Ottawa’s water pipe (hookah) regulations are now in effect

 

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The City of Ottawa’s Water pipes in Public Places and Work Places By-law, which prohibits the use of water pipes in enclosed public places, enclosed workplaces, and outdoor restaurant and bar patios, is now in effect. The use of water pipes is also prohibited in the Parkdale Market and Byward Market stands.

The new regulations build on existing City of Ottawa by-laws, which came into effect in 2012, including regulations that prohibited the use of water pipes on outdoor municipal property including parks, beaches and recreational playing fields. The new regulations will protect customers and workers from second-hand smoke exposure, prevent youth initiation of water pipe smoking and de-normalize smoking behaviours among youth and young adults.

Throughout the fall, City staff have reached out to restaurants and bar owners, business groups, event organizers and other affected groups to ensure that they are aware of the new water pipe regulations. Starting today, by-law enforcement officers will issue warnings for non-compliance with the new by-laws. A public awareness campaign will continue throughout the winter to help ensure a smooth transition to these new regulations. Beginning April 3, 2017 enforcement of the by-law may include the issuance of Provincial Offences Notice tickets with accompanying fines.

As Chair of the Board of Health, I am excited to see the effect that this new City By-law will help in preventing symptoms due to second-hand and first-hand smoking. It is my hopes that this helps to complete the City of Ottawa’s trajectory into a significantly healthier tomorrow.

For more information about the expanded smoke-free regulations, visit ottawa.ca/smokefree. For help to quit smoking, please visit myquit.ca.

Municipal Alcohol Policy

This week at Council, I put forward a motion recommending an amendment to the proposed Municipal Alcohol Policy put forward by Community and Protective Services Committee.

My amendment would include guidelines as set forth by the Board of Health to ensure a revised Guide document would be part of the documentation given by the City under the City’s Municipal Alcohol Policy to every sponsor or organization putting forward an event application. This document would include Health and Safety information on:

  • Important facts about alcohol and controlling excessive consumption, including best public health practices to reduce harms from overconsumption of alcohol;
  • References to information, best practices and other resources of the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario;
  • Providing food for the duration of the event, where alcohol is served
  • Providing alternative non-alcoholic beverages, including the provision of water to event participants;
  • Special considerations for serving alcohol;
  • Reducing the risk of injury, liability or property damage; and
  • Safe transportation options and recommendations

Councillor Brockington and Councillor Deans also put forward amendments to the policy. Councillor Brockington recommended a change be made to allow profit from the sale of alcohol in small events with less than 300 attendants while Councillor Deans recommended clarifications in the wording of the policy for coherence.

The motions were all carried and staff will meet with the Federation of Community Associations to review the Policy and its implementation before reporting back to the Community and Protective Services Committee at the end of 2017.

OMB Report at Council

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As you may know, the Ontario Municipal Board (OMB) is currently under review for changes. This week, council reviewed the report and a motion passed (as presented by Councillor Harder) to amend Council’s position on the changes.

The amendment reads

“The Province provide clear direction or binding interpretations with respect to the phrase “shall have regard to” as set out in the Planning Act so that it can be applied consistently across all OMB decisions and that this interpretation be incorporated into the OMB’s Rules of Practice and Procedure;”

With the passing of this motion, Council has agreed to “strongly endorse the initiatives being considered by the Province for expanding the Province’s Community Liaison Office and providing funding supports to citizens to retain their own planning experts and/or lawyers and encourage the Province to move forward with the implementation of these.”

 

Although I did not vote in favour of this motion, I did cast my support for Councillor Nussbaum’s motion to amend Councillor Harder’s recommendation to include: “The Province also require the OMB to review Municipal Council decisions on a standard of reasonableness.” I felt that by adding Councillor Nussbaum’s motion, it would make the City report even stronger. In the end however, the Leiper/Nussbaum motion did not pass and I did support the report to go forward.

The Community of Stittsville has had applications go to the OMB more times than I would have wished. I am very pleased that this review is being taken as I believe that with the changing of the times, the OMB should adapt to the changes we are seeing in the development process.

I think it is very important to have direct community involvement in OMB hearings and there is the need to expand on the existing support that is provided to residents looking for advice on an appeal. While I know some residents have used the OMB staff for support on appeals, I find this resource is not well known and there is limited support that is currently provided by the OMB.

I do think it is important that there is a mechanism to appeal an OMB decision, even by a request for an appeal hearing still brought forward to the OMB. It is also very important that any new information brought forward at an OMB appeal be brought back to Council for consideration.

Earlier in November, a Public Town Hall meeting was held to discuss the Board’s role in the land use planning process. However, it is not too late to share your thoughts. Residents are invited to continue to submit their written comments and feedback on OMB reform by December 19, 2016.

If you have any further questions about the Review or the upcoming regional town hall sessions, I encourage residents to email OMBReview@ontario.ca or call 1-855-776-8011.

Further information about the OMB Review is available online at ontario.ca/OMBReview.

City Draft Budget 2017

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Yesterday morning, City Council received and tabled the 2017-2018 draft budget for Ottawa. The 3.2 billion dollar draft budget included the budget from Ottawa Police Services, Ottawa Public Library and Ottawa Public Health. Below I have provided you with some of the highlights from yesterday’s draft budget.

