Drinking Water Quality in RMOC
As regular readers of this report are aware from annual updates on the Region's drinking water testing program, those of us on city water supplies have nothing to fear from the type of bacteria that has recently impacted the town of Walkerton.
Other residents who are dependent on private wells have been urged to ensure that they have their water tested for bacteria every spring, every fall, and after major plumbing work. To avoid cross-contamination issues and maintain safe, potable water, it is the responsibility of the homeowner to pump, inspect and maintain their septic systems on a regular basis.
This month, Regional Council approved an expenditure of $400,000 for the development of an action plan that will identify sources of groundwater contamination in Cumberland Village. It has been estimated that close to 60% of the septic systems in Cumberland are past their life expectancies. The study, which will define the water quality problem and determine the preferred solution, is part of the Region's strategy to assess the need for water and wastewater services in rural villages not served by the central water supply.
More Designated Land Needed for High-Tech Sector
A report entitled Corel Centre Lands: Justification of Need has found that an additional 200 - 250 hectares of land suitable for high-technology firms should be designated in the Regional Official Plan in order to accommodate demands, if today's rapid growth continues.
According to this report, the high-tech industry prefers to stay “close to home” when building new facilities, so as to minimize disruption to employees and make best use of corporate facilities. The lion's share of growth over the next 8 - 10 years is expected to occur west of Woodroffe Avenue. Over time, high technology employment is expected to disperse more throughout the Region.
The proposed amendment to the Regional Official Plan on the Corel Centre lands will be considered by Council in September. Please let me know if you would like a copy of the Executive Summary or the full report.
OC Transpo - Update
(a) Ridership Climbing: New buses, new services, DayPasses, 90 minute trans- fers, employer support for transit users and high gas prices are contributing to the healthy and steady increase in ridership for OC Transpo.
Ridership for May was up 9.2% over the same month last year. The total number of riders for May was 6.5 million. Fare revenues for May are $109,000 over budget, contributing to a surplus of $296,000 over budget for the first five months of 2000.
(b) Scheduling Information: “560” is chang ing to serve you better by gradually switching over to one central 24 hour phone number, 560-1000 – a move that will save thousands of dollars and help us keep costs down. Changes will occur gradually and be completed by Decem- ber 31st . You'll know that your commu nity has been upgraded when you spot a new flag at your bus stop with a four- digit bus stop number. Each stop will have its own number, so when you call you will get information specific to your stop.
(c) Directive to Shut Off Bus Engines: OC Transpo continues to receive complaints that buses are being left running unnec- essarily for extended periods of time, prompting the development of a new policy. An operational directive has been issued requiring all vehicles to be shut down when there is more than one minute of lay-up or idling time (manda- tory - even for buses with air-condition- ing).
(d) New Student Photo ID: In an effort to level out the yearly crunch of student pass renewals in September and get the jump on students entering high school who don't currently have a photo-ID, a special Student ID-card blitz has taken place in elementary and intermediate schools starting in May.
Economic Generators Initiative
Over the past several months, business leaders in our community have met to discuss the challenges faced by our exporting clusters – microelectronics, telecommunications, photonics, software, tourism, professional services and life sciences. Their report, entitled Choosing a Future: A New Economic Vision for Ottawa was received by Council as the key element of a strategic economic development plan for the Ottawa region. Council also approved seed funding of $400,000 to support the implementation of the plan and attract provincial, federal and private sector funding for specific projects. Implementation will occur through participation from both the public and private sectors. Please let me know if you would like to review a copy of this plan.
Strategies to End Homelessness
A second community forum has been held to discuss initiatives to end homelessness in our Region. Even with the booming economy in Ottawa-Carleton, the rental vacancy rate in the private market is 0.7% – and over 15,000 families and individuals are on the social housing waiting list. No new housing has been funded by federal or provincial governments since 1995.
Business and government sectors, community organizations and interfaith leaders, and agencies directly involved in providing services for the homeless are working on ways to build partnerships and achieve this goal.
Ottawa Chosen as Smart Community Demonstration Site
Industry Canada has officially named Ottawa the Smart Community Demonstration Site for Ontario, beating out 24 other applicants from our province. This project is expected to build on the solid base of online services that are already in place to establish one of the most dynamic smart application development environments in the world. The SmartCapital initiative will receive financial support of up to $5 million over three years.
Forty-five contributing partners will establish and integrate a suite of technologies that enable the development of advanced online applications. The applications will touch virtually every citizen in the community and transform the way they interact with one another, with public and private institutions, and with the world. It promises to fundamentally improve the way we live, work and do business. For more information, please call the Ottawa Centre for Research and Innovation (OCRI) at 592-8160.
Transition Board – Update
The Ottawa Transition Board has started to receive the first reports prepared by the 53 transition project teams charged with making recommendations about new City services. Specifically, these teams were asked to analyze the implications of merging existing municipal operations and then recommend a “high level” service delivery model for the new service or program. The Board is looking for a service delivery approach that is citizen-focused, accountable, competitively priced and managed, and achieves “best value” for the taxpayer.
The Board has also commenced an internal search process designed to help us find the very best candidates to fill the six executive positions for the new City of Ottawa. An intensive external search is seeking candidates for the Chief Executive Officer's position for the new hydro utility. Forty-three individuals from the management level of existing municipalities have applied for the 6 positions and, to date, a further 35 applications have been received for the hydro position. This process is to be completed by the end of June.
