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.

Doors Open Ottawa is back June 4-5!

When I last spoke of the Water, Wasterwater & Stormwater Review, I mentioned that the report and any recommendations were to be delayed to give staff more time to assess all of the comments from the eight consultation sessions.  As you may have already heard in recent days, the item is now scheduled to come back in September.  I will keep you updated on any developments over the next few months.

Photo Radar

In my March 23rd column, I summarized some of the opinions surrounding the issue of photo radar and its use on Ottawa streets.  Originally scheduled to go to Council in March, it was referred, for a more fulsome discussion, to Transportation Committee, which occurred earlier this month.  Leading up to this committee meeting, many of the comments heard city-wide aligned with the comments that I had heard in Rideau-Goulbourn.  As a result, a substitute motion was brought forward that, instead of asking for a blanket approval for the use of photo radar, asks the Province to allow the City of Ottawa to run a pilot project for photo radar exclusively in school zones.

Many arguments were heard for and against the use of photo radar.  Some wanted to see it used anywhere and everywhere.  Some wanted it to be used as a revenue tool.  Others fundamentally opposed its use. The motion to test it in school zones was a compromise motion that garnered the support of the Committee and, ultimately, Council.  At the Council meeting, I seconded a motion put forward by Councillor Stephen Blais that also seeks to have all School Zones double as Community Safety Zones.

There is no real timing for next steps on this issue.  The request goes to the Province and they will determine whether or not to allow the use of photo radar.  If yes, the City of Ottawa will then further consider the factors of implementation, such as the limit to set it at and the awareness of the zones.

ARAC

The June meeting of the Agriculture & Rural Affairs Committee is being held on Friday, June 3rd as the Thursday is the date of the Rural Expo and Food Aid Day.  The time and location are the same as always; 10:00am at Ben Franklin Place.  Agenda items include:

  • Water Environment Strategy: Phase 2
  • Zoning By-Law Amendments: 1613 Devine Road, 3940 Dunning Road

The Zoning By-Law Amendments are both for surplus farm severances.  As you can see the agenda is quite light.  The Water Environment Strategy was presented to Environment Committee last week but is mandated to be reviewed by ARAC as well.

Doors Open Ottawa

On June 4th and 5th, the public will have access, at no charge, to more than 120 buildings around the Ottawa region. Doors Open Ottawa offers something for everyone, from municipal facilities and government buildings to private businesses, artists’ studios and places of worship, to embassies and high commissions of countries from across the globe.

Shopify hosted the launch event at its Elgin Street headquarters and will be among the 19 new locations participating in the Doors Open Ottawa weekend in June. For the fifth consecutive year, there will be a free accessible OC Transpo shuttle bus sponsored by the Ottawa Citizen. More than 50 participating buildings can be accessed from the shuttle loop, giving everyone a wide choice of amazing facilities that can be reached quickly without a vehicle.

For a full list of participating buildings, including which ones are accessible, and information about the shuttle bus, visit ottawa.ca/doorsopen.  Rideau-Goulbourn buildings include Canadian Guide Dogs for the Blind National Headquarters, Watson’s Mill, Dickinson House, Ayres Building (Home to ROSSS), Rideau Township Archives and the Goulbourn Museum.

Ottawa4FortMac

Ottawa Senators player Chris Phillips and Mayor Jim Watson invite you to support the Canadian Red Cross’ emergency appeal and the United Way’s relief efforts directed towards helping the residents of Fort McMurray rebuild their lives and their community, by attending their fundraising event: Ottawa4FortMac.

The fundraiser will feature an evening of live country music, a pizza dinner catered by local pizzerias, local craft beer sampling and western-themed activities such as wild mechanical bull rides. Ottawa-born Country sensation Kira Isabella, Ottawa Country group River Town Saints and Country brother duo The Abrams will keep you dancing all night long.

Ottawa4FortMac will happen on June 8, 6:30pm until 10:00pm at Lansdowne Park in the Aberdeen Pavilion, 1000 Exhibition Way.

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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.

*****

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.

ServiceOttawa is here to help you

Service Ottawa Vision

The City of Ottawa is committed to putting the needs of Citizens first and developed a Service-Ottawa initiative that provides a one-step access to services and information. Council has identified Service Delivery a priority. Therefore Service-Ottawa was created under Service Excellence to standardize the City’s front-end service delivery.

