Merry Christmas and Final News of 2018

Merry Christmas.jpg

On December 3rd, I had the great privilege of being sworn in as the Councillor for Rideau-Goulbourn for the third time. In the weeks since, we have gotten to work on the business of setting out the governance for this term of Council. This week, we confirmed Committee memberships and appointed Chairs of the Committees. I am excited to be appointed to the Chair of the Environment Committee, to sit on the Planning Committee and Ottawa Community Housing Corporation and to continue my work on the Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee, Built Heritage Sub-Committee, Committee of Revision and the Rideau Valley Conservation Authority.

This week we also debated the matter of retail cannabis sales at a special Council meeting held on Thursday, December 13th. It was decided that Ottawa will permit retail cannabis stores beginning April 1, 2019. Permitting retail cannabis stores will help reduce the black market and provide consumers access to safer products in a highly regulated environment. The City will spend less resources shutting down illegal sellers, and receive additional funding from the Ontario Cannabis Legalization Implementation Fund to offset the costs related to the legalization of recreational cannabis. Cannabis retailers will also create economic and employment opportunities in the city, including spinoff benefits for other sectors.

The direction followed Council’s consideration of the Report on Ontario Cannabis Legislation, Cannabis Retail Stores and Response to Council Direction of August 29, 2018 and feedback from public delegations.

Council heard presentations from nine members of the public. This is in addition to 23,000 responses to an online survey conducted earlier this fall. The responses to the online survey and a random sample telephone survey generally supported permitted retail cannabis stores in Ottawa. Public input indicates that residents want stores with appropriate controls and protections to minimize the impacts on the community.

Staff will report on the impact of the legalization of recreational cannabis on City services in late 2019.

Furthermore, this report focused on cannabis retail stores, however, as new issues emerge, the City will consult with residents and provide additional reports and recommendations to Council as required.

Following the three Council meetings in early December, the Christmas break will be upon us. In the new year, the new Committees will begin their work with focus on developing the term of Council priorities and preparing the 2019 Budget.

2019 Town Hall Series

In my last e-newsletter, I announced that our office will be hosting a series of town hall meetings to help kick off the term of Council. We will host these meetings in Burritt’s Rapids, Pierce’s Corners, Kars, North Gower, Stittsville, Richmond, Munster, Ashton, Manotick, Country Club Village, Fallowfield Village and in the Quinn’s Pointe community in Barrhaven. These meetings will take place between January 9th and March 5th.

The intent of these meetings will be to look at what issues are present currently in our communities, what priorities we want to focus on and any other matters that residents feel requires our attention. It is also an opportunity to discuss how best we can improve communication. We have a number of new initiatives we are going to bring forward in order to better serve our residents. Included in that will be drop in meetings where residents can stop by and visit with our team. We will rotate these meetings around the ward every two weeks.

For the Town Hall meetings, we have the following meetings scheduled:

  •  January 9th: Canadian Golf & Country Club, 7:00pm

  • January 12th: St. Patrick’s Church, 10:00am

  • January 15th: Manotick Arena, 7:00pm

  • January 19th: Burritt’s Rapids Community Hall, 10:00am

  • January 23rd: Munster Community Centre, 7:00pm

  • January 28th: North Gower Client Service Centre, 7:00pm

  • February 4th: St. Benedict Elementary School, 7:00pm

  • February 6th: Ashton Christ Church, 7:00pm

  • February 13th: Kars Recreation Centre, 7:00pm

  • February 19th: St. Philip’s Parish Hall, 7:00pm

  • February 26th: Marlborough Community Hall, 7:00pm

  • March 5th: Goulbourn Town Hall, 7:00pm

I very much look forward to these meetings, as does our team. I hope you will be able to attend.

Mayor’s City Builder Award

The Mayor’s City Builder Award is a civic honour that recognizes an individual, group or organization that have - through their outstanding volunteerism or exemplary action - demonstrated an extraordinary commitment to making our city a better place today and for the future. Past recipients have been honoured for their life-long service, outstanding acts of kindness, inspiring charitable work, community building and other exemplary achievements.  This award is presented at the beginning of each Ottawa City Council meeting.

As a member of Council, I would like to invite you to nominate individuals, groups or organizations that have had a positive impact in our ward and in our community.  Our aim is to ensure a diverse representation of outstanding residents from all corners of our city.

Please contact my office for nomination forms.

