December 8, 2023 newsletter from Rawlson King, City Councillor for Rideau-Rockcliffe.
A Message from Councillor King
On Wednesday, Council approved the City’s $5.8-billion capital and operating budget for 2024. Residents will see a 2.5-per-cent tax increase, which means the average urban homeowner will pay an additional $105 on their annual property tax bill, while the average rural homeowner will pay an additional $86. Overall, I supported the budget as a whole due to its unprecedented, on-time investments in affordable housing, along with increased investments in infrastructure and climate resilience.
Budget 2024 commits $33.5 million in municipal funds to improve access to housing and provide support to keep people housed, including $15.7 million for the housing and homelessness investment plan, and $8.8 million for housing benefits through Ontario Works. There is also $4.6 million for family and emergency shelters, $3.1 million for other homelessness programs and $1.3 million to support the social housing program. In addition, the City is also committing $5 million to advance its transitional housing strategy and is contributing a record $30 million to affordable housing for immediate capital investment.
Budget 2024 also includes more than $300 million for overall integrated road construction and road renewal, storm and surface water rehabilitation, bridges, sidewalks, and pathways. The City is investing more than $62 million for traffic and pedestrian safety improvements, ranging from intersection control measures, programs for cycling and pedestrian facilities and network modifications to active transportation and neighbourhood traffic calming. It also includes road safety initiatives in the Strategic Road Safety Action Plan.
In terms of addressing climate change, the budget includes $180 million for zero-emission buses, as well as $63.2 million to protect City facilities, including wastewater treatment, drinking water treatment, energy conservation measures and accessibility upgrades. The City continues to invest in sustainable waste management, with $4.5 million to develop and implement the Solid Waste Master Plan and related projects.
In my capacity as Council Liaison for Antiracism and Ethnocultural Relations Initiatives, I was happy to have secured an extra $120,000 specifically for the expansion of Black-led community initiatives, as part of the City’s Anti-Racism Strategy commitments, as well as allocate resources for the creation of new City-wide anti-hate initiatives. Police said that 71 hate crimes were reported from October 7 to December 2, representing a 238-per-cent increase compared to the same two-month period in 2022. More than 50 incidents targeted the Jewish and Muslim communities, 41 of which were deemed criminal. Council thus passed a motion to direct City staff to “explore opportunities” to address the rise in hate crimes in Ottawa through educational initiatives. I made a statement concerning the anti-hate initiatives motion, which can be seen on my YouTube channel.
The 2024 City Budget also secures an additional $400,000 to fund agencies that are providing direct food assistance to the City’s most vulnerable residents.
Areas of the budget that I did not support included the $415.5-million police budget and the $770-million transit budget. I did not support the police budget as I believe more efficiencies need to be found from the police budget to enable the municipality to redirect more revenue to social services. I believe the police service needs to accelerate its efforts in re-tasking front-end solutions so that vulnerable people can be linked with needed housing and social services rather than engage with the criminal justice system. I also did not support the transit budget as I believe permanent cuts to OC Transpo have been detrimental to bus and Para Transpo service levels. Consequently, I did support the failed call to introduce a transit fare freeze, which would have cost the City $3.8 million, or approximately $8 for the average taxpayer.
While this budget invests in core services and focuses on key priorities to make Ottawa better, I believe future budgets will need to be even more aggressive in terms of investments in affordable housing, parks and infrastructure.
To learn more about the 2024 Budget, I encourage you to visit Ottawa.ca, where you will find a high-level summary, alongside the detailed plans to outline what this budget means to Ottawa residents and City services.
Your Councillor in the Community
City of Ottawa News, Events, Meetings and Engagement Opportunities
New Suicide Crisis Helpline in Canada
9-8-8 is Canada’s new three-digit suicide crisis helpline. People in Canada can call or text 9-8-8 to access bilingual, trauma-informed, and culturally appropriate mental health and suicide prevention support. The service is free and can be accessed 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. Trained crisis responders will listen to you and provide support with compassion, providing a safe space for you to talk. If you or someone you may know is thinking about suicide, call or text 9-8-8. For more information, please visit 988.ca.
Mayor's Annual Christmas Celebration - Dec. 9
Mayor Mark Sutcliffe will host the Mayor’s 21st Annual Christmas Celebration on Dec. 9, from 2 to 5 pm, at Ottawa City Hall, 110 Laurier Avenue West, in support of the Ottawa Food Bank. Admission is by donation to the Ottawa Food Bank. For more information, please click here.
Snow Go & Snow Go Assist
- Be an older adult of at least 60 years old or a person with a disability.
