Committee approves new policies to guide inclusive commemoration

A graphic with Ottawa City Hall is in the background. A vertical grey stripe and a horizontal purple stripe are in the foreground with "Community Services Committee " in the centre.

The Community Services Committee today approved two new policies that aim to guide official commemorations(link is external) that honour Ottawa’s diverse community in a fair and respectful manner. 

The first new policy is the overarching Municipal Commemoration Policy – the City’s first comprehensive policy guiding commemorative decision making, programs and activities. It covers traditional commemorations, like naming assets, benches, and trees, as well as alternative commemorations, like artwork and interactive participation. 

The policy outlines a consistent process that prioritizes local Ottawa legacies while fostering commemorations that recognize historically under-represented communities, including the Anishinabe Algonquin Nation and other equity-denied groups. A working group of City staff, representatives of the Host Nation and Ottawa residents would be established to help implement the policy, suggest new areas of commemoration and review contentious applications. 

This overarching policy supports the second policy approved today: the Commemorative Naming Policy. It would guide an inclusive and sustainable naming program that reflects Ottawa’s culture. To increase representation of the entire community equitably, Indigenous names and names from under-represented groups would be prioritized for review by the working group before the City seeks public input. 

Commemorative naming criteria would be expanded to facilitate three types of recognition: individual merit, collective or group merit, and significant local events. A simplified application process would make the program more accessible and efficient. To ensure financial sustainability, associated costs would be shared between the City and those requesting a commemoration.  

The Committee received an update on the Integrated Transition to Housing Strategy(link is external), which helps single adult shelter clients transition to housing and addresses pressures in the shelter system. The City and its partners have made notable progress over the past year: 

  • 360 clients of the City’s Physical Distancing-Emergency Overflow Centres were housed 

  • 161 of those clients received the City’s new piloted housing allowance benefit. 

  • 177 new supportive housing units were opened or are in construction  

  • 423 new shelter and transitional housing beds have been added or are in development, prioritizing increased capacity in existing Physical Distancing-Emergency Overflow Centres 

  • 365 temporary shelter spaces were added over the winter to keep people out of the cold 

Demand for shelter space has also increased significantly, however, and the single adult shelter system is now serving 55 per cent more clients than in May 2023. Newcomers make up 64 per cent of clients, up from 21 per cent in June 2023. To help address this pressure, the City provides targeted support for newcomer clients at its Physical Distancing-Emergency Overflow Centres, helping them to settle in Ottawa. The City is also exploring locations and seeking federal funding for dedicated newcomer reception centres. 

The Committee approved the Vanier Culture in Action Plan(link is external): a collaborative and community-led approach to the cultural revitalization of Vanier. The City would work closely with the community to implement 39 actions designed to support and enhance the vision of Vanier as a cultural hub, including through events, activities, public artwork, sports, parks and tourism. The plan would be overseen by a working group of City staff and community members that reflect the cultural diversity of Vanier, including franco-Ontarians, urban Indigenous people and newcomers to Ottawa.   

Items considered at this meeting will rise to Council on Wednesday, July 10. 

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