1. Note on Assessments
Every property in Ontario has recently been reassessed as part of the provincial government's commitment to maintain a fair and transparent property tax system. This will allow residents to compare the value of their homes with similar properties in other municipalities. It is important to note that a higher property tax assessment does not mean a higher property tax bill. If the new city of Ottawa freezes taxes, then the tax rate will be reduced appropriately where average property values have increased. There should be no increase in average residential property taxes within a municipality unless Council decides to increase its spending for new or expanded programs.
In the “old” city of Ottawa, in the residential property class, it is estimated that the average assessment has increased by about 5%. If your assessment went up more than 5% then your taxes may increase proportionately, if your assessment went down, then expect a decrease.
2. Red Light Cameras
As part of a two-year pilot program in Ottawa, cameras are being rotated among eight intersections to enforce red light running. The actual locations of the cameras at any given time will not be disclosed to the public.
During the first 3 days of operation, red light cameras at two intersections recorded 270 individual violations. The camera located at the intersection of Carling Avenue and Bronson Avenue recorded 188 violations, while the camera at Richmond Road and Carling Avenue recorded 82 violations.
Cameras are only recording violations in one direction at these intersections, and only when the vehicle enters the intersection on a red light. These are not people being caught in a yellow light or waiting to turn, but blatantly breaking the law and risking their own lives and the lives of others. Fines are $190.
3. OC Transpo Ridership
The October 2000 ridership was 6.2% higher than October 1999. To date, ridership is 7.1% above that of 1999. This includes a significant 12.7% increase in adult pass sales, which reflects the increase in employment in the Region during the past year and the sharp increase in gas prices.
October 2000 revenues are 4.4% or $327,000 above budget. For the year to date, fare revenues are 2.5% or $1.7 million above budget.
Hats off to OC Transpo and Loblaws who helped local food banks stock their shelves by collecting 46,000 food items this December. Cash and food vouchers donations totalled over $21,000 as well.
5. Conservation Land Acquired by Region
RMOC has purchased 556 acres of forest, provincially-significant wetlands and trails in the South March Highlands. This area supports a range of natural vegetation which is rarely seen in our region. It will be the second largest forested recreational area in the new city.
The decision to acquire this parcel was due to its high ecological and open space significance. Another point of concern was the current pressure on the land due to its location at the edge of the current urban boundary, just west of the Kanata North Business Park and north of the future hi-tech development around the Corel Centre.
The purchase price of $1.6 million was provided from the Region's greenspace reserve fund.
6. 2001 Call for Community Environmental Projects Grants - Project Proposals
The Region's CEPGP program is designed to help the Region meet its objectives in solid waste diversion, water efficiency, and water protection. The program provides funding for small scale community-based initiatives managed by non-profit organizations wanting to improve the environment.
The next submission date for CEPGP grant applications is planned for 4:00 pm on Friday, 16 March 2001. Information sheets and application forms will be mailed to community groups in early February. Additional information can be obtained at http://www.rmoc.on.ca/cepgp.
7. Federal/Provincial Infrastructure Funding
On October 20th senior governments signed an agreement to provide infrastructure funding as outlined in their respective 2000 budget announcements. The Provincial SuperBuild will invest $1.9 billion over 5 years in improving and upgrading municipal infrastructure (not including monies for Toronto's waterfront re-development). The Federal contribution is $680 million over 6 years.
In the past 5 years, transfer payments and infrastructure cost-sharing in areas such as public transit and transportation have been reduced by $100 million annually to our Region alone. This is good news for the new city — Ottawa's share of this funding is integral to necessary local transit and road improvements.
8. Economic Generators - Projects Funded
Earlier in year 2000 Council approved the expenditure of $400,000 of seed funding for the implementation of specific initiatives developed to help build an innovative economy and strengthen the 7 clusters of industries where Ottawa is succeeding on the world stage. The Ottawa Partnership (TOP) has allocated this funding as follows: Ottawa Biotechnology Incubation Centre - to help establish two commercialization facilities needed to take promising biotechology innovations beyond the research stage into viable commercial enterprises; Ottawa Connects - to help establish Ottawa as one of the most electronically connected cities in the world and a centre of technological excellence; Branding Ottawa - towards a research based program to develop a profile of Ottawa as an international business capital; Photonics Technology Roadmap - to help enable Ottawa to become the world's leading supplier of global Internet infrastructure and equipment.
9. Light Rail on Track
With new station construction underway this past October, by next summer, residents of Ottawa will be riding the rails from Greenboro to Bayview stations. Five stations along the route will allow seamless connections to regular and high-frequency Transitway bus service. Light rail is also expected to become the transit hub for Carleton University students and faculty.
