Councillor, Capital Ward
Busy fall season at City Hall
It’s September and that means committee and council meetings are ramping back up at City Hall, so I thought this would be a good time to talk about what happened this summer and what’s coming up in the fall.
Lansdowne Park Update
Lansdowne Park will be a big issue this fall. The city is currently pursuing a zoning bylaw amendment and an official plan amendment to permit the proposed development. Additional public consultations were held this summer, and we anticipate the plan to go before the Finance and Corporate Services Committee on October 18, with a final vote by council on October 25.
We are concerned with the form of the three proposed skyscrapers next to the Heritage Aberdeen Pavilion, the need for improvements to the green space and public amenities at Lansdowne, the need for affordable housing and the need for proper transportation planning to and through the site.
We continue to work with community and staff to attempt to significantly improve the plan. To learn more about our concerns, please visit betterlansdowne.ca.
2024 City Budget
We will be doing a lot of work on next year’s budget. It’s important that councillors act as responsible stewards of city finance, infrastructure and services. It can be difficult to identify a few key priorities in the budget when there are so many important functions of the city. Certainly, we need to properly fund transit services and road maintenance.
We need to put a greater emphasis on improving our public spaces to improve the quality of life of residents throughout the city. We must provide proper resources to implement the Urban Forest Management Plan. We need to increase funding for park improvements and for extending pool hours during the summer. In addition, we need to increase washroom access, retrofitting existing bathrooms and expanding the pilot project that put portable toilets in parks.
And, of course, we’re in a housing emergency where too many people can’t afford a place to live. We will be seeking significant increases to the city’s housing budget. All these issues will deserve proper consideration and funding in the next budget
If you have thoughts on what should be included in the 2024 budget, please let us know at CapitalWard@ottawa.ca.
Billings Bridge and Bank Street improvements
At the time of writing, the Transportation Committee has approved a plan to put bike lanes on the Billings Bridge and create an afternoon peak-period bus-only lane on Bank through Old Ottawa South.
On the bridge, the current design of four car lanes will be converted to three lanes (including turn lanes) and a bicycle lane on each side. There will be protected intersections at both ends of the bridge. The plan also calls for a southbound right-turn-only lane with a dedicated turn light, ensuring there wouldn’t be right-turning vehicles when bicyclists and pedestrians are crossing Riverside.
This design will pair with the improvements we made to the Bank Street Canal Bridge during the last term of council, creating safer connections between the Glebe, Old Ottawa South, Heron Park and the Alta Vista area. It will connect with the bicycle lanes and improved sidewalks currently being built south of the river, providing a great route all the way up to Walkley.
These improvements will help bring more customers to local businesses, connect residents with various community amenities and, most importantly, make the bridge safer for everyone: bicyclists, pedestrians and motorists.
The city also plans to implement an afternoon peak-period, bus-only lane going northbound on Bank Street through Old Ottawa South. Staff have identified increased delays along this route in the afternoon, so the bus-only lane will improve travel times and reliability. Bicyclists will also be allowed to use this lane.
All in all, these improvements will make it safer, quicker and easier to get around the community and to travel between neighbourhoods. This is a much-needed and long-awaited project for our city, and I want to thank the work of the community associations and residents in helping to make it happen.
The proposal will be considered by council in September for final approval.
Shawn Menard is City Councillor for Capital Ward. He can be reached at CapitalWard@ottawa.ca.
August 18, 2023
Wrapping up in the spring, enjoying the summer and getting ready for fall
City wading pools are a great way to stay cool and enjoy a hot summer day. This year, we’ve been able to keep pools open on statutory holidays. This new policy comes from a motion we passed at council during the budget approval. Of course, if you can’t make it out to a wading pool, there’s also the splash pad at Glebe Memorial Park and the water feature at Lansdowne Park.
If you aren’t interested in swimming, you might be as excited as we are about the new park beside the fire station at the corner of Fifth and O’Connor. “Fire Station Park” took a lot of work and a lot of collaboration with the community association to design, and staff did a great job incorporating different elements requested by the community to help make this park accessible to all residents. Our office was more than happy to contribute cash-in-lieu of parkland funding for this project, and we appreciate all the hard work that went into getting this park completed.
