Action Plan to Improve Ambulance Service
Did you know that the Region of Ottawa-Carleton has the worst ambulance response times in urban Ontario?
Ambulance was downloaded to the Region a couple of years ago, but thus far we have simply paid the bill - control and administration of the service has remained with the provincial Ministry of Health. For the past year, regional staff has been preparing, with clear direction from Council to develop “the best possible ambulance service, at the best possible price, through competition”, to assume responsibility for the service. In late February the RFP was cancelled in favour of a public not-for-profit system. Although it will be exceedingly difficult to hold staff accountable for this “level of effort” service, Council felt this was the best possible option, given time constraints and the province's unwillingness to transfer responsibility for ambulance dispatch. The dispatch function is integral to an integrated emergency response system for Ottawa-Carleton.
Council is also investing $4 - $6 million in an immediate action plan to start repairing some of the critical flaws in the ambulance service. Proposed improvements include staffing and vehicle enhancements for emergency calls and inter-facility transfers as well as patient care liaison paramedics. In Dec. we budgeted $3.6 million to purchase new advanced defibrillators and additional ambulances.
These are first steps in our efforts to improve ambulance services in our region.
Housing Program for Mentally Ill
In Ottawa-Carleton, the Region and the Province cost share subsidies to 800 beds, in twenty-four domiciliary hostels, for people with psychiatric difficulties, developmental disabilities and frail elderly persons who receive shelter, food and supervision. These domiciliary hostels are the last and only option available to many residents who could otherwise end up in hospitals, emergency shelters or on the streets.
Underfunding has led to a critical situation within domiciliary hostels locally. One has gone into receivership and others are at risk if funding is not increased. Regional Council approved an increase to the per diem rate for each of these subsidized beds through its homelessness initiative.
Update on Social Housing Devolution
The long awaited agreement between the Federal and Provincial governments to transfer administrative responsibility and federal funding for most social housing programs to the province was signed in November 1999 (this does not include about 300 units of co-operative housing in Ottawa-Carleton that have rent supplement agreements with the federal government).
This has opened the door for reform of social housing programs and transfer of administration to the Region. We have been funding social housing since January 1998.
Last fall, the provincial government also directed the Ontario Housing Corporation to develop alternative service delivery options for property management in Ottawa-Carleton and to pursue the sale of single and semi-detached units without reducing the number of Rent-Geared-To-Income units available (about 66 units in a total stock of 8600 in RMOC). Regional Council directed Chair Chiarelli to request the Minister delay the implementation of any alternative service delivery proposal or sale of units until options for future ownership and management can be fully explored.
2000 Environmental Projects Grants Program
The Region's Community Environmental Projects Grants Program is designed to help the Region meet its objectives in solid waste diversion, water efficiency, and water environmental protection. The program provides funding for small scale community-based initiatives managed by non-profit organizations wanting to improve the environment.
Examples of projects approved by the Allocations Panel in 1999 include: Greening Play Spaces at Pre-School, Can Crusher for Elementary School, Garbage Cleanup of Jock River, Park Composters, School Composting, Community Gardens Program, Black Box Blitzes and a Wetlands Appreciation & Action Campaign.
Approximately $60,000 is available for environmental grants in the 2000 Budget. Additional information on CEPGP and application forms can be obtained at http://www.rmoc.on.ca/cepgp, or call me.
Are People of Ontario Healthy?
The “Report on the Health Status of the Residents of Ontario” has been released offering, for the first time, a comprehensive look at our health, including social and economic factors, the environment in which we live and our personal behaviours.
Ontario residents were found to have the same life expectancy and similar overall rates of disease and disability as the rest of Canadians. In the past 20 years we have experienced a 44% decrease in heart disease. Higher rates of smoking and obesity in the North contribute to higher rates of heart disease and lower life expectance. Communicable diseases are more common in Toronto - the Ottawa area is between the two. Findings will help target prevention and promotion programs throughout Ontario.
Traffic Light at Prince of Wales and Fisher
Regional staff have advised me that the above location has met warrants and a public consultation process to install traffic control signals will begin soon. The intersection does not require geometric changes.
The Transition Board will hold regular public meetings on the second Monday of each month in the Champlain Room at Regional Headquarters. Delegations are invited to address the Board for 5 minutes, and limited to one presentation.
To contact the Transition Board, phone 580-4750; fax 580-4752.
Hogs Back Marina - Focus Group Report
I have requested, and received, a report of the Hog's Back Marina Focus Group (dated January 1998) that investigated the viability of the marina site for Parks Canada. The terms of reference for the focus group were “to examine the past use of Hog's Back Marina site, its development potential and bring forth recommendation(s) on the best future use of the site”. The focus group was comprised of representatives from the NCC, City of Ottawa, development community, Parks Canada and a marina owner. It is worth noting that Mr. John Westeinde of the Friendship Windmill Corporation was a member of the focus group.
The report looks at options for the site, and lists their advantages and disadvantages. It concludes the site is too small for a full service marina, because of its limited waterfront and limited upland property. Two unsuccessful proposal calls have reinforced the feeling that a marina would not be financially viable. Likewise, development as a restaurant or retail facility has problems with zoning conformity, traffic and parking.
The report identifies a number of issues with the Windmill on this site. One concern was that such a use does not meet the objectives of the Rideau Canal Management Plan. It stipulates that this concern could only be mitigated by moving, to the greatest degree possible, the Windmill back out of the direct viewscape of Mooney's Bay. The Windmill was also seen as out of scale to the site, with very little to do, historically, with the Rideau Canal. Traffic congestion was identified as a problem as a result of projected visitation. Other issues included the servicing of the site, parking, zoning and public consultation and acceptance. On the plus side, it was seen to have possibilities to bring together other options, i.e., service to boaters, tourboat, shuttle service, canoe and paddleboat type rentals and maximize use of existing parking. This option also held the best possibility of revenue to the Crown.
Two options were concluded to present minimum issues, be easiest to manage, and be well accepted by the immediate community - these were 1) sale or swap to City of Ottawa to add to Mooney's Bay Park; and 2)convert to green space. It is my understanding that, should the Friendship Windmill Corporation decide not to pursue the marina site, it will be cleaned up and replanted and become a part of the natural shoreline corridor that stretches from Walkley Road to Billings Bridge, held in public trust.
Congratulations for Outstanding Community Service
Four residents from River Ward have recently been honoured with the Mayor's Award for Community Service in 2000. Anna and Ellwood Pritchard from Riverside Park, Rose Wakehan from Carlington, and Frank Licari from Ridgemont are to be commended for their record of service to our communities. Their caring has helped make our city a better place to live, work and visit. Congratulations to all.
Development and Proposals Underway in River Ward (March 2000)
1. Friendship Windmill: Hog's Back Marina; current status - no application as yet received. (See Marina Site Focus Group Report, above)
2. Minto Redevelopment/Fast Food Restaurant: corner of Fisher & Meadowlands (1530 Fisher); current status - Ottawa approved re-zoning but rejected fast food component. Nepean Council considered on February 29th. Nepean staff recommendation same as Ottawa. I have sent a letter to Mayor & Council of Nepean asking for rejection of fast food option due to traffic, noise, odours, signage and garbage concerns associated with this particular use.
3. Central Park/Ashcroft/Clyde Ave. Holdings: Merivale Road;
current status -
a) OMB Hearing scheduled for March 20 to determine issue of third access.
b) Modifications to Merivale - approved by Transportation Committee on February 16th as amended by input from Central Park Citizens Group (represented by Matthew Darwin). Concerns pertaining to safety, coordination of signals, bicycle access to McCooey Lane and bus shelters addressed.