Storewater Fee Further Explained, Drop In to Chat,

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Our drop in sessions continue in May. After a great opportunity to spend the day in the new Morning Owl in Manotick on May 1st, we will move our next drop in session to Burritt’s Rapids on Wednesday, May 15th between 10:00am and 3:00pm at the Community Hall. We will not be scheduling any drop ins during the month of June due to the pending addition to my family but we will be back on schedule in July.

If there are any specific locations you would like us to hold one of these sessions, please let us know! We are open to suggestions. The only requirement is that we need Wi-Fi. 

Stormwater Fee Update

Approved in 2016, there remains plenty of misconceptions being shared about the City of Ottawa's stormwater fee so I would like to take this opportunity to provide some context. In 2019, $12 million will be spent on culvert replacements, repairs and construction in the rural area, funded by the stormwater fee. Specifically, $3.8 million will be used to design and construct 42 culverts in Rideau-Goulbourn. To put that $3.8M in perspective, the stormwater fee collected $1M last year across rural Ottawa. The money collected in rural Ottawa stays in rural Ottawa and then some. I have included a comprehensive list of culvert replacements planned for 2019 below. Culverts, wet ponds and dry ponds found in rural areas are key pieces to the stormwater system – in the prevention of flooding, mitigating erosion, as well as protecting water quality in rivers, creeks, and streams.

As a refresher, the intent of the new fee was to improve how the City bills for water, wastewater and stormwater to create a fairer and more sustainable system for its residents. It recognizes the different types of services received by those in serviced areas of the City and those who rely on private wells in urban and rural Ottawa. One of the key outcomes of the new rate structure was the implementation of a new charge for stormwater services for properties that did not pay this fee.

Stormwater will be charged through a fixed rate fee to all applicable properties that benefit from stormwater service. For connected properties, this fee was previously included in the sewer surcharge rate for connected properties. Therefore, if you have always received a water and/or sewer bill, you have always been paying for this and nothing changes significantly except for that other residents are now sharing the cost. Properties that do not receive a water utility bill see the stormwater fee on their property tax bill instead.

Historically, all properties were paying for stormwater either on their water bill or as a tax levy, or a combination of the two. In 2001, 100% of the fee was moved to the water utility bill as part of the sewer surcharge, meaning that only connected properties that received a water bill contributed to stormwater management funding. For those connected to the City water system, the fee was charged based on water consumption. However, stormwater services are not affected by how much water you consume and nearly everyone benefits from stormwater infrastructure, even those not connected to City water. 

The implementation of the new rate structure started in May 2017 when non-connected properties first saw a new stormwater charge on their final tax bills. It was planned that the stormwater charge would phased in over four years to allow non-connected property owners time to adjust. In 2017, owners paid 25% of the fee, they paid 50% in 2018, will pay 75% in 2019 and by 2020 non-connected properties will be paying 100% of the fee. As promised, here is the list of planned culvert replacements in Ridea-Goulbourn:  

2019 List of Culvert Projects in Rideau-Goulbourn

•         Barnsdale Rd Culvert
•         Bowrin Rd Culvert
•         Century Rd E Culvert
•         Donnelly Dr Culvert
•         Eagleson Rd Twin Culvert
•         Fallowfield Rd Culvert
•         Huntley Rd Culverts (2)
•         Kelly Marie Dr Culvert
•         Malakoff Rd Culverts (5)
•         Malakoff Rd Culvert
•         Mansfield Rd Culverts (3)
•         Mansfield Rd Culvert on Mansfield MD
•         McCordick Rd Culvert
•         Montague Boundary Rd Culverts (2)
•         Old Richmond Rd Culvert
•         Phelan Rd West Culvert
•         Pollock Rd Culverts (2)
•         Pollock Rd Culvert on Shouldice MD
•         Proven Line Rd Culvert
•         Purdy Rd Culverts (2)
•         Purdy Rd Twin Culverts (2)
•         Roger Stevens Dr Culverts (2)
•         Roger Stvens Dr Culvert
•         Second Line Rd S Culverts (2)
•         South Island Park Dr Culvert
•         Southwick Dr Culvert
•         Steeple Hill Cres Culvert
•         Third Line Rd S Culvert
•         Walgreen Rd West Culvert

Golf 4 Youth Classic

Join me on Friday, July 5 for the Scott Moffatt Golf 4 Youth Classic at the Canadian Golf & Country Club. It promises to be a fun day for the whole family with all proceeds going directly to the Youth of Manotick Association (YOMA) and the Richmond Youth Centre (RYC). I would love for you to participate!
 
