focuses on “form and function” by planning for the appropriate shape of new buildings, their relationship with public space, and how they function to be informed based on where you live in the newly defined Transects. There are six different Transect areas across the City: Downtown, Inner Urban, Outer Urban, Suburban, Greenbelt and Rural. Information on each section is available online. Ward 12 covers two transects, Inner Urban and Downtown. 

• The Downtown Core is the most urban policy area; it is the hub of the City-wide rapid-transit system, where walking, cycling, and transit are paramount, where densities are highest, and where land uses are most finely mixed 

• The Inner Urban Area encompasses the band of dense, walkable and transit-supportive forms of older urban neighbourhoods surrounding Downtown. It includes areas on which to expand this function into the earliest post-WW2 suburbs (effectively enlarging the City’s geographic area in which residents can viably and reasonably live without a car). 

Specifically for our Ward, we are looking to clarify items in the OP for Lowertown,Sandy Hill and Vanier. My focus will remain on ensuring the specific needs of our unique communities are met. 

To name a few, I intend to focus on where and how minor corridor distinctions are defined in the plan as well as focus on proper planning use. I want to make sure current policies that work remain in place. 

I intend to make sure heritage and character-defining attributes for our communities are protected.  

Moreover, I recognize the need for community spaces, parks and greening to be  of the utmost importance to any new development.Once again, I wish to thank those who have already engaged in the process, attended a consultation or reached out to OP staff to share comments and concerns. As we are the ones who live in this City, it is essential we all contribute to shaping its future.