January 7, 2022 newsletter from Rawlson King, City Councillor for Rideau-Rockcliffe.
As 2021 ends, I would like to take this opportunity to thank you for your support over the past year. Despite the challenges that we have faced during these unprecedented times, I continue to be amazed at the resiliency of this City.
While the ongoing pandemic has highlighted moments of triumph as well as pitfalls, what is apparent are the stark gaps in equity confronted by many residents. My work as a City Councillor has focused on the removal of systemic barriers, to properly address broader social issues, with a goal of improving quality of life for all residents.
In this vein, I am pleased that my advocacy efforts will see the City of Ottawa adopt a Municipal Poverty Reduction Strategy and a Food Security Policy. The strategy and policy will be included in the City’s new Community Safety and Well-Being Plan. The Plan will set out strategies and outcomes to address the root causes of crime, social disorder, and ill health, and improve the safety and well-being of everyone in Ottawa. The City will begin work on these new policies in early 2022.
Because responsibility for public safety must be shared with the community, I successfully amended the police budget as a member of Police Services Board to limit its increase, reducing its proposed $346.5-million operating budget by $2.65 million, after extensive consultation with the Police Service, community, and experts. The revised budget will moderate next year’s police rate increase to two percent without impacting front-line services to residents or substantively impacting legislative requirements to provide adequate and effective policing. Savings will be redirected to a community-led, centrally dispatched, mental health crisis response program staffed by experienced crisis intervention teams, along with programming for racialized youth, and violence prevention programs to protect Indigenous women and girls.
To address the health and safety of residents during this pandemic, I have been working with City staff, the Ottawa Local Immigration Partnership, Ottawa Public Health, and Ottawa Community Housing to improve COVID-19 testing and vaccination access. These efforts ultimately resulted in the establishment of targeted vaccine clinics in low-income, racially marginalized neighbourhoods, a seasonal testing clinic on Coventry Road, and door-to-door wellness checks in the Ward.
Over the past year, as Council Liaison for Anti-Racism and Ethnocultural Relations Initiatives, I drove the establishment of new anti-racism measures at the City of Ottawa, including creating an Anti-Racism Secretariat to address systemic racism in our community and within the City’s workplaces and services. In 2022, after multiple rounds of public consultation, Council will ratify an Anti-Racism Strategy that will apply an anti-racism lens for policies concerning employment equity, housing, governance, economic development, health outcomes, and youth development. I also worked with Council colleagues to integrate racial and gender equity into our City’s new Official Plan, making Ottawa the first municipality in Ontario to address social equity in its land-use blueprint.
To further enhance equity in the City, I will continue to make investments in affordable housing a top priority. $24.7 million will be invested in an Ottawa Community Housing development at 751 Mikinak Road, which includes 271 housing units. $1.1 million will be invested in a Habitat for Humanity development at 455 Wanaki Road, which includes eight housing units. $7 million in waived City fees and grants contributed to the creation of the Shepherds of Good Hope residence on Montreal Road, designed to provide permanent supportive housing to people experiencing homelessness. The City will also spend $60,000 in pre-development funding for a planned affordable housing development on Putman Avenue and $90,000 to repair and modify homes to support independent living for low-income seniors and people with disabilities. $1 million was spent on a net-zero energy retrofit pilot project for affordable housing in Overbrook.
Addressing environmental concerns are also another top priority so as I consequence, I filed a notice of motion late in 2021 to phase out the use of gas-powered lawn equipment on City of Ottawa property. The intent of the motion, introduced at Environment Committee, is to eliminate City-owned gas-powered lawn and yard equipment used to maintain City-owned assets as quickly as possible, and to align our efforts with the National Capital Commission to provide a cohesive, healthier experience for residents. I was also pleased to introduce a motion at Environment Committee in July to direct City staff to establish a response plan to the increased infestation of trees by Lymantria Dispar Dispar (LDD) moths which lead to the defoliation of many mature trees. Infestations were experienced at higher than anticipated rates in 2021 and this trend is expected to continue over the next several years. As we know, having a full and well-established tree canopy is critical to combatting the effects of climate change, in addition to supporting the physical and mental well-being of residents. The response plan received funding in the 2022 City Budget.
