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Infrastructure underfunded by $3 billion over next 10 years

A new report on the state of Ottawa’s infrastructure and services.

Good morning!

Wanted to start out today’s newsletter by thanking all of you who donated to the fundraiser for W.E. Gowling. Parents and staff are raising money to replace both the play structures for both the kindergarten and older kids at the school, as the ones they have now are so old they can’t be used. They’re raising money, because such replacements aren’t covered by the board, no matter how necessary.

The generosity of Lookout readers brought in $900! That’s huge, and I can’t thank you enough. If you missed out the first time, they’re still raising money. You can find out more and donate here.

We’ve got plenty to get to today. So let’s get to it.

— Robert Hiltz, managing editor


Wednesday: 13 🌡️ 4 | ⛈️

Thursday: 14 🌡️ 8 | 🌦

Friday: 12 🌡️ 7 | 🌧


City infrastructure underfunded by $3 billion over the next decade

What happened: The city is facing a $3-billion budget gap to maintain its facilities and to expand to meet growth over the coming decade, according to a new staff report.

  • “The forecasted investment needs over the next 10 years exceed total planned capital budgets by $3 billion. This figure represents the cumulative difference related to growth, renewal and enhancement costs to maintain current service levels.”

“The city has a strong legacy of asset management planning. The city has ensured that all assets are consistently maintained to be safe and to provide service to meet the needs of the community.”

The report isn’t about getting council to approve new funding or a change its plans, but simply to have councillors acknowledge the state of the city’s infrastructure, and projected upkeep costs. The report also contains a valuation of the city’s assets. If the city was to replace everything, the value is about $73 billion.

Climate change: The changing climate will have a serious effect on the city’s facilities. Staff said over the next 10 years, it will require an additional $402 million in capital costs and another $70 million in operating costs. “This includes $143 million in climate change adaptation costs and $329 million in climate change mitigation costs,” staff wrote. 

  • Only $223 million is allocated in the city’s 10-year budget forecasts for climate change, leaving a gap of $179 million.

Breaking it down: The biggest capital funding gaps come from recreation facilities, transit infrastructure and its fleet, and solid waste services. Transit is underfunded to the tune of $1.1 billion, while recreation centres and services are underfunded by $910 million. 

  • Solid waste services are underfunded by at least $404 million, but the city notes that “Estimates for Solid Waste are conservative; Growth only includes Fleet. Solid Waste services are partially tax-supported, and partially solid waste rate supported.”

You can see how the funding gap is broken down here (reproduced from the city’s report):

And here are some charts on where the funding gap is for transit:

City of Ottawa

City of Ottawa

And for recreation infrastructure:

City of Ottawa

What it means: Maintaining the city’s infrastructure is a difficult task, one will only get harder with time. Many of the building’s facilities were built in the post-war era, particularly those in the densifying core. Belt tightening is all well and good, but letting the city fall to closer to ruin will only be more costly in the long run. (Not to mention all the, uh, ruin.) If nothing else, the city’s leaders can’t say they weren’t warned.


🥛 1.77%: The average amount milk prices rose this month after a decision to raise prices by the Canadian Dairy Commission. [National Post]

📸 7,569: The number of tickets the photo radar speed camera on King Edward on the way to Quebec issued in its first month of operation. (Nice) [CTV]

🏘️ 1.6%: Home prices increased this much in April to an average of $673,700. [CTV]


💐 Students at Sir Guy Carleton in Nepean remembered their classmate as a nice kid. The 15-year-old student was stabbed last week and has since died of his injuries. An 18 year old has been charged with first-degree murder in the boy’s death. [CTV]

🚨 A Catholic high school in Cornwall was briefly locked down after a man with an “edged weapon” threatened staff. Police tasered the 35 year old before arresting him. He was charged with assault with a weapon and other charges. [CTV]

🚔 The body of a missing trucker from Newfoundland was located. He went missing near Summerstown in April. Police said foul play is not suspected. [CBC]

🐀 Families in Gloucester are dealing with an infestation of dozens, perhaps hundreds, of rats which are destroying everything in sight. The rodents are likely being stirred up by LRT and other construction nearby. [CTV]


Feds bypass province to give housing dollars direct to cities

What happened: With the province having only completed a fraction of the affordable housing units it promised, the federal government has decided to bypass Queen’s Park and give funding direct to cities, CTV reported

  • The $357 million was promised in 2018 if Ontario built some 19,500 affordable housing units over 10 years. The province is only expected to have 1,184 completed by the end of the year. 

“This leaves 94% of the target to be achieved during the last three years of the agreement, which is not realistic,” federal Housing Minister Sean Fraser said in a March letter to his provincial counterpart. But Fraser said if the province provided a new plan showing how they would meet the targets, the federal government would give conditional approval for the funding.

  • The plan the province sent included measures it had already promised. “Since our last exchange of letters, I have come to understand that a conditional approval was not acceptable to you and that Ontario is unwilling to provide further details as to how it will meet the target it agreed to and which had not had an effect,” Fraser wrote according to CTV. So, the feds followed through on their threat.

