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How much is too much shadow on the Experimental Farm?

Council is debating whether to approve another high-rise complex next to the Experimental Farm. How much shadow is too much?

Good morning!

Due to a bit of operator error, in Wednesday’s issue I included the wrong link for our end-of-year survey. Because of this, we’ve decided to extend our survey until tomorrow. So, if you didn’t get a chance to share your thoughts about what you think of the Lookout and what you’d like to see more of from us, you’ve still got a chance.

Today we’ve got some housing news from city hall, plus a bunch of events for this weekend.

Let’s get to it.

— Robert Hiltz, managing editor

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Friday: +6 🌡️ +1 | 🌦

Saturday: +2 🌡️ 0 | ❄️

Sunday: +2 🌡️ -4 | ❄️

Monday: -1 🌡️ -7 | 🌧/❄️


What to do about the Experimental Farm?

City of Ottawa/Handout

What happened: Many councillors are wondering what is to be done about the Central Experimental Farm, as another proposed housing development around the site hits a snag because of shadows.

Does it make sense? One central question might be whether it makes sense at all to have a research farm in the middle of an urban area. Might the time have passed for such an institution? Federal agriculture department staff said the site was well-drained fields primed for research, CBC reported.

  • But that could come in conflict with the city’s need to densify to meet its housing targets.

Shadows in September at the Baseline Road site. City of Ottawa/Handout

Decision time: In a blog post this summer, Coun. Jeff Lieper wrote about the eventual choice facing the city. Adding new shadows across the farm makes changes to the results that statistical data analysis can’t correct. Basically, there’s no way to simulate the fields as if there were no shadows.

  • “But as has been expressed to me, if the Farm’s research potential is nibbled away at, how long will it be before its utility as a living lab is gone? When that day comes would the Farm simply be sold off for development?” Lieper wonders. The councillor doesn’t think that time is now, but there is the possibility the day will come when having a working experimental farm in the middle of the city ceases to make sense.

Some clarity, at least: Coun. Riley Brockington doesn’t want to see the end to the farm, but said there needs to be a clear set of rules for what can and cannot be built around the site, so there is not the same fight with each new proposal, according to CBC.

Compromise: The city and the feds have formed a working group to try and set standards for buildings around the farm. This could, if successful, mean there isn’t a fight each time a new building is proposed. But Brockington said at this point it’s not clear what the demands of the federal government are, or what compromises they might accept.

  • The fate of these two towers on Baseline atop the original Lone Star will likely be decided in January, CTV reported.

Also at city hall

VUT audits: The city has so far audited 1,525 homes as part of the Vacant Unit Tax, looking to make sure units that are claimed occupied actually are, CTV reported. Some homeowners may get a letter requesting proof, which can include utility bills and government issued IDs. 

Affordable housing: The city’s budget for affordable housing will rise to $23.8 million next year, up from only $15 million a few years ago. But that money isn’t going as far as it once did, CBC reported.

  • Construction costs are up between 25 and 35 percent in the last two years, and borrowing costs have risen another 22 percent.

While the city is hoping its increased spending on affordable housing will help, it needs other levels of government to pay their share. There are nearly 1,800 affordable units stuck on the drafting table because of a lack of funding.


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🧊 70: The number of minutes the driver of a dump truck was in frigid water before being saved by bystanders and OPP officers. The officers spent about 50 minutes in the water. The driver and the officers were taken to hospital with hypothermia. [CTV]

🏛️ $198,526: The amount the City of Pembroke has paid the mayor’s law firm over the last year. The city’s contract with the firm is 21 years old, and has become a flashpoint at council now that one of the firm’s partners is also the mayor. [CBC]


Talking transit with Coun. Glen Gower

Transit in this city is at a difficult point. The pandemic slashed the number of riders, and levels have yet to recover. The LRT has been beset by problems since its launch, and the riders that have remained are often frustrated by delays and cancellations. Then there is the large funding hole, leaving OC Transpo millions in the red each year.

For this week’s Insider, we spoke with Stittsville Coun. Glen Gower, the chair of the Transit Commission to talk through the new route review, the possibility of outside help, the changing geography of the city and more. 

Ottawa Lookout: In a recent article, you wrote how the route review and other changes are about improving reliability. Was a sort of cutting back service on to the bus routes the only way to improve that reliability?

Coun. Glen Gower: Well, no, I don't think that is really the way they're achieving greater reliability. I think it's more in some of the tweaks to routes and in the routes that have been split. For example, in Stittsville, the rerouting of route 62. It's no longer going to be routed through Palladium Drive and Canadian Tire Centre, it's going to have a more direct route, over Campeau Drive to Tanger Outlets. So staff have looked at where routes tend to lose time on a regular basis. And some of the changes address where that happens. Now, as we heard at Transit Commission, there's a route of Coun. [Jeff] Leiper’s Ward, where they've actually made it longer, and a couple other cases. Staff are gonna take that away and review but there's all sorts of parameters they use to make these decisions, but one of them was to look at where the choke points are? And are there any ways to either route them around those, truncate the routes, or split them.

