New Dates for Budget Deliberations
Now that the province has set the amount it will help with the cost of transition at $108.5 million, the new City can get on with its budget process.
On February 28th, Council directed that a freeze in the taxation requirement be achieved for 2001 - without tapping into reserve funding by investigating one-time funding opportunities. Service levels will remain at 2000 levels. We have asked that consideration be given to harmonizing tax rates as well as special area rating for differential service levels. Staff will also develop recommendations regarding phasing.
The dates published in my last newsletter have changed: The 2001 Operating Budget will now be considered from March 1-21, at which time Standing Committees will commence their reviews. It will go to Council for adoption on April 25th. The 2001 Capital Budget will be tabled on March 20th, with consultation lasting until April 16th, followed by Committee review throughout April and adoption by Council on May 9th.
Audit Function at the new City
Council has recognized the critical activity of the Auditor in assisting Council in fulfilling its role of oversight on behalf of its constituents. The City Auditor will report directly to Council through the Audit Committee - a process which is independent, accurate, transparent and objective. Audit Committee will retain authority to recommend to Council the budget of the Audit Office, as well as the appointment or dismissal of the senior Audit Executive.
Administrative reporting of the Audit and Consulting Services Group will be within the office of the City Manager to ensure the group's full access to information and authority to find and implement improvements in efficiency and effectiveness within the organization. Council expects the Office will receive full cooperation of senior management and will in turn strive to work with senior management in achieving its goals as approved by Council.
City's Role in New Home Construction Process
With the construction boom locally, city inspectors are busy with the requisite site visits, inspecting such things as excavations, foundations, framing, insulation and vapour barriers, ductwork, piping, heating and air-conditioning systems, plumbing fixtures, venting systems, and so on. Each inspection ensures new homes are built to regulations stipulated in the Ontario Building Code. Should a deficiency be found, the builder is notified and requested to make corrections, which may necessitate subsequent site inspections. Fire Code requirements are also addressed during this process. Should new home purchasers have any outstanding issues in terms of Building Code regulations, staff in the City's Building Services Branch will be able to offer assistance and can be reached by calling 244-5300.
Before the new homeowner can move in, the builder must secure an Occupancy Permit from the city - which assures buyers that the premises complies with requirements of the Ontario Building Code. Once the Occupancy Permit has been issued the City's role comes to an end and the Ontario New Home Warranty Program (ONHWP) comes into effect. This program provides a safeguard for buyers against construction defects, among other things. There is a limited time to have concerns addressed, and problems should be provided in writing to the ONHWP office. Things like nail pops, improperly finished mouldings could be the subject of claims. The Eastern Ontario branch for the ONHWP is located at 1600 Scott St., Suite 400, Ottawa ON. The phone # is 724-4882; FAX 724-3669.
Notice of Study Commencement - Walkley Ramp
In late February newspapers carried notice of the commencement of the Class Environmental Assessment for the Airport Parkway/Walkley Road interchange. This new intersection will provide a southbound Airport Parkway off-ramp for vehicular access to Walkley Road in both directions.
Public comment is invited to assist City of Ottawa staff in the development, planning and design of this project. The deadline to submit comments is March 26th. Based on the review of these comments and the necessary approval process, this project is scheduled to be completed by the fall of 2001. For further information on this project, please contact Neil Stout, Project Manager at 580-2424 ext 21289.
OC Transpo - January Ridership and Revenues
January 2001 ridership was 9.4% higher than January 2000. Pass ridership was 11.6% higher while cash/ticket/daypass ridership increased by 4.5%. It is encouraging to note that the majority of the increase has emanated from committed riders instead of casual riders. These numbers also account for a 17.1% increase in adult pass sales, reflecting the significant increase in employment during the past year and sharp increase in gas prices.
January 2001 revenues are 5% or $396,500 above budget (budget based on the actual 2000 revenues and ridership).
There is more good news regarding Ecopass. The payroll deduction passes that were introduced a year ago have brought in more than a million dollars in revenue in the first year, with 20 companies participating by the end of this month.
Para Transpo Service
Para Transpo is OC Transpo's door-to-door transportation service for people whose physical disabilities prevent them from using regular transit service. It has been running since 1974, under a private operator under contract to the former Transit Commission. There are now 86 wheelchair accessible vehicles and a fleet of 67 full-size four-door sedans. The contractor is responsible for the acquisition of most vehicles, their maintenance, the provision of drivers and their management. Passenger eligibility, service reservations, trip assignments and the management of the contract is the responsibility of OC Transpo's 30 Para Transpo staff.
The former Regional Council had directed that an in-depth analysis of financial, physical and personnel resources be prepared in advance of the expiry of the Para Transpo service contracts (June 2002) - which will be available for review in May of this year. Also in May, a separate report will be released that will include estimates of demand over the next 10 years for accessible transportation, an overview of existing community resources used to provide transportation for persons with disabilities, and recommended operational solutions within a demand management framework. The report will also contain recommendations on eligibility criteria, the registration process for Para Transpo and alternate service delivery methods.
These two reports will provide a direction for Council as it considers the future service delivery model for Para Transpo services. Please let me know if you would like more information when these reports are available.
New Responsibility in Ottawa Housing Corporation
As a result of new provincial legislation, administration of social housing has been assumed by municipal governments in Ontario, as well as its funding. The City is now sole owner and shareholder of the former Ottawa-Carleton Housing Corporation, now known as Ottawa Housing Corporation. Concurrently, the amalgamation of area municipalities has led to the new city becoming sole owner and shareholder of City Living, the former city's non-profit housing corporation. Together, these two housing corporations account for approximately 60% (14,600 units) of all social housing stock in the City.