The vision of Service-Ottawa is to achieve better outcomes for Ottawa residents and businesses by providing a consistent and positive client experience across multiple channels with a focus on Service Excellence.

Service-Ottawa: 3-1-1 Call Centre

Service-Ottawa provides three doors to access City of Ottawa services-  one is by calling 3-1-1 (613-580-2400), attending a Client Service Centre in person, or by completing a form online through Service Ottawa. Citizens can call Service-Ottawa for various services provided by the City of Ottawa. Some of these services include:

By-Law Services

Garbage and Recycling

Animals
Cats
Dogs
Other animals
Parking
Parking in Excess of Time Limits
Unauthorized Parking
Property Violations
Property Violations – Exterior
Property Violations- Interior
Apartments
Apartments- Garbage
Apartments- Blue Recycling Carts
Apartments- Recycling Grey Bins
Apartments- Recycling Yellow Bin
Curb Side Collection
Black Box- Curb Side
Blue Box- Curb Side
Christmas Tree Pick-Up
Garbage Collection- Curb Side
Garbage Collection Calendar
Order a Garbage Collection Calendar sent in the mail.
   

Roads and Transportation

Water and Environment

Maintenance
Drain Covers on Roadways
Road Maintenance
Sidewalk and Path Maintenance
Street Lighting
Parking
Parking in Excess of Time Limits
Pay& Display Machine
Unauthorized Parking
Graffiti on Private Property
Graffiti on Public Property
Vandalism

 

After contacting the Service-Ottawa call centre by dialling 3-1-1 or 613-580-2400, a Service-Ottawa call centre agent will provide information regarding municipal services, as well as a create a service request when further action is needed. If a service request number has not been created, agents will provide you with a reference number to allow you to keep track of the progress made on the issue or concern.

Service -Ottawa Gateway Online

Accessing the City Services and information received a technological upgrade, when the City launched an enhanced ottawa.ca with the new Service Ottawa gateway. This gateway allows citizens to complete over 250 different types of service requests online, using the click of a button, removing the need to call or visit a Client Service Centre.

The information entered by the citizen will be electronically generated with a tracking number and notification sent directly to the resident, and request sent to the field crew in one step.

Here are some of the top service transactions that can be completed online:

  • Report an issue with green bin collection
  • Report an unauthorized vehicle parked on private property
  • Report a vehicle that has been parked longer that the allowed time limit
  • Pay a parking ticket
  • Report a Pothole on the road
  • Register for recreation classes and activities
  • Request a garbage and recycling collection calendar to be mailed to you

Following up on Service Request

Residents will receive a request number upon completion of a service transaction online. Using this tracking reference number and their email for authentication, residents can track the status of their request and the estimated response time through the Service-Ottawa gateway on ottawa.ca.

Spring 2012 Well Water Testing - Everything you need to know

Residents who are on a well should test their water regular to ensure their water supply is safe to drink. It is recommended that testing for bacteria is completed three times a year and after major plumbing work. Testing for nitrates is also recommended. In agricultural areas, residents may also wish to test for pesticides, herbicides, gasoline and solvents.
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False house calls prompt warning from City

The City of Ottawa has received reports of unknown salespeople approaching the homes of residents and identifying themselves as City employees. They claim the city requires access to the home to perform water quality tests. Any visits by City staff that may require access to homes or businesses are scheduled in advance unless an emergency situation exists. Residents are also provided with advance notice of projects that might impact them.
Read More

Annual Drinking Water System reports

The 2011 Annual Drinking Water System reports confirm that Ottawa delivers safe drinking water that exceeds all expectations for meeting provincial standards and federal guidelines.

These Ontario Ministry Environment reports, including those for Carp, Munster, Richmond (Kings Park), Greely (Shadow Ridge) and Vars, are now posted online at ottawa.ca. They summarize water quality testing results for 2011 for all drinking water systems in Ottawa and include information such as the description of the water system and test results for each water quality parameter.

Ice Safety Awareness: Think twice before venturing onto the ice

The Ottawa Drowning Prevention Coalition wants to remind residents that when the temperatures go down, awareness of the dangers of being on or around ice and open water needs to go up. When water begins to freeze on rivers, lakes, the Rideau Canal and other open bodies of water it may look solid but is often still dangerous.
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