Major flooding hits Ottawa

Yet another storm rolled through town, this one causing major flooding throughout town. Plus the latest on the QED.

Good morning,

Forgive me a bit of self-indulgence if you will. (If you won’t, you can keep scrolling, I’ll never know.) But yesterday, Robbie Robertson died. Many years ago, when I was on my way to Sudbury off to a life as a mining engineer to be, I sat in the back of a green Honda Civic watching The Last Waltz on a little portable DVD player.

I was on the verge of something, something I would never actually be (I’m a writer now, after all), but listening to The Band at this time has always conjured that feeling of promise, of seeing into the possibilities of the future.

The Last Waltz was a concert, a film, a coalescence of influences, and a celebration of cocaine (Neil Young had some thoughts about that). But more than anything it was a door to the future, despite already being well in the past by the time I was watching it.

I never did finish my engineering degree, but that ride into Sudbury, that first time seeing the stones, the stacks at Coniston, and the slag near the Superstack, left an indelible impression on me. That ride, with The Last Waltz at high volume in the back of the Civic is as close a memory I’ll ever get to pure nostalgia. Everything at that moment could happen next.

And at the centre of all that was Robbie Robertson. His guitar, that collar spread wide, and that scarf are indelible parts of who I’ll always be. And that sound, by god, the sounds he could make with a guitar.

The world’s a little less bright without him today.

Anyway, let’s get to it.

— Robert Hiltz, managing editor

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Weather Report

Friday: 23 🌡️ 12 | 🌤

Saturday: 21 🌡️ 16 | 🌧

Sunday: 22 🌡️ 15 | 🌦

Monday: 15 🌡️ 16 | 🌤


Flooding throughout town as another severe storm sweeps through

What happened: Another line of severe storms swept through the city flooding streets and stranding cars across Ottawa. The storm dumped about 75 mm of rain on town in about 90 minutes, CTV reported. Some areas saw as much as 100 mm of rain in that time.

  • The flash flooding closed a number of roads, including sections of Industrial, Merivale, Walkle, Heron, St. Lauren, Smyth, and Innes. There was also flooding in Vanier, Overbrook, the Glebe and Rockcliffe, according to the city.

The flooding left cars stranded in deep puddles, and the city’s emergency services were called out across town. At its peak, about 24,000 Hydro Ottawa customers were without power, and about 600 were still without power Thursday evening.

Deep water: Water several feet deep was reported in some neighbourhoods. One entrance to Parliament Station had to be closed because of flooding, and the Queensway Transitway station had at least two feet of water on the ground, according to CTV.

The city said the drinking water and wastewater systems were unaffected by the flooding.

Change is here: Increasing incidents of severe weather is one of the effects of climate change. In a year that has seen record-high temperatures across the planet, this may be a new normal for Ottawa. Tornadoes, high-intensity rain and severe thunderstorms are all part of the summer mix for the foreseeable future.

Do you have photos of yesterday’s flooding or stories of what it was like near you? Send them in by replying to this email, we’re hoping to run some of your experiences and images in Monday’s issue.


🏎️ 197 km/h: The speed police caught a Lamborghini driver on the 417 east of the city, where the speed limit is 110 km/h. Police impounded the supercar for two weeks. [CTV]

🎤 20: The number of years the House of PainT hip-hop festival has been going on, which it will mark with a custom time capsule to be opened in another 20 years. [Ottawa Citizen]


Mayor continues calls to reopen Queen Elizabeth to cars

What happened: Just days after the LRT was only partially restarted after nearly a month-long shutdown, Mayor Mark Sutcliffe renewed his crusade to reopen Queen Elizabeth Drive to cars. The mayor posted a Twitter video where he said there were “not very many” cyclists:

  • “It’s a lot of inconvenience and congestion on neighbourhood streets, making it more difficult for everyone — including emergency vehicles — to get to where they are going,” Sutcliffe said.

Emergency delays: The delays to emergency services is a key argument in the mayor’s pitch. In a previous oped for the Ottawa Citizen, he said the closure “creates a troublesome logistical challenge for emergency responders travelling into the area, increasing their response times and the risks for the people they serve.”

But do they? None of the city’s emergency services could provide data or examples to back up the mayor’s assertion that the closure was slowing down emergency response times:

  • Ottawa Police Services said they had “no data on hand about any delays experienced by responding officers.”

  • Ottawa Fire Services said the department was “collecting data right now to see if the responses are being affected. At this time, the data has not been analyzed.”

  • The Ottawa Paramedic Service did not respond.

The mayor’s office sent the Lookout a city traffic report on the effects of the closure on traffic and emergency services. Unfortunately, it is mostly out of date because it recommends the Driveway be opened overnight to vehicles to prevent delays — something that was implemented this year.

  • “Specifically, on July 14, [2022]*, Fire Services stated that 30 percent of calls were experiencing delays and vehicle rerouting, mostly due to an inability to move barricades overnight,” the report said. “Fire recommended in July 2022 that the road be reopened for overnight periods, due to [an] increase in emergencies and negligible active-use activities.”

Traffic figures: Thursday, the mayor tweeted out traffic numbers that rely on three days’ worth of data last month, July 25-27. Two of those three days, it was raining, according to Environment Canada data. It’s difficult to compare the 2019 vehicle traffic numbers because, in the study provided to the Lookout, the measurement locations the city set up at were different than the one it used for active use.