We are also acquiring sponsorships and silent auction donations. If you are a local business and want to be involved in this event, please contact me and we’ll find an exciting way to get you involved.
 
For more details or to register, visit www.golf4youth.ca. I hope that we can make this a successful event that will benefit kids and families all across Rideau-Goulbourn.

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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.

Looking back at 2016

With 2017 and Canada’s 150th year-long birthday celebration merely days away, it’s time to look back at 2016 for a year in review. The past twelve months were busy with many issues directly impacting rural Ottawa. It was also a year for progress on several files and increased planning on many more.

2016 was a year of progress. More of Rideau-Goulbourn’s roads saw improvements with varying degrees of upgrades conducted on Bridge Street, Royal York Street, Ottawa Street, Moodie Drive, Mackey Road and Flewellyn Road. The village of Kars finally saw the end of construction on Rideau Valley Drive South and the end result was a main street that actually feels like a village main street. We reached a conclusion in our efforts to protect and promote Dickinson Square as a heritage district with the retention of the Carriage Shed and Dickinson House in City ownership. We also began construction on the new Remembrance Park on Dickinson Street, a beautiful addition to the Square. In North Gower, the Alfred Taylor Recreation Centre was the recipient of a new canteen building and new play equipment.

2016 was a year of controversy. City Council had many issues before it that were polarizing. In April, we brought forward a Vehicle-For-Hire By-Law creating a new policy in which ridesharing companies like Uber could legally operate within the City of Ottawa. At the same time, we loosened some of the regulations on the taxi industry recognizing the fact that, over the years, the industry had become over-regulated. In October, Council instituted a new Water, Sewer and Stormwater Rate Structure creating a system where the water and sewer rate budget can be managed in a more predictable manner with the aim of avoiding large rate hikes in the future. The new structure also balanced cost recovery of stormwater services across the City imposing a new fee on approximately 45,000 properties and lowering the fee on others. Earlier this month, Council approved an update to the Land Evaluation & Area Review which saw several changes to land designations, altering some from General Rural to Agricultural Resource Area and vice versa. Last, but not least this year, the City’s Public Library Board proposed a site for the future home of the Central Library. The new home is proposed to be at 557 Wellington Street, approximately 1.2 km west of the existing home at 120 Metcalfe.

2016 was also a year for community collaboration. The Remembrance Park became a reality thanks to the hard work of local residents and various community organizations, including the Manotick Legion. The preservation of Dickinson Square wouldn’t have been possible without Dickinson Square Heritage Management Inc., a group that represents over a dozen local organizations. The Manotick Arena Expansion is inching closer to construction thanks to groups like the Manotick Culture, Parks & Recreation Association. Community groups in Richmond have all come together to start planning the village’s bicentennial celebrations in 2018. Community organizations are what make our communities ever greater. My job would be impossible without them for which I am grateful. Whether it’s Burritt’s Rapids, Ashton, Fallowfield Village or any community in between, the countless local organizations work in partnership with my office, each other and the City to the benefit of all of us and that was never more obvious to me than in these past twelve months.

I hope that everyone had a pleasant Christmas and I wish you all a Happy New Year. See you in 2017!

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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.

Water, Sewer & Stormwater Rate Structure Review

As many of you may have noticed last week, the home at 5514 Manotick Main Street, known locally as the Falls House, was torn down. This was done so after much effort to avoid that exact scenario. Unfortunately, the home did not meet the criteria for heritage designation and the condition was deteriorating. Please visit rideaugoulbourn.ca/fallshouse for the full story on the property as well as next steps. On that page, you will also find panoramic pictures of each room in the house as well as a video tour of the home that I took a couple of weeks ago. This will give you the full picture of the home and all of the information that led us to this point.

Stormwater Charge

In recent weeks, I have spoken at length about the stormwater charge that was approved by the Environment Committee last week. It has been a difficult issue to deal with for everyone impacted. I predicted as much in May 2015 when the item first came to our attention and again when the public consultation kicked off in March of this year. My main focus the entire time has been the facts. Unfortunately, there is still a lot of misinformation out there on this subject. If you still have questions about this, please do not hesitate to contact me. We also have information available on this website (click here) that provides all of the background.

There are, however, just a few points that I want to reiterate as they keep coming up in emails that I have been receiving and comments on various radio shows and whatnot. First, this has absolutely nothing to do with whether or not you flush your toilet into a sewer system or a septic system. Stormwater is completely unrelated from sewerage services. They were in separate budgets prior to amalgamation and that never should have changed. As I mentioned last week, Council made that decision to put them together in 2001 and it was the wrong one.

