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City staff cut development charge hike at last moment

A council committee voted to increase development charges, a move that could jeopardize federal housing funding.

Good morning,

It’s a sad day today at Lookout. One year ago, our dog Lady Bird died. She was quite the presence. A large dog with a bigger personality. She was stubborn, loving, and utterly independent. 

There is a new dog in our lives, and I’m sure there will be others, but there can only be one first dog. Lady Bird was a special creature, and we miss her very much.

A very good dog.

Let’s get to it.

— Robert Hiltz, managing editor


Friday: 17 🌡️ 5 | 🌤

Saturday: 19 🌡️ 9 | 🌧

Sunday: 20 🌡️ 12 | 🌦

Monday: 15 🌡️ 11 | 🌧


Committee passes development charge increases, threatening federal funding

Flick: Ken Lund

What happened: The city’s planning committee voted to increase development charges in the city by 11%, CTV reported. Fees will go up $4,700 to $6,200 on new construction in the city if approved by council. There are different fees for development inside and outside the Greenbelt.

Initially, the city was set to increase the charges by 28%, but staff changed how the number was calculated to allow for the lower figure. 

  • Development charges are calculated based on how much money the city needs to raise for infrastructure additions and improvements divided by the number of people per home. City staff used higher estimates for the number of people per home than the Statistics Canada estimates used in their initial report. 

Fuzzy math: City staff made the adjustments at the last minute to cut the proposed increase substantially. Several councillors were concerned by the rapid changes — CBC reported the numbers were being tweaked until the night before — and while the committee unanimously approved the changes, some said they had to do more due diligence before the final vote at council.

Contentious charges: The charges are added by developers to the cost of homes. The idea is that the price of new infrastructure should be covered by new construction. But it’s contentious because it also helps drive up the price of homes and can push growth to areas outside the city. 

  • The other side of the argument is that without development charges, existing taxpayers are forced to carry the burden. 

The big problem: The federal housing minister has taken notice. Development charges are not explicitly in the agreement between the two governments for $175 million in already announced housing funding, but a spokesperson told iPolitics that if the city didn’t meet its housing targets it would miss out on federal funding.

  • The decision would also limit the city’s eligibility for a slice of a newly announced $6-billion federal housing fund. To qualify, cities can’t raise development charges for three years starting April 2 — which is to say, last month. If the full council passes the changes, the city can’t apply for any of that money.

Grim housing future? Broadly on the housing front, things are not about to get better. The Bank of Canada warned that the country’s economy was being put at risk by high mortgage payments, The Globe and Mail reported. The bank said homeowners were so far able to handle the increased load caused by higher interest rates — set by the bank — but in the event of a downturn, that would change.

  • The banks said to date, renters had been feeling the pressure more than homeowners, and had turned to missing car loan and credit card payments to keep up with housing costs.

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📉 $25 billion: Shopify lost this much in market value after the company cut its revenue growth expectation in the years to come. The company’s share price dropped about 20% on the news. [Reuters]

🌷 100: Diplomats from the Netherlands gave out this many bouquets of tulips at the Civic Campus of the Ottawa Hospital to celebrate its upcoming 100th anniversary. [CTV]

🏥 $1 million: The federal government will invest as much as this to help pay for heating and ventilation upgrades to CHEO. Two heat pumps will be installed at the hospital, and its ventilation system will be re-engineered. [CTV]


City cancels Israeli flag raising ceremony

What happened: The city cancelled a flag raising ceremony next week for Israeli Independence Day citing security concerns. The city will still raise the flag outside of city hall.

  • “After consulting with the Ottawa Police Service and stakeholders, the City is following recommendations based on safety and security considerations to not hold a public ceremony this year. This decision is based on recent intelligence that suggests hosting a public ceremony poses a substantial risk to public safety,” the city said in a statement.

The city wouldn't elaborate on what sort of threats the event was facing, or what intelligence led to the decision. Nor would they say who ultimately suggested the event not go forward. The city would only refer questions to the police.

Police response: A spokesperson for the Ottawa Police Service said they knew of the city’s decision, but suggested the force was capable of handling security for the event. 

  • “We are aware of the City’s decision related to this flag raising and we continue to work with all stakeholders to ensure safety at community events, including demonstrations. Our safety plans are scaleable and adaptable to current needs,” the spokesperson said via email.