As we head into fall, we’re finishing up the first year of this new term of council, and there have already been some worthwhile achievements.
City Right-of-Way Rule Changes
First, we worked closely with staff and community groups to improve the rules around what residents can do in the city right-of-way (ROW) that falls in their front yard. Council passed our motion to increase the height of plantings on the ROW from .75 metres to one meter to allow for a greater diversity of plants which support local pollinators, help sequester carbon and filter stormwater. Other changes included updating the list of invasive species prohibited in the ROW and loosening the rules on little free libraries.
In the interest of food security and community-building, our office passed a direction for staff to consider expanding the inventory of trees allowed in the right of way to include fruit- and nut-producing species.
City Bike Share Program
We also provided direction to city staff to devise a plan to bring back a city bike-share program, securing the endorsement of council for the project. Bike-share programs have been successful throughout North America, including in cities like Montreal, Toronto and Hamilton. If properly planned and funded, a bike-share program would provide a valuable transportation alternative for residents throughout the city.
Implementing a city-owned, bike-share program that could provide fast, efficient connections to LRT and transit hubs in both urban and suburban communities would help give Ottawa a more functional transportation system.
New Three-Item Limit for Garbage Collection
Finally, I’ll mention that the city approved a firm, three-item limit for residential curbside waste collection. The policy change is an improvement from our current six-item limit, though it’s not as bold as the program originally proposed by staff, which proposed issuing all residents 55 garbage bag tags that they could use throughout the year, as needed, with the option to buy more.
While our office supported the motion that passed at council as a political compromise, we preferred a stricter garbage limit with flexibility to purchase tags that would allow us to meet provincial targets for diverting organic waste.
As August winds to a close, council and committee meetings will start ramping up again, and there will be a lot that we need to deal with. LRT is down once again (I can only assume it will be back up and running as you read this), and we need to find solutions. We also need to increase our bus options so that if the train goes down again, people aren’t stranded.
Lansdowne 2.0 Consultation
We’ll also be focusing on Lansdowne 2.0. There is another public consultation on proposed zoning and Official Plan amendments needed to push through the current proposal. The consultation will be held over Zoom on Wednesday, September 6 at 6 p.m. To register, you can visit the city’s website at engage.ottawa.ca/lansdowne-2-0.
We still have serious concerns about the Lansdowne 2.0 proposal, and we do not agree with the plan as it is currently configured. We will continue working for necessary improvements; without them, we will not be supporting the proposal.
Shawn Menard is City Councillor for Capital Ward. He can be reached at CapitalWard@ottawa.ca
June 9, 2023
Happy 50th anniversary to the Glebe Report! It is inspiring to think of the devotion of community members who have, month after month, year after year, churned out editions of the Glebe Report for half a century – the editors, the contributors, those delivering papers, everyone who has given of their own time to help make the Glebe Report happen, thank you. This paper continues to be such an asset for the neighbourhood, keeping us informed and keeping us connected. Life in the Glebe is definitely improved with the Glebe Report.
Along Queen Elizabeth Drive
For the past number of years, many lights have been out along both Queen Elizabeth Drive and Colonel By Drive. This has been a frustrating situation for residents. The lack of proper lighting is a serious concern.
We’ve had a number of discussions with both NCC representatives and with city staff, trying to get a solution and seeking some temporary lights in the interim. The main problem with the lights is an antiquated electrical system that prevented simple bulb replacements for these lights. Further, the design of the globes allowed for water leakage, shorting out the system.
This spring, after much advocacy from residents and our office, the NCC in partnership with the city announced that work would begin on replacing the lights along the canal. Work will begin this year and will be completed in 2025. This will include lights along the roadway as well as along the pathways. Suitable replacements will be used to ensure the lights align with the heritage standards along the roads.
Lansdowne 2.0 Engagement
The city consultation process for Lansdowne 2.0 continues. Having neglected to get residents’ feedback during the last term of council before coming up with a proposal to re-build Lansdowne Park, it’s all the more important that the city hear from you now.