In preparation of the City-wide budget, Staff presented a plan that centers on affordability, fiscal responsibility, and ensuring the City operates within its means. ‘Draft Budget 2017’ caps the residential property tax at 2% and focuses on strengthening core municipal services to residents while making a commitment to long-term affordability. A few key highlights of the City-wide budget include:

  • The new EquiPass low-income transit pass, available as of early April 2017. EquiPass enables low-income residents to access public transportation in an affordable manner, supporting those residents who live below the low-income cut off and includes a 50% discount ($57/month) from the cost of the regular monthly adult pass.
  • In addition, the Budget will follow Council’s decision to eliminate Express Pass Premiums for OC Transpo users effective January 1, 2017, benefitting Stittsville residents who rely on Express routes such as the 261, 262, and 263 to enter/exit the downtown core each day.
  • Enhancements to road safety by expanding the red-light camera program and funding new street lighting, traffic control devices and crossing-guards.
  • Maintaining the City’s $16-million investment in affordable housing and homelessness programs.
  • Investments of $1.75 million towards new bus routes for growth areas across the City (i.e. Stittsville) as well as 17 additional buses that will be added to the fleet to expand peak hour service providing approximately 950,000 new customer trips each year.
  • Continuous improvements to the City’s cycling infrastructure network with a focus on safety and convenience, featuring buffered bike lanes, enhanced cycling crossings and wider sidewalks for pedestrians.
  • $3 million for strategic projects that transform the transit service and enable the delivery of a fully integrated transit system in 2018.
  • $3.25 million to improve Transitway and O-Train stations and facilities to benefit customers and operations.
  • $1.3 million for 125,000 trees on target to be planted across all wards to increase forest cover in urban, suburban and rural areas, and assist in managing the impact of the Emerald Ash Borer (EAB) on the City’s streets, facilities, parks and natural spaces.

Moreover, an additional draft budget specifically pertaining to Ward 6 – Stittsville was released. The document, which can be read in its entirety by clicking here, includes budgeted projects happening within our ward both old and new. Some of the items worth mentioning include recent projects:

  • $9000 for Wyldewood Park Playground Replacement – Design
  • $105,000 for Village Square Park – Band Shelter/Gazebo
  • $150 for Bell Memorial/Rotary Peace Park Sign
  • $577,000 for Fairwinds West Park Development – Construction
  • $1.3 Million – 125,000 trees on target to be planted across all wards to increase forest cover in urban, suburban and rural areas, and assist in managing the impact of the Emerald Ash Borer (EAB) on the City’s streets, facilities, parks and natural spaces; and

As well as investment projects for 2017/18 which include:

  • $113,000 for Wyldewood Park Playground Replacement – Construction
  • $577,000 for Fernbank Crossing Park 17 Development – Design & Construction
  • $384,000 for Fernbank Woodlot Park Development – Design & Construction
  • $577,000 for Minto Potter’s Key – Park 1 Development – Design & Construction
  • $639,000 for Stittsville South Cavanagh Park Development – Design & Construction
  • $163,000 for Chenier Lands Park Development – Design & Construction
  • $394,000 for Stittsville South Regional Park Development – Design & Construction
  • $1.56M for Blackstone Community Park Development – Design & Construction
  • $1.58M for CRT Community Park Development – Design & Construction
  • $384,000 for Minto Potter’s Key – Park 1 Development – Design & Construction
  • $1.0M for Stittsville South Tartan Park Development – Design & Construction
  • $500,000 for accessibility improvements at Transitway and O-Train stations for all customers, including seniors and customers with disabilities
  • $1 million for ongoing rehabilitation at Transitway and O-Train stations, including condition assessment, rehabilitation, and implementation of safety and security improvements
  • $1.5 million to replace vehicles used for security, supervision, maintenance, stores and other services that support the reliability of the transit system

Please note that the City-wide Draft Budget 2017 is not yet approved, thus providing residents with the opportunity to offer their comments and input before the completed version is released. You can review the entire draft budget on the City of Ottawa website by clicking here. Please share your thoughts, opinions, and input with me by emailing me at shad.qadri@ottawa.ca or budget@ottawa.ca or by phoning me at 613-580-2476.

New Permanent Signs on Private Property By-Law

 

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A new Permanent Signs on Private Property By-law was approved by Council this week. The By-law, which expands on the existing By-law 2005-439 available here, builds upon the one presented to Planning Committee on July 12th and Council on August 31st but will correct some obscurities as to what constitutes the definition of a “sign”. Additionally, measures have been put in place to gauge where signs can/should be placed on property lines.

I hope that these changes help to clarify some confusion in the existing by-law. A summary of key changes in the new By-law can be found here however for convenience, some of the major changes include:

  • A new provision has been added to clarify that a strobe or other flashing external light used to draw attention to a permanent sign is prohibited.
  • The definition of “sign” has been revised to clarify the intent of the By-law to regulate signs that provide identification of, or information on businesses, institutions and other organizations, and on goods, services or activities available to or of interest to the public.
  • Large shopping centres (as defined in the By-law) outside the greenbelt are permitted a message centre up to 7.5 m2 in area, if the sign is located 50 m from a signalized intersection, pedestrian crossing and railway crossing.
  • Digital and static billboards are subject to a 150 m separation distance from a static billboard regardless of which side of the street the billboards are on.

It is expected that the new By-law will be enacted by Council on October 12, 2016 and take effect on that date.

Should you have any questions about this new By-law, please do not hesitate to contact my office at Shad.Qadri@ottawa.ca.