- Have a low income and show proof (annual income below $36,075 if single and below $44,160 for a household of two persons or more)
Between 1956 and 1972, children in Ottawa could start their celebration of the Christmas holidays with a ride on a very special train. Freiman’s Department Store chartered a special Santa Claus train on the Canadian National Railway that would take children and their chaperones from Ottawa to the “North Pole,” AKA the village of Vars, where Santa would be waiting to greet them. Andrew Jeanes has been delving into the history of the Santa Claus train for almost twenty years, and will tell the story of Freiman’s—once one of Ottawa’s most successful independent department stores—the train, the stations it stopped at and the people who made this special Christmas railway excursion happen over its seventeen years of existence. For details, please visit Heritage Ottawa's website.
Wednesday, December 13, 2023 - 19:00 to 20:00
Presented via ZOOM | Pre-Registration Required | CLICK HERE to register for this free lecture.
The Roadmap Connect program
The Roadmap Connect: Infrastructure Institute and CP Planning are excited to announce a partnership on a series of mentorship programs via Roadmap Connect. This program seeks to address the barriers that racialized leaders and communities of non-profit organizations face in the development and procurement of affordable housing. The first offering is a 10-part webinar series. These 90- minute webinars will take place over the lunch hour and are open to the public. Each session will have the primary focus of either identifying Board or Finance solutions. For details, please click here.
Applications are also open for the Organizational Readiness Program, a 6-week program for organizations seeking support with an assessment of their “readiness” to develop an affordable housing project. To view the Organizational Readiness application and learn more about the program, please visit infrastructureinstitute.ca/roadmap-accelerator-program. The Roadmap is an Ontario-wide project led by CP Planning addressing the problem of systemic racism, displacement and low planning outputs of affordable housing through the creation and implementation of Inclusive Neighbourhood Planning Hubs supported by strategic planning, mentorship, and vertical integration between racialized communities and those with assets, knowledge and/or social capital to plan and develop affordable housing. The application deadline is January 8, 2024.
Recruitment for the Transit Advisory Working Group - Deadline to apply is Dec. 22
OC Transpo is recruiting members for a new Transit Advisory Working Group. This ad hoc advisory body will provide volunteer opportunities for residents to advise OC Transpo’s leadership on a wide variety of matters relating to the operation of public transit, including Para Transpo, conventional bus service and the O-Train. If you are interested in providing a voice on the future of our city’s transit services, please complete the application form before 5 pm on Friday, December 22. Questions can be sent to [email protected].
Holiday Events around Ottawa
- Ottawa Christmas Market, Aberdeen Square at Lansdowne, until December 23
- Magic of Lights, Wesley Clover Park Campground, 411 Corkstown Road, until January 6
- Winter Lights across Canada, Parliament Hill, until January 7
- Billings Estate National Historic Site – Home for the Holidays, Wednesday to Saturday from 10 am to 5 pm, until December 23. Regular admission fees apply.
- Cumberland Heritage Village Museum – Vintage Village of Lights, Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays until December 17, 4 to 9 pm. Cost: $25 per group (1 – 6 people per group). Advance registration is required.
Resources for those experiencing homelessness:
The Salvation Army Ottawa Booth Centre operates a Mobile Outreach Van and responds to calls made to the City's 3-1-1 Call Line. They encourage people to seek warm indoor locations and can transport them to an emergency or overnight shelter. In addition, they also provide warm clothing and other resources to those who might refuse shelter. Anyone who is unsheltered can access services at any time by calling 3-1-1 or presenting themselves at a shelter. You can locate a shelter near you on OPH’s cold weather webpage. You can also call 2-1-1 to obtain information about services and locations of drop-in centres, where to obtain winter clothing and more.
Who to call for help:
- Call 3-1-1 to get referred to the best available shelter, or to get assistance for someone who needs transportation to get out of the cold.
- Call 9-1-1 for medical emergency assistance such as hypothermia.
Flu and COVID-19 vaccines
Ottawa Public Health (OPH) expects the 2023/2024 respiratory season to be atypical when compared to pre-pandemic years, with early activity of respiratory viruses such as influenza (flu) and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) circulating simultaneously with COVID-19. OPH recommends that everyone 6 months and older get the annual flu vaccine and the updated XBB 1.5-containing COVID-19 mRNA vaccine. Flu and COVID-19 vaccines are particularly recommended for people at high risk of severe illness from flu and/or COVID-19 as well as health care workers and first responders.
To book your appointment for your annual flu vaccine:
Flu vaccine appointments at OPH Community Clinics can be booked through the Ottawa Public Health website.
NCC annual public meeting - new date: Dec. 13
The National Capital Commission's 2023 Annual Public Meeting (APM) will be held on Dec. 13, from 2:30 to 3:30 pm. The event will be livestreamed online with simultaneous interpretation and closed captioning in both official languages. The APM is an opportunity for the Chairperson and the CEO to provide an overview of the NCC’s accomplishments over the past year and an outline of its priorities for the year to come, as well as an occasion for members of the public to ask questions. For details, please visit the NCC's webpage.