North Gower Client Service Centre Holiday Hours

Recognizing the lower volumes of transactions that typically occur, the City of Ottawa is reducing hours or closing the North Gower Client Service Centre (CSC) on the following dates:

  • Thursday, December 20th: 8:30am to 12:00pm

  • Thursday, December 27th: Closed

  • Thursday, January 3rd: Closed

Regular business hours will resume on Thursday, January 10th. The North Gower CSC is located at 2155 Roger Stevens Drive and is open on Thursdays from 8:30am to 4:30pm. 

*****

If you have any comments, questions or concerns, please feel free to email me at Scott.Moffatt@ottawa.ca or contact me by phone at 613-580-2491. For information on Rideau-Goulbourn issues, please visit RideauGoulbourn.ca.

Bi-Weekly Columns are Back!

remembrance day.jpg

Welcome back to our bi-weekly Rideau-Goulbourn column following the 60-day election blackout period. Over the coming weeks and months, we will want to connect with residents across the ward. As we did in January 2015, we will organize a series of town hall meetings in various communities to discuss priorities for the upcoming term of Council. We are also going to look at ways of expanding our communication efforts. In eight years, we have always strived to improve and keep finding ways to serve you better. That will not change.

And now for something completely different….

The Future of Retail Cannabis in Ottawa

During the blackout period, City Council directed the Emergency and Protective Services Department in providing an opportunity for public input on potential cannabis retail stores in Ottawa. From October 25th to November 7th, residents will be able to provide input on this issue in two ways:

  • By online survey on Ottawa.ca or by filling out paper copies of the survey available at the City’s client service centres, and

  • Through a randomized telephone survey being conducted by Ekos Research Associates on behalf of the City.

As you may know, currently Ontarians aged 19 years or older may purchase cannabis for recreational use online only via the Ontario Cannabis Store. However, the Province of Ontario has passed the Cannabis Licensing Act, 2018 (not yet in force) that establishes a Provincial licensing regime for private cannabis retail stores beginning on April 1, 2019, in municipalities that will allow them. These cannabis stores will be licensed and administered by the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario in accordance with rules and regulations set out by the Province. 

The Province is allowing municipal councils to decide, by January 22, 2019, whether to allow private cannabis retail stores within their borders. In accordance with the Province’s new cannabis legislation, municipal councils will have a one-time opportunity to “opt-out” of private cannabis retail stores, and will be unable to opt-out at a later date. However, municipalities that have opted-out by January 22nd will be able to reverse their decision and allow cannabis retail stores in their municipalities at a later date.

It is expected that the newly elected City Council in Ottawa will consider the issue of cannabis retail stores later this year, at a date to be determined. City staff will present public input collected through these surveys to City Council to assist Council in its consideration of this issue.    

For now, Ontarians aged 19 or older can purchase cannabis for recreational purposes at the Ontario Cannabis Store only.  Before April 1, 2019, cannabis store fronts/dispensaries remain illegal.

The Province of Ontario will allow private cannabis retail stores will begin selling recreational cannabis on April 1, 2019 in municipalities that will allow the stores within their borders. In municipalities that allow them, private cannabis stores will be licensed and managed by the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario

Should you require further information about cannabis, please visit Ottawa.ca and OttawaPublicHealth.ca.

Ash Tree Replacement Pilot Program

The City of Ottawa has lost thousands of ash trees due to the Emerald Ash Borer (EAB). This invasive beetle, native to Asia was first detected in North America in 2002. Since its arrival, it has killed tens of millions of ash trees and continues to spread, causing considerable economic and ecological damage.

As a result, many private property owners are left with dead or dying ash trees. To help address this, South Nation Conservation (SNC) has partnered with the City of Ottawa, to pilot a cost-sharing ‘Ash Tree Replacement Program’.

The program is available to property owners with affected ash tree(s) located in the City. Eligible applicants agree to use a forestry professional to confirm and remove EAB infected ash trees and to replace all removed trees with suitable native trees.

Managed similar to the Ottawa Rural Clean Water Program with the partner Conservation Authorities, the Ash Tree Replacement Program will also be managed and administered by SNC. Funding support has been provided by the City of Ottawa.  Interested applicants are encouraged to visit our program website at nation.on.ca/eab or to contact SNC for eligibility details.

 *****

If you have any comments, questions or concerns, please feel free to email me at Scott.Moffatt@ottawa.ca or contact me by phone at 613-580-2491. For information on Rideau-Goulbourn issues, please visit RideauGoulbourn.ca.