This month, the city has launched the Lansdowne 2.0 Coffee Chat series over Zoom – an opportunity to speak directly to the director of the Lansdowne Park Project. They’re also running a survey on public park space at Lansdowne. Both these engagement opportunities can be found at engage.ottawa.ca/lansdowne-2-0.
And don’t forget to visit our website, A Better Lansdowne, at www.betterlansdowne.com, to learn more about the proposal. We have serious concerns with the plan that was developed last year, and we provide important ways the Lansdowne 2.0 plan could be improved.
You can read more about the plan, our vision for Lansdowne and an alternate design proposal from one of our Glebe residents at the website. And don’t forget to sign our petition!
New Trees at Lansdowne
Crews have begun installing large planter boxes along Marché Way and Exhibition Way. The intention of these planters is both to give trees more space to increase their chances of growing and surviving and to better protect them from salt and grit in the winter.
Next year, there will be a new soil cell project outside Lansdowne along Bank Street. The designs are still being worked out, but these soil cells are more efficient at providing water and nutrients to trees in tight urban contexts.
This work will likely take two to three months, so staff want to start in the spring at the beginning of the construction season so that the work can be done without impacting the large crowds at Redblacks games.
During this time, there will be some northbound lane closures along Bank, though there will always be at least one lane open. Pedestrian access will be maintained, as will a temporary bicycle lane.
It is no secret that trees provide tangible benefits to residents – they provide shade and cover, help clean our air and fight the heat island effect of urban area. And they just look nice – that’s worth something, too!
The Mayor’s Annual Canada Day Celebration for Seniors
Aberdeen Pavilion will once again play host to the Mayor’s Annual Canada Day Celebration for Seniors. It’s a great way to kick off Canada Day. The event includes breakfast, served until 9:30 a.m., as well as door prizes and live entertainment.
This event will take place on Saturday, July 1, from 8 until 10:30 a.m. in the Pavilion at Lansdowne Park, and tickets for the general public will be available as of Monday, June 5 by calling the City of Ottawa at 613-580-2424, ext. 21245 or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Shawn Menard is City Councillor for Capital Ward. He can be reached at CapitalWard@ottawa.ca.
May 12, 2023
In the coming years, Capital Ward will see the most road re-construction projects in the city. This is necessary to improve our aging sewer system, and it also gives us a chance to rebuild our roads so they better suit our needs. While we’re only highlighting two projects in this column, we will keep the community aware of others as they get underway. With each project, there will be a chance for residents to provide their input.
And remember, if you can’t make it to a public consultation and you have any thoughts on upcoming construction projects in the ward, you can send them to us directly at CapitalWard@ottawa.ca.
Monk, Oakland, Wilton and Woodlawn Integrated Renewal
Last month, the city held an online consultation for the upcoming re-construction of Monk, Oakland, Wilton and Woodlawn, which will include both a re-design of the streets and replacement of the sewers and watermains. We had a great turnout, and there were many thoughtful and interesting suggestions presented by residents to make the streets safer, more comfortable and more welcoming.
One of the most interesting ideas was to have an on-site children’s consultation. City staff, local parents, and their children and our office would meet and do a walkabout where the kids could point out how they use the street – what routes they take, where they hang out, how they move around and use this section of the neighbourhood. As far as I’m aware, this is not something the city has done before, but staff have agreed to the idea, and we’re looking forward to helping to make it happen.
Overall, this will be a big project that will span multiple years. Construction will begin soon on the underground infrastructure. Road re-construction will begin next year. This will be a long project, and staff will be working to make life as easy on residents as possible by providing water hook-ups, managing traffic flow and maintaining access to homes on affected streets. During this time, discussions can continue on the new designs of the streets.
Glebe Avenue Re-Design
On May 2, the city hosted a public consultation on the re-design of Glebe Avenue, between Bank and O’Connor. At the time of writing this column, that consultation hasn’t yet happened, but I’m confident it will be a worthwhile endeavour.
The initial city plans are good. They maintain all current amenities on the road, but we’ll see a wider sidewalk, a raised bicycle track and an enhanced “floating” bus stop to keep transit users separated from bicyclists.