The City has identified the need for an outdoor tennis and pickleball strategy, which will ensure that communities across Ottawa have access to tennis and pickleball. The strategy will also serve as a reference guide for future management, oversight, and development of all public and club-operated outdoor tennis and pickleball courts. Currently the City operates over 500 outdoor tennis and pickleball courts, including combination courts, single sport courts and municipal membership club courts. Following an evaluation of the current public court model, the strategy will identify a clear direction and delivery model for both outdoor tennis and pickleball across Ottawa. For more information, please visit engage.ottawa.ca/tennis_pickleball.
Virtual Consultation Sessions *Note that registration for each session will be limited to 100 participants.
- Session #1: Dec. 12, from 6:30 to 8 pm on Zoom - REGISTER HERE
- Session #2: Dec. 14, from 9:30 to 11 am on Zoom - REGISTER HERE
Survey: Resident feedback is an important part of developing the City’s outdoor tennis and pickleball strategy. Complete the survey at this link before Dec. 30 to tell the City about your household’s use of the outdoor tennis and pickleball courts in your community.
Supporting Black Canadian Communities Initiative - Funding application period open until Dec. 15
Funding up to $105,000 is available to non-profit Black-led and Black-serving organizations under the federal government’s Supporting Black Canadian Communities Initiative (SBCCI). The National Funders network, which includes Tropicana Community Services, Africa Centre, Black Business Initiative and Groupe 3737, has launched a call for proposals under SBCCI. The application period remains open until December 15. For more details, including links to the National Funders network, visit SBCCI. Funding is done across two streams: Capital Assistance and Capacity Building. Projects may include improving their workplaces and community spaces, purchasing work-related equipment, and undertaking renovations of existing spaces to enhance their functionality.
- Has affordable housing and is more liveable for all (fall 2023)
- Is more connected with reliable, safe and accessible mobility options (winter 2024)
- Is green and resilient (spring 2024)
- Has a diversified and prosperous economy (summer 2024)
The project Tapestry presents: Stories from Ottawa's Chinese Canadian Community features newly acquired material from Ottawa's Chinese Canadian community. These materials highlight community advocacy and promote cross-cultural understanding on Chinese Canadian media issues, community-police relations, and over 100 years of community history from early immigration to modern-day Chinatown. The exhibit is on until March 16, 2024 display at the City of Ottawa Central Archives - James K. Bartleman Centre at 100 Tallwood Drive in Nepean. For details and hours of operation, please click here.
Recreation and Culture News at the City of Ottawa
The City will be starting Summer Camp Registration in January! Online registration will begin January 16, 2024 at 9 pm for Summer Camps. Summer programs will be available for registration in May 2024. Make sure you mark your calendar to ensure that your children can get into the camps they like best. Go to Courses and camps | City of Ottawa for more details.
- Winter Registration: Now Open
- March Break Camps and Summer Camps Registration:
Opens January 16 at 9pm
- Summer Programming Registration: Opens May 2024 - Stay tuned for details
Ottawa Fire News
Ottawa Fire Services engagement survey - Open until Jan. 4
Ottawa Fire Services protects the lives, property, and environment for the residents of and visitors to the City of Ottawa. Ottawa Fire Services (OFS) responds from 45 stations located across the City of Ottawa. Collectively, these stations provide service to approximately 1,046,440 residents across 2,796 square kilometers. The OFS team is comprised of career firefighters, volunteer firefighters as well as inspection, education, safety, training, communications, maintenance and operational support personnel. As part of our commitment to serving our community we are looking for your feedback on the services we provide. This survey is voluntary, and the feedback will be used to help inform our programs and improve our services. For the engagement survey, please click here. The survey will remain open until Jan. 4, 2024. For more information, please visit Engage Ottawa.
Ottawa Police News
Festive RIDE 2023: Drive sober this holiday season
This holiday season, the Ottawa Police Service (OPS) will be conducting RIDE (Reduce Impaired Driving Everywhere) programs and is reminding drivers to celebrate responsibly and keep our roads safe. The OPS’ municipal and policing partners, like the RCMP, OPP, MADD Ottawa and the Ottawa Insurance Brokers Association, will also be involved in the RIDE campaign. During the program, RIDE checkpoints will be present at various times throughout the city. For more information, please visit the Ottawa Police Service website.
Ottawa Police and partners collecting personal hygiene products until Dec. 10
The Ottawa Police Service and its partners, Shoppers Drug Mart and Citron Hygiene, are once again inviting Ottawa residents to help them collect personal hygiene products for women. There are several locations where people can drop off donations until Dec. 10. For details, please click here.
How to protect your vehicle from being stolen
The Ottawa Police would like to remind residents to remain vigilant, stay safe, and safeguard their vehicles to avoid being a victim of vehicle theft. For tips, please visit ottawapolice.ca. Ottawa police are asking the public to please report any suspicious activity immediately to police at 613-236-1222, ext. 7300 or for a crime in progress, call 911. Anonymous tips can be submitted by calling Crime Stoppers toll-free at 1-800-222-8477 or at crimestoppers.ca.