As the sticky weather approaches and the beach season begins, I am looking forward to being out in the community, soaking up the sun with residents during West Carleton’s most enjoyable time of year.
Our team has been visiting residents, hearing concerns, and trying to work with the city to come up with solutions to problems like drainage, road conditions and speeding. I have met with several people in the last two weeks, from local farmers to public health employees and we all want to work toward a healthier, safer West Carleton-March. We can accomplish this by continuing to work together as a community and with the city.
Meeting with Ottawa Public Health
I met with Dr. Vera Etches to discuss public health in the rural context. Ottawa Public Health (OPH) is a committed group that has been called on often in the past few years. We discussed options for better communication with groups and individuals about public health undertakings like pop-up clinics or vaccination centres. In a ward whose population is aging we are hoping to determine how to best assist those with needs like prescription filling and transportation to allow our older citizens to remain healthy, in their homes. We discussed options for mobile clinics, acknowledging our population requires something to make it easier to visit a doctor and get the health advice they need. I worry about rural individuals needing assistance not being aware of what is available to them, or worse, that there is nothing available. These are situations I would like to avoid and the best way we can do that is to prepare together before they occur.
Ottawa Fire Services Training
Planning and preparedness were the words of the day as I visited Ottawa Fire Services on Industrial Avenue. Councillors were reminded of the importance of fire prevention and safety as we suited up to be put through the paces by fire staff. I had a chance to rappel down a wall (see photo above), rip apart a vehicle, and shoot a powerful stream of water at a fire. It was a fun experience, but it underscored the importance of this training in ensuring that Ottawa’s fire team is prepared for the unpredictability of their daily endeavours. The situations this group finds themselves in are harrowing and only through this type of training and repetition can they be properly prepared to do the important work they do, for the safety of us all.
Huntley Community Association AGM
I was happy to attend the Huntley Community Association AGM this past week and to hear about all the great things they are doing for Carp residents, and those of West Carleton-March as a whole. An extremely well-organized group, the HCA deals with recreation at the ball diamonds, soccer fields, pickleball courts, and the outdoor rink, while also maintaining the grounds and halls of their community centre, keeping it available to host events in the community. They are a dedicated group of volunteers and I encourage any in the community to contact the HCA when they are hosting personal or recreational activities, or if they have questions about the facilities or community-held events.
Agriculture and Rural Affairs
This week, the Agriculture and Rural Affairs committee (ARAc) was involved in a joint meeting with the Planning and Housing committee. At issue was the city’s plan of how to implement planning changes required by Ontario’s Bill 109. This bill proposes legislative and regulatory changes that make it easier for Ontarians to buy a home by increasing housing supply in the province. The City of Ottawa is committed to increasing housing supply while maintaining the standards that are currently in place. A shrinking of the timeline to approve a Zoning Bylaw Amendment or Site Plan Control will mean the city needs to hire additional planning staff and delegate authority to help meet new deadlines. The site plan control process allows the city to influence land development so it’s safe, functional, and orderly.
The city is hoping with their new recommendations, this can continue, while shortening the period for review and meeting provincial requirements. Being vice-chair of ARAc, I was concerned with giving the Planning and Housing committee an opportunity to hear rural planning files without going through ARAc. I worry the realities of rural life will not be considered if ARAc is not given the opportunity to hear these files. This is part of why this committee was created. I am hopeful the importance of ARAc will continue to be recognized.
ARAc also met this week to discuss cash-in-lieu of parkland. This has been an issue for many in our ward attempting to build a new residence on their property. While I appreciate and support the Official Plan of the city, I was hoping to create an avenue for rural property owners to avoid prohibitive costs, while also supporting the parkland growth that’s required for the city’s projected growth. I want to make it easier for those with vacant properties to build on those properties and investigating ways to accomplish this task will be an ongoing mission of mine. To that end, I brought forward and passed a motion at ARAc. After much discussion and prodding on my part, the committee managed to pass a motion aimed at making cash-in-lieu of parkland fairer for individuals building in the rural countryside area. I appreciate the role developers play in the growth and shaping of our city but would also like to help individuals as much as we possibly can.
I am thankful to all those who have met with me recently to discuss and educate. This sort of public consultation and input was part of my campaign platform, and I would like to continue this engagement so that my representation of West Carleton-March at the council table holds that much more weight.
Enjoy the sun, Ward 5!
To read all Coun. Clarke Kelly’s columns, click here.
The preceding column was written by City of Ottawa Ward 5 Coun. Clarke Kelly, part of the councillor’s ongoing, bi-weekly column for West Carleton Online, made available to the entire community through an agreement with the publisher.