What's new in Capital Ward?
City of Ottawa
The City of Ottawa would like to remind residents of the following schedule changes for Victoria Day (Monday, May 20).
Garbage, green bin and recycling collection
Municipal child care services:
Ottawa Public Library:
Ottawa Public Health:
Mayor, councillors are moving toward election mode
By Joanne Chianello, Ottawa Citizen
OTTAWA — How's a 17-month municipal election campaign sounding to you?
Because if Wednesday's council meeting is anything to go by, that's what you're getting.
First, there was Mayor Jim Watson's surprise proposal to cap the 2014 property tax rate increase at two per cent, superseding his previous promise of a maximum increase of 2.5 per cent. In case you don't measure time by election dates, Watson's out-of-the-blue move is a stark reminder that come October 2014 our municipal representatives will be up for re-election.
And councillors, many of whom have an eye to their own re-election campaigns, voted with the mayor. What politician wants to be painted as a supporter of more taxes? Only Capital ward Coun. David Chernushenko voted against the move, publicly calling out Watson's sudden proposal: "This is more political than anything."
Naturally, there's nothing wrong with trying to save taxpayers money. If the city can keep taxes down, of course it should. But not at all costs, and not the way Watson is doing it.
The mayor walked the motion onto the agenda of the finance committee on Tuesday — which meant that the public didn't get its requisite week's advance notice — and then brought it to council for approval a mere 24 hours later.
Watson's glossing over of the rules of procedure meant that no one who might be interested in this fairly important topic was allowed to speak to it at committee (public delegations aren't allowed at council). But he's unfazed by these criticisms. Indeed, the mayor told council Wednesday that "when people lose the argument on substance, they rush to process. We are not elected to constantly harangue process issues."
There are a couple of problems with that statement. For one thing, if you care about the outcome, you care about the process. Everything in this city's development shows us that, from the Lansdowne Park redevelopment to the western extension of the LRT.
Also, how can the mayor refer to people losing "the argument on substance?" There's been no argument. Or debate. Or discussion of any kind.
As for substantial issues, people would be pleased to discuss them if there was an appropriate forum for it (like, say, a committee meeting). Indeed, Chernushenko raised one such concern at council when he mentioned how he tripped over crummy sidewalks on the way to work.
"We have an infrastructure deficit what we're still not caught up with," said the councillor.
Just last fall — shortly after a sinkhole swallowed a car on Hwy. 174 — we heard how the city has an $80- to id="mce_marker"65-million infrastructure shortfall over the next decade. That total doesn't include building anything new, just repairing stuff we already have. No one has figured out where that money will come from.
Have we forgotten the two-per-cent infrastructure levy that the previous council added when it found it didn't have the funds to fix roads and bridges? Will we be faced with an extra tax after the 2014 election to pay for necessary repairs to city streets? Who knows.
By David Reevely, Ottawa Citizen
OTTAWA — The city hopes to tuck a playground into the corner of a Glebe park next to Bank Street, if it doesn't affect the heritage of the area too badly.
Central Park, the green cleaved that extends west through the neighbourhood from Patterson Creek, is the centrepiece of a protected historic district. The park is itself considered historic because it was one of the first projects of the Ottawa Improvement Commission, the predecessor of the National Capital Commission, at the turn of the last century.
It's also a dog park, with canines scampering hither and yon at all times of the year, even when access is supposed to be barred in winter.
The playground, billed as an "exploration garden" with a fossil dig, balance beams and a sand pit, is to be surrounded by a bamboo fence to keep the kids in and the dogs out. Central Park is mostly below street level, but the playground is to be on a small rise that's not part of the original park but is owned by the city.
Because of where it is, the $120,000 project needs sign-off from City Hall's committee on "built heritage", which is to vote on the plans on May 9.
© Copyright (c) The Ottawa Citizen
Laura Mueller, EMC News
In a surprise move to deal with conversions of homes to apartment buildings, the city's planning committee chairman sponsored a motion to put a temporary hold on any conversions in Sandy Hill, Vanier and Capital Ward.
The rare measure of using the interim control bylaw is one of the strongest tools the city can use and it's not undertaken lightly.
The temporary moratorium on certain types of conversions will give city planning staff time to look at how to address issues created by housing 16 or more people in houses that used to be home to one family.
Things like garbage, parking, bicycle parking and noise led to the implementation of a pilot project requiring something called site-plan approval for conversions in Sandy Hill, where pressure to provide off-campus housing for students has resulted in many such conversions.
