February 2020 newsletter from Rawlson King, City Councillor for Rideau-Rockcliffe.
It has been a busy couple of weeks for us at City Hall! Council meetings have resumed, I worked with Councillor McKenney on their housing motion, and Black History Month events are in full swing. Having been elected the first-ever Black city councillor in the City's history, I am happy to have the opportunity to participate in several Black History Month events this month. Black History Month is observed every February and provides an opportunity to share and learn about the experiences, contributions and achievements of peoples of African ancestry in Canada. This month, I will contribute to a discussion focused on the mental health of Black communities in the National Capital Region at the University of Ottawa on Feburary 13; I will give a talk about my political experiences for the Historical Society of Ottawa Speaker Series at Ottawa Library's Central Branch on February 12, and I and provide opening remarks at a City of Ottawa hosted panel discussion entitled Towards a Racially Just Workforce: Leadership and the Black Experience, to be held February 27 at Ben Franklin Place.
CITY HALL UPDATES
Housing and Homelessness Emergency Motion
I was beyond pleased to second the successful motion to make Ottawa the first city in Canada to declare a housing and homelessness emergency and to attend a rally for the motion. With the hard work and dedication of my colleague, Councillor McKenney, we were able to achieve a unanimous vote by council in support of the motion. At Council on January 29th, I made this statement:
“Ottawa prides itself on being a caring and compassionate city, where people want to live, work and play. Safe, adequate and affordable homes are fundamental to this goal. Unfortunately, I agree with my colleague, Councillor McKenney, our Special Liaison for Housing and Homelessness, that our City is moving in the wrong direction, further away from this vision.
The situation concerning homelessness has moved beyond an urgent crisis, so I also believe we should call it what it is: a municipal emergency that is putting people’s lives at risk. The City’s own review of its housing plan showed that instead of decreasing, shelter use increased by 6.5 percent. Shelters in Ottawa are full and often operating at overcapacity.
If the original goal of the City’s Ten-Year Housing and Homelessness Plan was to reduce shelter use by 40 percent, then by now, we should only have 5,150 people using our shelter system annually, working our way to 3,862 people by 2023. Instead, the total annual number now is almost 8,000 residents. Last night, more than 500 people slept in shelters who are chronically homeless, meaning they have been sleeping in shelters for more than 18 months. Those who were sleeping on our streets were doing so in minus 20-degree conditions.
Ending this chronic homelessness is a realistic goal and could be achieved in five years, but only if we obtain the immediate support of senior levels of government to fill the massive funding shortfall required to end chronic homelessness and to build and upgrade our community housing stock to address the growing wait list for affordable housing, which increased by nearly 15 percent in the last year alone.
The wait list for community housing has grown to 12,000 households and there are currently 600 families cramped in motel rooms throughout this city who will not likely get housing for at least a year.
These statistics are indicative of a growing, intolerable, situation in our City, which, quite frankly, has been precipitated by federal and provincial funding levels which are not sufficient to provide adequate affordable housing to our residents, or to eliminate chronic homelessness in our City.”
To hear my full statement, check out this video on my website. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=woWzSqBwHV4&feature=youtu.be
Rodent Control Update
I was also happy to second and support Rideau-Vanier Councillor Mathieu Fleury's motion at Council late last year to address surface rats in city parks, infrastructure projects, backyards and city streets.
The motion ensures that the City pre-baits parks and any city-run infrastructure projects, create a framework that allows By-law Enforcement Services to inspect abandoned or vacant buildings properties and bait accordingly and determine methods to legally to require property owners to pre-baiting prior to demolition.
The text of Councillor Fleury's motion, which was received unanimous support, is below.
That Council approve:
- that staff be directed to implement rat control methods, including specific rat prevention practices in regular parks maintenance and specific rat prevention practices, such as pre-baiting, in any new infrastructure projects; and
- that staff be directed to incorporate inspections for rats into the twice annual inspections of abandoned buildings and issue orders to the owners to remedy, at a neutral cost, any infestations if evidence is found; and,
- that staff in Planning, Infrastructure and Economic Development be directed to assess the options, including Legal Services, under their mandate to implement a program for proactive rat baiting prior to construction and issuing demolition permits and development applications and if such a program is possible, report back to the appropriate committee with recommendations including how such a program could be administered, detail any financial impacts and what monitoring could be put in place to assess its effectiveness; and
- that the Mayor on behalf of Council write the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing requesting that the Province expand the definition of “applicable law” under the Building Code to include by-laws made by a municipality for proactive rat baiting in relation to a demolition requiring a permit under the Building Code Act, 1992.