I have also heard comments that this is a “tax grab” to increase revenues for the City. I completely understand that point because, for many of us in the rural area, we will begin to pay an extra charge on our tax bill. However, as I have also mentioned previously, those who are already paying for stormwater on their sewer bill will see a modest reduction in their bill.  Therefore, these two changes will offset each other. The City spends approximately $42M city-wide on stormwater maintenance and that budget will remain at that number. With the two offsetting numbers, there will be no increase in revenues as a result of the stormwater charge.

The final clarification I wanted to make is in response to comments that the revenue from this charge will just go toward urban projects that will not benefit the rural area. It will not. As mentioned above, the amount collected is just being shifted from water and sewer ratepayers to taxpayers. All fees collected in the rural area will go toward maintenance in the rural area.  In fact, the City spends $8M annually in the rural area and the new fee will collect $2M. None of your stormwater taxes will service anyone but rural residents.

I hope this helps provide further clarity. As always, I am available to chat about this further.  We also spend time at each of our town hall meetings discussing this very issue. Our Manotick meeting is on November 15th and our Kars meeting is on November 23rd.

Community Dancing in Manotick

If you are interested in a fun, interactive session of dance, laughter & music, come to the Manotick United Church on Friday, November 4th and join the Ever Hopeful Stringband and caller Pippa Hall for a family-friendly, alcohol-free evening of community dancing, including circles, squares and contras. Each dance is taught and the whole family is invited. The event runs from 7:00pm until 9:30pm and begins with simple dances, followed by dances that build on skills as the evening progresses. The cost to attend is $10 for adults, $5 for ages 12-18 and children under 12 are free.  There is, however, a family maximum charge of $20. For more information call 613-692-4576 or visit http://dance.manotick.net.

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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.

Stormwater Update

In March and April of this year, residents were informed of the City of Ottawa’s Water, Sewer and Stormwater Rate Structure Review. Over the course of those two months, we shared much information on the matter and you were very involved in these discussions. Once again, I would like to thank everyone who contacted me, submitted comments to the City and attended the public consultation sessions. The April 7th meeting held in North Gower was attended by approximately 250 residents. Your participation and input led to the eventual delay of the report so that your comments could be properly reviewed and taken into account. Since then, staff have been compiling those comments and working with members of Council on finalizing the report and its recommendations. This report, released on Monday of this week, will be presented to the Environment Committee on Tuesday, October 18th at City Hall.

As you may recall from my March 16th column, the history on this issue is incredibly important and stems from amalgamation. Prior to amalgamation, residents across every municipality contributed to stormwater management. Some paid for it through their general taxes, some through a specific stormwater rate and others as part of their sewer bill. The transition board overseeing the implementation of the amalgamated City of Ottawa commissioned a report which provided recommendations on how an amalgamated city could assess properties for stormwater costs. That report recommended cost collection through either the general tax rate or a specific fee charged as a line item on your tax bill. In April of 2001, the Council of the day chose neither. With no explanation given in the minutes of that meeting, Council voted unanimously to shift all stormwater costs to the water and sewer rate. This meant that some residents who used to pay for it no longer did and it also meant that residents who had always been paying for it started paying more. For fifteen years, that is the system the City has been using.
 
The consultations held in the spring laid out proposals to move away from that system and create a new rate structure where those who receive a service pay for that service. The main objective was to collect $42M across the City through a new stormwater fee, shifting those costs away from the water and sewer rate budget. Of that total, $8M is the amount of money spent on stormwater maintenance in the rural area. The feedback on that proposal was met with much opposition and plenty of input. This brings us to the proposal that is before us today.
 
Here is a chart demonstrating the proposed rate structure:

More detailed information is available at Ottawa.ca.

The proposal includes a tiered approach in assessing properties for stormwater management. The tiers are based on level of service provided. For village residents on water and sewer in communities like Manotick, Richmond and Munster, you will only notice a change in how your bill is presented. There will be a moderate reduction in your bill on an average of $2/month. For property owners on private services, the proposed fee would be $4/month. This is something that you don’t currently pay and it would be paid annually on your tax bill (agricultural and forested lands will be exempt). This is down from the $6 or $7 per month proposal that was floated in the spring. The report also proposed a phasing in of the charge over four years, meaning you would not pay the full amount until 2020. The total amount collected through this charge will be $2M which will go directly toward the $8M spent annually on rural stormwater services.
 
