Putting the Brakes on Red Light Runners
This month local police will begin a campaign to step-up enforcement of various traffic regulations, especially at high-risk intersections across Ottawa-Carleton. Drivers who run red and amber lights or who fail to follow directional arrows could face fines of up to $185 and three demerit points upon conviction. Pedestrians who ignore “Don't Walk” signals could also face stiff fines.
Last year there were 19,000 calls to our Regional Police Services regarding traffic collisions in Ottawa-Carleton, almost 13,000 of which were serious reportable collisions resulting in 3,000 injuries and 30 deaths.
This campaign is part of a larger effort to improve traffic safety. RMOC is continuously improving the way our streets and highways are engineered - monitoring changes in traffic and pedestrian patterns and making the necessary changes to optimize public safety.
Resurfacing Program - Summer of 2000
Structural and condition information about pavement, along with traffic loading data is used by the Environment and Transportation Department's Pavement Management System to determine the optimum time (lowest lifecycle cost) to resurface area roadways. If resurfacing work is delayed beyond this optimum time, the pavement structure starts to rapidly deteriorate and road maintenance costs increase dramatically. Since fixing a badly deteriorated road costs about ten times as much as resurfacing, it is important to carry out preventative maintenance works in a timely fashion. The 2000 Resurfacing Capital Budget will only cover about one-half of the year 2000 needs, so work will be carried out in order of priority down to the limit of available funding. A resurfaced roadway in the urban area has a lifespan of about 12 years.
The preliminary list of roadways scheduled for resurfacing this year in River Ward includes: Airport Parkway, from Hunt Club Road to Brookfield Road; Meadowlands Drive/Hog's Back Road, from Merivale Road to Riverside Drive; and Prince of Wales Drive, from Fisher Avenue to Queen Elizabeth Driveway.
A list of all resurfacing priorities has been widely circulated to identify conflicts with other agency workplans and assist with co-ordination.
Tree Removal - Winter 2000
Throughout the summer of 1999, over 25,000 individual trees and 80 linear kilometres of hedgerow on Regional properties were inventoried as part of the Region's life cycle management program. All trees have been evaluated for health and vigour and those that require pruning to remove dead wood are cared for under the Forest Renewal Program. This work has been continuous since the Ice Storm and is expected to be necessary for another two years. Trees that have continued to decline due to advanced decay have been removed on an on-going basis to ensure the safety of roadway users.
We have lost more than 50 trees along Hunt Club Road, Brookfield Road, the Airport Parkway and Transitway. However, these locations have been identified as potential sites for new trees under the Millennium Maples initiative which will see the replanting of 2000 sugar maples as one of Council's Millennium projects - to ensure a healthy forest cover for future generations.
Transit Use Still on Increase
Transit use for December 1999 came in at an 11.2% increase over December of 1998, giving OC Transpo a total increase for the year 1999 over 1998 of 6.1%. Unfortunately, revenues were $246,000 below our target - but the approved moderate increase in fares should help us do better on the revenue side in the coming year.
Frozen Water Pipes
Despite the cold weather that has plagued the Region since mid-January most residents need not worry about frozen water pipes. In fact, frost penetration levels which go down about 48 to 60 inches (1.2 to 1.5 metres) in a typical winter, have only penetrated to 38 inches (.9 metres) this year. Residents may recall the winter of 1994 when the frost depth reached 7 feet (2.1 metres) that caused numerous frozen pipes.
So far this winter Regional crews have thawed out less than 50 frozen water services (compared to +2000 in '94). This has, in part, been due to use of an innovative tool to predict potential freezing problems. In consultation with Environment Canada and the National Research Council, our Water Division staff have developed a forecasting model that uses frost depths to predict potential problems. This has proven to be much more effective than the industry's standard of using only temperature as the determining factor.
At present, the Region's water utility is the only one in North America employing this new tool, but we have received numerous requests from across Canada and the US for information about our strategy. Reducing the number of frozen services means less inconvenience to water customers and substantially reduced costs.
If your water pipes do freeze, report it right away to the Region's 24 hour Call Centre at 560-1335.
Initiatives to Tackle Homelessness
In mid-January, RMOC announced a series of initiatives and projects to reduce homelessness that includes building new housing units, helping people on the street and preventing people from becoming homeless.
One million dollars is being allocated to build 150 new units to house women, families, individuals with developmental delays, and victims of abuse. Over $500,000 will be spent on support services to assist people who have special needs to live independently. A further $250,000 will go towards outreach and prevention initiatives to assist street people in finding appropriate shelters, and eventually permanent and affordable housing.
In response to Council's Community Action Plan to End Homelessness, a selection committee made up of representatives from Regional Council, federal and provincial governments, private sector, voluntary agencies and the homeless community reviewed over 40 project proposals.
Oscar in the Rideau
According to the official newsletter of the Rideau River Biodiversity Project, last summer scientists discovered an “Oscar” in the Rideau Canal. Oscars are native to the Amazon Basin in South America and sold as aquarium fish in Canada. Unfortunately, these colourful pets are sometimes flushed down the toilet or released into waterways.
Although we don't yet know if oscars can reproduce in our chilly northern waters, we have learned from experience that other exotics (like zebra mussels) have made a home for themselves here. This is a concern because exotic species can harm or wipe out local species by competing for food and spreading new diseases. Residents are asked to dump aquarium wastewater on land rather than flushing it or discarding into the river.
Researchers have also discovered a freshwater drum - a fish with large, flat teeth for crushing mussel shells (it eats zebra mussels) living within city limits. Apparently, the many different habitats: deep and shallow areas; fast and slow moving areas; bays etc. have produced amazing biological diversity in the area around Billings Bridge.
Development and Proposals Underway in River Ward
1. Friendship Windmill: Hog's Back Marina; current status - no application as yet received. Representatives from Windmill Corporation met with Chair Chiarelli in January to outline their proposal.
2. Fine's Flowers/Tubman Funeral Home Proposal: 3600 Riverside Drive (Quinterra-Riverwood); current status - approved by City of Ottawa Council on January 19th. Decision may be appealed to the Ontario Municipal Board within 20 days after written notice has been sent out to interested parties by the city.
3. Redevelopment/Fast Food Restaurant: corner of Fisher and Meadowlands (1530 Fisher); current status - re-zoning approved as per staff recommendations. The applicant (Minto) has the option to appeal to the OMB - a final outcome should be known within 60 days.
4. Central Park/Ashcroft/Clyde Avenue Holdings: Merivale Road; current status -
a) Clyde Avenue Holding Inc. application– OMB pre-hearing held on February 1st at Ottawa City Hall. Hearing date set for week of March 20th , primarily dealing with 3rd access/traffic movement.
b) Modifications to Merivale Road Between Central Park Drive (North) and Baseline Road to accommodate Phase II of subdivision - A report will be considered by Transportation Committee on February 16th to install traffic lights at Merivale/Central Park (South). A median is also proposed for Merivale Road between the two traffic control signals, and an additional “right in, right out” is proposed for commercial development along Merivale.
5. Express Hotel/Airport: Hunt Club Road and Royal Route; current status - proposal to construct a 3 story, 84 unit hotel. Circulation completed, stormwater and noise attenuation issues outstanding. Targeted approval date by Director of Planning, City of Ottawa, February 21, 2000.
6. Central Experimental Farm: Friends of the Farm have released a Millennium Plan which includes planting 2000 more trees in Arboretum, refurbishing Ornamental Gardens and the creation of a new Garden of Territories and Provinces.