One of my new responsibilities as Councillor is on the Board of the Ottawa Housing Corporation. Within an annual budget of $35 million, the Corporation is responsible for providing rent-geared-to-income shelter to low-income families and individuals in Ottawa who live in 8,584 housing units (mostly apartments and row houses). No new housing stock has been built in over 20 years.
First Annual Run/Walk for Clean Air
The Sierra Club of Canada (Ottawa Group), along with the Greenspace Alliance of Canada's Capital, Friends of The Farm and other local environmental groups are organizing a special event to kick-off Canada's Environment Week for 2001. These groups have already demonstrated a strong commitment to protecting greenspace, parks, woodlands, wetlands and to building sustainable communities.
The mission of the walk/run is to financially support environmental initiatives of the groups involved and increase environmental awareness in the community.
The event is on June 3rd, and will take place on the rolling hills of the Central Experimental Farm's Arboretum. More information on how to participate will be available through the media at a later date. To become a sponsor, call George Wilson at 237-1320 ext 7551.
City of Ottawa Awarded for Decreasing Greenhouse Gases
Natural Resources Canada has given a leadership award to Ottawa for displaying extraordinary commitment, action, best practices and leadership toward the voluntary reduction of greenhouse gas emissions. Over the past few years, the City has achieved a 19% reduction in CO2 equivalent emissions and an 18% reduction in energy use in City facilities. One example of estimated savings is seen in the use of energy efficient street lighting systems - $268,000/year in maintenance costs and $360,000/year in energy costs.
Greenhouse gases are widely believed to contribute to global warming and climatic changes. Ottawa is one of only 6 municipal governments in Canada that have developed and implemented a Community Climate Change Action Plan.
Spring Cleaning in the Capital Campaign
In an effort to encourage and support volunteers who wish to help the City with its spring cleaning efforts, Ottawa's 8th Annual “Spring Cleaning the Capital Campaign” will be held from April 12 to May 13.
The City will provide clean-up supplies (while quantities last) such as plastic bags, leaf and yard waste bags, vinyl gloves and helpful tips to registered groups. If requested, we will also pick up collected litter on city property resulting from a registered clean-up. As an incentive, each registration form and clean-up report submitted is eligible to win prizes donated by our sponsors. Awards will also be presented to groups, individuals, and businesses for participation and leadership in beautification projects.
Promotional material for the Spring Clean-up Campaign will be mailed to groups, associations and all schools, and will also be available in community centres. Please let me know if you would like more information as it becomes available.
Drummond Pit Land Swap
The City-owned parcel of land located at the northwest corner of Riverside Drive and Hunt Club Road is subject to a land exchange with the abutting owner. This will allow a local park to be constructed next to the Quinterra-Riverwood community, instead of having an office tower between residences and their recreational parkland.
So far this year 15 parks have been adopted by groups who have chosen to show their community pride by committing themselves to keeping their park clean for a minimum of two years. In total, 40 parks are now under local stewardship. For more information on this program, please visit the City's web site at: http://www.city.ottawa.on.ca or call Paul McCann, Community Pride Program at 244-5300 ext 1-3363.
Development and Proposals Underway in River Ward - March 2001
1. Central Park/Ashcroft/Clyde Avenue Holdings: 1241 Clyde Ave. (former DOC lands); current status - The draft plan of subdivision was appealed to the OMB. A dismissal hearing for the appeal is expected this month. Council approved a zoning amendment application Feb. 28 that suggested about 150 homes - ranging in density from singles to townhouses - on this 3.8-hectare site.
2. 300 Central Park Dr. Ashcroft-Clyde Avenue Holdings has submitted a Zoning Amendment Application and Site Plan Control Proposal to the City for this site, which fronts Merivale Road. Comments on both applications can be submitted to planner Patrick Legault by March 16 and March 23 respectively. The proposal is to rezone two high density residential zones and a leisure linkage zone that surround an existing employment centre zone, to a single new employment centre zoning. The site plan proposal would encompass all of the new employment centre zone and would allow the construction of a high-rise apartment tower, an office building and three freestanding retail/restaurant uses. A three-storey parking structure would link the apartment building and office building.
3. 1280 Merivale Rd. (Central Park near Caldwell): A Site Plan Control Proposal has been submitted to the City suggesting 113 townhomes with private roads for this 1.8-hectare site. A recent meeting was held between representatives of the Central Park Citizens Group, planner Denis Charron and myself to discuss concerns with density, on-street parking and snow storage. Staff is not prepared to support this plan as it has been submitted, so changes are likely. Comments can be submitted in writing to Mr. Charron by March 16.
4. Moffatt Farm: As outlined earlier this year, NCC officials have indicated an agreement was signed with DCR Phoenix for 50 acres of the property in October, conditional on rezoning and an official plan amendment. Once proposals have been filed, a full consultation process will begin. More information when available.
5. 1132 Merivale Road: vacant lot at the corner of Merivale and Mayview Avenue; current status - Centretown Citizens Ottawa Corporation has applied to build 13 two, three and four-bedroom townhouses and stacked townhouse rental units. No re-zoning is required. Planner Charles Lanktree will review comments and draft a departmental recommendation.
Committee of Adjustment Hearings
1. The Ottawa Macdonald-Cartier International Airport Authority was granted a long-term lease March 1 for property located at 366 Hunt Club Road at the corner of Royal Route. The lease would be entered into with “Siljub Investments Ltd.” for the purpose of constructing a hotel.