Good morning, Kitchissippi.
It was an intense week! Several development files are on the front-burner in the office and Covid-related correspondence is keeping us hopping. Today's short newsletter is a nice pause.
There's a lovely snowfall outside my window as I type and, as I note below, there is a winter overnight parking ban that will go into effect tonight. This will be the first big storm of the year and staff have been keeping us updated on preparations for it.
A couple of years ago, I and the other "urban" councillors hosted a forum at City Hall with senior staff and the public to raise concerns about winter maintenance standards, especially for pedestrians. That resulted in the review that's now underway with more details below, but staff also made several changes to their operations to better address sidewalks, including moving to 24/7 operations on those, not waiting for the end of storms to begin sidewalk plowing, and tweaking the geographic responsibilities for our different
I think we saw a difference last year although it's hard to tell because of the light snowfall in 2020. During the first big storm of the year a few weeks ago, I was pleasantly surprised to wake up to plowed sidewalks even as the snow was just trailing off, and the street was well-plowed with no cars on it soon after the storm ended because of the daytime parking ban. I hope that's a sign of a new normal.
I inquired at Council in early December about the snow budget and was told it was tracking to have a small surplus. I'll find out this week whether that was still the case at year's-end. For several years at budget time I've been presenting staff with my calculations of what we should be spending each year on an inflation-adjusted basis to deal with an historically average winter. The winter operations budget has finally been topped up over a couple of years to a level that I consider appropriate. Some years we should see a surplus that we can put into
reserve, and some years a deficit to be made up from that reserve.
But that's all boring. I'm sure Dave Adams and his team of groomers are thrilled with the snow now falling, and I hope folks have the chance to get out to enjoy (in a distanced way) some exercise on the SJAM wintertrail.ca.
The City has published its guidance on what the new Provincial stay-at-home order means for Ottawa, and the full text of that order is now online as well. I sent this out earlier in the week, but if you missed those, you can find them here.
I've been receiving a few notes wondering when different cohorts will get their vaccination shots. Unfortunately, I"m not able to provide a lot of guidance on those since those decisions are being made at the provincial level. Last week, Queen's Park provided an overview of its strategy that you can view here. The good news is that the first round of doses for long-term care facilities has now been completed by the City. I continue to be impressed by the City's logistics effort so far, and share everyone's hope that
the doses keep coming.
Overnight parking ban
The timing of today's storm is such that an overnight parking ban has been called for between 7 pm and 7 am starting tonight (Saturday night to Sunday morning) when they expect to do a full residential plow run. Read more about winter parking bans here, and find information about how to sign up for email notifications when those are enacted.
Pop-up office hours
The holidays are over and we're resuming our regular virtual pop-up office hours. Next week I'll be available on Thursday, January 21 from 2-4 for drop-in, one-on-one meetings to chat about whatever's on your mind. Send us an email to get the login details to participate.
Ev Tremblay Park petition
Last week I became aware of a petition circulating that is asserting a new change in zoning that would imperil any potential future acquisition of the parcel of land on the southwest corner of Champagne/Beech across from Ev Tremblay park. I've since done the research and confirmed with staff that there has been no change to the zoning for this parcel and that the language in the secondary plan is as it was when the plan was passed in 2014. I've posted the relevant materials here.
Burnside/SJAM "embassy row" open house February 10
The National Capital Commission has filed an application for an Official Plan amendment and zoning change to allow for an "embassy row" in the currently open space sandwiched between Burnside and the SJAM. We've set up an open house at which residents can pose questions and provide feedback to be held February 10. Details of that are here.
Committee of Adjustment
As I write, there is no agenda online for the February 3 meeting.
Winter maintenance standards consultation
The City continues its study of winter maintenance standards (plowing and removing snow from roads, paths, etc.) and is inviting residents to participate in upcoming consultations. Read more here.
1705 Carling changes
Fiona and I spent some significant time this week with various folks at City Hall and Claridge and yesterday finalized an approach with planners to the development at 1705 that will remove a proposed driveway that would have led to Tillbury E., and finalizes the park location at the back on the western portion to preserve the hedge with only a pedestrian path connection to the development. Instead of that proposed driveway, there will be improvements made to the Cole/Carling intersection. I'm expecting this development to be in front of Planning Committee for a vote in mid-February.
Mechanicsville and Champlain Park AGMs
The Champlain Park and Mechanicsville Community Associations are holding their annual general meetings this month. Champlain Park's will be held on January 27 (details here) and Mechanicsville's on January 26 (see their FB event page here). I'll be attending both to answer questions and provide some
Hinchey fire fundraising
A fire on Hinchey in Mechanicsville has affected several people and the community association has undertaken its traditional fundraising effort. Please take a look here and help if you can. Do your thing, folks.
Pollinator garden presentation
The McKellar Park Community Association invites you to join Berit Erickson for a virtual photo tour of her pollinator garden and backyard habitat gardens. She’ll share what she’s learned about pollinators, their favourite flowers, and habitat requirements. Discover how to design, plant, and maintain your own pollinator garden. The Zoom presentation will take place on February 8. Meeting opens at 7:00 pm, presentation runs from 7:30 to 9 pm. Register in advance here. For further information on pollinator
gardening, visit cornerpollinatorgarden.net.
The Great Disconnect film presentation
I'm helping support the presentation of the film The Great Disconnect and panel discussion on January 27. The Great Disconnect uncovers why, in a world seemingly more connected than ever before, people are feeling more and more socially isolated – and the true cost this has on our lives and communities. This documentary invites us to reflect on the relationships we have with those around us and raises the question: is it possible to overcome our modern culture of disconnectedness and rediscover how truly essential we are to one other? Learn more and register for the free event here.
Cornerstone walk in Westboro
Cornerstone Housing for Women is organizing teams for its Coldest Night of the Year annual walk to raise funds. This year's walk is virtual, so participants can choose to do any 2k or 5k route, and they'll soon announce some suggested routes worked up in collaboration with the Westboro Village BIA! Get more details here.
At City Hall
Planning Committee/Agricultural and Rural Affairs Committee
The Planning Committee and Agricultural and Rural Affairs Committee will hold a joint meeting beginning January 25 (we expect it to go several days) to look at which lands in the city will be added to the developable area in accordance with the plan passed this summer to expand the urban boundary. The report was just released yesterday, and you can view the materials here.
This process is the one by which Council will determine exactly which parcels will be added to make up the amount of land that's been approved. Various developers who own parcels that they'd like to develop will make the argument for the inclusion of theirs according to the criteria that's been set out by Council. The scoring is complex, but in general we'll be adding lands that are already serviced or easily able to be serviced, close to transit, and not agricultural land. I haven't read the report, but anticipate that some of the discussion will be around whether to add lands that don't meet the criteria if there isn't
enough land to add that does.
I voted against any expansion, but intend to be pragmatic in this process, watching for the inclusion or approval of any lands that clearly don't meet the spirit of the Council-approved scoring criteria.
Have a great week, Kitchissippi!