Below, we’ve got some analysis of the city figures provided to the Lookout, but first, here are the Mayor’s numbers:

Lookout’s analysis: During the three days, 1.94 cyclists used the road every minute, and 0.85 are using the pathway. About 2.3 times the number of cyclists are using road than the pathway. At the same time about 0.49 pedestrians are using the QED roadway every minute, while 1.26 are using the pathway. About 2.6 times more pedestrians are using the path instead of the road, a similar pattern but in reverse.

Takeaways: Though it’s hard to draw perfect conclusions from such a limited, and rain-affected dataset, we can say a few things. There are likely fewer cyclists than cars using the roadway, according to the mayor’s traffic figures. But, the roadway is also splitting up the pedestrians from the cyclists, likely making for a more pleasant experience for both kinds of users.

  • You can look at the full data set here. The only changes we made to the file were to add the average figures and change the width of the cells.

A bad idea: Coun. Jeff Leiper said prioritizing cars will never fix traffic. “We’re growing, and there is no road-capacity-for-cars solution to the problem of congestion,” he tweeted. Re-opening the Driveway to cars “is a short-sighted fight based on faulty assumptions about why and how people cycle.”

*Editor’s note: The original version says “July 14th, 2023” but the report was only issued on April 6, 2023. The mayor’s office confirmed this was a typo, and should read 2022.

This type of story analysis takes a lot of work for your part-time team. If you like what you’re reading, and want to support local news, consider becoming a member today.


Ford government gave exclusive access to donors in provincial Greenbelt giveaway

What happened: The provincial auditor general said the government of Premier Doug Ford opened up protected land around Toronto to an exclusive set of developers with the ear of political staff. Of the 7,400 acres removed from the provincial greenbelt, 92 percent were directly tied to three developers, CTV reported.

  • The value of these lands is set to see an increase in value of $8.3 billion because they are now set for development, The Narwhal reported.

Pointing the finger: Thursday, the premier’s office announced it had recommended the provincial integrity commissioner investigate the housing minister’s chief of staff for his handling of the file, CTV reported.


🚧 The closure of the 417 this weekend was postponed, the city announced. No new date for the replacement of the Percy Street overpass has been set. [City of Ottawa]

🚂 One of the reasons the LRT has broken so often is the trains are European designed, while the tracks are a North American design. European trains are not designed to work with restraining rails, which are common here, this could be a contributing factor to the numerous axle and bearing failures. [Ottawa Citizen]

💰 OC Transpo is preparing a report on how to compensate transit riders for the lengthy LRT shutdown. The transit agency is in a serious budget bind, already facing a $39-million deficit. [CTV]

🚨 Police are searching for 15 people who are accused of forcing their way into the Senegalese embassy earlier this month. [CBC]

🌉 An Aylmer resident is looking to build support for a new pedestrian bridge connecting the Gatineau neighbourhood to Britannia across the Deschênes Rapids. You can fill out the survey here. [CTV]

🏖️ Dozens of people formed a line at Sandbanks Provincial Park to find a missing six-year-old child, who was found safe. [CTV]


What to do this weekend


🎤 House of PainT, Friday to Sunday: The 20th anniversary edition of Ottawa’s premiere hip-hop festival. With music, art, and more. Main event at the Dunbar Bridge. Free.

🎻 Summer Afternoon With Brahms, Sunday 2:30 pm: An afternoon of classical music, with pieces by Brahms performed for piano, cello, and violin. At Woodroffe United Church, 207 Woodroffe Ave. Donations accepted for entry.


🍖 Halal Ribfest Ottawa, Friday to Sunday: For the first time the Halal Ribfest is making a stop in Ottawa. With tons of great food, live entertainment and more, there’s something for everyone. At Lansdowne Park. Tickets start at $10.

🥭 Mango Fest, Saturday and Sunday: A festival celebrating the wonderful mango. With plenty to eat and drink, plus a cricket tournament, there’s plenty of juicy goodness here. At Lynda Lane Park, 580 Smyth Rd. Admission is free, donations get you raffle tickets.


💥 FANATICCON 4, Sunday 11 am: The source for vintage toys, games, and comics. With special guest speakers, a cosplay contest and more. At the Ottawa Conference and Event Centre, 200 Coventry Rd. Tickets start at $15.


👗 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.


This week in food

Every week our team at Capital Eats scours Ottawa for the best places to eat, drinks to try and events to attend. Here’s a breakdown of all the biggest stories.

🍲 Ottawa’s only Burmese restaurant has plenty of wonderful dishes for those looking for something a little different.

🍷 You’ll find great value in this wine of the week, made from an Italian grape saved from extinction.

  • Pre-verified travellers can now use special trusted-traveller lines at the Ottawa airport. [CTV]

  • Ouch, the Costco on Merivale wasn’t immune to this week’s flooding. [Reddit]

  • Overnight Saturday, it’s definitely worth it to stay up late to watch the Perseid Meteor Shower. [CBC]

  • Now this is a great shot of the fireworks show from Wednesday. [Reddit]

  • If you’ve ever wondered what the layers in the bedrock near Pinecrest look like, wonder no longer. [Reddit]

  • Want to have your announcement featured? Contact our partnership team for more info.


André Martin/Ottawa Lookout Reader

Today’s photo comes from reader André Martin, who sent in this great shot of the fireworks disply put on by the South African team in the Les Grands Feux du Casino Lac-Leamy competition.

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


Congrats to Ryan, Chris, Gord, Michelle, Sarah and Cameron, who all knew that this week’s Ottawa Guesser was of the Richmond Memorial Community Centre in Richmond. Congrats!

Think you can get this week’s Ottawa Wordle? Play now!

Capital EatsHelping you discover the best restaurants, food and drinks in Ottawa and the Capital Region. From the team at Ottawa Lookout. Read by 18,000+ locals.

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