For more information, or a copy of the Transition Board's 10 Point Plan, visit the website at: http://www.ottawatransition.on.ca, or phone 580-4750.
Early Servicing & the Leitrim Wetland
Councillors have received a number of e-mails protesting plans for the RMOC to spend $6 million to destroy the Leitrim Wetland by fast-tracking servicing for a housing development. We have been warned that volatile organic compounds have leached from a nearby hazardous waste landfill, and are expected to seep into basements to cause cancer to unsuspecting new home-buyers. We are told that Findlay Creek will be contaminated. We have also been advised that the watertable will be lowered by at least 2 metres - decimating this important ecosystem.
As a local decision-maker who has always had great concern for protecting our healthy natural environment, I want to explain why I voted for this development proposal, and why regional staff recommended that Council support it as well.
My research into the history of this site has revealed three main environmental concerns: Wetland boundaries; Contaminated groundwater; and Watertable Drawdown. Let's look at the facts.
Boundaries: The Class I Wetland in Leitrim comprises about 500 acres of extraordinary biodiversity, regionally significant plants, old-growth trees (250 years), a Great Blue Heron rookery, a deer herd, and so on. Agreement has been reached on the boundaries of the wetland by a stakeholder group comprised of regulating bodies (Ministry of Natural Resources, the conservation authority, local environmental groups). It is important to note that this happened after the new MNR Provincial Policy Statement on Significant Wetlands was in place, so strict new policy requirements have been taken into account. The fact is that 100 acres in private ownership has already been deeded to South Nation River Conservation for public management, and the developer has agreed to turn over all Class I Wetlands in his ownership as well. Absolutely no development is proposed in sensitive areas, and sensitive areas will be held in public trust. Sounds like a win/win solution to me.
Contamination: An old city of Gloucester landfill site nearby, used primarily for the disposal of domestic garbage, also holds hazardous organic wastes from government labs, universities and hospitals. To deal with the solvents and leachates that have contaminated an aquifer beneath the site, Transport Canada operates a Treatment Facility to pump up groundwater, clean and return it – a practice that will continue for the next 30 years or so. A number of test wells, situated according to the hydrology of the area, are drilled down to bedrock and monitored on a regular basis. I spoke with the Facility's Analytical Chemist who reports that the results of the test wells are conclusive – contaminants are not migrating and compounds tested for are well below the drinking water quality guidelines, mostly undetectable. I was assured that this contamination will have no impact, today or in the future, on the Leitrim development area.
Watertable Drawdown: The hydrogeological evaluation indicates that the proposed development will have very little impact on the overall wetland and associated water table. Most excavations are shallow, such as ditches, but for the deeper excavation to construct the Stormwater Treatment Pond special measures have been taken. A hydraulic cut-off wall (barrier) will separate the core wetland and the pond to eliminate horizontal groundwater flow through sandy surface soil into the pond. Present information suggests that comprehensive mitigation options are unnecessary, but additional subsurface investigations will be undertaken prior to final design. Findlay Creek fish habitat will actually be enhanced through improvements funded by compensation fees for the area which must be altered.
Environmental concern here seems so overstated that one has to wonder what the real agenda is. Could it be that new urban growth in the Southeast Sector is threatening communities to the north? After all in the next 5 years 5000 new dwelling units will be constructed in this area, 3500 in River Ridge and 1500 in Leitrim. Road improvements are required to service this development, a concept which is increasingly unpopular in the urban area.
Are we using the environment as a “whipping boy”? Are well-meaning individuals and environmental groups blowing the issues way out of proportion to meet some other agenda? If respected environmentalists lose their credibility by attaching their names to bogus objections, who will we turn to when we need the truth? Remember what happened to the child who cried “wolf” too often – nobody listened when real danger was imminent! These actions could hurt us all down the road when important natural areas are really threatened.
Development and Proposals Underway in River Ward (June 2000)
1. Central Park/Ashcroft/Clyde Avenue Holdings: Merivale Road; current status - Site Plan Control Proposal -Scout St/ Whitestone Dr. Ashcroft Homes proposes to construct 94 townhouses similar to existing townhouses to the east of site. Approval now targeted for June 30, 2000 under delegated authority (City).
2. Heron/Walkley lands: No offer accepted by NCC on tender as yet.
3. Fisher Avenue: The purpose of zoning amendment is to legalize existing two-story triplex which has been in existence for approximately 40 years. Tentatively scheduled for City Planning & Economic Development Committee - July 25, 2000.
4. Carling Avenue, 1451-1471 Coldrey Avenue and 1463 Laperriere Avenue: Site Plan Control Proposal for re-design of parking areas and site improvements to accommodate new engineering research use of existing building by new tenant - Nortel Networks, has been approved by City Planning & Economic Development Committee.
5. Minto Development - 1530 Fisher Avenue: corner of Fisher & Meadowlands; current status - Revised Site Plan Control Proposal for two one-story commercial buildings. New building proposed on south half of property to accommodate 1 or 2 retail uses. Building on north half to accom modate existing commercial uses plus one new retail use. Existing uses include convenience store, restaurant, hair stylist and dry cleaner. The site plan also shows an outdoor patio. Deadline for comments is July 9th. Expected to go to City P&ED Committee in September.
6. Moffatt Farm: NCC owned lands in Carleton Heights between Prince of Wales & Rideau River rumoured to be subject to a development proposal in the near future.
7. Friendship Windmill: Hog's Back Marina; no application as yet.