- Ottawa Lookout
- Developer pulls voluntary payment, mayor now wants investigation
Developer pulls voluntary payment, mayor now wants investigation
After voting to approve a deal that would have seen a developer pay for local improvements, the mayor now wants the deal investigated.
Well, I wouldn’t get too used to the cold, as it looks like the province is in for an unseasonably warm spell. If it does come to pass, the skating season on the Canal might come to an early end.
It is going to be a relatively warm week for ON, especially over the N! Below is a loop taken from @weatherbell showing 2 m temp. anom. The Canadian model is forecasting anomalies above 20°C. 🤯
Check out your forecast 👉 or on the WeatherCAN app
— ECCC Weather Ontario (@ECCCWeatherON)
Jan 30, 2024
But, fortunately, it hasn’t shown up yet in the regular forecast. So, fingers crossed!
We’ve got plenty to get to, so let’s get to it.
— Robert Hiltz, managing editor
Wednesday: +3 🌡️ +1 | ☁️
Thursday: +2 🌡️ -5 | 🌧/❄️
Friday: -3 🌡️ -14 | 🌤
Mayor changes tune on voluntary contributions
What happened: As the public mood has shifted on a voluntary contribution by a developer to the city, so too has Mayor Sutcliffe, CBC reported. After a weekend of blowback and suburban councillor dissent, the mayor said the controversial $300,000 offer from Katasa to the city for traffic calming and affordable housing — which he voted to approve — should be investigated by the integrity commissioner.
Sutcliffe told the broadcaster it might give the impression that a development wouldn’t be approved if a donation of this sort wasn’t being offered to the city. “It's perfectly reasonable for the developer or members of the community to wonder whether those two things are connected. We don't want that,” he said.
Change of tune: Last week, Sutcliffe voted to approve the deal once council decided to spread the money around to the entire city. The original deal, recommended for approval by the planning committee, would have had $200,000 for affordable housing and $100,000 for Capital Ward, where the 22-storey building at the corner of Carling and Bronson is slated to be built.
Now, Sutcliffe told the CBC he wants the integrity commissioner to officially look into the timeline for the negotiations between the developer Katasa and the office of Coun. Shawn Menard, whose office led much of the negotiations alongside city staff.
You can read more about the payment, and the heated debate at the council table in this week’s City Hall Insider.
Former feelings: Last week, the mayor said at a press conference the issue wasn’t really with the payment itself, but that there was no formal council policy. “I think in the absence of a policy, it can lead to false impressions, and it can lead to people casting aspersions on an agreement or process and it can lead to discomfort and it can lead to the wrong perceptions about what's happening,” he said.
Deal dead: To some extent it’s all sort of moot. The developer decided to pull its offer of the money this week. In a letter to the mayor, a lawyer representing Katasa said the money had been intended for the community because of the unique nature of the project and the effect it might have on the area.
OTTAWA BY THE NUMBERS
🩺 2,500: The number of open positions for doctors in the province. [CBC]
☕️ $3.5 million: Bridgehead Coffee has agreed to sell for this much to Toronto’s Pilot Coffee Roasters. [The Canadian Press]
🚔 287: The number of fare evasion tickets OC Transpo issued last fall. The vast majority were given out on the LRT, and in total, will net the city about $75,000. [CTV]
⚖️ A military investigation into the deaths of four cadets who drowned in the St. Lawrence in Kingston found their deaths weren’t related to military service. The military made no mention of what could be done to prevent the deaths, and released few details. [CBC]
🚨 A provincial investigator cleared a police officer of wrongdoing after a halted car chase led to the hit-and-run death of a man in Westboro. Police had briefly chased a driver for allegedly participating in a drug deal, but called off the chase when it was clear the driver wouldn’t stop. Soon after, the driver ran down 46-year-old Franco Micucci before fleeing the scene. [CBC]
W. E. Gowling Public School in Carlington is struggling to raise $310,000 to replace play structures for its students. The structures, built in the 1980s have reached the end of their life cycle and have had to be demolished, and it’s up to the community — not the board or the province — to raise the funds to replace them. [Ottawa Citizen]
🚔 Eleven people were arrested in a pair of drug raids in Pembroke. Two of the people arrested are teens. All are charged with drug-related offences including trafficking cocaine and fentanyl. [CTV]
Ottawa middle of the road for permits, costs needed for renovations
What happened: Ottawa is pretty middling when it comes to the number and cost of permits required to renovate your home, according to a new study by the Canadian Federation of Independent Business. The CFIB surveyed 12 cities on what was required to do a $20,000 renovation to convert a powder room to a full bathroom.