11. Update on Transition Board - New City Budget
On December 1st the Ottawa Transition Board released its draft 2001 budget and 2002 and 2003 financial forecasts for the new City of Ottawa. The documents show $86.5 million in amalgamation savings (identified to date) over 3 years. There is also a list of budgetary pressures and unfunded priorities which the new Council will need to consider.
Additional costs of doing business include operating costs to service new growth and inflation of fuel and energy costs, salaries, wages and benefits - which represent 39% of municipal budgets. Enhancing ambulance services and the just-transferred social housing portfolio will amount to an additional re-investment of approximately $30 million (amounting to the first year's savings from amalgamation).
Included in the budget is the sale of Ottawa City Hall and harmonizing salaries. Excluded is financing for the needed $120 million infrastructure (primarily in the west end), and harmonizing fees and rates.
The provincial government has agreed to pay 75% of transition costs - about $142 million. The new city will pay for the remaining 25% of transition costs with the savings realized in 2002 and 2003.
To view the Budget documentation, you can visit the Board's website at http://www.ottawatransition.on.ca or any local municipal office. Comments can be made by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phoning 580-4773.
12. Energy Efficiency Opportunity for your Home
EnviroCentre is a non-profit community enterprise dedicated to energy conservation. Since 1999, their Home Performance Experts have shown over 300 homeowners in the region how to save over $400 per year on utility bills and get their homes ready for winter. Their Home Comfort Service includes an EnerGuide for Houses assessment, which is currently supported by the federal government.
EnviroCentre's Home Comfort Service includes:
a computerized ventilation test. With gas and oil prices on the rise, don't waste money heating the outside air.
a review of mould, moisture and other indoor air quality problems that could be making your family sick.
a heating system analysis to determine why some rooms are colder than others.
a customized report with clear recommendations so you can prioritize your efficiency upgrades to ensure the most comfortable and energy efficient winter ever.
To contact Envirocentre for more information, or to book their Home Comfort Service call 244-5624 or at http://www.envirocentre.ca.
13. RMOC Recognized as Champion for Climate Change
The Region of Ottawa-Carleton has been awarded a Gold Champion Level Reporter Award for its Corporate Climate Change Action Plan by the Voluntary Challenge Registry (VCR). Natural Resources Canada established the VCR as a key element of Canada's National Action Program on climate change to encourage corporations to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
This award recognizes the co-generation facility which was constructed at the Region's sewage treatment plant - and reduces CO2 emissions by 115 tonnes per year (and saves $27,000). The corporation has also provided upgrades to the water treatment facility resulting in 20-30% greater efficiency in energy use. Converting one of our Seniors' residences to natural gas has also reduced emissions by 200 tonnes and saved over $100,000 in annual operating costs.
Development and Proposals Underway(Nov-Dec 2000)
1. Central Park/Ashcroft/Clyde Avenue Holdings
1241 Clyde Ave. (former DOC lands); current status - proposed plan of subdivision approval for approximately 149 dwellings, mainly townhouses and semi-detached dwellings was approved by the Regional Planning & Environment Committee and Regional Council. Appealed to the OMB and a hearing date is to be scheduled.
2. Minto Development
- 1530 Fisher Avenue: corner of Fisher & Meadowlands; current status - Revised Site Plan Control Proposal for two one-story commercial buildings was approved at the end of November following a decision of the OMB to uphold By-law and Official Plan Amendment. The outdoor patio component of the site plan has been removed.
3. Proposed Development
- 1132 Merivale Road: vacant lot at the corner of Mayview Avenue; current status - Centretown Citizens Ottawa Corporation have negotiated an Agreement of Purchase and Sale for this property. They are proposing to construct 13, 2,3 and 4-bedroom townhouses and stacked townhouse rental units. This property is currently zoned R5A which permits apartment and townhouse buildings. No re-zoning is required.
This is the last Regional Councillor's Report. To those recipients who have called to give direction and offer advice over the past 6 years, I would like to extend my sincere thanks. It has been an honour and a privilege to have served you as Regional Councillor for the past two terms. The new City of Ottawa was created on January 1, 2001. As soon as possible, I intend to resume reporting to you in this format to keep community associations and individuals informed of the issues before municipal government. I trust you will not hesitate to get in touch with me if you have comments or concerns or require more information on any of the items in these reports. In our new city of almost one million residents, we will have to work in close partnership to ensure that your voice, and local priorities, are not lost.
“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed people can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”
With best wishes,