Changes to Green Bin Program
Plastic bags can be used as a bagging option for household organics in the green bin. Pet waste is also accepted – including dog waste and kitty litter.
The City has now made the green bin cleaner and more convenient to use. Using the green bin takes advantage of weekly pickup, while garbage is collected bi-weekly.
No need to purchase plastic or compostable bags. You can reuse common ones around your home:
- bread bags
- milk bags
- grocery and retail bags
If you are currently using paper products and it works for you, please continue. It also remains a clean and convenient option. The plastic bag option is just one of many that are tailored to our residents’ comfort level and interest. The other options include:
- Paper bags
- Newspaper linings in the kitchen counter container
- The use of cereal boxes and milk cartons to contain food waste
The City encourages residents who are using these options to continue their current practices.
Be a hydrant hero this winter!
In an emergency every second counts – and when a fire hydrant is covered in snow, crews lose precious time trying to dig it out.
If a fire hydrant is located on your property, you are responsible for ensuring nothing obstructs access to the hydrant, as per Ottawa's Water By-law.
The City encourages you to be a hydrant hero this winter and keep your local hydrant clear of snow. Clearing 1.5 metres around a hydrant maintains access for our firefighters and helps them keep you, your family and your community safe.
Contractors are reminded to not pile snow over or against hydrants when clearing pathways and driveways in the winter.
If you are unable to clear the hydrant on your property, please call 3-1-1.
Service Animal Registration
You may know that the City of Ottawa requires that cat and dog owners register their pets, but did you also know that service animals are required to be registered as well? Registration ensures the City has the necessary information to help reunite you with your pet if it becomes lost.
Registrations can be done online at My ServiceOttawa, or in person at one of the City’s Client Service Centres. Fees vary for different pets, but service animal registration is provided free of charge.
New in 2020: Get a FREE $25 Ren’s Pets Coupon with each pet registration. More information is available on Ottawa.ca.
Road Safety Plan to Reduce Collisions
Adopting the Road Safety Action Plan has continued our City’s progress towards zero fatalities and major injuries on our roadways. Back in December 2019, Council approved the City’s third Road Safety Action Plan.
The goal of this four-year plan is to reduce the average annual rate of fatal and major injury collisions in Ottawa by 20 per cent by 2024.
Guided by the theme "Think Safety, Act Safely", the Road Safety Action Plan focuses on areas that would have the greatest impact on reducing these collisions, including:
- Vulnerable road users, including pedestrians, cyclists and motorcyclists;
- Rural areas;
- Intersections; and,
- High-risk driver behaviours, like aggression, impairment and distraction.
Council’s approval of the Road Safety Action Plan included the allocation of a one-time $4 million investment that will be used in 2020 to enhance existing programs, as well as to introduce new strategies and tactics to make our roads safer.
A couple of the measures to be implemented this year in support of more vulnerable road users include:
- Implementing enhanced high-visibility pedestrian crosswalk markings at 10 high-priority locations; and,
- Constructing pedestrian signals at two warranted locations – at Bay Street and Gladstone Avenue, and at Metcalfe Street and Waverley Street West.
RBC Spirit of the Capital Youth Award Nominations
Youth Ottawa once again will recognize Ottawa's most exceptional young people at the 23rd Annual RBC Spirit of the Capital Youth Awards on the evening of Tuesday, May 26th, 2020 at Ottawa City Hall. Youth Ottawa is looking for exceptional young people to honour at the upcoming RBC Spirit of the Capital Youth Awards. If you know, or are, a young person helping to make your community a better place, we want to hear from you.
All award recipients will receive a $1,000 bursary to be used towards the advancement of academic pursuits or social and environmental change projects in line with the values of Youth Ottawa.
Awards are presented in the following categories: Academic Perseverance, Arts and Culture, Entrepreneurship and Innovation, Service and Caring, Strength Through Diversity, Take a Stand and the Max Keeping Award for Personal Courage.
These categories are designed to broaden our appreciation for what is being done in our community from the smallest gesture to international efforts. Each award has its own criteria, and application forms can be found on this website www.youthottawa.ca/nominate
R4 Zoning Input
The City of Ottawa has produced a Discussion Paper proposing changes to the R4 family of zones, in order to enable and encourage the development of small, affordable and context-sensitive infill apartment dwellings in and around downtown. The Discussion Paper and other materials can be found at Ottawa.ca/R4Zoning. The deadline to comment on this Discussion Paper has been extended to February 21, 2020.