The ward's councillor, Rideau-Vanier Coun. Mathieu Fleury, said he and city staff quickly realized that site-plan control wouldn't be enough to deal with the fallout of cramming several times the number of residents into a home than previously resided there.
"We realized 'site plan light' was addressing what we were hearing ... but it wasn't getting to the core," Fleury said.
When the same issues were identified in Old Ottawa South, Capital Coun. David Chernushenko asked the planning committee to adopt the same type of site-plan controls for his ward.
Instead, planning committee chairman Coun. Peter Hume surprised him by proposing the much stricter interim control bylaw.
By Derek Spalding, Ottawa Citizen
University of Ottawa wants to build indoor stadium at lees avenue sports fieldOTTAWA — The University of Ottawa wants to build its own indoor stadium at the Lees Avenue sports field after a convoluted three-way deal with the city and a private company failed last year, killing an entire winter soccer season.
A new domed stadium could fill a void left behind by Coliseum Inc., the company that used to operate a packed schedule out of Frank Clair Stadium at Lansdowne Park, until the city's redevelopment plans forced Coliseum to move.
The city tried to hammer out a deal with the university that would see all three parties benefit from the dome's relocation to Lees Avenue, but that agreement fell apart because Coliseum says the university did not properly prepare the field, a claim school officials regularly deny.
And while Coliseum seeks to recover an estimated $800,000 — the cost of last year's cancelled season — from the city through arbitration, the university is going its own way. School spokesman Patrick Charette would not say whether the U of O wants to replace Coliseum, which has operated in the city for 18 years and had a list of about 400 teams who booked last season before the cancellation.
"We're not ready to get into details right now," he said. "We're working toward putting up our own programming for our own community."
The university put out a request for information in March and met with potential bidders last week. A request for proposals is expected to be issued this year. Charette said school representatives would have considered other options with the city, but they did not want to wait any longer with the possibility of another cancelled season.
"We're always open to options, but one option for us was to operate our own dome," he said. "We've decided to move forward. We want to make sure we have in place a dome to offer year-round services to the downtown core community."
Martin Lauter at Coliseum has all but given up on signing a new deal with the city. The last communication with the municipality's lawyers was in January, when Lauter thought they would have a meeting to work out a deal.
"We were hopeful that we'd get back on line, but it never happened," he said. "It looks like the city has closed the books on us."
City staff did not respond to requests about whether there are plans to find a new home for Coliseum's dome, but the municipality's solicitor Rick O'Connor said, like any arbitration process, a deal can be reached by both parties before the arbitration decision is made.
© Copyright (c) The Ottawa Citizen
Payment reduced by 70 per cent due to path community group doesn't want
Laura Mueller, EMC News
265 Carling Ave.. Capital Ward Coun. David Chernushenko and the Glebe Annex Community Association were disappointed to learn city planners had approved a 70 per cent cut to the community benefit a developer will pay in exchange for more dense zoning for a controversial condo building at 265 Carling Ave. Submitted/Taggart Homes
Residents of the Glebe Annex are fuming after discovering city planners gave a developer a 70 per cent break on community benefit payments in exchange for building a pathway they don't want.
The Glebe Annex Community Association has been pushing for the city to show the math used to calculate a $204,581 payment from a developer, Taggart Homes, in exchange for the city rezoning its property at 265 Carling Ave. to allow an 18-storey residential tower on a site that was zoned for nine and four storeys.
Glebe Annex Community Association president Sylvia Milne called the reduction "an injustice."
"(It is ) one more incident of city hall looking after the developer to the detriment of the residents," she wrote in an email.
After weeks of emails, the community group was told that the total calculation based on the density uplift was $681,937, but city planners agreed to drop that by 70 per cent.
While he supports public amenities and pathway links, Capital Coun. David Chernushenko was caught off guard by news of the community benefit payment reduction.
"When you're providing a community benefit there is an expectation that the community will benefit from it and be consulted," he said.
$7.5 million worth of renovations and additions approved for Mutchmor Public School
One of Ottawa's oldest schools will undergo major renovations after a vote by the Ottawa-Carleton District School Board.
The board approved $7.5 million worth of renovations and additions to Mutchmor Public School in the Glebe.
The project will add 12 classrooms and an atrium to the heritage building, which has been facing overcrowding in the past few years.
The provincial government is covering $4.6 million of the construction costs, but the board's superintendent of facilities said that's $400,000 short of what they requested.