Over the past few months, we’ve had a lot of input from residents on the designs, and we’ve heard a number of interesting ideas, including adding extra space to connect with Central Park and creating a bi-directional bike lane. I’m sure we’ll have heard more good ideas at the public consultation.
Staff are taking this feedback to see what further improvements can be made. It can be tough, because we have a relatively narrow street (especially with a bus route on it), but we’ll try to make as many improvements to the street as we can.
And we’re always open to some outside-the-box ideas!
Bank Street Canal Bridge
This spring, staff will be re-paving the deck, adding traffic sensors, replacing the expansion joints and re-painting the streets. There will be some day work, and that means traffic may be reduced to one lane at times. There will also be some night work from May 22 to May 25. Work should be completed by June.
A Better Lansdowne
This month, our office has launched a new website: www.betterlansdowne.ca. This site will be dedicated to creating a better vision for the future of Lansdowne Park.
Currently, the city is conducting consultations on the “Lansdowne 2.0” proposal which, in its current format, would see the creation of 1,200 new residential units added in three 35- to 40-storey towers, a loss of 58,000 square feet of public greenspace and the addition of 740 new parking spaces, and all at the cost of more than $330 million of city money.
We think there can be a better plan for Lansdowne – something better for our community and for our city. Come to our new website to share your ideas and see some of ours. We’ll have some counter proposals posted as well as a survey you can fill out.
Please, make your voice heard on this issue. Together, we can create A Better Lansdowne.
Shawn Menard is City Councillor for Capital Ward. He can be reached directly at Shawn.Menard@ottawa.ca
Lansdowne 2.0 – the city needs to hear from you – April 14, 2023
The City of Ottawa is considering rejuvenating Lansdowne Park again, less than a decade after completing the last redevelopment of the park. There’s no doubt that Lansdowne Park has so much potential. We have not seen the creation of the “urban village” that was promised to residents – a thriving small-shop retail experience hasn’t taken hold, transportation to and through the park remains plagued with issues, insufficient public amenities have limited residents’ enjoyment of the site Monday through Sunday, and, certainly, the promised financial returns have never materialized.
We want to see Lansdowne become a lively public space for everyone in our local community and the broader city community and live up to the original promises that were made to Ottawa. We released a full vision about this previously. When a proposed privatization of the remaining publicly operated portions of Lansdowne was made by the previous city administration, the community organized to ensure the city and OSEG knew what was important to them, and that proposal was eventually withdrawn.
The initial Lansdowne 2.0 city survey focuses on residents’ knowledge of Lansdowne, but it does not address the $332 million proposal directly. That needs to improve in the future, along with a fulsome review of the proposed financial model. The city will be conducting further consultations in this regard and on other topics related to the proposal.
Addressing the core issues
For Lansdowne 2.0 we want to see core issues addressed:
- that we have proper fully informed consultation;
- that well-used greenspace is respected and that new greenspace is created for community and better fan experiences;
- that a fulsome and new sustainable transportation plan to and through the park is put in place to address the site restrictions instead of clogging the area with car-centric design;
- that permanent affordable housing is created if public land is being leased or sold;
- that the site has new housing which invites people into an urban village and complements the heritage Aberdeen Pavilion instead of three skyscrapers jammed in; and
- that the public proposals to enhance winter activities and community events, create new seating and shade, and safely connect the canal, aren’t shelved for 15-20 years.
We can do better than what was proposed in the last term of council with no consultation, and it’s important we work together to find common-sense solutions to make a better Lansdowne.
Many of you have shared your thoughts on the future of Lansdowne, but for those who haven’t (and for those who have), there’s still time to speak up. At the time of writing this, the city has a preliminary survey out, and, over the next few months, they’ll have more opportunities for public engagement. You can find this online at engage.ottawa.ca.
Our office will also be holding consultations in conjunction with the city. We are planning a public event on Wednesday, May 10th. We will also be releasing a survey soon. Details, along with other important information, can be found on our website at shawnmenard.ca/lansdowne.
Thank you for reading and engaging on this topic.
