El-Chantiry: Ward 5 weekly news, Feb. 23


Ottawa still needs to be cautious during ‘orange level’ reopeningOttawa is slowly starting to reopen under orange level restrictions. Ottawa Public Health is strongly encouraging all residents to remain vigilant and focus on remaining safe. As a reminder of how important staying vigilant is during these uncertain times, please watch this video.

The councillor column header.

It’s a video of local radio personality Jeff Hopper speaking candidly to Ottawa Public Health regarding his COVID-19 story and the heartbreaking loss of his father due to the virus.

It shows how quickly COVID can change everything. This is recommended viewing for everyone and a stark reminder on how important it is to follow all COVID protocols and safety measures!

City of Ottawa resumes some in-person counter services: As of February 22, some in-person counter services at certain locations resumed.

Please make an appointment before you visit as COVID-safety protocols are still in place. CLICK HERE for more information.

Be SportSMART:  Now that the Ottawa region has returned to the ‘orange-restrict’ level of Ontario’s COVID response framework, Ottawa Public Health is encouraging residents to be SportSMART and take all necessary COVID safety precautions when participating in sporting activities.

SportSMART poster.


Thank you to everyone who entered my Family Day Contest. It was so nice to review all of the entries and see how families found unique and fun ways to spend time with their loved ones. The three winners of this contest are below. They each will receive a $50.00 gift card from The Cheshire Cat Pub. I will be personally delivering the cards to each family in the coming days.

A collage of family photos.


Friends of the Carp Hills are hosting three webinars about the plant and animal life in the Carp Hills. Participants will learn about the Carp Hills in the webinars with a sustainability theme:  

  1. The Living Barrens: Plant Life & Textile Dye Workshop – 4 March
  2. Turtle Tales: Life of a Blanding’s Turtle – 25 March
  3. Night Song: Whip-poor-will Enchantment – 22 April

They are interactive and family-friendly, with multiple choice questions and gentle guidance by their host, Kasia Majewski. Great for kids and adults. All webinars will be run on Zoom. The webinars are a fundraiser for Friends of the Carp Hills and there is a nominal fee. For more information and to register go to carphills.com.


Since March Break has been rescheduled to April, the City has moved our popular in-person camps to April and added virtual activities that you can do from home. Check out the April Break Camps eGuides at ottawa.ca/recreation and get ready to register on Thursday, March 4 at 9pm. The April Break camps provide interactive in-person and virtual activities in English and French for children and youth between the ages of 6 to 14. The full-day, in-person day-camps will be offered at select locations throughout the city. These camps provide participants with the opportunity to delve into arts, games and other fun activities – all practiced with physical distancing and safety protocols in place.


Students looking for summer employment have until Friday, February 26 to get their online applications into the City of Ottawa. The City is focusing on hiring summer students for critical roles supporting essential services for summer 2021. There are over 70 summer jobs available for students aged 16 and over. For more information and to apply go to ottawa.ca/careers.


The next regularly scheduled City Council meeting is happening Wednesday, February 24 starting at 10am. A couple agenda items of note are: 

  • Ottawa Public Health to provide a verbal update on COVID-19 and vaccine distribution
  • Application to alter the Chateau Laurier

Please go to the agenda to review all of the items on this week’s agenda. Residents can listen in to the meeting live via the City of Ottawa’s YouTube channel.


In December 2020, City Council approved a motion which directed the City to study the power to impose an optional property tax on the assessment of vacant residential units and report back on the feasibility of such a tax. The City of Ottawa is holding a survey which is designed to gather residents’ opinions on the vacant unit tax (it takes no longer than 5 minutes to complete). For the purposes of the survey, a vacant residential unit is considered a home that has been unoccupied for 6 months. If you are  interested in completing the survey go to engage.ottawa.ca/vut.

According to census data, in 2016, there were 1.34 million empty and temporarily occupied homes in Canada, with more than 20,000 of these located in Ottawa. These vacant homes are a potential source of housing supply. Between 2016-2018, the Ottawa rental market grew in supply by approximately 1%, yet the population requiring rental accommodations was three times this figure. As a result, apartment rentals increased by 7.8% and house rentals by 11.3% over the same period. During this time, Ottawa’s rental vacancy rate reached a historic low to 1.6%, which is well below the 3% considered to be a healthy and balanced rental market. Communities with low vacancy rates often see a correlation with a rise in rental prices, which can be further exasperated by residential home purchases solely for speculation purposes. Since the COVID-19 pandemic, the real estate market conditions exhibit increased rental availability and lower rent prices, however, there is still much uncertainty in long-term market projections.

Vacant homes can be neglected by homeowners, become an eyesore for the community, and impact nearby property values. These properties are subject to theft, vandalism, water damage, and fires and the City of Ottawa bears the cost to maintain, administer, demolish, and service vacant properties. Implementing a residential vacant unit tax could encourage property owners to maintain, occupy or rent their properties while increasing the housing supply. Creating more available units would remove some housing market pressures by increasing the vacancy rate while reducing housing costs. Homeowners that choose for their properties to remain unoccupied would be subject to a tax. The City recognizes the importance of sustained funding for affordable housing and the residential vacant unit tax would be used as a means to finance a portion towards affordable housing in Ottawa.


The on-ramp from Pinecrest Road northbound to Highway 417 westbound will close for Stage 2 LRT work starting at midnight on Monday, March 1. It will remain closed until November. Signed detours will be in place through the duration of construction. Cycling and pedestrian routes will remain open. Refer to the detailed detour maps for more information.