To the cities: Now, the federal government will give the money direct to municipal service managers. Fraser will meet with municipal service managers across the country to sort out the details on how they will get the money, The Globe and Mail reported.

Ontario’s response: The province disputes the federal government’s account,. sSaying it has built 11,000 units over the required period, and renovated some 123,000 more. 

Broader impact: The dispute threatens the people who live in affordable housing. A representative of the Association of Municipalities of Ontario told the Globe the uncertainty this is causing has people worried they won’t be able to pay rent if gaps in funding meaning money is held up.



With monthly housing figures out, we thought we’d once again take a look at the most averagely priced home we could find. For April, the average price of a single family home $727,700 according to the Ottawa Real Estate Board

This Graham Park home comes in just a hair’s breadth below that average. This three-bedroom bungalow has a large backyard, a sun room, an updated kitchen and plenty more.

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. 


Listings are provided by OttawaGigs.ca, the best place to discover live music in Ottawa. Check out Ottawagigs.ca for full listings across the city.

RedFox, Thursday 7 pm: Honest, vulnerable songs with a high energy, ambient, folk-infused sound. At Live! on Elgin, 220 Elgin St. Tickets $15 adv, $20 on door.

Mary Ancheta Quartet, Friday 8 pm: Canadian/Filipina artist with an organic, modern take on jazz and electro-funk. At the National Arts Centre, 1 Elgin St. Tickets $15. 

Melissa Payne, Saturday 8 pm: Acclaimed solo performer rooted in old-time fiddle and traditional Celtic music. At Red Bird, 1165 Bank St. Tickets $25. 

illScarlett, Saturday 8 pm: Ontarian foursome influenced by California Ska-pop. At Brass Monkey, 250 Greenbank Rd. Tickets $27.

Taylor Abrahamse, Saturday 8:30 pm: Hook-laden hammerclaw pop, on-the-spot improvs & refreshing honesty.At Art House Cafe, 555 Somerset St. W. Tickets $15.


🥅 The Ottawa Senators hired Travis Green as their new head coach. Green signed a four-year deal with the team. His record as a head coach is mixed at best, with an overall winning percentage of .473, though he did lead Vancouver to the second round in 2020-21. Green was also an antagonist with the Leafs during the early 2000s Battle of Ontario. [The Canadian Press/The Athletic]

🌡️ The effects of climate change are making it more difficult for kids to get active. Higher temperatures, bigger rainstorms, and poorer air quality are all leading to less active kids. [CTV]

🏢 The “crappy spaces” in the downtown make the federal government’s back-to-office order all the harder to swallow. A more welcoming and livable space could make returning to the office less unpleasant. [CBC]

🏫 Premier Doug Ford, who once said, “We will ensure that publicly funded universities defend free speech for everybody,” wants pro-Palesitian encampments on Ontario campuses dismantled. [TVO/The Canadian Press]

  • Don’t be alarmed, today a test alert will be sent out to cell phones and TVs in Quebec (which some on the Ottawa side may also receive), and in Ontario next Wednesday. [CTV]

  • Free potatoes! Deep Roots Food Hub has helped rescue 20 tonnes of potatoes that would have otherwise been wasted that they’re giving away this Saturday. Donations to the Food Hub are accepted. [Deep Roots Food Hub]

  • The tulips are very much in full bloom around Dow’s Lake this week. [Reddit]

  • Canadian Pacific Rail used to run trains through Westboro, which included this station. The last train passed through in 1967. [Reddit/Colin Churcher’s Railway Pages]

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

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Monday we asked whether you thoughts police were doing enough to catch speeders and other dangerous drivers. Here’s how your answers broke down:

  • Yes, they’re on top of it - 14%

  • They could be doing better - 50%

  • Police punish bad driving? - 28%

  • Yes, they’re on top of it - 8%

Here are some of your comments (lightly edited for length and clarity):

“The driving in residential streets, especially in the west end, is never enforced. Our street sees speeders multiple times a day”

“Speeding in urban streets and on the highway (highway especially at night), is just alarming. I live in the city and it seems like there's no such thing as courtesy on the road anymore. It doesn't help to have all the delivery trucks rushing to meet their companies promised delivery dates either.”

“Our area seems well covered and I am seeing few speeders in the area.”

“They’re nailing those of us going 10 kmph over the speed limit, with those cameras…but the stunt driving on the 417 is insane and out of control. More police cars on the 417, regular patrolling is needed.”

“They may occasionally catch speeders, but they generally ignore other bad driving habits, like failure to use signal lights for turns and lane changes, coasting through stop signs, and entering intersections after the traffic light has turned red.”

“I think police do a pretty good job of catching speeders, except for certain circumstances and times of day.”


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Congrats to the 85% of you who knew that the Ride for CHEO raised $2.2 million for research last weekend.

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