During the consultation meetings, we also heard concerns about other matters such as infilling of ditches. When all residents contributed toward stormwater services, many of us were permitted to fill in their ditch provided it did not impede drainage. That permission was removed in 2003. As a result of what we heard, the report will recommend a review of the Ditch Alteration Policy with a view to develop a process to, once again, permit the infilling of ditches. This policy review will come to Agriculture & Rural Affairs Committee in 2017.
 
You will likely hear this a few times in the coming weeks but this proposal is not perfect. There simply is no perfect way to collect fees on the basis of fairness. Each and every property contributes differently. Short of any perfect solution, we have the proposal before us. Thanks to your involvement earlier this year, the proposal is better than it was and I appreciate the way you ensured your voice was heard.
 
This report has been released a week earlier than normal so that we all have an opportunity to look at it and digest the relevant information. Please take some time, have a look at the proposal and feel free to contact me with any questions that you may have. As mentioned, you can find more information at Ottawa.ca. I sit on the Environment Committee and will be there on the 18th of October. If you’d like to address the Committee on this issue, you may do so by emailing Christopher.Zwierzchowski@ottawa.ca.

Happy 30th Birthday Manotick Messenger!

I was only five years old when Jeff Morris started printing the Manotick Messenger so I don’t really remember Manotick without it.  It has been there for many great moments in my life and I even had the opportunity to write for the Messenger when I was in high school.  My first appearance came when I was in middle school and then editor Steve Newman did a piece on me and my beer bottle collection, which consisted of approximately 700 different bottles.

Of course, the Messenger has been there during my entire political life as well from one of my first interviews in 2006 with Bev McRae this current opportunity to write a weekly column in the paper I grew up with.  The Messenger was there for my election loss in 2006 and it will be there when I say goodbye in this very column.

At a time when community newspapers are moving away from grassroots community coverage, the Manotick Messenger remains true to its commitment to this community and we are all lucky to have it.

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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.

Background on the Water, Wastewater and Stormwater Rate Structure Review

Find out more on  Ottawa.ca .

Find out more on Ottawa.ca.

The City is holding public consultations on the Water, Wastewater and Stormwater Rate Structure Review. I first mentioned this review in May 2015 and it has now evolved to the point where staff are bringing options forward for discussion. You have likely heard a lot about this over the last week from a variety of sources. The history on this file is important to remember as we proceed into a public comment period.

I want to clarify that this issue has nothing to do with whether or not someone is on a well and septic system. Nobody is proposing a tax on those two things.

This is strictly about stormwater runoff which impacts every property in one way or another.  Some properties contribute more to the need for stormwater management than others. The review also looks at this factor and it is incorporated into the options which will be presented at the public consultation.

The background is that prior to amalgamation, Rideau and Goulbourn Townships assessed all stormwater drainage on the regular tax bill. Therefore, every single property owner paid for stormwater management on their tax bill. For reasons unbeknownst to any logical person, the transition board overseeing the amalgamation process chose to shift all stormwater costs from the tax bill to the sewer and water rate bill.

Since that time, all stormwater works in the rural area have been assessed only to those who pay water and sewer bills. This means that residents in Munster, Richmond and Hillside Gardens pay for something that residents in North Gower and Ashton do not.

The upcoming meeting will be an opportunity for residents to see how the City is proposing to address the issue. The big concern is how the City can ensure that balance is created on this issue without the negative optics of creating a new tax.

The crux of the situation is that the City spends $8M per year on stormwater works in the rural area and only those who receive a water and sewer bill pay for it. Like I said, prior to amalgamation, we all paid for it.

For example, the City is replacing the entire stormwater infrastructure in Kars this year to the tune of $2M. As it happens, through no fault of their own, nobody in Kars will actually pay directly for those works. However, the payments that residents in Munster who are on municipal services make will go toward the work in Kars.

One misconception that should be mentioned is the thought that this charge is only being discussed because the City needs money.

I will admit that the rate structure review on water and sewer bills has everything to do with the fact that the City is losing money each year on the delivery of that service. 

However, the stormwater management issue is removed from that and is firmly focused on the principle that a property owner pays for the services they receive. This review looks into how could that work and how properties would be assessed.

I'm happy to discuss this further so please feel free to contact me directly if you have additional questions.

My only goal at this point is to get all of the facts out there and hope that the consultations are well attended. The consultations will be your opportunity to hear directly from City staff. We've made sure that each rural ward has a consultation meeting. Throughout the 19 urban wards, there will only be 3 meetings but we'll have four in the rural area. 