I am excited to update residents on the Habitat for Humanity build that will be happening at Wateridge Village. Over the past three years, Habitat Greater Ottawa has transitioned from a builder of single-family homes to a developer of communities. There are far too many families living in inadequate housing in our city, many with no hope of ever owning a home. The continued rise in rental prices has created challenges for working families struggling to find affordable and appropriate stable long-term housing that meets their needs.
Habitat Greater Ottawa will break ground on their next build at Wateridge Village in the spring of 2020. It is an 8-unit stacked townhome centrally located on the former Canadian Forces Rockcliffe Airbase, in a growing neighborhood close to amenities.
- 455 Wanaki Road
- Construction is slated for Spring 2020 to Spring 2021
- Project will consist of 8 stacked townhome units
- 2 accessible barrier-free units will be available
- Shared outdoor space and outdoor parking provided
- All units will be either 3 or 4 bedroom
For more information about the application and eligibility process, visit https://habitatgo.com/own-a-home/
The Historical Society of Ottawa Speaker Series
Wednesday, February 12 – 7 pm
Ottawa Public Library Main Branch, Auditorium, 120 Metcalfe St
The Historical Society of Ottawa presents: ‘City Hall – My Journey’ with Rawlson King. Last year the people of Ottawa had the rare opportunity to witness history first-hand as we saw Rawlson King elected as the national capital’s first-ever black City Councillor. Why did it take so long? Mr. King provides us with an inside look at his path to City Hall and his continued journey during his first year in office.
Mental Health of Black Communities in the NCR
Thursday, February 13 – 2 pm to 5 pm
University of Ottawa Social Sciences Building, 120 University Private, Room FSS 4007
This event serves to raise awareness surrounding mental health among Black communities in the frame of the BComeHeal project “Mental Health of Black Communities in the National Capital Region: Evaluation, Prevention and Intervention Tools.” I will be joined by other speakers as we discuss mental health as it relates to Black communities in Ottawa.
Tapping Maple Trees training session
Saturday, February 15 – 9 am to 2 pm
Museoparc Vanier, 300 Des Peres Blancs
Learn to tap your maple trees! Join the Museoparc team and its maple producers in the tapping of our maple trees. Receive a small guide to tapping and a short training session. Volunteers receive a pancake breakfast and hot soup. Dress warmly and bring your drill if you have one!
Thunderbird Sisters Workshop
Monday, February 17 – 4 pm to 5:45 pm
NECTAR Centre, 255 MacKay Street
The Thunderbird Sisters Collective is a non-profit organization of creative women united in Indigenous culture. Monday workshops feature learning to bead with Patsea, followed by a traditional drumming circle from 5:45–6:45 p.m. All are welcome to the circle. Drums are available but you’re welcome to bring your own.
Lindenlea Family Day Party
Monday, February 17 – 10 am to 4 pm
Lindenlea Community Centre, 15 Rockcliffe Way
The Lindenlea Community Association hosts a Family Day Party featuring skating from 10 a.m.–12 p.m. and a pizza lunch (cash only) followed by crafts and entertainment. This is a free event!
Overbrook Family Day Party
Monday, February 17 – 11 am to 3 pm
Overbrook Community Centre, 33 Quill St
Come celebrate Family Day in Overbrook with free activities for the whole family!
Don Gamble Park Community Consultation
Tuesday, February 25 – 5 pm to 7 pm
St. Laurent Complex, Summer Room
Don Gamble Park is getting a makeover! Come share your input on new playground and play structure equipment! More information to come. Stay tuned to our social media and website updates to learn more about this community consultation.
Towards a Racially Just Workforce: Leadership and the Black Experience
Thursday, February 27 – 9 am to 11 am
Council Chambers, Ben Franklin Place, 101 Centrepointe Dr
In line with the City of Ottawa’s commitment to a workplace built on the values of respect, equity and inclusion – events such as these highlight the experience of Black employees within the Canadian workforce and help remove barriers to ensure everyone has an opportunity to realize their talents and potential. The event will provide an opportunity for leaders to share their experiences on how they successfully advanced in their careers, while underlining the importance of welcoming, hiring, retaining, and promoting Black employees and other diverse groups at the City of Ottawa. Events like this can unite us in celebrating diversity and raising awareness about all forms of oppression, and particularly anti-black racism.