🚓 The OPP failed to find the body of a Newfoundland truck driver in the trailer of his truck. The man had gone missing in April, and the truck was seen as a key piece of evidence in the search. The man’s body was only discovered once the truck had been returned to its owner in Port aux Basques, NL. When announcing the man’s body was found, they did not say where, and once it was revealed police would not explain how their search failed. [CBC]

🚨 Police charged a 42-year-old man with attempted murder and multiple arson-related charges in the fire last week at a high rise in Overbrook. A woman and two children were taken to hospital in critical condition in the fire, and another 14 people were injured. The fire displaced hundreds of residents. [CTV]

⚖️ Federal public service unions are preparing formal complaints for the government’s decision to mandate three days per week in the office. Unions are also encouraging their members to file individual grievances over the policy. [CBC]

⚠️ Two federal offices on the Gatineau side of the river were closed because of a possible asbestos disturbance. Place du Portage III towers A1 and A2 were closed. The towers are undergoing renovations. [CBC]

🏆 Newly signed Sens coach Travis Green said he wants to win a Stanley Cup with the team. Interim coach Jacques Martin is staying on with the team during the transition period to Green’s leadership. [CBC]

📬 Canada Post is hoping the federal government will change legislation to allow mail to be delivered less than five days a week, as the Crown corporation faces a financial crisis. The postal workers’ union said Canada Post would be better served by returning door-to-door mail delivery across the country and offering other services. The two sides are negotiating the possible expansion of weekend parcel delivery. [CBC]

🚨 One person is dead and five others were seriously injured after a single-vehicle crash in Sharbot Lake. [CTV]


What to do this weekend

🌱 West Ottawa Plant Sale, All weekend, 9-2 : Vegetable, herb & flower seedlings grown with love by your local farmers. At BeetBox Farm, 230 Davidson's Side Rd. Free. [Sponsored]

✒️ Turn a Pen, Saturday: Learn the basics of woodturning on a lathe and make your own pen. All materials provided. Two sessions during the day. Wear closed-toed shoes. At Lee Valley Tools, 900 Morrison Dr. Tickets $65.

🌲 Plant Sale, Saturday 9 am: Hosted by the Gloucester Horticultural Society, a chance to get some plants for the warm season. Sale ends at noon or when they run out of plants. At Orléans Fruit Farm, 1399 St. Joseph Blvd. Free to attend

🌻 SeedLing Saturday, 10 am: A chance to pick up local seeds and seedlings to get in the ground for the end of the month. At Just Food Community Farm, 2391 Pepin Ct. Free entry.

👗 613Flea, Saturday 10 am: As many as 150 vendors with everything from vinyl records to vintage clothing, and everything in between. At the Aberdeen Pavilion at Lansdowne Park. Free admission.

🍽️ Mother’s Day Brunch, Sunday: A hot and cold buffet to celebrate mom. Explore the grounds afterward. Two seatings. At Strathmere Country Retreat, 1980 Phelan Rd. W. Tickets start at $51.

🏎️ Raymond James Mother’s Day Show & Shine, Sunday 10 am: A day celebrating mom with cool cars and fun events for the whole family. At 450 March Rd. Profits donated to the Do It For Daron foundation.

🤼‍♂️ Evil Uno's Mystery Wrestling 8, Sunday 5 pm: Mystery wrestling is back, and is still a mystery, but this edition is hosted by Chuck Taylor. At Centre Aydelu, 94 Rue du Patrimoine, Gatineau. Tickets $31.

  • Uniqlo will open its second location in the city at the Bayshore Shopping Centre today. [CTV]

  • A new exhibition opening today at the Museum of Science and Technology explores the world of poop. [CTV]

  • Is your black and white cat missing? This could be it. [Reddit]

  • Canada Royal Milk donated 5,000 cans of baby formula to Kingston’s United Way. [CTV]

  • It’s tough to admit, but goslings are pretty cute. [Reddit]

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


This week in food

Ralf Joneikies/Ottawa Lookout

🇹🇭 Capital Eats heads down the 401 to the Thai food capital of the country, to see what Toronto does so well with this style of cuisine. (Insiders)

🍷 Germany might not seem like the typical source for Pinot Noir, but trust our food editor, this is one worth trying. (Insiders)

🍽️ If you’re looking for a safe choice for a family meal, you won’t be disappointed at Chances R.

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Congrats to Adam, who knew that this week’s Ottawa Guesser was of the Shouldice Berry Farm on Old Richmond Road.

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