Clarke said the province didn't factor in additional costs of working on a heritage building.
Staff parking a concern with addition
Having enough space for parking after the renovations are complete is a concern that has been raised by trustees and the community at the school board meeting.
Staff said there will be 14 on-site parking spaces for 44 staff members once the work is complete, the minimum number allowed under city bylaws.
Sharon Chartier of the Glebe Community Association said she doesn't want the school's field to be paved for parking because it would take the space away from the community.
The decision on parking doesn't have to be made right away because it doesn't affect the timeline of building the addition.
There are plans to build a parking garage in a nearby parking lot, which city staff said would likely be used by Mutchmor staff.
By Neco Cockburn, Ottawa Citizen
OTTAWA — A plan to renovate and expand Mutchmor Public School was approved by Ottawa-Carleton District School Board trustees.
A proposed addition at the Glebe school to meet requirements for full-day kindergarten would contain nine classrooms, a new main office and library, while renovations would create three new classrooms in the existing school.
The plan is expected to cost $7.5 million and staff are to continue discussions with the Ministry of Education over an $871,821 shortfall in current funding.
The board approved the plans at its meeting on Tuesday night. The project is challenging, staff say, because it involves an addition onto a heritage building, and additional structural work is needed, designs face more stringent requirements, and various approvals must be obtained.
The project faces a "very tight timeline," according to a staff report, with plans for a "switch" to take place between staff and programs at First Avenue Public School and Mutchmor by September of 2014.
© Copyright (c) The Ottawa Citizen
By David Reevely, Ottawa Citizen
OTTAWA — Cracking down on single-family houses being converted into informal dormitories could just send some of the conversions underground, the chairman of city council's planning committee acknowledged Wednesday.
"There's always that possibility" that conversions could be made without building permits, Coun. Peter Hume said.
A few minutes before, city council has passed a Hume-backed bylaw that has the city immediately refusing to issue permits to convert single-family houses into mini apartment buildings of four or more units — each with several dorm-style bedrooms — in neighbourhoods close to Carleton University and the University of Ottawa.
The freeze lasts up to a year, while the city comes up with policies to regulate those conversions. In the Glebe, Old Ottawa South, Old Ottawa East and Sandy Hill, many streets are lined with single houses but the zoning allows much denser construction, so it's fairly easy to get permission to renovate one house into four units with as many as five bedrooms each. All it takes is a building permit, which essentially means the city checks that the new design is structurally safe.
Councillors Mathieu Fleury and David Chernushenko, who represent those neighbourhoods, say investors can buy an old house, build it up to two or three times the size of its neighbours with little regard for parking (even bike parking) or where the garbage is going to be stored, and rent each room for $400 or $500 a month.
An attempt to hold back these conversions by making the owners apply for what's called site-plan approval, which requires the city to look at parking and garbage and some other things on the outside of a building, hasn't done much good. That spurred the temporary bylaw, which cut off new applications for conversion permits as of Tuesday evening. Hume rammed it through his planning committee Tuesday morning with no advance notice and it went to city council the next day.
By Alex Boutilier, Metro Ottawa
Ottawa City Council has put a temporary moratorium on converting residential homes into two- and three-unit student flats.
At a council meeting Wednesday morning, councillors confirmed a surprise recommendation from the city's planning committee to put a yearlong ban on converting residential homes into multi-unit apartments for university students.
Staff from city hall's planning and growth management division will use the time to develop a policy around converting low-density housing into three or more unit flats.
A two day turnaround for such a policy is rare at 110 Laurier Ave. Coun. David Chernushenko, whose ward has seen its share of conversions, applauded the decisive move.
"You, my colleagues, have recognized that there is something going on here which is very inappropriate and had to be frozen, if you will, so that our staff have the time to do the work to put in place a better regime, a better mechanism, a better planning process," Chernushenko said.
"Way too many building permits were being issued simply because they were allowed. There was really no way, no means by which staff were able to stop those."
Chernushenko said he and Rideau-Vanier Coun. Mathieu Fleury have been "deluged" by thank you emails in the wake of Tuesday's planning committee recommendation.
- City Hall surprises with move to stop conversions of houses to student bunkhouses
- Chalet removal to disrupt traffic on Colonel By, Queen Elizabeth drives
- David Chernushenko: A Mid-Term Report
- Count Capital in for pilot project, Chernushenko wants house conversion notifications too
- Planning department should get say over student bunkhouses: David Chernushenko