Shawn Menard is City Councillor for Capital Ward. He can be reached directly at CapitalWard@ottawa.ca.
A better city budget – March 8, 2023
By the time you’re reading this, the 2023 city budget will have been approved, but at the time of writing, we’re still working hard to make improvements. One of our biggest goals is to increase the capital budget for affordable housing. Last term, $15 million was added annually to the budget but four years later, the yearly budget amount remains stuck at $15 million. When you factor in inflation, that means the city is cutting its contribution to affordable housing each year, even though the city has declared a housing and homelessness emergency.
Hopefully by the time this article goes to print, we’ll have seen an increase in that budget item. I know there are many other councillors who agree that the amount needs to go up.
Budgets are about priorities, and our spending relative to other items tells us a lot. The draft budget earmarks $40 million for a new police station in the south end; perhaps this is needed to replace end-of-life facilities, but isn’t affordable housing also a needed investment? Certainly, the research on social investment suggests that building more non-market housing will have a greater positive impact on overall crime levels.
We are also working to see modest quality of life improvements for relatively low cost, with outdoor-pool-hour extensions, bathroom availability and park investments.
During budget directions, I was concerned about the across-the-board, 2.5-per-cent tax increase. With inflation well above 6 per cent in recent months and with revenue shortfalls expected from recent legislation imposed by the province, a 2.5-per-cent increase across the board, without enough flexibility to see differential rates for certain envelopes within that global percentage, is a barrier to reallocating funds away from wasteful spending to where they are disproportionately needed.
We were, however, able to find unanimous support for a motion at City Hall to ensure that, moving forward, budget directions will consider targeted budget increases instead of the across-the-board approach this year.
Glebe budget improvements for 2023
There is a lot of good news in this budget for Capital Ward and for the Glebe in particular, which we pushed for.
The city will begin full reconstruction of roads and sewers on Clarey, Regent, Morris, Thornton, Monk and Melgund. Planning will begin soon, with work to be finished in 2026. Work will also begin on reconstruction of Woodlawn, Wilton Lane, Wilton Crescent and Oakland, with completion set for 2025. Reconstruction projects will also take place on Pretoria and Glebe Avenue between Bank and O’Connor in the next couple of years.
There is funding for renewal work on the Glebe Avenue bicycling lanes (from Bronson to Percy), the O’Connor bicycling lanes (from Glebe to Pretoria) and the Percy cycle track underneath the Queensway.
There is also $280,000 to replace cooling equipment at the Glebe Community Centre, $6 million for work on Aberdeen Pavilion and Aberdeen Square, money to improve signage at Brown’s Inlet, investments in amenity space for the development at 275 Carling Avenue and funding to replace the roof at the Sunnyside library.
Finally, the budget includes funding for a transportation feasibility study along Bank Street, including the development of a pilot to improve safety conditions for pedestrians, bicyclists, transit users and drivers.
It is also worth noting a recent and positive step toward addressing wasteful spending at City Hall – council passed a motion from me and Mayor Sutcliffe to instruct city staff to review the city’s subsidy programs for developers as well as for the CIP program (infamous for the tax break for a Porsche dealership on Montreal Road). This issue has been a point of agreement and collaboration between Mayor Sutcliffe and me, and I’m hopeful this pipeline of tens of millions can be re-allocated to important priorities, like affordable housing, park improvements and infrastructure backlogs.
New speed cameras in Capital Ward
Traffic speed and street safety is a constant concern in the ward, especially around schools and parks. The city has announced a list of new, automated, speed cameras that will be rolled out, and two are slated for Capital Ward.
First, a new speed camera on First Avenue between Chrysler and Percy right next to Glebe Collegiate Institute will be piloted. This problem spot has been flagged both by the community association and by residents of First Avenue.
Second, we’ll see a camera on Bronson near Sunnyside. Bronson has been a concern because of two nearby parks (Brewer Park and Eugene Forsey Park) and students crossing for Carleton University. Slowing traffic on
Bronson will be a significant safety improvement for the ward.
Thanks for reading this and please don’t hesitate to contact me with any issues I can work on for you.
All my best,