President Glebe Community Association
Threats to democracy
I was struck by an uncomfortable similarity between Egypt and Ontario when I returned from the recent climate change negotiations in Sharm El-Sheikh. In preparing for COP 27, the Egyptian government rounded up dissenters and made sure that critical voices were not going to be heard at the annual UN sponsored discussions.
After spending a couple of weeks in Egypt, I came home to the news about the Ontario government’s More Homes Built Faster Act (Bill 23) This omnibus act will affect many aspects of life in Ottawa, but it is being pushed through the legislature at a rapid pace with no public discussion outside of Toronto.
Combined with the Better Municipal Governance Act which gives the mayors of Toronto and Ottawa extra powers and the ability to adopt or amend bylaws with just a one-third vote of their councils, one could be forgiven for thinking democracy is under siege in this province. In what democratic universe does an elected minority overrule a majority? At least Ottawa’s new mayor, Mark Sutcliffe, is on the record saying he will not use these new powers.
Democracy is not guaranteed, and it can be chipped away, piece by piece. Fortunately, community associations and stakeholder groups across the city and province are speaking out.
GCA concerns on Bill 23
At its November board meeting, the Glebe Community Association passed a motion opposing Bill 23. The motion stated the bill is deeply flawed in its singular focus on creating supply of for-profit, market-rate housing while ignoring affordable housing needs, and it will negatively impact the environment, parkland dedication, heritage and local level control of planning decisions, among other important issues.
Like many other Ontario cities, Ottawa has a housing crisis. Unfortunately, this new legislation will not solve the problem. In fact, it could make it worse. The bill does not provide for any direct investment to create incentives for the development of deeply affordable housing – that is housing suitable for households living on fixed or lower incomes. This limits new public housing and non-profit housing. For-profit housing is required, but new housing should be built and be available across a spectrum of incomes and needs.
The GCA expressed these concerns in a letter to the Ontario government, noting that the emphasis “should be on liveable communities where all residents can thrive and grow, not simply a ‘numbers game’ that focuses almost solely on increasing for-profit, market-rate housing, while gutting environmental protections, provisions for greenspace, and appropriate public engagement and consultation in the evolution of communities.”
You can find a copy of the letter to the Minister on the GCA website at glebeca.ca.
Road work ahead
As always, there were other items on the agenda, including a report from re-elected City Councillor Shawn Menard who updated the board on plans to rebuild part of Glebe Avenue (between Bank and O’Connor) and plans to widen a section of the Airport Parkway. The design work on Glebe Avenue will take place next year with construction the following year. The Airport Parkway will also be designed over the next year with construction on the Brookfield-to-Hunt-Club section to begin in 2027. Menard posed the obvious question: Why do we need to widen the parkway when the LRT is also being expanded to the airport?
Support for Mutchmor rink
The GCA passed a motion to provide financial assistance to the Mutchmor rink, which reappears this winter after a COVID-19 break. The rink is operated by the Glebe Neighbourhood Activities Group (GNAG), and we had a presentation last month on the need for financial support. The GCA had already allocated $1,100 in this year’s budget as a placeholder, and that money will go towards fixing a snow blower and helping with the rent for a rink-side storage pod.
Point of clarification: dogs and parks
At the November meeting, a member of the community asked if the GCA was planning a motion to ban dogs in the park at Brown’s Inlet. A similar question has been raised on social media. To be clear, the GCA has no motion planned about dogs in this park. The matter is on the agenda of the Parks Committee and the board will wait to hear the results of that discussion.
As usual, there will be no GCA board meeting in December. Our next meeting will be in person, Tuesday, January 24, 7-9 p.m. at the Glebe Community Centre. Please join us.
Here’s to all the great volunteers in our community. Wishing you a peaceful holiday season and see you in 2023.