More rational planning is necessary in the City, so I was pleased to introduce multiple amendments to the City’s new Official Plan to improve it after extensive consultation with community associations and residents. I was able to successfully introduce a Direction to Staff to initiate a Secondary Plan process for the Beechwood Avenue - Hemlock Road corridor and St. Laurent Boulevard North. Other successful actions included the adoption of a Direction to City staff to create a measurement framework for planning objectives outlined in the new Plan, along with providing Council with annual reports concerning implementation progress of the Plan, as well as a motion that introduces the use of visual and numerical modelling when considering and evaluating proposed new developments. I also successfully moved a motion that directed staff to place emphasis on local planning approaches, including Secondary Plans and Community Design Plans, to promote community engagement, as well as a motion designed to protect, preserve, restore, and enhance hydrologic resources in areas especially vulnerable to intensification due to nearby development.
Although the pandemic continues to challenge us in many ways, eventually it will subside, and life will return to a sense of normalcy. The pandemic has exacerbated the needs and challenges confronting the most vulnerable. After this pandemic, I hope we can all contribute to a 'new normal' - one that contributes to a more equitable future for all.
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New COVID-19 vaccination options for prioritized Ottawa populations and occupations
Ottawa Public Heath is implementing new vaccination options to increase the ease and availability of receiving a vaccine for prioritized populations including an online pre-registration tool for drop-in appointments and a specialized vaccine clinic. These prioritized populations include residents aged 60 and older, educational and childcare workers, employees, volunteers and caregivers of residents of long-term care homes, and pregnant individuals.
New COVID-19 vaccine drop-in pre-registration tool
Ottawa Public Health has increased drop-in capacity at certain community clinics to prioritize immunizing these four groups:
- Individuals aged 60 and older
- Educational and childcare workers
- Employees, volunteers and caregivers of residents of long-term care and retirement homes
- Pregnant individuals
As of January 6, residents in these priority groups can submit information via Ottawa Public Health’s new online COVID-19 vaccine drop-in pre-registration tool to access a drop-in appointment at a nearby clinic.
This tool screens for eligibility while collecting information about location preference to ensure a registered individual is notified quickly when a drop-in spot at a nearby vaccine clinic becomes available. If a clinic has same-day openings, individuals who register will be contacted by email or text message and asked to confirm their ability to attend a clinic.
Vaccinations and the public health measures in place for limiting COVID-19 transmission are our best strategy to protect ourselves, our loved ones and our frontline workers, to keep our healthcare system functioning effectively by slowing the spread of COVID-19 and support the full resumption of business and in-person learning.
Town Hall Meeting: Community Benefits Agreement for Manor Park
My office will hold a town hall meeting on Thursday, January 13 from 6pm-8pm to discuss the creation of a Community Benefits Agreement for Manor Park, including the formation of a working group involving community members.
Come hear how a Community Benefits Agreement for Manor Park could be an effective platform for the community to achieve additional benefits from the proposed redevelopment.
Speakers will include the Ottawa and Toronto Community Benefits Networks, and Lalit Aggarwal from Manor Park Developments.
Register in advance for this meeting here. After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting.
Anti-Racism Strategy: Phase III Engagement Town Halls
Bilingual resident town halls are being hosted following the release of the What We Heard report, which summarizes the recommendations and feedback received during previous community action planning sessions. The upcoming town halls will provide residents and community stakeholders the opportunity to respond to the report and identify any recommended actions or gaps that may exist prior to the creation of the City’s first Anti-Racism Strategy.
- Bilingual Indigenous and racialized resident town hall – Saturday, January 15, 10 a.m. to noon
- Bilingual all resident town hall – Thursday, January 20, 5:30 to 7:30 p.m.
Scan the QR code on the poster or click here to register.
Learn more about the Rideau Winter Trail
A virtual meeting to learn more about the Rideau Winter Trail (RWT) is taking place on Monday, January 10, 2022 at 8pm. At the meeting you will be able to hear about changes to the trail this season, longer term plans for the trail, and how you can volunteer with the RWT. To participate, please RSVP to [email protected].