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🍷 After a dispute with the provincial liquor licensing board, Mercato Zacconi will be closing its doors at the end of December. The province rolled back pandemic-era exceptions to alcohol-selling rules which now forbid the grocer — one of the few in Little Italy — from selling any booze. The owner said they’re losing too much money to stay open. [CTV]

🪙 The Ottawa fire department honoured CHEO staff with challenge coins for their efforts the night of the General Campus fire. The coins are typically given to firefighters for exceptional behaviour on the job. [CTV]

🏚️ Demolition began on a non-profit housing building in Overbrook damaged by an alleged arson. The building was damaged too severely to be repaired, and all the former tenants have been rehomed. [CTV]

🚨 Worried about your car being stolen? The Ottawa police recommended parking a second crummier, less-desirable car behind your good one to keep it from being stolen. [Twitter]

🚕 The first phase of a much-watched case between the taxi industry and the city wrapped up this week. Taxi drivers and owners sued the city because they said letting Uber and other rideshare apps come in destroyed their livelihoods.  [CBC]

🎰 The construction of the Hard Rock Casino at the Rideau Carleton Raceway is on schedule to be completed by spring 2025. [CTV]

🚭 Ottawa Public Health wants the federal government to institute a full smoking ban for anyone born after 2008. The local health unit wants to see the percentage of smokers in the population drop to five percent, down from its current 12 percent. [CTV]

📱 A new national suicide prevention hotline went live Thursday. Calling or texting 988 in English or French will now connect people with local or regional services for those in distress. [CBC]

☎️ When calling 911 in the city, operators can now connect you to the emergency lines in other cities. Previously, callers wanting to report an emergency in another jurisdiction would have to find the number for the emergency line on their own, now 911 can connect them directly. [CTV]


Your weekend guide


🎶 Celebrating Romantic Masters, Friday 7 pm: The uOttawa Orchestra plays Dvorak’s Symphony No. 9 “From the New World” and Brahms Academic Festival Overture. At St. Joseph’s Church, 174 Wilbrod St. Free.

🎵 Come Sing Messiah, Friday 6:30 pm: The annual event where the public is invited to sing along to Handel’s Messiah with professionals, accompanied by an orchestra. There are two types of tickets for singers and spectators. For singers there are also optional rehearsals beforehand. At the Carleton Dominion-Chalmers Centre, 335 Cooper St. Tickets $27.

🎅🏻 It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year, Saturday 2 pm and 7 pm: The Capital City Chorus presents their holiday program to raise money for the group’s programming throughout the year. At St. Thomas The Apostle Anglican Church, 2345 Alta Vista Dr. Adult tickets $25.

🎄 Welcome, Yule!, Saturday 7 pm: The Cantiamo Women's Choir presents their holiday concert of joy and celebration. At the Woodroffe United Church, 207 Woodroffe Ave. Tickets $28.


🍻 Beyond the Pale Birthday Bash 2023, Saturday 8 pm: The Beyond the Pale Brewing Company is celebrating its birthday with a bash featuring live music, DJ performances, a silent disco and more. Tickets $23


🌵 Plant Nite - Make a Succulent Terrarium, Friday 7 pm: Enjoy a night of guided painting of your very own terrarium. At Mexicala Rosa’s, 540 West Hunt Club Rd. Tickets $48.

☃️ Pibòn (Winter) Festival, Saturday and Sunday: Cultural performances, Indigenous meals, tons of vendors and more to celebrate the coming of winter. At Mādahòkì Farm, 4420 West Hunt Club Rd. Pay what you can, some workshops require tickets.


🩻 National Health-Tech Innovation Conference, Friday 8:30 am: A day of panel discussions and expert presentations on the future of technology in the healthcare sector, hosted by the CHEO Research Institute. At Bayview Yards, 7 Bayview Station Rd. Tickets start at $75.


This week in food

🍲 (Insiders) Could this be the best Pho place in the city? It’s good enough that our food editor is seriously considering changing his allegiances.

🛍️ There’s a wealth of markets up and down Merivale Road with all sorts of imported goods. Check our guide to find the goods you’re looking for.

🎄 The Holiday Market at the Museum was back, with plenty of old favourites. Plus a few new surprises.

🥙 The Shawarma Safari concludes with visits to three of your favourites. 

🥣 (Insiders) Now that you’ve made Ralf’s family recipe broth, here’s a recipe for beef and leek soup to keep you warm this winter.

🍾 (Insiders) Forget Champagne over the holidays, try this Cava instead. All the flavour and quality at a fraction of the cost.

  • December is here, which means it’s time to start decorating for Christmas. This year “maximalist Christmas” is all the rage. [CTV]

  • The city wants to hear from residents for a survey on what the Rideau Canal means to them. [City of Ottawa]

  • Expect a mild start to December, following on a fairly mild November. [CTV]

  • Next week from Tuesday to Friday, the centre lanes of Woodroffe Avenue south of Slack will be closed for infrastructure work. [Twitter]

  • The goalie for Ottawa’s new Professional Women’s Hockey League team has long dreamed of playing professionally. [CBC]

  • Want to have your announcement featured? Learn how here.


Michele Lanoue/Ottawa Lookout Reader

Reader Michele Lanoue sends in this photo of one of the many new SPAO photos installed along Preston Street, as part of a new public art exhibit.

Do you have a photo you’d like to share with the Lookout community? Send it in!


Congrats to Adam, Sylvie, Bam, Dennis, France, and the many others of you who knew this week’s Ottawa Guesser was of the Hunt Club forest that’s being cut down.

Think you can solve this week’s Ottawa Wordle? Play now.

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