The Rideau-Goulbourn meeting will be held on April 5th, beginning at 7:00pm, at the Alfred Taylor Recreation Centre in North Gower. 

This location was chosen because it is somewhat central to the ward and is the largest and most accessible space available. I encourage everyone to attend. Strong attendance at these meetings sends a strong message.

If you would like to read more about this issue, please visit Ottawa.ca.

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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.

Corrections and comments about the February 24 Council meeting

To begin this week, I just want to correct something from last week’s column:

When discussing the photo radar motion, I had said it would come to Council on March 9th. In March, Council only meets once and that will be the fourth Wednesday of the month, not the second. Therefore, the photo radar motion will come before Council for a vote on March 23rd. As it turns out, I will not be in attendance at this meeting. 

However, your feedback on the photo radar issue is still very important. The motion before Council simply asks the Province to allow municipalities to use it as a tool for speed enforcement, nothing more. If the Province obliges, the City would then discuss this matter further to determine if, how, when and where it would deploy photo radar. I have received good feedback so far on the matter so please keep it coming! 

February 24, 2016 city Council Meeting

February 24th Meeting of Council

At the most recent meeting of Council, we deliberated several motions that resulted in split votes. There were three to be exact and I wound up on the losing side of all three. My votes were mentioned in the press so I thought I would elaborate on my rationale in opposing the three motions.

The first was a motion of support for the Canadian Radio-television & Telecommunications (CRTC) ruling that would require the sharing of fiber-optic networks between large and small competitors. Bell Canada appealed this decision and its appeal is now before the Government of Canada. The benefit of the ruling would be that small providers can access the infrastructure installed by large service providers, such as Bell and Telus. The downside, according to Bell Canada, is that they’ll delay fiber-optic rollout if it means that they’ll just be supplying infrastructure to their competitors

I voted against this motion for two reasons. First, the comment period ended back in December making this motion somewhat redundant. Secondly, my focus needs to be on rural internet customers. I don’t see a scenario in which small internet service providers are going to provide their own fibre optic network to rural Ottawa. If that service is going to be provided, it will almost certainly come from Bell. I cannot support any scenario which could have the possibility of delaying the rollout of that service to rural customers.

The second issue was with regard to the spraying of mosquitoes on Kanata North. I lost 23-1 on this one. As a result, Kanata North residents will now pay a Special Area Levy each year on their taxes for four years on a campaign to reduce the presence of mosquitoes. There are no guarantees it will work. My opposition was based purely on process. Unfortunately, while we have a clear process for Local Improvement projects, we have nothing for special levies of this kind. In fact, a poll of residents isn’t even technically required at all. On a whim, a Councillor could bring forward a special levy to pay for a pet project. As a result, I have already begun looking into creating a process for special levies similar to what we already have in place for local improvements.

Lastly, I voted against a motion seeking to increase greenhouse gas reduction targets.  Now, to be clear, this wasn’t a vote against the climate change issue. I supported the Air Quality & Climate Change Management Plan when it was passed at Environment Committee and Council in 2014. I was Vice-Chair of the Committee at that time and helped usher through a plan that set short-term, achievable targets with a clear plan to get there. This was a plan that would even save the City money in the long run.  What appeared on the Council agenda on February 24th was merely a motion with no clear plan that only sets a higher target over a longer period of time. When broken down, the motion is little more than an effort to pander to those pushing for more action on climate change. It doesn’t, however, actually achieve any increased action on climate change.

In my opinion, the motion was purely politics. I voted against it for that reason. If someone wants to bring forward a plan with tangible objectives and a clear path to get there, like what we did when we brought forward the AQCCMP in 2014, then I’ll be happy to review that at that time.

Stormwater Rate Structure Review

You may recall in May 2015, I highlighted an upcoming review on water, sewer and stormwater charges.  In next week’s column, I will provide more details on where this currently stands. In the meantime, I just want to provide as much notice as possible that the City will host a public meeting on the matter on April 5th at the Alfred Taylor Recreation Centre in North Gower. There will be one meeting per rural ward so North Gower was chosen as the most central location. The meeting will begin at 7:00pm.  Stay tuned to next week’s column for more details.

Miller’s Oven Royal Breakfast

On Sunday, March 13th, the Miller’s Oven is bringing Anna & Elsa to Manotick!  There will be three seatings: 9:00am, 10:00am & 11:00am.  Tickets are on sale now at the Miller’s Oven and can also be picked up at The Fairytale Boutique (5560 Manotick Main Street).  Tickets go for $6 for children and $8 for adults.

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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.