Ottawa requires up to six permits and $317 to get the necessary approvals for the job. (Of the six required permits, one of those is for septic system changes, which is only required by those not on the municipal wastewater system.)
Averages: The CFIB surveyed at least one major city in every province. Of the 12, the average cost was $506, and 6.75 permits. But that cost was heavily skewed by Vancouver, where 11 permits will cost you $2,029. Without including the extreme outlier of Vancouver, the average cost is $368 of the 11 remaining cities, and 6.4 permits are required on average.
Wait times: One thing Ottawa could really improve is to give an estimated time it will take to approve submitted paperwork. “Ottawa is not very open about its processing times, which could help set expectations. …That helps with transparency. People know what they’re getting themselves into,” a CFIB spokesperson told the Ottawa Citizen.
HOUSE OF THE WEEK
Today’s house of the week is a classic of suburban Ottawa. Right on Alta Vista, this 1952 home has been renovated and updated inside. The decent lot size doesn’t hurt either. It’s been opened up, and what is becoming a recent theme of these, has a functional wood-burning fireplace.
House of The Week is a home selected by the Lookout team and is not a paid advertisement. All ads are labelled as such. If you’re a realtor who wishes to feature your home in our newsletter, please contact our sales team.
🤖 Careful what you watch online. Scammers took a recent CTV clip which explained a cryptocurrency scam, and used AI to flip the meaning of the clip to promote a different crypto scam. [CTV]
😷 Sometime next month, Ottawa Public Health will shut down its online COVID-19 data dashboard. The health agency said COVID infection data has been rolled into its respiratory viruses dashboard elsewhere on their site. [CTV]
🥟 A new tenant is coming to the former location of the Rideau Street McDonald’s. A Chinese restaurant focusing on dim sum and seafood has signed a lease for the location. [CTV]
🚙 A local senior was denied a rental car, and a refund, because he was too old. The 76-year-old was unaware that there was an age limit of 74 years old to book through Travelocity, and the company refused to give him a refund. [CTV]
💊 Insurance giant Manulife announced a deal to only fill prescriptions for certain medications with Loblaw-owned pharmacies. The company will only allow medications to treat cancer, Crohn’s, multiple sclerosis and other complex conditions to be purchased at Shoppers Drug Mart and other outlets owned by the grocery giant. [The Canadian Press]
St. Isidore’s Valérie Grenier will need multiple surgeries after a serious crash at a skiing competition in Italy. [CBC]
You can now check out spring recreation and swimming programs. Registration for swimming will be Feb. 13, and rec programs will be on the 15th. [City of Ottawa]
That’s not ideal. A van on fire on the 417 near Elgin yesterday was caught on video. [Reddit]
Chef Briana Kim has closed the famed Alice restaurant to start a new project called Antheia, where she’ll focus on fermenting. [CBC]
With the brief cold snap, groomers were out getting trails in tip top condition for skiers. [Reddit]
Local donut chain Holey Confections scored pretty big on Dragon’s Den, winning an investment from the panel. [CTV]
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INSIDER CITY HALL
Insider: Developer pulls cash that caused storm around council
What happened: Last spring, Mayor Mark Sutcliffe met with councillor-turned-lobbyist Jan Harder during what would have been a new cooling-off period for city officials, lobbying records show. While the law came into effect after Harder left office, and therefore didn’t apply to her, the one-year period forbidding city officials from lobbying the municipality was created in direct response to Harder’s ethical lapses while on council.
In April of last year, Harder lobbied the mayor on behalf of a long-term care home developer about a new building in Barrhaven
Apologies folks, for technical reasons we’re working to figure out, Monday’s quiz did not show up like it was supposed to. So, we’ve included it below (fingers crossed!). For this week’s quiz we want to know…
What percentage of people (approximately) in the city are food insecure?
But, this will work for sure. Do you know where today’s Ottawa Guesser is? The first five people to respond get their names mentioned in the newsletter.
What did you think of today's newsletter?